Thursday, 10 March 2011

Puella Magi Madoka Magica - Episode 10

After the trial and tribulations of the past couple of episodes, this tenth instalment of Puella Magi Madoka Magica opens with a surprisingly mundane scene - Akemi Homura, stood in front of the class at school.  Except her hair is different.  She's wearing classes.  She's introduced as a brand-new transfer student.

That's right everybody, we've now jumped back in time to the very beginning of Homura's journey, as we join her in a world where Madoka is a newly crowned magical girl fighting alongside Mami, with the two of them saving a depressed and sickly Homura from a witches tricks.  However, as Walpurgis Night takes place, its powers prove to be too much for both Mami and Madoka, leaving Homura alone and distraught.  If only she could have one wish... if only she could have a second take of her first meeting with Madoka, the first real friend she could ever call as such...

Of course, there begins Homura's real story, from a fledgling magical girl with time manipulation powers who works alongside Mami and Madoka to learn the ropes, proving to be quite nifty when it comes to making explosives into the bargain.  More tragic endings see Homura turn the clock back to her first meeting with Madoka over and over again as she learns of Kyubey's trickery and Madoka's eventual fate, each time swearing to get it right no matter how many iterations it takes.  Come the end of the episode, we relive the scenes which bookended the first episode of the series, thus completing the circle and giving us everything that we need to know about Homura's plight and her detached, cold persona.

Wow.... what can I say about this episode to even begin to describe it and its effects to any proper degree?  Not for the first time with this series I'm going to border on sounding like I'm over-egging the proverbial Madoka Magica pudding, but this was quite simply one of the best episodes of anime I've ever seen.  Its action sequences were nailed on perfect almost every time, Homura's characterisation and behaviour was excellently realised, and the progress of her story through each iteration was compelling every single time without a hint of fat or unnecessary story-telling.  Visually, this episode blew me away, it contained scenes that shocked me, amazed me or simply dropped my jaw.... in short, it blew my mind.  I'm not sure how I'm supposed to go to sleep after this, but what I do know is that never mind my top three TV anime - I think Puella Magi Madoka Magica has now moved up into second place in my all-time list, shy of only Neon Genesis Evangelion.

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