For those of you who haven’t watched Hidamari Sketch, are you adjusted to the character designs of Madoka, yet? One of the questions I had when I saw the promotional art and videos was, “Isn’t this going to bother me?” Back then, I thought it’d take until half the series was over before I grew accustom to that character design. Instead, I consider myself cured, or at least immune, as of this episode.
After watching two episodes, I honestly am not bothered by this style of animation despite the fact I thought I would be back in December. In fact, it’s rather refreshing to see something so far removed from the norm that other animes survive on. On top of that, every bit of animation breathes life into this distinct art style more and more. Sure, there are some reused animation and stills, but I think that is part of Shaft’s DNA. It’s what they do, either for artistic style or to save on production funds. Nevertheless, Shaft is truly doing this show justice with its detailed animation.
Oh, and I haven’t even mentioned the scene with the witch. Yeah, I still don’t know what’s going on with those scenes. They’re actually kinda disturbing, I think. Imagine if that was actually happening to you. At least this time the girls were prepared and actually knew something like this would happen. But those creepy witch-realms do build upon that creepy, dark undertone. I have a feeling we’ll be seeing these chaos scenes in every episode now save for the apocalyptic world in Madoka’s dream in the first episode.
Yeah, that dark theme continued into this episode, too, although it was more noticeable in the dialogue and story this time around. During the explanation regarding magical girls in Mami’s apartment, the scene starts off all cheerful and bright with the girls eating cake and drinking tea. As the sun sets, the room becomes darker, especially around the girls, as Mami and Kyubey begin to explain the witches and how they’ll be risking their lives to save people. Later in the episode, we learn that witches curse people into fights and accidents, so much so that they can even get depressed people to commit suicide.
And that’s another layer on this increasing cake known as fore-shadowing. It’s upsetting to think Madoka will have to deal with these hardships when she’s such a pacifistic, energetic, and friendly teenager. In fact, she’s the only one who wants the four girls to work together to fight the witches. Whereas Sayaka is still angry at Homura, Mami is being passive-aggressive toward Homura, and Homura just wants to work alone, Madoka sees cooperation as being essential to their struggles and then that’s another layer on this increasingly delicious fore-shadow flavored cake. I enjoy seeing these fine details now because it gives the series some unseen flow to the story. Even if you do not pick up on these details, you shouldn’t be surprised to see the path this story follows. Still, I could be completely wrong about everything and then I’d be left with egg on my face. It wouldn’t be the first or last time.
Puella Magi Madoka Magica might end up being the most complete show this season or at the very least, one of my favorites. I certainly am enjoying it more than any other show in this young season. The combination of animation, characters, and storyline thus far has been unrivaled, especially since most shows lack the latter two categories. The underlying level of details keeps this series amusing because you get a hint of what’s going to happen but you’re not exactly sure when it will come or how it will be delivered. And maybe the most significant thing is that I’m okay with the character designs now. That was probably the highest hurdle for me in completing this anime, and now that it’s clear, it looks like it has a comfortable lead ahead of all the other shows.