[AFA 2012] The Madoka Movie Experience

One of the main highlights of this year’s AFA for me was the Madoka movie. Despite not having watched the Madoka Magica anime series, I decided to give the movie a shot since I recalled how many people were raving about how amazing it was on forums, blogs and IRC when the anime was still airing. And boy, it was a decision that I definitely didn’t regret, because I really enjoyed it through and through.

I got myself the early bird special for the movie, which came along with a signed board, information booklets on both movies and a limited edition A2 poster that only comes with the early bird ticket. To be honest, I thought (and still think) $45 was a pretty steep price. To make things worse, there was even an additional $5 charge as a processing fee, raising the price to a full $50. But whatever, at least I didn’t regret it in the end (it did burn a hole in my pocket though, and my wallet still hurts from the damage).

But enough of that. Let’s talk about the experience.

Watching movies during AFA is not a new concept – they have been screening movies since a few years back. However, year after year I have heard numerous times from various people that one should not watch the movies during AFA (or even in any theatre, in fact) because you’ll end up squeezing with a bunch of fat and sweaty otaku, and instead you should wait for the DVDs/BDs to be released so that you can watch it in the comfort of your own home. Seriously, the way they describe it makes it sound as if watching a movie there is a very unpleasant experience.

If you have ever been discouraged from watching a movie at any theatre this way, let me clarify things straight up: I had no such experience. In fact, these people are all missing the point. I can tell you that watching a movie in a theatre with others is a very enjoyable experience, because you know each of them is a fellow fan of anime and enjoys the show as much as you do. Hearing everyone’s laughter, cheers and surprised reactions during key scenes in the movie, clapping with them, cheering with them – you cannot get this kind of atmosphere watching a movie alone at home. Watching a movie in a theatre is just different. Hence, I do encourage everyone to try it out. As for the negative remarks? I believe that you’re just as likely to find public nuisances who does not observe theatre etiquette watching normal movies.

But after all that, it’s time for me to get to the most important part – the content of the movies itself. There will be no spoilers of course, given that most people have not watched the movie. I’ll put out a full review when the movies are actually released.

 

[前編] 始まりの物語 | Part 1: The Story of Beginnings

Before they screened the movie, they aired a surprise video featuring each of the seiyuu for the main characters in the show, namely Aoi Yuuki (Madoka), Chiwa Saito (Homura), Eri Kitamura (Sayaka), Kaori Mizuhashi (Mami), Ai Nonaka (Kyouko) and Emiri Katou (Kyubey). Needless to say, everyone was cheering when they aired the clip, and the cheers and laughs were loudest when Kyubey’s seiyuu introduced herself. Each of them said something about how they felt about the movie, and the comments I can remember are that they were able to get into their roles and voice their characters better this time round, that the new opening song for the movie was nice, and that fans should watch this movie again if they have the chance (Implying we should all buy the DVD/BDs). And with that, we got off to a good start.

When the movie started, it was a feast for the eyes. From the very first second, the first thing that I noticed was how good the art was. Everything was beautifully drawn and it seemed like they put a lot of effort into aesthetics. And if the art is so good just on the big screen, it’ll probably make you feel like you’re in heaven when you watch it in BD.

From what I’ve heard, this movie is actually a condensed version of the first 8 episodes of the anime. Yet, the movie actually flowed smoothly and seamlessly, and it didn’t seem apparent that the movie was leaving anything out. And from what I hear from others, this part of the movie is different from the anime in that it focuses more on Sayaka’s perspective. However, the movie still pretty much remains true to the key scenes and developments in plot in the anime.

This first movie is aptly titled “Beginnings” as it lays down the context and background of the Madoka universe and introduces each of the characters. This sets the stage for the next movie. For the sake of not spoiling, I’m not going to say how this movie ends, but I can say that it is a cliffhanger and fans who have watched the anime should know what to expect.

 

[後編] 永遠の物語 | Part 2: The Story of Eternity

The movie on the second day was what made the two day’s worth of movie series amazing. It continues off from the end of the first movie, and is where all the build up from the first movie was released. The result? It was so epic I had to hold back my tears at various points in the movie.

And if I said the visuals were good for the first movie were great, the visuals for this second movie takes the cake hands down. I have no idea if it was because I had gotten more used to the at style, or because the beauty of the art complemented and was enhanced by how emotional I felt. Or maybe the third movie is really just more pretty.

To top off the end of the two days of movies, they screened the promotional video for the third movie, titled “[新編]叛逆の物語”, which roughly translates to “New Chapter: The Story of Rebellion”. Man, did everyone cheer and scream in joy while clapping madly.

An interesting thing to note is that for the first day, most people started leaving the hall immediately after the ending credits started rolling, but for the second day almost everyone stayed glued to their seats. True enough, then came an epilogue, but even after that most people were still stuck to their seats. And at the very end when the credits started rolling, there came the PV for the third movie. Seriously, I wonder where everyone got the information that there was a screening of the PV at the end.

While I might have been raving about the visuals all this while, let’s not forget about the theme songs for the movie as well as the background music.

First off, we have Claris’ Luminous (ルミナス). Not only does it sound nice, it was coupled with a very pretty opening sequence in the movie. Furthermore, if you pay attention to the lyrics, they seem to revolve around the ultimate climax of the movie, which makes this song all the more meaningful and suitable as the main theme of the movie.

Yes, this was in the opening sequence *snuggles*

Next, we also have Kalafina’s Hikari Furu (ひかりふる), Mirai (未来) and Magia [quattro] which of course, sound fabulous as with most of their discography. This is Kalafina after all.

As for the background music? I don’t know if this applies to the anime as well, but I can say that the producers of the Madoka movies struck me as unhesitant to use background music. While the use of the same tracks for certain scenes might have been a bit repetitive, the music is nonetheless glorious.

Overall, it has to be said that the two movies are extremely well done. Despite the fact that I had not watched the anime before, I was still able to follow everything and more importantly, still able to feel the splendor of what this series has to offer. The only thing worth lamenting about is that I have been spoilt too badly from reading reviews back when the anime was airing that sometimes I already knew what was going to happen next in certain scenes. I’d say the two movies combined really deserve a full, solid 10/10, and I would definitely recommend everyone to get the movie when it’s out.

If you want to know the difference between the movies and the anime, do check out the following posts on Yui’s Musings (Warning: Major Spoilers):

She highlights a lot of differences between the two, and I seriously think that she’s amazing for being able to point out so many differences between the anime and the movie just from pure memory. Kudos to her and much thanks to her for her hard work!

If you’re interested in reading more about the movies, do take a look at the following posts around the web (Warning: Major Spoilers):

 
PV for the Movies:

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  1. Rakkyo

    “I can tell you that watching a movie in a theatre with others is a very enjoyable experience, because you know each of them is a fellow fan of anime and enjoys the show as much as you do.”
    I was pleasantly surprised myself. I kinda expected the people to react the way they did but actually experiencing it really feels good. You don’t get this feeling with normal movies.

    For the second movie, I’m guessing the reason why people didn’t leave was because they didn’t want it to end. I know I don’t XD.

  2. TP

    I’m glad you watched the Madoka Magica movies. Having not being there, I’m kind of missed the experience of watching something on the big screen.

    That said, where you allude to moments in the movies, I can definitely relate back to the time I watched the televised series. I can roughly understand your feelings on how the movie flowed. It harkens me back to the tenacious parts of the show, the tension and the climax.

    The series is really worth watching, and the movies themselves are a treat for those who still follow the franchise until now.

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