Like most everyone else, I’ve enjoyed watching Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica. I haven’t seen many other series directed by Akiyuki Shinbo, but I’m well aware he’s earned a reputation for weirdness. Even still, I’m sometimes taken aback by how abstract and artsy Madoka can get, and yet, in contrast to fellow auteurs like Masaaki Yuasa and his Kaiba, Shinbo’s eclectic style actually appeals to a broader range of anime fans than elitists like me.
Indeed, what’s particularly exciting about Madoka is not just that it’s such an unpredictable series, but that it’s also proving successful in challenging the visual derivativeness of anime. It’s nice to see that anime can be artsy and popular at the same time.
Its success just underlines my disappointment in the supposedly ambitious Fractale, a much hyped noitaminA series that many had high hopes for but that’s so riddled with tried and tested tropes and archetypes as to render it soulless.
If Fractale is a symptom of the lack of daring that’s seen the anime industry slip half into hibernation, then I really hope the likes of Madoka (and Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt!) can become an example to be followed. It’s a competently written and original series (i.e. not a manga or light novel adaptation), refreshingly strange and surreal and, best of all, people love it (or, at the very least, I’ve yet to read any one writing it off as pretentious!)