Literally just finished Puella Magi Madoka Magica within the last hour, and here is my first response to the show as a whole. Knee-jerk ranking can be found here. It is impossible to justify putting PMMM any lower than tier II.
It’s incredibly difficult to really gather my thoughts on this show so soon after watching, but there was no way I was going to be able to just sit on it without typing out just a bit. This was my third attempt at watching this show (the first attempt ending after two episodes and the second after only the first), and I did kind of have to gut it out through the first three episodes. After the fourth, however, I was sufficiently engaged to finish out the series and the final 6 episodes were the first in a long time to get me to legitimately marathon something, one episode after the next. I don’t know that it is fair to say that it has a slow start, it just took a while for me to engage.
Part of the reason, I think, for this is that I am get a bit nervous when shows start fooling around with fate–but it’s not really even possible to divine that from the first couple episodes. Maybe it’s not something I can explain, but it’s just a fact that the show took a while to grab me.
That being said, Madoka Magica has a sense of atmospheric creation unlike anything I’ve seen before. Almost from the beginning of the show, I had an intense feeling of doom and foreboding, a sensation that only grew as the show went on. Looking back, I cannot point to anything specific and say, “That was the reason.” It just was, and it was an incredible experience and impressive to see.
Problems I had: what felt like an information dump in the final few episodes. I felt like I went from knowing nothing to being given everything, rather than have it revealed in pieces. And the ending came across as poorly explained. Not rushed, just something that was given to the audience to see and believe. Because it was so without precedent in the show (and so transcendent in nature) I felt a little left out in the cold, not really sure if I could accept the way things ended up.
So, to sum it all up for now, did I think Puella Magi Madoka Magica was a good anime? Yes, I did. It is excellent. Did I like it? Now, that’s another question and its still up in the air. I haven’t decided yet. Perhaps the movies will help me decide, but for now I am not really leaning one way or another.