Welcome to Anime VS, where I take two anime series that are similar in plot, style, or genre and compare them to each other to decide which is worth your time!
The competitors in this edition on Anime Vs! Are:
Puella Magi Madoka Magica VS Yuki Yuna is a Hero
Puella Magi Madoka Magica, or Madoka Magica for short, and Yuki Yuna is a Hero are both 12-episode series about groups of middle school girls given the opportunity to gain magical powers. They both look like your typical, light-hearted and magical anime – but as they progress, their plots become more twisted, and the challenges faced by the main characters become more difficult to handle.
The main character of Madoka Magica, Madoka Kaname, is an average middle school girl. She and her friend, Sayaka, are confronted by a strange cat-like creature that claims it can grant them any wish, but only if they become magical girls and fight witches. Soon after, a new student shows up at school and warns Madoka about being a magical girl. Throughout the series, Madoka struggles with the decision she must make, and meets other magical girls along the way. She watches how being a magical girl affects their lives, and learns the true price of power.
The premise of Yuki Yuna is a Hero is similar, except the main character, Yuna, doesn’t really have a choice in becoming a magical girl. She and her friends belong to their school’s Hero Club, dedicated to community service, but their president reveals that they have been chosen to fight “Vertexes,” which are a source of evil. All of the girls in the club love using their new power to fight Vertexes, but the more they fight, the more they learn about their roles as magical girls. They discover that the sacrifices they must make for their magic may not be worth the power they possess.
Both of these shows are meant to disturb, but Madoka Magica is superior because the writers are not afraid to hit us in the face with shock. The series successfully dissects the “cutesy magical girl” trope, and rearranges it to create a more interesting and heart-wrenching story. The plot is conveyed clearly, and the viewer’s vital questions are answered by the end. Additionally, the soundtrack is incomparable, with a healthy amount of repetition and a variety of sounds and instruments. The score is composed in such a way that it enhances the emotion of every scene. The series also has a well-written antagonist who forces us to question our own morals.
Yuki Yuna is a Hero might have lived up to its potential, if only it didn’t feel like the writers were hesitating. However, it practically copies Madoka Magica in terms of character design and plot structure. Usually this wouldn’t be a good excuse to criticize it; there are many shows that happen to mirror another series, and this doesn’t necessarily make them bad. The main issue is that the “big twist” isn’t dealt with as successfully as in Madoka Magica: it has less of an impact on our thoughts and feelings toward each affected character. There is no single villain; the antagonist is more of an organization, but you don’t ever meet anyone important from it. Additionally, after finishing the series (twice) there were parts of the plot I didn’t quite grasp. It has all the same elements as Madoka Magica, but doesn’t execute any of them as well.
The Winner is: Puella Magi Madoka Magica
I would recommend watching Yuki Yuna is a Hero only for comparison purposes (or if you’re like me, and are researching cool outfits for cosplay). If you need an anime that starts innocent and goes dark by Episode 3 (fans, you know what I’m talking about), definitely watch Puella Magi Madoka Magica, and prepare to have your heart ripped out.
Puella Magi Madoka Magica remains a 12-episode anime series with three movies (the first two are a recap of the series; the third is an epilogue called Rebellion), but has an extensive manga collection that includes stories not shown in the TV series. Yuki Yuna is a Hero released its second season late last year.