Review by Matt S.
The voice acting is uneven across both the Japanese and English dub, with some key characters coming across as more irritating than they should be thanks to the voice acting. This also leads to some odd moments of characterisation. I assume by the dialogue of the animal-like thing that awakens the power of the magical girls, Kyubey, that it is meant to be a benevolent benefactor, but it’s difficult to shake the impression that it might be the most sinister thing in the entire anime, and I have narrowed that impression down to the fact that the character and the voice actor simply don’t gel as well as they probably should.
Without getting into spoiler territory, there’s also a time travel plot strand that’s thrown into the movie, and handled terribly. If you are going to make time travel a part of a story, then you need to make it the focus of the story and actively explore the many paradoxes that time travel story lines throw up. If you’re throwing it into a script for the sake of convenience, to make the other jigsaw puzzles fit, then the inevitable effect is that it’s a narrative strand that is both contrived and juvenile.
And that’s a pity because for the most part, the script of Madoka Magica is fairly straightforward, but quite mature. The characters are a well designed group and there’s enough narrative twists and turns to keep you on your feet throughout.
The Blu-Ray transfer of the film looks gorgeous, and while there aren’t many additional features (the highlight being a trailer for the next film, Rebellion), there are both English and Japanese voice tracks for people to choose between. There’s also a small, but nicely illustrated art booklet in the Blu-Ray box set, which fans will appreciate as a bonus for going out of their way to buy a physical box edition.
Puella Magi Madoka Magica: The Movie is almost worthwhile solely because of the nightmarish visions that form its witches’ labyrinths. For sheer creative power it’s hard to imagine any other anime that does that kind of thing better. It’s also supported ably (albeit not supremely) by interesting characters and a plot that is nowhere near as chipper as it initially appears.
– Matt S.
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This Blu-Ray can be purchased from Madman Entertainment in Australia and New Zealand