Refuting Cancerous MAL Reviews – “Madoka Proves Anime Is Not A Serious Art”

So we’ve all been there. We open up MAL and see the new reviews section at the bottom of the page. There’s usually plenty of rubbish there, not just the scores but plenty of people who don’t seem to have a grasp on the English language. I tend not to take these reviews too seriously.

But I saw one today that got me interested, someone gave Madoka a 3 which puts him in the bottom 0.9% of the 300,000 odd people who’ve rated it on MAL (give it a read it’s hilariously inept). I was also surprised because this guy seemed to be fairly literate.

It’s not necessarily an issue if you don’t like a show I like. Opinions differ, I get that, bring up some valid reasons as to why you didn’t like it and I’m fine. You didn’t like the cutesy aesthetic? Fine that’s enough for me, I get that some people might not be able to move past that.

This guy however is wrong in almost every statement he makes. Some are literally factually incorrect and others are so far from what most people would consider reasonable that they defy comprehension. How does someone who seems to be intelligent enough based on his writing, say such stupid things?

I’m going to refute his review point by point.

The fact that so many anime fans still name Madoka Magica as one of “the greatest or most significant or most influential” anime of all time only tells you how far Japanese animation has from becoming a serious art.

So this is just factually incorrect. So “the greatest” is an opinion, fine, but to suggest that Madoka wasn’t incredibly significant and influential is downright wrong and anyone with half a brain should know that. It also has nothing to do with his point. SAO is incredibly influential and significant but it has no bearing on whether anime as a medium is an art form or even if any given anime is art.

Let’s just talk significance. I don’t know what this guys definition of significance is but Madoka was pretty damn significant. In Japan it’s one of the best selling anime of all time for blu ray sales and is the 39th most popular thing on MAL for an international reference point. Even just as a footnote of Psycho-Pass another hugely successful franchise in it’s own right, Madoka is significant. Gen Urobuchi was specifically chosen to write the series after Katsuyuki Motohiro (the chief director) watched Madoka.

As for influential well again, how was it not? Firstly from an artistic standpoint, there will have been plenty of people who saw this show and were either influenced by it or would try to rip it off such is the nature of art. Secondly it’s success certainly contributed to other magical girl stories receiving anime adaptations such as Magical Girl Raising Project from last year. And if you tell me Yuuki Yuna wasn’t made as an original anime in part because of Madoka’s success well then you’re probably a bit naive. No studio takes a chance on adapting a Magical Girl story like the Magical Girl raising project without Madoka’s success and certainly no one does an anime original one, original anime are scarce enough as it is. The author will in fact bring this up themselves in their review contradicting the point entirely.

“Anime fans are still blinded by commercial success”

From context here it seems he means western anime fans. He says that because Madoka sold well people think it’s good. So many things wrong with this.

First I can’t think of anyone who would really give all that much weight to how well something sold in Japan when it came to whether or not they liked it. Are there charts for anime sales in other countries? Not that I’m aware of so unless people are looking at Anime charts in Japan and going basing their opinions off that this is just wrong. If that were the case then SAO 2, which was the 4th highest selling series in blu ray and dvd combined sales during 2014, would be rated higher than 7.3 on MAL. Every season of Love Live! would be like an 11/10 (both the #1 & #2 spots for record 1st week blu ray sales belong to the series).

Second this would skew any long running series towards the top of every chart ever. Let’s do some basic math (yuck I know).

Series A has 10,000 dedicated fans and 2,000 people who pick up volume 1 out of interest and they drop off at a 50% rate every volume.

Series B has 1,000 dedicated fans and literally no one else buys it’s shit.

Series A releases 3 volumes in it’s lifetime, it’s a short series. It sells 33,500 copies total.

Series B has 40 volumes so it sells 40,000 copies. You see the problem here? In theory this would make stuff like Pokemon amongst the best regarded Anime of all time.

It’s an incredibly rough example but you get the point.

Third. Let’s assume he meant popularity. If you average out the score of the top 20 most popular shows on MAL you get 8.37 as of right now. So firstly that seems a bit low if popularity = perceived greatness. On top of that Madoka, the 39th most popular show is rated an 8.49. Again this breaks the logic of that idea or at the very least brings it into serious question. This would also prevent shows like Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu: Sukeroku Futatabi-hen with it’s meager 41,000 listed members from being anywhere near the 12th highest rated series that it is.

I don’t want to talk about this point anymore, it’s confusing and stupid.

“Madoka Magica sold more than other works (not true, by the way)”

Linked to the previous point but this is again just plain incorrect. I’m not going to bother finding out exactly where it ranks in every conceivable variant of what constitutes selling more than something else because that’d take forever and I don’t need to to get the point across.

Between 2000 and 2011 no series had first week first volume sales better than Madoka. Here’s an entire wiki page dedicated to Madoka sales analysis. It has sold more than 90% of other works.

“Shaft, the studio that stresses visuals over character and marketing over quality”

OK so almost all of Shaft’s work is adaptations. Their job is largely visuals, character comes from the source material. In most cases if you believe their shows lack good characters they’re not at the root of the problem. In Madoka specifically, I disagree but I’ll get to that a bit later.

As for marketing over quality again when it comes to adaptations the quality of the source material is not something the studio had anything to do with. The author will praise the art so that’s not an issue. They’ll give some praise to the voice actors. They criticize the soundtrack (we’ll get to it). So they had basically 3 things to do and in your opinion they didn’t do one right and that constitutes ignoring them in favor of marketing. Not even to mention marketing is obviously a huge part of a studios job. You don’t market well and make money you won’t have enough budget to make good shit.

And again with Madoka specifically where they did have control over the story and characters I would obviously disagree. Anyway if Madoka was truly all about marketing then Kyoko woudn’t have been 100% absent in promotional material in service of the story, so that her reveal is surprising. They’d’ve been pushing her from day one because lord knows the Madoka fans love them some Kyoko x Sakura.

This is wrong in the case of Madoka and as an indictment of Shaft as a whole.

“Madoka has absolutely no characters”

What? Are you for real?

First of all, yes it does have characters. Secondly to suggest that that’s even a problem really misses the point of the series. This person will go on to say Sayaka is the only one with a character arc (again this is hypocritical but whatever). The entire show details Madoka’s character arc, she wants to help people like Mami but doesn’t want to waste her wish. Her arc is her finding something worth risking her life for and she finds that it’s her friends. Homura’s arc isn’t told chronologically but it’s definitely there, how she becomes the person she is in the show, what drove her to such lengths. Kyoko coming to realise that she really does care about others.

I don’t even think that these arcs are the point of the show but they’re there. I think the easiest way to dispute this is to ask what archetype any of the characters fit into? Mami is the only one I can think of, she’s like the big sister but even then she’s plenty different that she’s clearly not a product of the archetype but rather just fits into it.

And like I said this also misses the point of the show. The nihilistic themes are being ignored here, everything the characters do is pointless ultimately that’s very much part of the point. It’s a question of what one should live for without inherent meaning not one individual character matters.

“The plot goes absolutely nowhere until episode 10”

I’m not even going to bother with this one.

“The “ethical problems” (specifically the ones related to the consumption of animals) is something that sounds as if it came from a fifth grader”

Maybe Ireland is the only country in the world where 10 year olds aren’t taught about utilitarianism as part of the curriculum.

I for one can tell you I’ve had some heated arguments with members of the Madoka fandom about just that ethical dilemma. The eating animals thing was a fucking metaphor not actually meant to be taken as a question in itself. Madoka is not about the evils of our carnivorous ways. I see this person has it listed that they’re vegan on their MAL page. It’s cool that you disagree with eating animals but that’s really not the point or rather the question being asked of the viewer.

I actually think the author may not even be aware of the actual ethical questions being asked, perhaps they’re not capable of understanding them by themselves. How can you come to a conclusion when you’re answering the wrong question.

The background music is pathetic

Here’s my response to that.

Final Word

I saw this review and I couldn’t just leave it there. It’s littered with factual inaccuracies, hypocrisy and ill conceived opinions.

This is an example of a very toxic anime fan, the opposite of the one that thinks every show is great just because it’s anime. They complain about how people don’t appreciate the classics and how “anime critics have long since recognized that some of the greatest works all time are Touch and Ginga Eiyuu Densetsu”. This is funny because according to their MAL they’ve only seen 5 episodes out of Touch’s 101.

This person seems to want to rag on the show just because it’s popular and will just say anything to do so. What’s most annoying about their review is how they seem to think their opinion is the most valid opinion available. I could go on forever about this review but I think I’ve made my point.

You’re quite free to dislike Madoka or any series for that matter but if you’re going to try to explain to people why it’s bad try no to be such a retard about it.

Thanks for reading,




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Borderline anime analysis from a borderline psychopath

9 thoughts on “Refuting Cancerous MAL Reviews – “Madoka Proves Anime Is Not A Serious Art””

  1. Lol, really had to laugh about this post 😊 I could not agree with you more. I think everyone is entitled to their opinion in the end, but if it’s just hating without a proper basis, that really makes no sense. Still, I guess there are always people that sometimes find it cool to bash something that pretty much everyone else seems to like. In the end though, whether it be a movie, animeseries, tv series or novel, everyone will experience it differently. Great post! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I must admit I don’t tend to read the reviews on MAL because even if you find a review that does actually reflect the show in some detail and provide a useful evidenced based opinion, you’ve had to wade through fairly empty ones, ones filled with spoilers, gushes, or rants, and nobody ever seems to admit that it is just their opinion and may not be what everyone else thinks about the show. I’ll admit my reviews on my blog are not the most objective, but I tend to preface a lot of them with what my bias is (am I already a fan of the genre or was I watching something outside my usual comfort zone, etc).
    Mostly, I think reviews from bloggers I’ve followed for awhile are ones I’m more likely to give consideration to because I know what they tend to like and whether I’m likely to enjoy something similar or not.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, I usually wouldn’t pay attention either but this one just caught my eye on the main page and 3 people had found it helpful.

      And I of course don’t care too much for objectivity but there’s being opinionated and then there’s this.

      Thanks for reading!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. This is literally one of my favorite blog posts that I have ever read. I can only hope that you someday come face to face with that person and can defend the honor of Madoka in verbal combat! Looking forward to checking out more of your content!


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