There is a lot to be said about the commercial success of the Madoka Magica franchise and its progression since it first aired almost two years ago. And if you were lucky enough to secure a seat for the Friday, October 19th premiere at the Downtown Independent in downtown Los Angeles, you would also see how much popularity it has gained, even in the midst of Style Fashion Week going on across the street at the Vibiana. Like the entire week dedicated to the world of fashion, the Madoka Magica movie premiere will take place for a week until the 25th. And while it may not capture world-renowned fame like Style Fashion Week (just yet), it still shows subtle signs of a discreet subculture’s growth into popular mainstream entertainment.
But that’s not to say that the anime subculture in America is starting to go mainstream at any dramatic pace. I, for one, like the direction companies like Aniplex are taking to broaden the content they’ve licensed from Japan to audiences here in the U.S.; like Sega, Crypton Future Media, and Good Smile Company teaming up for cosplay events and massively popular (within this subculture) Vocaloid concerts in venues like 2011’s LA Live Nokia Theater debut of CFM’s digital holographic artists in front of yet another sold out crowd. Puella Madoka Magi Madoka is a great series and has spawned equally popular movies to tout. How wouldn’t it be showcased to U.S. shores without popular fanfare and limited edition goodies?
So what is there to expect at this particular event? 200+ seats, a 34′ screen, digital projection, surround sound, and a full crowd of fans, old and new alike, cheering, jeering, and audibly taken by a ~4-hour screening. Oh, and plenty of exclusive merchandise to purchase before sitting down for the first showing.
At least for our 6pm showing, there were cosplayers form the series/movies handing out the exclusive merchandise. I heard that at the 1pm showing, the English voice actors were in attendance to sign autographs and see the movies for themselves.
As for the merchandise, which you can see in full here, they are all available as soon as you gain access to the venue. The single queue line from outside was split into groups that wanted goods to those who just wanted to get inside and take a seat. I was one of those who decided to grab some items before heading to the screen.
If you’re wondering about price, all I can say until the premiere is over next Friday is that it’s okay to have card on you. Just make sure you have enough money to purchase items and be open minded about the prices; most of these, I would imagine, are overseas exclusives anyway. I also presume Anime Jungle helped Aniplex showcase all of the product, so kudos to them.
Logistically, I would say the premiere and its subsequent screenings across the next six days or so were largely an organized success. Could there have been a bit more pomp and circumstance with red carpets and flashing cameras? Most certainly. Would that have attracted some media to promote Aniplex’s efforts, fans’ excitement, and Downtown Independent’s services to more people who are looking to enjoy these types of events, especially if they are interested in anime? Of course. If the companies that help promote these events remain consistent in their delivery and cooperation with the licenses they acquire, then I think we’ll see even better coverage and more popularity for anything that anyone decides to host in 2013.
Technically speaking, the execution of two parts of what I presume to be a single movie was so well done that anyone concerned about needing to marathon the series if they haven’t watched it yet need not worry in this case. I was reminded of how good the triad of creative artists behind this series were after two long years spent away from the series – Gen Urobochi’s fantastic writing, Yuki Kajiura’s melodic yet haunting choruses, and Shaft’s sometimes conventionally abstract art.
And while this post is not to recap the contents of the movie itself (so as to not spoil those who have yet to see it), I will mention that it would probably be a good idea to stay until the final set of lights brightens at the end of the night. You might just be in for a nice treat .
The entire set of photos of my fan coverage of the Madoka Magica movie can be found here.