12 Days XII: Make a contract with me and (ry

「魔法少女まどか☆マギカ」/「ゆーげん」

This show was made for me.

I think that should be your sign that you won’t find a paean to the greatness of Madoka and why it is man’s greatest work.

I mean, I was sold on the show already back when it was just “Shinbo makes an original anime”. That’s all it took.

And then it became “Shinbo makes an original magical girl anime” and I’m like, whoa, even better. I mean, I liked Nanoha. More of that? Yes, please.

And then it became “Shinbo makes an original magical girl anime with character designs by Ume Aoki, music by Yuki Kajiura, and script by Urobuchi Gen”. By this point I’d gone nuts. Magical girls! Designed by Ume-tentei! I mean, yeah, Kajiura and Urobuchi were kinda weird choices for a wide face magical girl show, but still, they’re great too. This will be amazing!

And then the characters! The character designs! Aoi Yuuki! Friggin Chiwa Saitou voicing mahou shoujo Senjougahara. Mizuhashi Kaori voicing a magical girl WITH GUNS. KitaEri voicing swords girl. An adorable mascot character!

If the anime that we got was the anime that was presented through only these CMs, I would have been ready to call it anime of the year already.

And then the actual first episode happened. I watched most of the episode going THIS IS AMAZING and then we get to the witch barrier.

FFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFF

And then Mami comes with her Gate of Babylon and her GUNS.

I mean, you can probably imagine my mental state as I wait for each week of this cartoon. And so this goes on and I flip out each week and once episode 3 rolls around I go, screw this, I’ll just watch the live stream.

Yes, I watched episode 3 raw when it aired.

FFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFF

And of course, each week while I’m watching this, I just send my friend a series of FFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFs.

And then we get to episode 10. I don’t know if it was apparent, but my favourite character is Homura, probably largely because Senjougahara is one of my favouritest characters. So yeah, we get to episode 10 and this is the best anime of the year and possibly of all years.

The end.

Yes, I know a lot of people have problems with it and a lot of what people have said about the show is pretty hyperbolic. Maybe there it does strain itself in trying to be deep and all. Maybe the characters weren’t amazing. I will admit that it very likely is not the best anime ever.

But I don’t think there’s been an anime that has been quite so attuned to my brain. And that is why I love it so.

12 Days V: The flower spreading throughout the land

「一面の花」/「k野」

I’d been hearing about how awesome Heartcatch Precure was so I’d always intended to eventually watch it. The art was fantastic and I’d seen some great clips of the fights. The problem is that when I found out about it, it was already really far into the 50 or so episodes. So once I got a ton of time after I graduated and was looking for a show to watch, I figured it was time. After all, I rolled through Cardcaptor Sakura pretty quickly.

I’ve been thinking about whether I’d put Heartcatch at the top of my magical girl list, but I think it ends up coming second to Cardcaptor Sakura. Still, this means I think that Heartcatch is pretty damned good. I think it’s a better magical girl show than Madoka or Nanoha and I friggin love those two shows.

What makes Heartcatch so great is that it’s just good. It has a great cast of characters, the story is wonderful, and the production is stellar. Most importantly, it’s just a magical girl show. It isn’t magical girl with lasers. It isn’t magical girl with zombies. It is what it is and it stands toe to toe with all of those magical girl and x shows, where x is something that makes it more palatable to people who need an excuse for why they’re watching shows for little girls.

And Heartcatch is girly as hell. Yeah, the Cures might be throwing some punches around, but the show is tripping flowers and fashion. You can attempt to reframe Nanoha as scifi and talk about intelligent devices and stuff, but the Cures spray perfume to transform. At this point, Nanoha’s pretty much decked out in mecha gear in Force. Meanwhile, this is a show with tambourines and those spinny things that look way too much like their only function is to sell toys.

There’s also the characters’ boundless optimism and energy. There isn’t anything that’s especially dark about is show, even the villains are kind of goofy. Everyone’s got dreams and everyone’s fighting to protect their dreams and it’s terrible that villains use the uncertainty in people’s hearts against them. Here, the objective isn’t to seal away some rogue magics or befriend the opposition with lasers, but to restore people’s hearts.

The other Precure series are going to have a tough time measuring up to the Heartcatch bar, but I hope they do.

12 Days I: Catch you, catch me

「闇の力を秘めし鍵よ」/「hatsuko」

I don’t think it’s that much of a surprise if I tell you that Madoka made me watch Cardcaptor Sakura. Well, that’s not entirely true. A more accurate phrasing of that statement would be, I watched Cardcaptor Sakura in anticipation of Madoka. Yep, I spent a good chunk of the Christmas break just before Madoka aired watching the entirety of Cardcaptor Sakura.

Cardcaptor Sakura seems to be one of those childhood anime that sits alongside the likes of Dragon Ball or Sailor Moon. I actually had no idea it was dubbed in English and aired here until when I was way too old and cool for that crap. More recently, it went from ‘that show that a few of my friends watched that seemed lame’ to ‘that show that people cite as the epitome of its genre’.

CCS is a pretty lengthy show, at about 70 episodes. After I got into the whole magical girl thing, I’d planned to watch it eventually, but never really had the time or motivation to do so (which is fairly common for shows that I plan to watch because I “should”). But with 2011 and Madoka quickly approaching and having finished all of my grad school applications, I convinced myself to finally start.

Up until then, my benchmark for magical girl shows was Nanoha. As far as Sakura and Nanoha go, they’re pretty similar. For a while, before I watched either of them, I’d get them confused sometimes. Obviously, I knew that CCS wasn’t going to have huge explosions or funnels, but it was sort of surprising because I’d forgotten that magic doesn’t necessarily manifest itself as a giant pink beam of death. It turns out magic has a wide array of uses.

Speaking of magic, I was surprised to learn that Sakura’s magical girl outfit was not and that there wasn’t even a default outfit. I don’t even know if she actually ever wears the one that she’s seen wearing in most promotional art in the show. The only constant in her magical girl wardrobe is her staff. But nope, Sakura’s eclectic fashion is thanks to Tomoyo.

And I’m not entirely sure when it happened but the focus of the show seemed to shift slightly from Sakura learning to be a magical girl to include falling in love. She basically spends the entire show tracking down the Clow Cards in some way, but somewhere along the line we also get scenes of her and Syaoran sorting their feelings out. Something that I didn’t expect was for the entire show to basically consist of Sakura dealing with the Clow Cards. But even then, the last thing that Sakura had to do before everything ended wasn’t to save the world, it was to tell Syaoran that she loved him.

This love thing was new to me, especially coming from Nanoha, where at best, we have some best friends forever stuff crossing the line occasionally with undertones. Girls and boys interested in each other? Why I never! But it was interesting because it actually went there instead of dancing around it. And it was quite nice seeing Sakura and Syaoran growing in that way.

I think this show made me realize it’s okay to watch shows made for little girls even if they’re not wrapped in a layer of beam weaponry and sci-fi military trappings.

P.S. despite this post’s title, the best OP is Platinum