It goes without saying that I didn’t get a wink of sleep last night – after all, the biggest anime of 2011’s finale is finally airing! I didn’t like how moot ordered a purge of all Madoka threads on /a/ to save 4chan from a server meltdown, but it’s a historic moment to be remembered! Anyway, now that the ending is upon us, as usual, I’m seeing a lot of unsatisfied haters. This post will hopefully show why the ‘flaws’ people have with this mostly flawless show don’t exist.
I will keep this with a Q&A format, because truth be told, the ending of Madoka isn’t that hard to comprehend. I’ll keep this updated as more common problems arise in the blogosphere, forums or /a/. Of course, feel free to drop questions in the comments.
What the fu*k was that ending? They didn’t explain anything?!
The ending was brilliant. Too many people today expect everything to be perfectly explained and spoon-fed to the audience. That is absolutely not what makes a masterpiece that will go down in history. Yes – to understand Madoka, you do need to use your brains. This article will hopefully help you a bit to understand it.
Madoka’s wish was to erase witches. Why did so many unexplained phenomena happen??
Madoka’s wish was “I wish to erase every witch before they are born. Every witch from every world, from the past and the future. With my own hands.” The emphasis here is ‘with my own hands’. It’s almost mindblowing that Madoka can come up with such a flawless plan in such a short period of time.
Why did she add this? That’s because it puts her into the controller’s seat. If she simply wished for “I wish to erase every witch before they are born. Every witch from every world, from the past and the future.”, that wish would not be moderated by anyone, and the literal interpretation can be easily distorted. If you’re a lawyer, you know what I’m talking about. For instance, that wish can erase every witch as well as the Mahou Shoujo they came from. This way she wouldn’t be saving those girls at all. If Madoka is in the moderator’s seat, she has every say on how this wish should be executed, without having to specifically mention them in the wish. She’d need someone with a Harvard J.D. to include everything she plans to do in a single wish.
What in the
world universe happened after she made her wish?
People say this part is unexplained, but in all honesty, that’s because you didn’t rewatch episode 1~10 before you started watching this, and your memories of Kyuubey’s explanations on how this World works has become blurred since the past six weeks. In the universe of Madoka Magica, all elements must be kept in equilibrium – unlike in the universe of Suzumiya Haruhi, where Haruhi can make things out of nothing. With Madoka now firmly in control, she executes her plans of taking the ‘mud’ out of the diminished Soul Gems, so they never become Grief Seeds from the past, present and future. Essentially, she now exists in a new dimension so she is omnipresent.
It was shown in episode 11 that the ‘mud’ in the Soul Gem comes from despair and pain, so that means when Madoka removes this, all this despair and pain (which is normally harvested as energy by the Incubators) has to go somewhere else. That becomes shouldered by Madoka herself. Why else did this episode air on Good Friday? Today is the day of crucifixion of the Lord, Jesus Christ and his death at Calvary. At this very moment two thousand years ago, all sins; past, future and present flew upon him. What Madoka is doing is essentially the same thing, although she is shouldering all the grief of Mahou Shoujo instead of the sin of every living man and woman (Madoka has a far smaller burden in comparison).
Nicely played, SHAFT.
Doesn’t Madoka’s wish generate a new witch?
Madoka travels forward in time to kill her own witch. This was given a lot of screen time in episode 12.
If Madoka destroys her own witch , doesn’t that create a time paradox?
My good friend Catcher answers this marvelously well. “This is best answered in a reference to the ageless question “Which came first, the chicken or the egg?” The idea behind the question is of circular logic: the chicken lays the egg, but the egg houses the developing chicken. Madoka’s disappearance can be explained in a similar fashion. After Madoka gathers all the grief from the mahou shoujo, she literally has nothing else to do rather than to house this grief, which takes the form of a giant soul gem that we see take the form of a world-devouring witch. Her wish, however, mandates her to destroy herself in her witch form (which would be in her own immediate future), thus eliminating her from the plane of existence that Homura is in. She’s essentially created a paradox for herself, thus why she can’t take a material form.
However, as her wish is to destroy every witch, she still cannot fade from existence, as this is an ongoing task. Mahou Shoujo in the new system still have the, technically speaking, capability to turn into witches. However, because of Madoka’s wish, this “capability” is actually impossible, as a result of the paradox I mentioned above. It’s Madoka who pops in continually and makes impossible the witches from being born, thus necessitating the new “Majuu” system as I will talk about in the next question.
And remember, magic is not subject to the rules of logic, so her wish can create paradox.
OK, so, the big white things called “Majuu”. What are they?
As Kyuubey has explained before, everything in this universe must be kept in equilibrium. Under Madoka’s new system, Mahou Shoujo can still be contracted. Clearly, the amount of despair that comes with the granting of every new wish need to be balanced out. Madoka has taken the despair, but that doesn’t mean MP of the Soul Gems will not run out. As you may recall, Mami and Kyouko were such cases – the MP running out does not result the Mahou Shoujo in becoming a witch – only emotional grief plays a factor. This means that while the dangers of becoming a witch no longer exist, they are still prone to run out of MP and cease to exist.
In the original system, the curses and despair of the World’s population are absorbed by Witches and Familiars to grow more powerful. Now that witches do not exist anymore, these curses manifest in their own forms, and that’s the ‘big white things’ I like to call Majuu. The job of Mahou Shoujo are still exactly the same – to eliminate the curse and despair of this World. It’s just that now they fulfill their jobs by defeating these Majuu instead of Witches.
Can you give a more simplified answer? My brain kinda hurts.
Mahou Shoujo: Contracted to fight Witches
-> Low MP -> Emotionally unstable and more likely to fall into despair
-> Falls into despair -> Turn into Witch
-> Runs out of MP -> Vanishes/Dies
Replenishes MP by killing Witches.
Mahou Shoujo: Contracted to fight Majuu
-> Low MP -> Emotionally unstable and more likely to fall into despair
-> Falls into despair -> Madoka absorbs despair -> Nothing happens
-> Runs out of MP -> Vanishes/Dies
Replenishes MP by killing Majuu.
Didn’t Madoka do all this for nothing?
Absolutely not! Under this new system, none of the outcomes after becoming a Mahou Shoujo will result in pain for other people. You either keep fighting or you vanish. Before, there is a likelihood you will turn into a Witch and become a burden to many people. In Madoka’s new system, Mahou Shoujo are truly the fighters of justice – the one who eliminate the curses and despair from this World…without any side effects! That’s pretty awesome if you ask me, and they still get one wish granted!
Also, for all you Kyuubey haters – this is also an amazing solution. Because Madoka herself shoulders all the ‘energy’ that Kyuubey ends up collecting when a Mahou Shoujo becomes a Witch, he doesn’t get any of it! He said himself that the new system produces significantly less energy than the original system with Witches, and that he would ‘definitely’ use that old system if he were able to. Too bad he forgot. This is the ultimate loss for Kyuubey.
Why is Sayaka still dead?
In this new timeline that Madoka repairs, Sayaka still makes the same wish so that Kyousuke can recover from his illness. However, since he gets into a relationship with Hitomi, Sayaka falls into despair extremely rapidly, and when that despair reaches its peak, instead of turning into a witch, Madoka absorbs that despair so she does not fall into witchhood. Interestingly, she dies in the next scene in battle against a Majuu. This is explicitly stated by Mami. So here is the important thing: Sayaka died not because she fell into despair, but she ran out of MP. Also, how she died has nothing to do with Kyousuke x Hitomi. It’s just Gen being who he is. This is another important evidence supporting the idea of Madoka’s new system.
Why can Homura still remember Madoka while no one else can?
Because Homura’s wish was to ‘protect Madoka’, when Madoka went from a human to a being that transcends time and space, Homura was also affected by this change. Due to the nature of her wish, she is the only one who can still remember Madoka despite her having trascended to another plane. No one else can remember her because her existence from this World has been moved to a higher one, and obviously she is removed from the time axis of this dimension too. As for why her little brother can still remember her, that’s all theory and there are plenty of discussion in the comments below.
What is with Homura’s new powers and the epilogue?
Oh snap. This is the one question that I absolutely hate, because it is probably the only major event in this entire anime that doesn’t have a solid factual answer. Although I did say this entire article is factual with no room for doubt, to understand this scene, one must theorize. Using Umineko-style, I’ll be writing the theoretical elements in blue. All things in blue should be taken with a grain of salt since they are speculations and not based off solid evidence.
So we can see, before the ending credits, Homura jumped down from the building. She is seen to have white wings. This, along with her new bow is a symbol of her new powers. As for how she obtained this power, it can be assumed that because she made a wish to protect Madoka that when Madoka changed into a higher being, her weapons changed as well. At the scene after the credits, we can see see that as she is walking in a desolate land, she becomes surrounded by a witch-like energy that looks like despair – the taint of Soul Gems. As she becomes more and more engulfed, she hears Madoka’s voice saying “It’s alright”. Hearing this, she smiles. The taint explodes and surrounds the whole screen, ending the anime.
Now, from what I can see, although the witch-like energy look somewhat like wings, they do not look like the white wings she has before the ending theme. Thus, those are not Homura’s newfound powers – but her despair about to engulf her, making her into a witch. However, Madoka arrives and takes away the grief. This is part of her new system. However, Homura was able to hear Madoka’s voice. How is this possible? From the facts we established, Madoka is on a whole different plane. The only other instance when Madoka talks after her ascension was with Sayaka – as she is about to become a witch. This leads me to believe that the only way for Homura to hear Madoka’s voice is that she is becoming a witch. Her MP is nearly completely used up and that causes her to fall into despair, but then Madoka reassures her it’s alright, and takes away the grief. Homura then smiles, knowing that she is in good hands. With the final ounce of her MP, she launches herself at the Majuu, effectively dying in battle. She dies smiling because she knows she will be reunited with Madoka.
Man, I hate using blue text. It makes me feel like I’m Ryukishi07.
You got me beat. But seriously, don’t this show have any flaws at all?
Ryhzuo’s article is even longer than this one.
I have a question not included here!
They probably need theorizing. A lot is being discussed in the comments section below so hop right on in!