Yesterday I attended one of the limited US screenings of the two Madoka movies. The two movies were screened subtitled as a double-feature in a downtown LA theater, with a fifteen minute intermission in between. Also, exclusive to the LA screenings was Aniplex selling some Madoka goodies at the theater (helped by Anime Jungle, a local anime store). As expected, it was an awesome event to say the least…
Posters on the theater window
I went to the 6pm screening this past Sunday, the 21st, arriving a good hour and a half early to get a good spot in line. I had heard from my friend pkjd, who went to the very first LA screening on Friday, that there was already a line when he arrived three hours early. But luckily my friend and I were greeted by a fairly short line and managed to find a spot with only about 10-15 people ahead of us. I spent the next hour or so passing time by playing Pokemon Black 2 (which other people in line also did) and taking some pictures.
As with any anime-related event, there will of course be cosplayers =)
After one of the staff came around to confirm our online reservations and give us our tickets, we continued to wait in line until a little passed 5:30, when people from the afternoon showing began leaving the theater and we were finally allowed to start going in.
Inside the theater lobby
My will-call ticket
The two free goodies everyone was handed upon entering the theater were a big movie poster (with the girls and Kyubey in front of the Statue of Liberty) and a signboard autographed by the character designer for the series, Aoki Ume. As it was my turn to enter the theater, I was handed the LAST signboard they had! I’m lucky with some things but rarely with things like that, so I was very pleasantly surprised! If I had gotten in line just a few minutes later, I wouldn’t have gotten it O_o Not sure if it was the last signboard just for the day or the last signboard period, but either way, I got the LAST ONE!
After getting our freebies, we could either go straight into the theater room to get a good seat, or wait in line at the booth to buy goodies. As expected, just about everyone wanted to wait and buy Madoka stuff. You can check out the web site here to see the full list of what was available.
And, when it came my turn to buy, I had another stroke of luck and bought the last wallscroll (which was the one on display). It was well worth the $54 as it’s a gorgeous picture of the five girls drawn by Aoki Ume.
I also bought the below Kyubey scarf. It actually works pretty well as a scarf as it’s very soft and warm. I just hope it doesn’t get messed up in the washing machine =P
And just to finish up my swag list, during intermission my friend managed to nab a set of three chibi Madoka figures that sold out in just a few minutes. He gave me the Homura one :3
Anyway, after getting our goods, we rushed into the theater along with everyone else and got perfect seats in the middle of the room. The show actually started about 6:30, which is understandable as people at the end of the line needed time to buy stuff and get seated too. After a brief greeting by Aniplex staff, the show started with a short prerecording of the six main seiyuu greeting their international fans and describing a bit about their experience with the movies. After that, we were unfortunately delayed a few minutes by some technical difficulties in the projection room, but before long the first movie started and everyone hushed up.
Like their descriptions say, the first two movies are basically recaps of the TV series with some additional new animation and music. The first movie covers episodes 1-8 and the second covers 9-12. So you may ask, is it worth seeing these movies rather than just watch the TV series again? Having watched the TV series a few times already, I also didn’t think the movies would be that special. But I was wrong – first of all, watching the Madoka plot flow uninterrupted as two long movies rather than TV episodes really gave me a new appreciation for the plot, characters, and moral messages of the series. The movies managed to show everything that was important in the TV series in a way that was both well condensed yet didn’t feel like anything was rushed or left out. Also, even though much of the dialogue in the movies is the same as the TV series, the seiyuu rerecorded all their lines for the movies, furthering the refreshing impact of the movies’ audio. And of course, just seeing an already great anime on a big screen with a booming sound system surrounded by fellow fans, is beyond exciting =D
There was also plenty of new Shaft animation and Yuki Kajiura music for any fan of the TV series to want to see and hear. I specifically noticed a lot of new and better background art, for example, the scenes of Madoka and Sayaka talking on the roof of their school have a new design. There’s also a noticeably eerie scene towards the end of the first movie of Kyubey and Homura talking in a cemetery that wasn’t in the TV series. The magical girl transformation scenes were all new and took advantage of the bigger movie budget – in other words, they were awesome =) Yuki Kajiura’s music was also cranked up, with some new and very intense music at key dramatic points. I particularly took note of how intense the music and animation was for Sayaka’s descent into a witch and the coming of Walpurgisnacht.
Both movies also had a new opening song by ClariS called “Luminous.” There’s no YouTube clip of the actual opening video available yet, but I’ll just say it was great – it showed some adorable scenes of Madoka as a baby and some cute MadokaxHomura moments. The below gif of Madoka and Homura snuggling was part of the new opening and got quite an enthusiastic roar from the audience XD (and apparently a film strip of that scene was just auctioned off for over $10,000!)
There was also a new Kalafina song and the popular TV series opening, “Connect,” was played during the second movie with some new scenes of glasses Homura.
A treat for us at the end of the second movie was…a trailer for the upcoming third movie! Unlike these two movies, the third movie will be a brand new addition to the story with all new animation. The trailer was of course awesome to see, but it was very vague and didn’t describe much of what the movie will be about. The inkling I got was that witches will somehow make a comeback in the new world Madoka created…but don’t quote me on that as I could be wrong ^^,,, I honestly think the Madoka story is perfectly satisfying without making it longer…so I’m curious about how I’ll like the third movie =P
And that’s pretty much all I have to say about the event. I have to thank Aniplex USA and everyone else involved for bringing these fantastic movies to fans outside Japan. Despite the movies being mostly the same as the TV series, the differences I mentioned make it worth it to see these movies if you at least liked the TV episodes. It’s hard to say which is better – they’re just slightly different ways of experiencing the same amazing story. Here’s hoping the third movie gets this same international treatment ^_^