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Media mix and character marketing in Madoka Magica

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This article examines the development of the media franchise Mahō shōjo Madoka magika/Puella Magi Madoka Magica from the perspective of the growth of character media ecologies. Originating as a 2011 anime series, Madoka Magica presented a critically acclaimed narrative featuring a dark, traumatic take on the magical girl genre of media. Outside this narrative context, however, Madoka Magica has developed into a vibrant array of media products, including manga, video games, character merchandising and cross-promotional brand marketing, with little to no reference in these products to the dark context of the chronologically prior characters. Characters who were brutally killed in one context become smiling ambassadors for convenience stores in another; the monsters fought against become cohabiting associates, if not allies, between texts. By focusing on the marketing, proliferation and malleability of the Madoka Magica characters, and the brand’s evident emphasis on the characters’ affective potential outside the narrative context of the original series, this article highlights the multiplicity of characters within the brand’s officially produced media mix. Examining the production of the brand as a totality of products becomes a staging point for future analysis into character marketing more broadly, and the divergent approaches to such marketing across a global context.
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Keywords: anime; character; magical girl; manga; media mix; narrative

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 000000012179088XUniversity of Melbourne

Publication date: April 1, 2020

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  • The East Asian Journal of Popular Culture is the first academic peer-reviewed journal for scholars, teachers, and students from around the world who have an active and passionate interest in the Popular Culture of East Asia. The journal is devoted to all aspects of popular culture in East Asia and the interplay between East Asia and the wider world. With the growth in popularity of Asian visual products in the Western world and the increasing strength of the Asian markets, this publication fulfills the need for an international journal that allows Western and Asian film, media, literary, music, fashion, digital media, television, art and cultural scholars alike to engage in discussion. In the last few decades there has been a huge rise in the interest in East Asian popular culture. The East Asian Journal of Popular Culture will be engaging directly with that trend. From film to music; art to translation and fashion to tourism, this journal will offer a forum where multidisciplinary work can come together in new and exciting ways.
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