In 12 episodes, Puella Magi Madoka Magica convinced me that there’s more to Akiyuki Shinbo than otaku-pandering. The director has increasingly been held in high regard, but until Madoka, I’d not taken any substantial steps into his oeuvre. Not even Bakemonogatari coaxed me in, but post-Madoka, I’ve found a lot of new respect for the man.
Experimental and fearless is how I’d describe the series, as not only does it impose a very specific, artsy aesthetic on a subject matter reserved for the hardcore, it also takes a hard-line with its young characters. Much like Bokurano, it never backs down, or allows for an easy way out.
Teenage girls are a tricky thing to do well in anime. Anime about (and often aimed at) teenage girls is a continually saturated market, making it hard to improve upon. That said, I liked Hanasaku Iroha. In particular, the portrayal of Ohana was intriguing.