As The Glorio Blog’s resident hipster, I really ought to be choosing something way more obscure for my Op-Eds debut than the ED for Puella Magi Madoka Magica, of all things. However, “Magia” not yet having been added to our jukebox was a downright disgrace, so I felt that needed to be fixed as soon as possible.
Kalafina’s visceral baroque requiem for crushed childhood dreams already hits all the right buttons before it even has the chance to fully blossom. While the song was carefully muffled away during the first two episodes — as part of Madoka‘s brilliant scheme to lure in viewers with the promise of a somewhat conventional magical girl show — its debut at the end of that episode 3 slammed the final nail in the coffin of the genre’s former innocence.
SPOILERS beyond the jump, for those five
idiots people who have not seen Puella Magi Madoka Magica yet.
Creeping its way to viewers’ ears as Mami’s funeral song, “Magia”‘s eerie swooning served as the perfect companion piece to a show determined to stir the blood of the anime world for a long time to come. After the opening gong sends shivers down your spine, “Magia” glides along like a grim carnival parade. Composer Yuki Kajiura uses all ranges of the human voice — from Keiko Kubota, Wakana Outaki and Hikaru Masai’s inhumane choral chants to the brooding baritones singing backup — as her main instrument, accompanied by a macabre concerto of violins, droning basses, church bells, militaristic percussion and a guitar riff exploring the darkest corners of the metal genre. The best part of the song — an absolutely chilling guitar solo — isn’t even part of the version cut for television.
“Magia” is a witches’ brew of musical genres and conventions, smashing Celtic folk, Arabic opera, bombastic church music, baroque pop, doom metal and stadium rock into an anthem that defied its medium. “Magia” and its acompanying animation were subject of speculation for months. What was the song about? Why is Mami sitting down? Why is Homura the only one reaching out to Madoka? Like most other Madoka Magica speculation, most of the speculation about “Magia” ringed true. For instance, the terrifying mask Madoka is trapped into at the end of the animation is based off a mask used in a Nazi-era production of Faust, the literary masterpiece that inspired Madoka Magica‘s writer, Gen Urobuchi. Anime, fun for the entire family!
Just listening to Magia brings me back to the wonderful days of watching Madoka Magica, looking forward to the next episode every week. It is one of the most relevant, most poignant, most touching, most clever, but especially, one of the best anime songs of all time.