terabient: Madoka in profile, her hair waving in the wind (Puella Magi: Madoka)
Something that annoys me about a lot of Puella Magi Madoka Magica analysis: theorizing the whole story (or at least the original series) is one big Faust allegory--specifically, Goethe's adaptation of Faust.

This idea is so prevalent in the PMMM community; it's littered all over the Puella Magi wiki, the annual Anime Boston PMMM panel devotes like, half of the running time to an extensive Homura-as-Faust theory, and...I just don't see it? I admit that 99% of my knowledge of Faust comes from Wikipedia and 1% comes from cultural osmosis and references in other literature, so I'm not exactly the most qualified person when it comes to what is and what isn't a Faust allegory. But one of the most common descriptions about the plot of PMMM is 'Be careful what you wish for/the characters make Faustian bargains' and like...no, that doesn't happen at all??? I'm pretty sure the concept behind a Faustian bargain is that the person making the wish knows the consequences of their wish, but their desire for worldly power is so great they decide to go through with it anyway. The exact opposite happens in PMMM--with the exception of Madoka at the end of the series, none of the girls are aware of what their contracts entail, and their wishes are all made on behalf of others. I suppose Mami is an exception, in that she wishes to survive a fatal car crash, but that wish doesn't display the power-hungry desire that a traditional Faustian wish does.

"There are literally quotes from Goethe's Faust in the backgrounds of some episodes, and there's a witch named Gretchen!" Fair enough, but let's not forget that back in the 90s everyone thought that Neon Genesis Evangelion was heavily based on apocryphal biblical texts, because crosses and Christian names were everywhere. Then Gainax said 'lol we just thought it'd be cool and different.' I suspect that the references to Goethe's Faust in PMMM are quite similar, added for visual flair but nothing deeper than that.

"But isn't Madoka an example of the Eternal Feminine?" It is pretty clear that Madoka's final form/Godoka/the Law of the Cycle is an avatar of mercy, 'pure' (i.e. chaste) love, and hope, concepts that are typically coded as feminine. But that coding is as common in Asian culture as it is in Western culture. Not only that, but the magical girl genre in particular often climaxes with the main character turning--if briefly--into a being whose power comes from hope, mercy, or from the love of their friends; Madoka may fit the idea of the Eternal Feminine but it's through coincidence, not because she's a stand-in for the role of a female character in an influential piece of Western literature.

Finally, given the sheer amount of interviews with the creative team of PMMM--many of which directly ask what influences were baked into the plot of the show--if Faust played anything more than a superficial role, you'd think someone would've said so by now. But Faust never comes up in these interviews. Lovecraft does, various magical girl shows do, but I honestly can't find a direct mention of Faust by any of the Magica Quartet members. And believe me, I have looked. If it's ever come up, it's from something that's never been translated into English.

In short:

-Kyubey's contracts are like the polar opposite of a Faustian bargain
-Quotes from Faust are like Christian crosses in NGE: meaningless
-A Japanese show by Japanese creators for a Japanese audience is more likely to draw from Japanese sources before European ones
-Look, SOMEONE would have said something about it by now

I've never been a big fan of analysis that essentially boils down to 'The characters and plot of this show are stand-ins for the characters and plot of this cultural myth/piece of literature' and in the case of Puella Magi-as-Faust I feel it's particularly strained and ill-fitting. It's a little frustrating that's it's so widespread.
terabient: Pokemon Froakie happily jumps up and down (Pokemon: Froakie - joyful)
was kinda tagged by a tumblr pal with this meme:

List 10 favourite characters (1 per series/fandom) and then tag 10 people

Favorites, and semi-coherent reasons for why they are so )

and now it's time for the tagging game!

the 'i already tagged you on tumblr, i'm pretty sure, but here's a second one, 'cuz you're cool' group: [personal profile] hamimi_fk [personal profile] jack_of_none [profile] kotesu

the 'i should talk to you more often, 'cuz you're cool" group: [personal profile] arcanelegacy [personal profile] badgal [personal profile] chibichan [personal profile] ein_papier [personal profile] gemais [personal profile] john_egbert [personal profile] rutato [personal profile] sirvalkyrie [personal profile] tyger [personal profile] ukefied [personal profile] weber_dubois22

that's more than ten i think but whatever, i wanna hear opinions and leave comments on other people's journals, so. :)
terabient: Mami looking at her reflection in her teacup (Puella Magi: Mami Tea)
I FINALLY GOT AROUND TO DOING THIS. I hope it is not too confusing and/or unconvincing.

Cut for Magica Madoka spoilers, long-windedness

Why Madoka is not a deconstruction of the Magical Girl genre )
terabient: Madoka in profile, her hair waving in the wind (Puella Magi: Madoka)
Earlier this year at Anime Boston, I attended a fan panel analyzing Puella Magi Madoka Magica. I enjoyed it, and agreed with most of what was said, but there were two ideas that I didn't agree with. The first was that PMMM served as a refutation or critique of moe culture; the second was that PMMM was a deconstruction of magical girl shows, in part because of its 'realistic' take on what a magical girl would experience and the general darkness of the series.

I'm still working out how I feel about Madoka as a deconstructionist work (short version: it's not; it's more like a celebration of the mahou shoujo genre), and hopefully I'll have that finished before the month is out. For today, I'm going to tackle one of the stickier subjects in anime culture: moe.

cut because i have no idea how many people give a fuck about moe )

Man, I hope that made some kind of sense. Stuff from the Puella Magi Madoka Magica panel has been banging around my head for ages, and I haven't been able to get it out.
terabient: Thor and young Loki hug (Marvel: Thor/kid!Loki hug)
★ The Puella Magi Madoka Magica movies were screened in NYC a week ago and while I could have gone, it would have taken a lot of time and effort and cash that I didn't really want to use, so I didn't go. But then I made the mistake of looking up the special opening and ending theme songs, which was all I needed to make my inner fangirl instantly regret my decision to not see said movies. They're not even particularly outstanding--Luminous is pretty standard j-pop anime opening fare, though it has a tinge of wistfulness that I find incredibly appealing, and Hikari Furu is just a vocal version of a track from Episode 12 (admittedly, a track from one of the most memorable scenes). But they're more than enough to make my heart ~flutter~ and renew my adoration of the series.

★ On the subject of PMMM, I don't think I've ever explained why I like the series so much. I think PMMM treats its characters with a seriousness and compassion that few shows match. In particular, when I think of magical girl shows, I think sparkles! melodrama. Not to say that PMMM doesn't have melodramatic moments, but they're...different, somehow. I'm thinking of moments like Sayaka's confrontation with the men on the train, or Homura's confession to Madoka in Episode 11; there's a very relatable quality to the emotions expressed that I generally don't feel in magical girl shows (and anime in general). I've never been fond of the way PMMM is described as a 'realistic' take on the magical girl genre, because it's anything but realistic, but it's more understandable if I assume that people mean "the characters' emotional struggles are easy to relate to."

★ Final PMMM note: I'm not sure I agree with the general consensus of it being a deconstruction of the MG genre. I fully admit that part of this is due to my lack of understanding of what 'deconstruction' actually means; I have a vague idea, but honestly I don't know a good, simple definition of the term. THAT SAID, when I think of examples of genre deconstruction I think of Watchmen and Evangelion, and one thing that sticks out for both series is how critical they are of their respective genres. PMMM certainly takes a lot of joy in subverting viewer expectations, but it's not critical in the way Watchmen/Evangelion are. Also, that much-lauded 'twist' on the true purpose of magical girls? TOTALLY done ages ago in Magic Knight Rayearth. Why does no one else seem to notice this?

★ Speaking of stories that like to tear your heart out: Journey Into Mystery #645 is downright devastating. Not going to mention anything spoiler-worthy (although I don't think anyone on my flist has been following this particular title?) but short thoughts: WOW, way to deliver on reader fears ever since Kid Loki appeared, and also this is one of the few comic titles written in this decade that really seemed to a) have a clear ending in mind from the start and b) each issue was a necessary piece in reaching said ending. One thing that makes the ending of JiM so painful is the realization that no, there isn't any other way out of the dilemma at hand. To make an unnecessary comparison, it reminds me of the way PMMM made Madoka's eventual wish truly inevitable, something that had to be done to achieve any real change.

★ The Everything Burns JiM/Thor crossover has really highlighted the fact that Matt Fraction is kind of awful at writing Thor. Like, I understand he's trying to make Thor more like the Thor from Norse mythology in temperament, but he mostly comes off as a total bastard, and not in an endearing or interesting way. Also, his speech is kinda wince-worthy. I am also bitter because I suspect if anyone but Fraction had been writing Thor alongside Kireon Gillen writing Loki, there would have been way more adorable bro-moments between the two. Instead there's lots of.....borderline abusive Thor. I AM DISPLEASED.

★ Have a spoiler filled interview with the creators of RE6! (Because everything I post nowadays must have something to do with RE.) As they say on tumblr, THIS VIDEO GIVES ME A LOT OF FEELS. Most of them are less than charitable. A few thoughts, cut for spoilers )

LJ is planning another wave of site changes. One of those changes: infinite scrolling FriendsLists. Because if there's one thing people love, it's infinite scrolling. Seriously though: who thought of infinite scrolling, and does anyone actually prefer it to finite scrolling? Because I have not met a single person who likes infinite scrolling. At most, people are neutral to it--at least in my experience.

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