Anime Expo 2012: Tiger & Bunny and Puella Magi Madoka Magica Draw Huge Crowds at AX
|Madoka Magica cosplayers at Aniplex's Anime Expo booth.|
Madoka Magica is similar to other relatively recent anime hits like The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, Gurren Lagann and FLCL in that it takes anime tropes and twists them into an unusual and compelling story. It is, however, dramatically different from any of those shows. With Madoka Magica, the point of reference is magical girls, a genre revolving around teenagers with special powers. Think Sailor Moon. This, however, is not your average show about heroic young ladies. Right before the panel, a friend of mine remarked that the show makes you wonder if you really want to be a magical girl. That's true. Madoka Magica shows that with a lot of power comes a lot of grief.
EJ Rivera, marking specialist for Aniplex, who brought the show to the U.S., says that the buzz amongst anime watchers began in early 2011, while the show was still only airing in Japan. When Aniplex announced that Madoka Magica would be licensed for a U.S. release at Anime Expo last year, the buzz increased. At the beginning of 2012, they aired subtitled streams for free on Crunchyroll and began releasing dubbed volumes on DVD and Blu-ray. For the convention season, the show's U.S. voice actors have been turning up on panels, but Anime Expo was special in that it's the only one that featured the full cast of magical girls.
Aniplex passed out 1000 masks based on Kyubey, the strange creature who looks like a cross between a cat and a bunny that recruits new magical girls. But Kyubey is nothing like Sailor Moon's familiar. "Fans love him," says Rivera. "Fans love to hate him."
Rivera credits the series' constant plot twists for its popularity. "It's very deceiving," he says. It's also addictive.