DDA Top 10: #2: Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica

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It’s HAPPENING!

You’ve seen the banner for years. You knew this was coming. No big secret that I was going to set this near the top.

Big surprise. What could possibly compel Doll to put this near the top of her lists? Tragedy, darkness, lesbians, magic and a literary theme construct that is among the best in anime history? Can’t fathom why.

So, a nod to a senpai: Much in the same way RedLetterMedia did the definitive Star Wars review, I feel SFDebris’ review of Madoka Magica is one of the most complete, thorough constructs there is in terms of what a reviewer gleans from it.  He’s a little short on the literary symbolism, but one can hardly fault a reviewer for that. I’ll be just as short, I feel.  But I would point you to his series on this anime, which mirrors many of my points. He’s also quite excellent at pointing out the symbolism of the series, of which he maybe hits 1/3 of the nuance.  I won’t be focusing on symbolism unless it reinforces a specific point, because you could build an entire wiki out of the references and hidden meanings in this series. But I want to point out his review because, well…everything’s been said already. And that’s from some asshole who isn’t much into anime. It even earned his distinction of “the series most recommended” out of everything he had reviewed to the time. Outside perspectives are important, and he delivers a nice balance. So for your consideration! I’ll probably echo a lot of the basics, but when it comes to the characters you can expect my personal spin on things.

And yes, we’ll be talking about Rebellion.  I really don’t -want- to, but the stuff there has come to just overshadow SO MUCH that it really has to be addressed.

So I have a confession. When I first saw Madoka, I was not impressed. I admit it.

The big reason was this: Everyone praised it as this SUPAH DARK series. It was wicked and evil and tragic and twisted deconstruction. Every fan, every reviewer said the same thing. “ULTIMATE DARK DECONSTRUCTION! OMGORZ!”  I had EVERYONE in my social circles prodding “WATCH IT! WATCH IT! WATCH IT!”

So when I sat down to watch it some two months after it had aired and hype was at an all time high, I was let down. Because Madoka is NOT a dark series. No, you want a dark series? Well that’s coming next. But Madoka pales in comparison to truly awful heart-fucks (hashtag heartfuck) that exist just to laugh at the tragedy unfolding on screen, and drive the spike in deeper.

It took a little bit of distance to go back and accept the series on its own terms.  There is darkness in Madoka, no argument from me. But it is not overwhelming. It is merely present in an environment where we do not expect to see it, which I think is what magnifies it in many people’s minds.  But in general, the series is quite balanced in how it presents dark circumstances with ever present hope. Many of the “dark” aspects people talk about aren’t even dark, they’re just complicated, and because they’re grey suddenly “DARK!”? If you are so overwhelmed by the dark elements because they seem over the top, I must wonder what small bubble you live in. No, honestly, get me tickets. I’ll have a LOT of fun there.

As an aside, this experience is the big reason I do not do a lot of research or cross-commenting on series I am planning to watch. And it’s the big reason why when you see me take a series like Blade and Soul, I try to praise what’s good about it and give it even treatment to the best of my ability, even though it is so obviously bad.  Even the series I loathe I try to give balance lest my voice ever induce someone to have a similar experience with any other show (Though comparing Madoka Magica to Inou-Battle is pretty insulting no matter how you slice it).  It’s probably why everyone thinks I’m this big anime Debbie-Downer with KILL la KILL and Noragami and its ilk, but I want you to have the most informed expectations, not hype hype hype or trollish hate.

I am kind of dreading heading way out of my league. This is a franchise worth at least half a billion dollars. It has just about as close to a perfect rating on any anime site you can find. This like a plumber being asked to design the international space station, I am out of element, but will strive to do my best.

So let’s get into this. We’re in for a long one, kiddies. Continue reading

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100th Post: The Anatomy of Yuri Goggles: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Flowers

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Evidence is Not the Same Thing as Proof

So throughout the past months in KILL la KILL I have made several jokes regarding Yuri Goggles. This is a subject of some personal fascination for me. And since this blog exists to let me yap about what I want, let’s take a deeper look into this issue.  All the more fitting now that Nobunagun and Sakura Trick have worked their way into my blog.

Be warned, ye enter forbidden, uncharted waters.  I might ramble for hours. Who knows? Anything could happen! Come see Anna be academic serious less of an asshole! After all, it is the 100th post.

Yuri Goggles, for those who are unfamiliar, is the term applied to when a viewer interprets a scene between two characters as being homoerotic, specifically between two women.  The resulting girl on girl isn’t outright stated to be romantic, but is merely one of many ways to interpret art.

There are various types of goggles, too. The term “goggle” simply means you have put up a lens through which you are passing information through with a specific objective.  This applies to anything, including counterpart Yaoi goggles. More familiar, you may be aware of the whole “proving God” argument. If I am someone of faith, you cannot disprove to me that a miraculous event was not God’s will. If I am someone without, you cannot prove to me that it is. Both are sets of goggles towards which bias enters, and the degree to that lens, that is to say, the degree of the warping of the information being given to you, will vary from person to person, issue to issue.

This association leads many to dismiss any interpretation that may lend itself to Goggles, But I think in the case of Yuri Goggles, we have to dig a few steps deeper to understand their usefulness.

For the record: We will be addressing MANY examples, and some are series that we have not covered. If you wish to avoid spoilers for these shows, abandon hope. Continue reading