Last Friday, a Los Angeles theater held the US premiere screening for the first two 「Madoka★Magica」 films; Beginnings and Eternal — in Japanese with English subtitles. However America wasn’t the only country outside Japan to show the flick. A special tour consisting of 18 cities in eight countries would be showcasing the motion picture to fans across the globe — from October through December. Luckily I was able to attend such an event myself and experience just what its like to witness one of my favorite series on the big screen.
The first time I heard about Aniplex of America bringing over the Madoka films to L.A. was about two weeks ago. The news completely took me by surprise, as it did many — why can’t the same happen for Eva 3.0! Anyway I immediately called up a friend and asked what’s a good time for them to go so I could reserve our tickets. There was just no way I was about to let an opportunity like this pass me by.
Friday came and we drove out there arriving in L.A. almost 3 hours before the screening would begin. What I didn’t expect was having to wait outside in line for 2 hours under the hot sun. This was my first visit to Downtown Independent theater as well. I thought at any moment we would be allowed to enter and purchase some merchandise at least but nope, the waiting game continued.
So to kill time I thought why not take some pictures with my phone. Took a shot of this Madoka banner just hanging outside the building.
Here’s a pic of a poster which I assumed was one of the freebies we would receive for coming; and sure enough it was.
Another thing I kept an eye out for was cosplayers. You would imagine there would be a lot magical girls attending an event such as this, but that just wasn’t the case. All I could find in line was Madoka suffering in the heat with all of us. Still she was very nice to let us take this shot.
Finally we were allowed inside with only 30 minutes before the initial start of the film. But even with the crowd eagerly shoving their way inside, I wasn’t going to miss any photo ops — as soon as I take my camera out I become addicted to this sort of thing..
Here’s a Charlotte tapestry that caught my eye.
Some Madoka posters on the wall.
So yeah there was a booth selling merchandise. Most of these items were film exclusives even. This was the best pic I could take before running out of time unfortunately. However I’ll share with you guys some photos of what exactly I bought there.
As previously mentioned, this was one of the freebies they handed out there. Its a nice poster featuring the main cast. And yes that is the Statue of Liberty in the background. For this movie world tour, they decided to mark the key visual artwork with something that can be instantly recognizable from the country it’s tailor-made for. Other examples of this idea can be found here.
The next and last freebie of that day was this autographed shikishi board with Madoka sketch from original character designer Aoki Ume.
Ah now this is the swag most people are talking about. The tapestry you see above, with illustrations by Aoki Ume, sold out ridiculously fast. I even received a few offers online to purchase mine. Sorry but it is simply not for sale! All I can say is thank goodness I went to the 1pm showing instead of 6pm that day. For arriving early and standing in line for nearly 2 hours under the scorching hot afternoon sun, I was rewarded quite nicely.
Kyubey wallet and scarf. Bought these as a gift for a friend who’s conflicting schedule unfortunately kept them from adventuring with us.
Inside these boxes are earphone jack accessories for your phone. There are 5 magical girl types, and 2 secret — Kyubey and Charlotte.
Bought four boxes and lucky enough each was different from the other; Madoka, Homuhomu, Kyoko, and Sayaka — so glad I got the Kyoko one~.
Finally the other hot item that sold out fast. The theatrical guidebooks for Part I and II you see above was definitely something I wanted the most going there. Its filled with production notes, character profiles, cast interviews, and illustration galleries.
Sorry but this is the only pic I can take of the movie screen without being kicked out of the theater. Also we got to see the two films together with the English dub voice cast. (Man I wish you guys got to see what Cristina Vee was wearing that day.)
So how was the movie itself? Great overall. It was shown in Japanese with English subtitles. And apparently the Japanese cast re-dubbed all their lines to boot. But you’re probably asking, how can a movie like this be great when a majority of it is exactly like the TV series. Well besides the few visual improvements, I would say the pacing of the story told on film is what hooks you in. With source material from the TV airing left out on the cutting room floor, and watching the series in a single go and not on a weekly basis, you get a better sense of the story and appreciate the characters on a deeper level. Believe me when I first saw and finished Madoka last year, I was left with more questions than answers. But I felt after revisiting this world they live in, knowing all the plot twists and character development beforehand, I grasped a better understanding of the narrative being told. Not only that, but I felt the story became somewhat fresh as it was almost expressed by Homura’s point of view.
So yes, this is definitely something not to be missed if you loved the original. Ah and did I mention they showed the crowd the trailer to the third film coming out next year?! So much hype! And it doesn’t end there. Recently writer Urobuchi Gen revealed in a newspaper interview that the staff is considering to expand the franchise further with a newly developed television series — two cours even. One can only hope!