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Winter 2011 – First Impressions (Yumekui Merry & Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica)

January 7, 2011

Looks like thing are going to get busy over the next few days – lots of new releases coming up over the weekend.  Today we’re kicking off with Yumekui Merry & Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica.

Yumekui Merry (Dream-eater Merry)

Yumekui Merry was generic to the point of tedious – this is indeed exactly the same as every JC Staff anime ever. The only positive thing I really have to say about this initial episode is that the dream sequences were pretty cool – really liked those floating fish bones, and the weirdness of an army of cats. Other than that, Yumekui Merry plays out like every other show of its ilk – the male protagonist isn’t quite as bland as Yuuji from Shana, nor is he as interesting as Ryuuji from Toradora – he’s in this middle ground of ‘meh’ that’s neither offensively dull nor sufficiently interesting to be deemed likeable. Merry herself seems to exist to provide a wealth of material for merchandise, and doesn’t actually seem to possess a personality at all! Basically dreams = fairly interesting, everything else = meh.

Production is actually quite good though, it’s as polished as you would expect from JC Staff (they’re old hand at this type of series after all), and there were a few nicely directed scenes; although the action left much to be desired – hard to believe this is the same director that brought us the visual marvel of Casshern SINS. OP is pretty decent, ED is forgettable, background music quite decent, voice acting……does the job.

Very underwhelmed by this first episode, don’t think I can be bothered watching anymore – I can already predict how the show is going to pan out.

 

Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica

Madoka Magica is off to an interesting start, but I’m not instantly grabbed by the show. I think it’s the amount of utter generic drivel we had to sit through in order to get to the more interesting stuff in the last few minutes. The cold opening to Madoka’s dream was also superb, but the dull day-to-day stuff sandwiched in the middle had me fidgeting from boredom. It also has to be said that not very much is explained in this episode – it does nothing to explain the magic system of this world, nor does it indicate what the plot is; I still have no idea what this show is going to be about.

On the production front, Madoka Magica is pure Shinbo/SHAFT – everything we’ve come to expect from Shinbo is present and accounted for; it feels like something from every previous Shinbo production has been lifted an stuck into Madoka Magica. I loved the design of the dream world Madoka was in at the start of the episode – it was vaguely reminiscent of the good bits of Black Rock Shooter (actually this episode was very reminiscent of the Black Rock Shooter OVA, right down to the huge amount of dull slice-of-life). All the trippy cutout images and artshift to a more solidly coloured, less pastel style during the last few minutes with the real magical girl stuff, really gave the show an interesting feel. The ordinary set designs are also really interesting looking – lots of hard, clean lines and big windows, adding to a feeling of the show being set in the near future. Although I have to say that I really don’t like the character designs – I just don’t like that style at all.

However, what really kept my attention was the Yuki Kajiura soundtrack. The Claris OP sounds much too like the OP for Oreimo for my liking, but the atmospheric soundtrack in the actual episode completely changed the feel of the show from generic moe show, to an oddly creepy mystery…….what most came to mind, especially during the magical girl battle with the trippy cut outs, was Pandora Hearts as that scene felt very like the one of Oz in the Abyss.

So my interest has properly been piqued by Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica. I’m not overly in love with the show but am sufficiently interesting to keep it on.

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. January 8, 2011 4:08 am

    These two shows will probably be easily the best winter has to offer well to me anyway!

    Yumekui merry- Great stuff there the first episode felt more like a intro to a movie or something like that, high production value too! last Merry kicks ass :O

    Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica- Also another show with high production and shaft random and crazy camera. Cute characters too! pink hair girls are always bait for moe lovers.

    • January 8, 2011 2:20 pm

      Yumekui Merry bored me, I could predict what was happening, and that irritates me. Production is nice though I agree.

      I’m a fan of Shinbo/SHAFT’s quirky visual style anyway, but those character designs are really going to take some getting used to…….also kind of disappointed by the OP, its very generic.

      • January 9, 2011 8:04 am

        True Merry might not appeal to most people due to the furry talking cats, which I will admit kind of turned me away. But seems they are just comedy characters, much like Bleach has their oddball types thrown in.

        I was actually shocked Merry didn’t turn and beat up the main guy for landing on his lap, but who can say that will stay.

        • January 9, 2011 7:59 pm

          The talking cats where the one thing I liked since they were something a bit out of the ordinary! 😆

          One thing in Merry’s favour was that she didn’t go into high gear tsundere mode immediately.

  2. January 8, 2011 11:19 am

    Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica turned out to be reasonably interesting, largely because Shaft and Shinbo are at the helm for this one. I’m not overly fond with the character design, but I can see myself adjusting to it in time. Aside from this, my main concern with the characters themselves will be the lack of development for Madoka and Homura as the series transpires (who are at present fairly conventional). Still, I’m willing to maintain an open mind and hope that it’ll deliver something more than what I’m expecting. One to keep an eye on, in any case.

    In a similar vein, I’ll have to reserve judgement as to whether I’ll continue with Yumekui Merry weekly or not. I didn’t find the first episode tedious, per se, and actually favoured the cliched high school setting. Clearly, my enjoyment isn’t dependant on originality, even though, in spite of this, I agree that the dream like sequences were quite interesting to watch. It’s difficult to make a decision from the opening episode alone and knowing me, even if I don’t watch this weekly, I’ll probably marathon through it when it finishes.

    • January 8, 2011 2:28 pm

      Yeah the character design is my main issue with Madoka Magica too – but I’m sure we’ll get used to them. I’m also concerned by how shallow this first episode was – its got great atmosphere, but I’d have expected more of an actual introduction to the world & magic systems in a first episode than what we were presented with. The show has style though, but it will need more than that to hold my attention for long. Definitely worth keeping on though.

      I don’t mind generic if it has some elements of interest to it – Yumekui Merry’s first episode just didn’t have that for me, and I found myself bored for most of the running time (the dream sequences being the exception). I’m giving it a 3ep run, but can’t see myself sticking this out unless it has a really fabulous 2nd & 3rd episodes.

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