Puella Magi Madoka Magica often referred to simply as Madoka Magica, is a Japanese anime television series created by Magica Quartet, an artist collective consisting of director Akiyuki Shinbo, screenwriter Gen Urobuchi, character designer Ume Aoki, and producer Atsuhiro Iwakami. The story follows a group of female middle school students who choose to become magical girls, subsequently battling surreal enemies known as “witches.” In consequence, they learn of the anguish and peril associated with their new role.
The first ten episodes of the series aired in Japan on TBS and MBS between January and March 2011, while the final two episodes were delayed until April 2011 due to the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami. A manga adaptation of the series and various spin-off manga series have been published by Houbunsha and licensed in North America by Yen Press. A novelization by Nitroplus was released in August 2011, and a dedicated magazine titled Manga Time Kirara Magica was launched by Houbunsha in June 2012. A video game for the PlayStation Portable was released in March 2012 and another for PlayStation Vita was released in December 2013. A film series has also been produced; it consists of two films recapping the anime series and released in October 2012. A third film featuring an original story was released on October 26, 2013, and a concept film acting as a trailer for a new project was screened in December 2015. A smartphone game, Magia Record, launched in August 2017, and an anime adaptation premiered in January 2020.
Puella Magi Madoka Magica has received widespread critical acclaim; critics praised the complex narrative, visuals, artistic direction, and soundtrack of the series as well as its unconventional approach to the magical girl subgenre. It became a commercial success; each Blu-ray Disc volume sold more than 50,000 copies in Japan. The series garnered a variety of awards, such as the Television Award at the 16th Animation Kobe Awards, as well as 12 Newtype Anime Awards and the Grand Prize for animation in the 2011 Japan Media Arts awards.
Houbunsha has published several manga series based on Puella Magi Madoka Magica. A direct adaptation of the anime series was illustrated by Hanokage and published in three four-chapter tankōbon volumes that were released between February 12 and May 30, 2011. The manga has been licensed in North America by Yen Press. A side story manga titled Puella Magi Kazumi Magica: The Innocent Malice, which was written by Masaki Hiramatsu and illustrated by Takashi Tensugi, was serialized in Manga Time Kirara Forward between March 2011 and January 2013. A third manga titled Puella Magi Oriko Magica, which was written by Kuroe Mura, was released in two tankōbon volumes on May 12, 2011, and June 12, 2011. Both Kazumi Magica and Oriko Magica have been licensed by Yen Press in North America. The first volume of Kazumi Magica was released in May 2013. Puella Magi Madoka Magica: Wraith Arc, which was written and illustrated by Hanokage, began serialization in the 20th issue of Manga Time Kirara Magica released on June 10, 2015. The plot describes the events that happened between Puella Magi Madoka Magica the Movie: Eternal and Puella Magi Madoka Magica the Movie: Rebellion.
The first volume of an official anthology comic featuring illustrations by guest artists was released on September 12, 2011. A dedicated monthly magazine published by Houbunsha and titled Manga Time Kirara Magica was launched on June 8, 2012; it features various manga stories, including spin-off stories of Oriko Magica. A film comic adaptation of the series titled Puella Magi Madoka Magica: Film Memories went on sale on May 26, 2012. Puella Magi Madoka Magica: The Different Story, another manga by Hanokage, was published in three tankōbon volumes between October 12 and November 12, 2012, and was licensed by Yen Press in 2014. The first volume of Puella Magi Suzune Magica, which was written and illustrated by Gan, was released on November 12, 2013, before being serialized in Manga Time Kirara Magica on November 22, 2013. Puella Magi Homura Tamura, which was written and illustrated by Afro, is serialized in Manga Time Kirara Magica; its first volume was released in October 2013 and was licensed by Yen Press. Puella Magi Homura’s Revenge! , written by Kawazukuu and illustrated by Masugitsune, was serialized in Manga Time Kirara Magica and released two volumes in December 2013; Yen Press licensed the manga.
Hajime Ninomae wrote a novel adaptation of the series that was illustrated by Yūpon and published by Nitroplus on August 14, 2011. Pre-release copies were available at Comiket 80 on August 12, 2011. A book titled Puella Magi Madoka Magica: The Beginning Story, which is based on Gen Urobuchi’s original draft treatment for the anime, was released in November 2011.
In the fictional city of Mitakihara, Japan, a middle school student named Madoka Kaname and her friend Sayaka Miki encounter a small, cat-like creature named Kyubey. It offers a contract in which a girl may have any wish granted in exchange for obtaining magical powers and being tasked with fighting witches. Meanwhile, a transfer student and magical girl named Homura Akemi tries to stop Madoka from making the contract with Kyubey. Madoka and Sayaka then meet Mami Tomoe, an upperclassman at the same school who is also a magical girl. Noticing their indecisiveness on whether to become a magical girl, Mami offers to take Madoka and Sayaka along on her witch hunts so they may learn of the responsibilities that come with being a magical girl.
However, after witnessing Mami’s death at the hands of a witch, Madoka realizes the life of a magical girl is filled with danger, anguish, and suffering. This is further enforced by the appearance of Kyoko Sakura, a veteran magical girl whose wish indirectly caused the death of her family. Madoka also discovers magical girls give up their souls to form their Soul Gems, the source of their magic, and that when Soul Gems become too tainted with despair, magical girls change into witches.
Sayaka decides to become a magical girl after learning that doing so would allow her to heal a young musician who she admires. However, her classmate Hitomi Shizuki confesses to him first, causing Sayaka to become disillusioned and fall into an inescapable despair that turns her into a witch. Kyubey reveals to Madoka that he is of an alien race that has been harvesting the emotions of magical girls for centuries to use as energy to counteract the spread of entropy, and thus stave off the heat death of the universe. Madoka also learns that Homura is a magical girl from a different timeline who has repeated the same month countless times to try to save Madoka from a grisly fate.
Madoka and Kyoko attempt to reverse Sayaka’s transformation, but the plan fails and Kyoko is forced to sacrifice herself to allow Madoka to escape, leaving Homura as the only remaining magical girl. Following this, an extremely powerful witch known as Walpurgisnacht approaches the city. Homura attempts to stop it, but is defeated. She prepares to rewind time to repeat the month again, but Madoka stops her. With the past month’s events in mind, Madoka decides to become a magical girl and makes a wish to stop the creation of all witches in the past, present, and future. The scope of this wish rewrites history and the laws of the universe, and her existence as a human is erased from time. She transcends into a cosmic phenomenon called “The Law of Cycles”, which appears to all magical girls at the moment before they become witches and rescues them by taking them to a heavenly paradise. A new reality, in which Homura is the only one who remembers Madoka, is formed. Homura vows to continue fighting in honor of Madoka.