Troy Tang on ‘Puella Magi Madoka Magica’

Singaporean sf writer Troy Tang, who happens to be in my writers’ group, has a new blog, Thoughts with a Touch of Tang. If you’d like to get touched by Tang, I suggest you check it out.

Right now, he’s running a series on Puella Magi Madoka Magica, 2011’s groundbreaking and mold-busting magical girl series from Gen Urobuchi and Studio Shaft. His essay series is entitled, perspicaciously enough, “When You Wish Upon a Star: Hope and Despair in Puella Magi Madoka Magica,” and there are presently two parts. In the first, he sets the series within the context of Urobuchi-sensei’s larger body of work. In the second, he uses Madoka to segue into a philosophical discussion of Søren Kierkegaard and the meaning of despair.

He also for some reason dislikes referring to Madoka by its title and instead gives it several nicknames. My favorite is Pouty Moulding Manchild Mistresses, though I would think that any sensible manchild would select his waifu from somewhere at least slightly less depressing. Mine is Duck from Princess Tutu, but that’s not the kind of thing I’d announce to strangers on the internet.

My own opinion of Madoka, to be honest, is that I’m sick of it. It’s an awesome series, unquestionably. It is easily one of the best magical girl shows ever made, and in some respects it is possibly the very best. But yeesh, it’s been five years, and as a result of Madoka‘s influence, the genre is still stuck in its emo phase. Let’s do something else now.

Choose Your Girl … and Choose Your Destiny!

Over at the site Royal Road, which also hosts Jake and the Dynamo, we have a poll up where you can select Best Girl from amongst the magical girls in the story (or ship Jake, if you’re so inclined).

See it here. Be sure to leave a comment defending your choice, and your choice’s honor.

MIT Student Creates Magical Girl Transformation in the Lab … Sort Of

There is a class at MIT called “Indistinguishable from …” in which students are invited to create technology inspired in some fashion by magic from fantasy stories. Project descriptions from the class are posted online.

Back in 2015, one Kyrie Caldwell, social science graduate student, decided to base her project on magical girls. Continue reading “MIT Student Creates Magical Girl Transformation in the Lab … Sort Of”

Parallels Between Buddhism and ‘Puella Magi Madoka Magica’

I stumbled upon this post from 2011 on Listless Ink, a post entitled “Birth of a Goddess, Madoka’s Path to Nirvana – A Study of Buddhism,” which examined parallels between the hugely successful and highly popular 2011 magical girl anime Puella Magi Madoka Magica and Buddhist doctrine. It’s a thoughtful and convincing essay.

It contains spoilers, of course, for the anime in question.

Let us stretch the parallels one step further. Before nirvana, all consciousness are born, die, and reborn as beings in the six domains of the Desire realm: God realm, Asura realm, Human realm, Animal realm, Preta realm, and Hell realm. This is the wheel of life, the place where Samsāra occurs.

It is surprisingly neat how the characters in Madoka Magica fit into these realms. For example, the deva that occupy the blissful God realm are way more powerful than beings in all other realms. Among their powers include a sort of telepathy and illusion construction. Moreover, one particular class of deva are passionless and sexless. Indeed, this seems a bit reminiscent of Kyubey. [more…]

‘Candid Slice’ on Feminism in Anime

I stumbled across a brief essay on mahou shoujo anime by someone named Heather at a site called Candid Slicein which Heather toots her own horn about her accomplishments and compares herself to magical girls. It’s a fluff piece, but I decided to link it anyway. I don’t know who Heather is or what she does, so I have no particular comment about that, but I do have something to say about how she interprets anime.

She has her comments laid out in a series of bullets, so I will write responses in the same fashion.

1. Magical Girls Are Chosen

I could feel the magic bubbling up inside me, and whenever I saw an opportunity to help someone, even in a small way, I’d bounce over and do my best — just like a magical girl.

And you were very humble about it, too. Heather goes on from there to praise herself for choosing to get involved in her current life’s work, rather than waiting for opportunity to come along. So she’s a go-getter, and that’s great. Continue reading “‘Candid Slice’ on Feminism in Anime”

Aristotle, “On Trolling”

That trolling is a shameful thing, and that no one of sense would accept to be called ‘troll’, all are agreed; but what trolling is, and how many its species are, and whether there is an excellence of the troll, is unclear. And indeed trolling is said in many ways; for some call ‘troll’ anyone who is abusive on the internet, but this is only the disagreeable person, or in newspaper comments the angry old man. And the one who disagrees loudly on the blog on each occasion is a lover of controversy, or an attention-seeker. And none of these is the troll, or perhaps some are of a mixed type; for there is no art in what they do. (Whether it is possible to troll one’s own blog is unclear; for the one who poses divisive questions seems only to seek controversy, and to do so openly; and this is not trolling but rather a kind of clickbait.)

[Read the rest.]

New Essay –> Sci Phi Journal

Featured art by BeningK.

Crazy times over here.  I’m preparing to move and then to go back to school … again.

But other things are still happening.  I’m spending this afternoon (it’s actually my morning because I’m working nights now) finalizing and submitting an essay to Sci Phi Journal: The Journal of Science Fiction and Philosophy, a site I recommend you check out if you haven’t heard of it.  It publishes new fiction, some reprints, and philosophical essays using sf as a jumping-off point.

But it suffers a lack of magical girls. I’m sending in an article entitled “Justice Tempered with Cuteness: Moral Development and Retributive Justice in Craig McCracken’s Powerpuff Girls.” If that doesn’t get accepted there, I’ll post it here instead.

If it does get accepted there, I’ll start another essay on metaphysical concepts in Shugo Chara!, which I’ve been meaning to write for a while but haven’t gotten to yet.

I’m also working on the next part of Jake and the Dynamo, of course. And I’m making my way through a second viewing of Revolutionary Girl Utena, which I am proud to own in the limited edition remastered box set, and about which I’ll write when I’m finished.

I also recently read Herman Hesse’s Jungian/Nietzschean/Gnostic novel Demian, which inspired Utena, in the hope I would therein find the master key to understanding this most esoteric of magical girl anime. Reading a classic of German literature in order to understand a Japanese cartoon sounds backwards, but hey, whatever gets them reading, right? This is only the second Hesse novel I’ve read, and I’m now wishing I had greater knowledge of his corpus.

Also, as a heads-up to anyone who cares, a boxed set of the Revolutionary Girl Utena manga, which differs significantly from the anime as the two were made at the same time by different people, is set to release on February 7 of next year. I know I’ll be getting one. I just can’t get enough sexual-neurosis-induced-crisis-reaching-catharsis-through-swordfighting.

The Magical Girl Wikia

There are a lot of blogs and websites dedicated to magical girls, naturally enough, but from what I’ve seen, most don’t stay active. A lot of them that I’ve stumbled upon look like legacies from Web 1.0, or haven’t updated for three or more years.

I did, however, recently come upon the magical girl wikia, which has possibly the most complete catalogue of the genre I’ve seen anywhere.

It has this partly because it’s decidedly generous in what it considers magical girl. Its timeline starts as early as the 1940s with titles like the film Down to Earth. I assume this is because they’re cataloguing the predecessors of Bewitched, which inspired the genre as we now know it.

It’s a good site. Go take a look.