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Anime Editorial

Madoka’s Ending Leaves Something to be Desired

Blickwinkel is a blog that offers perspective, and I thought for today, in true blickwinkel fashion, that I’d do something I would normally never dare to. And that is to play devils advocate with my old pal ImperialX (His opinion on the conclusion can be seen here) So without further ado, heres my take on why Mahou Shoujo Madoka★Magica’s conclusion was just not very good.

Version Two: After the incredible influx of comments and subsequent debating, I realized that perhaps I had not gotten my points across clearly enough. I have since rewritten this post with a clearer format and ideas, and hopefully that will dispel some issues people may have.

The first step we’re going to take, is to take a look at the thematic implications which Madoka’s final wish and the subsequent results have. Madoka wishes to destroy all witches, in the past, present and future across all dimensions so they are never created. The mechanics of this wish violate some sort of universal law, and as a result, the physical laws of the universe are rewritten to suit Madoka’s wish. From the surface, it is clear the theme that SHAFT was trying to bring across was the idea of self sacrifice. This is evident from the fact that Madoka transcends existence and becomes a deity, and that the final episode aired on Good Friday. Both these are obvious allusions to the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, who died bearing all of humanity’s sins. In a similar sense, Madoka now carries all the taint of soul gems which are about to become grief seeds upon herself.

Basically, the entire anime was leading up to this moment. All the issues and problems raised are to be seemly solved by this epic Deus Ex Machina. But are they really? Let’s have a look.

1. One of the major points of the story is the idea that the world is slowly being destroyed due to entropic decay. The conflict that revolves around this theme is whether it is an acceptable sacrifice to collect energy from witches, at the cost of the girl’s lives which the witches originated from. (And to a lesser degree, the harm which the witches cause). We are presented with two sides of the argument. Namely, viewpoints from Kyuubey and the girls themselves. To Kyuubey, the logical and calculating viewpoint, the sacrifice of a few to save the universe is an logical and obvious trade, whereas the girls who represent emotion and compassion, this is something unacceptable. The conflict between these two different viewpoints is brought forth many times in many different mediums, notably war movies and even survival horror.

What does Madoka do to address this issue? Change the laws of the universe so that both sides are happy. After the conclusion, the world as changed. Kyuubey no longer harvests energy from witches, but from curses that originate from negative emotions of humanity. The girls no longer have to be conflicted about being harvested for energy as witches, and Kyuubey still gets his quota to save the universe. Why is this answer unacceptable? Because it doesn’t address the issue at hand. Who is right in the end? Kyuubey or the girls? Is it an acceptable sacrifice to harvest the witches’ energy or not? The show never really address this issue in the end, rather it dodges the problem by changing the circumstances around it. And while from a story perspective this may be a clever way to settle things, it leaves a big gaping hole where a problem used to be.

2. There is a scene towards the second half of the season, where Kyuubey equates their ‘farming’ of humanity to our farming of cattle. Madoka’s reaction to this reality becomes an interesting point of discussion, because she breaks down in tears. Does she represent perhaps, our unwillingness to accept that there may be a force stronger than us that controls us (the value we place on our freedom), or is the relationship between us and Kyuubey a more sinister metaphor for our relationship to all animals we consider inferior to us?

We may never know, because Madoka’s ending once again dodges this issue. The new set up make it out so that instead collecting energy from witches, we collect energy from negative human emotions. If I had to draw a parallel, it would be like: Instead of killing cows for meat, we are now picking apples off the ground from what the apple tree dropped. The former topic is still something heatedly discussed in many parts of the world, but no one will shed a tear for the apple tree. How we treat creatures we consider less sentient, how we would reaction to a race more sentient than us if they controlled us. Madoka doesn’t address any of these. Once again, it chooses to dodge the problem by offering an easy alternative.

3. One of the major ideas that was built up was the idea that using magic to solve problems isn’t the answer. Sayaka and Kyouko’s stories are perfect examples of this. In the former, Sayaka wishes for her crush’s injury to be cured, only to have him stolen by her best friend, something that leaves her in despair and ultimately leads to her downfall. Kyouko wishes for her father’s success, only to have it lead to her family’s ruin. In the earlier episodes, HUGE emphasis were made on the importance of the wishes, how you had to choose carefully and decide whether not it was worth risking your life, and also how you had to be careful if you were making the wish for something else, that you weren’t just seeking their approval. The entire concept was built around the singular idea that wishes are not something that comes for nothing, and that a price of equal value has to be paid. The show even goes as far as to depict famous historic female figures as Mahou Shoujos, attributing both their achievements and untimely deaths to the consequences of magic.

And then, along comes Madoka. She makes a huge wish to should all the burden of all Mahou Shoujos everywhere in all of time and space. Surely such a wish would need to have consequences right? Yup, as a result of her wish, all the negative energy gathers into her soul gem and hurles itself towards earth.

But then she gets out her bow and shoots it. Problem solved.

Am I missing something here? Is the show telling me that the best way to solve a problem is to shoot it with a giant magical bow? Surely not. Out of all the actions in the anime, Madoka’s is the only one that doesn’t seem to have a equal and opposite result. Some people might argue that she sacrificed herself as the payment, but I don’t buy that. Call me heartless, but I hardly thing 1 person is enough too account ALL THE TAINT of ALL MAHOU SHOUJO across ALL OF SPACE AND TIME. Madoka is still after all, only a middle schooler, not the *cough* Son of God *cough*. In the end, the resolution was something that defied the conventions which the Madoka universe was set in, which to me just seemed like the easy way out in order to have a bittersweet ending everyone will like.

I’ll also take this opportunity to make the Code Geass comparison, which I know many will point out. In both anime, the conclusion is based on the protagonist sacrificing themselves by taking on the burden of the rest of humanity. The distinction is that Code Geass doesn’t really deal with the the theme of consequences in the same way that Madoka does. In Code Geass, it is illustrated that every action will lead to an inevitable consequence, but the nature of this consequence is very obscure. In Madoka, things are much more clear cut, and throughout the anime the idea that good and bad must balance each other out is emphasized greatly. In Madoka we can more or less predict that a positive wish will have an equal negative repercussion.

Again, Madoka’s wish just HAS to be the exception to the rule. When Sayaka selfishly wished Kamijou’s arm to heal, she died. When Kyouko selfishly wished for her father’s success, her family died. When Homura wished for Madoka’s safety, she got stuck in an endless loop of tragedy. But when Madoka wishes for everyone’s safety, she gets that wish. Why is that? Is it just because she’s the protagonist, she gets special entitlements? I don’t buy it.

4. This point ties in with my previous one, but the anime makes a huge emphasis on the fact that there are no selfless good deeds. Right on the second episode, Mami sets the tone for this idea, asking Sayaka “Are you helping them because you want them to say something to you?” Even Madoka’s  wish can be considered selfish. Why you ask?

As long as something we wish for is driven by something we desire, either emotionally, physically or mentally, then our wish is a direct fulfillment of that desire. Desire is after all, an imperfect human emotion, and THAT, qualifies the wish as being selfish, regardless of whether the act itself is selfless or not. Madoka’s one and immediate instinct was to protect her friends,  fellow Mahou Shoujo and the city from Walpurgisnacht. It was also explicitly stated that it was her dream for a talentless person like her to be able to help others. Her wish was a direct fulfillment of these two desires, and the result, however noble, was only a consequence of that. This was the unsavory truth that Madoka tried to drill home to us for 11 episodes.

Which then raises the question. Why draw the parallel between Madoka and Jesus Christ at all? The death of the Son of God is arguably the only selfless sacrifice in the history of man, if such a thing existed. In terms of motive, the two couldn’t have been more different. If SHAFT was using this just to bring our attention to the idea of self sacrifice, then they really have overkilled it. I can’t tell you if this was a story oversight or just bad character design, but there is definitely something wrong with it.

5. Evolution and other sentient life are two points which Kyuubey brought forward quite frequently. The former point is most obvious as an issue when Kyuubey suggested that “we’d all be in caves if it were not for their intervention”. This might not be obvious to some, but it actually serves as a strong basis for the anime suggesting extraterrestrial interventionism. Kyuubey also mentions that there were other species they looked to for gathering energy. Obviously, the implication that can be draw here (hold on to your hats people), is that there are other life out there in the galaxy. These two ideas, coupled with the crisis of entropic decay, bring forth the idea that the world is much larger than we realize, and humanity much smaller.

For nine episodes, Kyuubey toys us with these ideas. And then they are never brought forth ever again. Not even Kyuubey’s origin is explored at all. Forget thematic, this almost feels like a plot hole to me.

6. It is revealed some time into the show that humans have souls. The amount of spiritual and religious implications that can be drawn from this are enormous. For instance, both the use of magic and emotional grief lead to the tainting of soul gems. The tainting of souls can obviously be equated to committing a sin, but yet emotional grief is determined on an individual basis. Does this mean that the anime is suggestion, that in terms of spirituality, which of our actions are considered ‘sinful’ are determined by an individual basis? That would also contradict the idea that sins are predetermined by a set of written rules such as the bible, and raises some interesting implications about the validity religion. (Again, this is counter-intuitive considering the fact they made Madoka out to be a god)

And then there is issue of the soul within the body itself, which EVERYONE made a HUGE deal about. Sayaka literally depressed herself to death because she couldn’t see herself as a real person anymore. But then she dies, and then everyone else just decides to accept the fact and move on. Really, so do souls constitute the human, or does the body? Is a soul without a physical form really as lifeless as an inanimate gem? Again, Madoka’s conclusion doesn’t really deal with either of these issues. Instead it just sweeps it under the rug, hoping everyone would forget about it.

7. Finally, I want to talk about Kyuubey, who I believe is the single most undeveloped idea in Madoka. There is literally SO much SHAFT could have done with this character. Is he perhaps a sinister representation of the ugly but necessary truth when dealing with difficult decisions? Is he perhaps a reference to the devil, giving people wishes in exchange for their souls? Does he illustrate the importance of emotions and their value in keeping our humanity? Or perhaps our limitations and inability to look at the greater picture because of our emotions? Where is he from? He is made out to be calculating and robotic, and yet he expresses concern for the decaying world, showing a very advanced and complex level of survival instinct. These are all potential avenues that could have made for a very engaging antagonist and even anti-hero.

But as it stands, all SHAFT made Kyuubey out to be was an insufferable jackass who only cared that he got the energy he wanted. Why? Because Madoka’s final wish completely sidelined all the issues that Kyuubey represent and made them irrelevant. Nice one SHAFT.

Bottom Line. Madoka’s conclusion had one idea. And that was to make Madoka out to be some sort of Deus Ex Machina savior that solved all the problems and tied up the story in a neat little package. What does that leave all the wealth of themes and ideas that were picked up?

MADOKA’S FINALE DOESN’T DEAL WITH ANY OF THESE ISSUES.

As the philosophical and psychological thrill ride that so many make Madoka out to be, from a thematic perspective, the conclusions really isn’t that good. In fact, it’s terrible. It’s like writing a book, and then deciding to leave out the epilogue in the final print. Sure, the story was exciting and the anime enjoyable to watch, but when I finish and close my laptop, I haven’t learnt anything. Madoka hasn’t taught me anything about myself. That to me, only makes for a relatively good, but not great, anime.

Leave a comment below! I’m always in the mood for a good discussion.

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About Ryhzuo

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Discussion

93 thoughts on “Madoka’s Ending Leaves Something to be Desired

  1. Coming from someone who liked the ending, this is a pretty logical and sensible take against it. Theme-wise, it really was kind of a whitewash, but if they wanted any sort of a happy ending it seems like they were written in a corner.

    One small thing that bothered me, you said:

    >The purity of a soul determines their power.

    but unless I’m mistaken Kyubey says specifically in 11 that it’s based on their built up karma (and that is why Madoka was so powerful). Not really important to your analysis, but it just jumped out at me. Feel free to correct me if I’m wrong.

    Posted by 匿名 | April 23, 2011, 1:06 AM
    • You could be right, or I could be right. In this case it doesn’t really matter either way, because the issue we’re looking at here is why the souls are tainted. For example, why Sayaka’s soul gem become tainted. Is it because of her despair and jealousy? If so, do all Mahou Shoujo’s gem’s follow these ‘rules’ of tainting, or are they determined on an individual basis? This is important because it highlights in the Madoka universe, whether souls are governed by a universal law and therefore quite likely diety, or not. It’s a issue that addresses the validity of religion itself.

      Posted by Ryhzuo | April 23, 2011, 1:11 AM
      • Sorry for replying to such an old comment, but I just have to point out that this questions was definitely answered. Despair, corruption, jealousy, all forms of “negative” emotion lead to taint. This idea is literally spoonfed to us when Kyuubeh says that if Homura loses hope in saving Madoka, her journey ends and she will be consumed with despair- becoming a witch. We see shortly after that Homura starts giving into despair because she feels that she’s failed Madoka. They are determined on an individual basis, because grief and despair are emotions, and there is no figurative cap on how much despair every person has. They move forward, fading into hopelessness, until they are completely consumed by grief.

        This has nothing to do with sin. Becoming a witch is not the same as being condemned to hell. You are consumed by sin, but you always have the chance for redemption by asking for forgiveness. In a similar vein, the girls are consumed with taint, and always have the chance for redemption through the grief seed. The reason you can’t equate the two is that grief seeds are created by destroying what’s left of another girl (and obtaining her grief seed), what last bit of soul she has left. This is not a “christian” solution.

        Madoka becomes God to fix this problem. She provides mercy and forgiveness to these girls by taking away their taint/sin when they reaching their breaking point. They “vanish” once their taint/sin is taken, and theoretically this could be looked at as the girls ascending to a different plane of existence, under the care of Madoka.

        If we insist that being a witch really can be a valid metaphor for being condemned to hell, we can also say that before Madoka’s wish the magical girls did not have a source of salvation. It doesn’t tamper with the validity of religion, because it depends on what beliefs you follow. If you are talking about a cold, calculative God that is incapable of compassion or mercy, and therefore bases the whole judgement of humanity on a set of static rules, it seems that you are not referring to Christianity at all. The Christian God is not a Kyuubeh, but a Madoka.

        Posted by Mimo | December 17, 2011, 12:21 AM
  2. In other words, sir, you got trolled and rickrolled. That was the exact same damn thing back in ’96 with Eva episode 25-26.

    Better hope for a Director’s Cut in the DVD/BD releases to resolve those issues.

    Posted by soulassassin | April 23, 2011, 1:06 AM
  3. I would actually agree with your main point that Madoka could have answered more questions that it generated. Your six big unanswered questions are all pretty reasonable.

    Madoka only had 12 episodes to work with, and the ending was not bad at all; calling it a “train wreck” might be a stretch. Maybe, the sequel will explore more of what you pointed out. (A sequel has been confirmed more or less.)

    However, do all great endings need to “answer” every question the story poses? There are a lot of literary works and movies that we call masterpieces with open-ended endings that pose more questions than answer them. Those questions are left out for us to answer ourselves. After all, most of those questions don’t really have a “correct” answer.

    Posted by Aqua | April 23, 2011, 1:13 AM
    • I absolutely agree. Great literary works always leave many questions unanswered for the audience, as they should. But the difference is that they time give and effort to address these issues.

      For instance, one of the questions that the book “Anthills of the Savannah” raises was how to end political strife and conflict. Ironically the book concludes with a coup, foreshadowing the same cycle of political corruption about to repeat itself. However, throughout the journey the protagonists discover things about themselves and learn new lessons which we as the audience see, so that even though they failed, we have learnt from their mistakes.

      A quote from the book from an editor called Ikem says “Writers don’t give prescriptions, they give headaches!” Roughly this translates to how a good story will present you with a problem, give you all the tools you need to solve it and then nudges you along with the story.

      Madoka doesn’t do this. It gives you a problem but no tools. As good as I can, I can’t make bricks without clay.

      Posted by Ryhzuo | April 23, 2011, 1:31 AM
  4. I’m not a radical environmentalist

    the reason why I even care about the environment is because it directly relates to my future

    if saving the environment means losing my job then to hell with the environment. I think ecology over economy if interpreted strictly is a foolish ideal.

    How does this relate to Madoka?

    It’s good for humans to think about the heat death of the universe even if it’s a billion years away

    But when it stops being a solution and starts being something that can annihilate them, then it is no longer a goal to work towards to and starts being a threat that must be solved.

    What’s the point of protecting someone else’s future by sacrificing your own?

    Why should a human care about the future of the universe when it is a future that neither them or the descendants will ever see

    Would you sacrifice your entire family and loved ones to repair the ozone layer?

    If you say yes, I think it is time to re-examine your political leanings

    and to play the devil’s advocat.. it also doesn’t make sense from an incubator’s point of view

    farming soul gems is like fishing with dynamite. It’s simply not sustainable in the long run.

    Posted by T_I | April 23, 2011, 1:13 AM
    • If I say yes, then I would have a different opinion from you. The point I’m trying to make is that Madoka doesn’t say anything. It doesn’t even give us a clue. It just plonks us with a problem and says “Go figure it out yourself”. To me that is not acceptance. If you’re not going to address the issue, why raise it at all?

      Also, Kyuubey comes from a race that can traverse the galaxy. Human’s history is relatively short by comparison. There will be other races to farm eventually, because (I believe anyway), sentient life is an inevitable consequence of chemical biology. Anyways, if that’s something you find which doesn’t make sense, then you’ve just found a plot hole, which I daresay doesn’t do Madoka any favors either way.

      Posted by Ryhzuo | April 23, 2011, 1:20 AM
      • Rewatch episode 9. Madoka has clearly stated her opinion.

        and that is.. “It doesn’t matter”

        It doesn’t matter if Incubators are doing this to stall heat death of the universe. What matters to her is they are farming humans to do so.

        And Madoka being human resents that.

        This is why the cattle argument does not work. You see.. cattle does NOT like being cattle if they were ever aware they they are one. It’s been proven in cows. They become very stressful if they somehow sense they are going to be killed.

        So don’t act surprised if the cattle decides to fight back, and that’s what Madoka did.

        The only ones who are shown to benefit from soul gem farming are Incubators themselves. And as you said if humanity died out, they would probably find another race to farm. Another race that would also not benefit from their plans.

        This is why the Incubator plan is such a tough idea to sell. You simply can not convince someone to be a martyr for the greater good, is they do not see the own greater good included in that deal.

        Again, I go back to the ideology debate. Would you you sacrifice yourself and loved ones to fix the ozone layer? The rest of humanity would reap the benefits, but none of your friends or loved ones would.

        If you say yes to that I think that is a very unhuman answer. Or you are pretending not to be human. Or you have nothing to lose to begin with.. which makes it another different matter.

        Posted by T_I | April 23, 2011, 1:40 AM
      • When I said Madoka, I meant the anime, not the character.

        Again, you make very valid points, which is all well and good. Ok, so it’s not acceptable or common for people to sacrifice themselves for the greater good. That’s fine. What would be the logical conclusion to that? Inevitable decay right? Wrong. Everything is fine and dandy because Madoka (the character) fixes it with her hocus pocus.

        This is just teaching us that no matter what we choose, there will always be a happy ending. And that’s not acceptable to me.

        Take global warming (just pretend it’s real for a second). I know I contribute to it. I know future generations will suffer from it, but I shoulder that burden and responsibility on myself. And I know that through my actions, one day shit will hit the fan. And I’m fine with that.

        What I’m NOT fine with though, is how Madoka just erases this issue by changing the laws of the universe. You don’t want to self sacrifice for global warming? That’s ok, we’ll just make it not exist. This is exactly what Madoka does. Should we sacrifice ourselves as witches? Don’t need to anymore.

        Posted by Ryhzuo | April 23, 2011, 1:50 AM
  5. You tried too hard.

    Point 1 isn’t even valid. When would a person in a normal world have to save tons of people? And the last part about Madoka or Kyubey being right, did this nigga even understand the ending? Neither of them were “right.” What had to be done was done, Madoka just altered the method.

    Point 2 served it’s purpose. If they elaborated on the cattle thing anymore, it would have gotten drawn out. And his bitching about her saving mahou shoujo is unfounded – she is saving normal people by preventing witches from forming.

    Point 3 I would almost concede, but even if they don’t become witches, the girls are still forced to fight monsters in order to have their wish granted, and if they stop fighting, they die. Nothing is without a price.

    Point 4 is valid, but I think it’s fairly obvious that all wishes are selfish. We don’t need the show to spoonfeed us that.

    Point 5 is just stupid. That was a plot to device so that people couldn’t say “Why didn’t Madoka wish that there were no mahou shoujo and Kyubey would just have to find a different planet?” They were just covering their tracks and showing that mahou shoujo are equally important to both sides.

    Point 6 is a valid argument, but once again, that was a plot mechanism to kill Sayaka. No one else really cared that much about it, and it wasn’t a big deal. Sayaka was just weak minded.

    Certainly a good effort, but the way you expanded on the points was terrible.

    Posted by V | April 23, 2011, 1:28 AM
    • Interesting. I always like playing devils advocate.

      1 . Three words. Saving Private Ryan. You say that “what had to be done had to be done”. Does that mean that, as long as it’s something that “has to be done”, it’s justified? So how come all the stuff Kyuubey “had to do” were considered evil? Oh for the record, I’m not actually an African American.

      2. “It would have gotten drawn out”. That is of course, your opinion. I personally would have liked to see the theme explored more and the fact that it didn’t showed that it was an issue that SHAFT didn’t really want to, or couldn’t tackle, or that they just forgot about it. The entire cattle episode was only used reinforce Kyuubey’s true nature, which was redundant because it was pretty clear cut what he was like by that point anyway, which leads to the question, why raise the issue at all? Also “Saving normal people?” The anime made it pretty clear that she was more or less only thinking about Mahou Shoujos from becoming witches when she made that wish.

      3. The conclusion you drew for point three is obvious. Ok, so magic is bad. Now what? We still have this set up where Mahou Shoujo’s are still fighting. Does that mean that the lesson wasn’t learnt? Or does it imply that the greed for miracles is too strong? Or something else? Don’t ask me, and certainly don’t ask Madoka, cause she doesn’t want to tell you.

      4. Ok, so all wishes are selfish. What does that make Madoka then? Why draw the Jesus parallel when it’s obviously a different motive that the two people are acting on? I don’t even think this CAN be explained. It’s just an example where the ending doesn’t fit the theme that the anime was building, which is even worse than an unexplained theme.

      5. I think you’ve missed my point completely. I was talking about the influence of magic in our history and the implications that raises for the evolution of the human race.

      6. You’re only helping me here. A theme introduced solely for the use as plot device? Now that’s just bad writing.

      Cheers.

      Posted by Ryhzuo | April 23, 2011, 1:42 AM
  6. Ahahah, the first part was funny. Regarding your six points…
    1. Ambiguous, I think that’s the way they wanted to leave it. All along, even though QB might’ve looked like a detestable character, his points seemed logically flawless. And they most likely wanted them that way. Most likely even Madoka understood that, and that’s why she acted this way. She could’ve just killed all of QB’s people otherwise, right?
    2. Well, as above. Let’s keep in mind that we didn’t have a Deus Ex Machina that resolved everything, but just most of it. This kind of pragmatic view permeates the anime, and while the ending was meant to be warming, this view remains, as does the message. QB isn’t evil. People just don’t want to accept his people’s view of humans. Morally ambiguous, but pragmatic and working. Which is why Madoka decides to just tweak it a bit.
    3. Wishes will destroy the universe. But just at the very end of it. If you had to choose between a torture that lasts 72 hours (and die) and living 72 hours with a quick death at the end, what would you choose?
    4. Whether these deeds are selfless or not, what I can see from the ending the main point is that they sacrificed themselves for their wishes. The wish was important to them, and they sacrificed (not in despair, but knowingly and ending it with a smile) themselves to protect it.
    5. I don’t think they really meant it as “Thank magic for your food/house/internet”. Regarding the show: according to QB we would still be living in the caverns, weren’t it for those wishes. That should pretty much answer.
    6. As magic as it may seem, it looks like the rules according to which how pure a soul is are just some sort of laws of Physics. Weird. But that’s the way they wanted to approach it.
    P.S.: I do understand that you might disagree with one or more (or even all) of the answers I’m providing you, and this is just my view on the matter.

    Posted by GBolt | April 23, 2011, 2:22 AM
    • Put two people in the same room and ask them a question, and you will get three opinions. Disagreements will always be a part of human interaction and I see it not as a challenge but a learning opportunity, which is why I always try to offer a counter argument or a alternative solution to whatever people suggest to me, it is my way of saying thank you. Please don’t think of me as stuck up elitist with his own ideals, know that I’ve taken all you’ve said to me on board. =3

      Onto the issues itself, finally some decent ideas.

      1. I agree with you that the nature of Kyuubey’s actions is perhaps one of things best left ambiguous. That I can take. Madoka certainly does explore this idea in depth and I think arguments can be made for both sides. That however, is beside the point of my post. The point I was trying get at was that by creating an ending that seemingly solved the solution and kept both sides happy, Madoka dodges the real issue at hand and creates an illusion that a problem like this can be solved with mutual benefits for both parties, whereas in reality it is not so simple. Madoka DOES offer a solution to this problem, it’s just not a very good, practical or useful one, and I haven’t learnt anything, about the issue or about myself as a result.

      2. Now this is the point where we differentiate on opinion rather than on principle. You say the view remains. Well I say it doesn’t. Not in a form which justifies it as being a prominent theme in the story, which it SHOULD BE. I feel the conclusion doesn’t really give it much room, it really only got one moment on screen only to be never seen again. Guess we can argue over coffee all morning about that one.

      3. I think you’ve gotten the wrong idea of what I was trying to say. Actually after all these comments even I don’t quite remember what my point was. I THINK, it was to point out that wishes aren’t all that cut out to be, and if you want to achieve your goals, you should either do it with your own two hands, or not at all. I think Kyouko’s story illustrates this pretty clearly. Besides, there is no evidence that NOT using wishes will also lead to the world’s destruction. For instance, the first witch came from the first mahou shoujo right? So what if there was no wishing? There’d be no mahou shoujos. A bit far fetched but you get the idea.

      4. Two completely different but mutually inclusive themes. It still leaves my issue unaddressed, which is my main gripe. I also disagree that they sacrificed themselves with a smile on their face to protect it. This would have been their initial emotion sure, but it’s more than arguable that by the end of her life, Sayaka was definitely regretting her decision. Kyousko too, would have regretted her wish that ended her family.

      5. Again, a difference in opinion. If you didn’t think they meant it like that, then by all means.

      6. Laws of physics? I… You’ll have to explain this one a bit further. Does this mean you’re suggest that deities DO exist, as Madoka rewrote the universe, it is conceivable that someone else with her power could rewrite the laws of physics. Or are you using physics as another analogy?

      Posted by Ryhzuo | April 23, 2011, 2:45 AM
      • I think one issue re: #3 is that the show was dealing with things in the abstract, and you are trying to apply it as if it is material. I must rewatch and I’m CERTAIN things are lost in the translation, but in the end (no matter what Kyuubei says, because he was proven to have lied at least, at least by omission if not flat out, on numerous occasions) things are determined by two very powerful forces: Hope & Despair.
        This is important because in the end, had Homura failed (eventually) and Madoka hadn’t made her wish, Homura would become a very powerful witch. I still believe there’s the possibility that Homura WAS the strongest witch at Walpurgisnacht. But the reason is that with each iteration, her “potential” for despair grew. If you fail at something one time, you can shrug it off as a lack of comfort, but if you do something over and over and maintain your futility, eventually it will make you wonder why you seem incapable of success. It is noted that Homura is tying herself up as much as Kyuubei says she has done to Madoka.
        Which is ALSO important, Homura has imbued Madoka with all the HOPE of all her past lives. It’s also important to note, we don’t really know Madoka’s wishes from her other lives, this is relevant because while in the end, she sometimes despairs FOR HERSELF she doesn’t lose hope FOR OTHER PEOPLE. And this is why Madoka’s final wish is for all the other magical girls, and like she says, since she KNOWS they can never become witches, she’ll never lose hope in the other girls.

        That’s why YOUNG girls are needed, they have the large capacity for HOPE unburdened by the realities of life. And by being there, she can remind them of their optimism and hopes before they fade out.

        Posted by HeeroTX | April 24, 2011, 7:06 AM
  7. I’m surprised you didn’t address the fact that, after so much build up to Walpurgisnacht, it ended up being solely a plot device for Homura’s loops and Madoka’s stand, and no detail was given on her origin and powers.
    A witch that needs no barrier, is known to veteran girls (Mami and Kyouko, at least), and whose familiars are very likely magical girls felled by her has a lot to be said. And yet, all that was ignored.

    I overall liked the ending, but I agree with your points. I said, after episode ten, that two episodes seemed too little for everything that was yet to happen, and this was without even dreaming that the ending would turn out like this. Unfortunately, I was correct.

    Posted by BrickBreak | April 23, 2011, 7:12 AM
    • THANK you. Someone actually bringing up another point. Though of course, my role here is to play devils advocate here, so I’ll say this.
      Walpurgisnacht was solely used as a plot device, because that’s exactly what it was. Solely a plot device.

      To be honest not even I can think of a theme of idea that relates to this event, but the event itself can be explained by very basic inferences.

      Witches exist > Some witches are stronger than others > There must exist the strongest witch
      It will kill many Mahou Shoujo > Eventually someone with Homura’s abilities will fight it > Time loop occurs
      She will know where and when it occurs > Eventual build up to the climax for the story.

      A bit far fetched but you get the idea.

      Posted by Ryhzuo | April 23, 2011, 9:48 AM
  8. I think you are missing the point here. The show was not about who is good or who is bad, or a take on humanity’s morals, but rather, it was about a girl who is in the misfortune to be a magical girl hunting matured magical girls, aka witches. This is not Evangelion, is a posmodern deconstruction of Magical Girls just as Shoujo Kakumei Utena did back on the 90′s.

    Thematically speaking, I believe it is complete.

    1. “Story wise this leaves everyone happy, but in reality choices aren’t that easy.”.

    Sorry dude, you are missing the point. We are not watching reality, we are watching an anime. In reality we are not sure that there are other extraterrestial intelligent living beings, we’re not sure of the existence of magical girls or any of the things that Madoka has in their universe. They have an entire building made out of glass, something that it’s still not possible to do on our reality.

    Watching an anime to find reality on it it’s like drinking sea water to calm your thirst.

    So, the story must conclude using the same rules that they’ve settled from the very beginning, because that’s what a good story does: presents a problem, rules and then a solution using those rules. Plain and simple.

    I give you that Madoka became some sort of “Deus Ex Machina”. I think that this sort of ending is cheap, however, the point of her becoming a Deus Ex Machina actually completes the whole theme: Selfless Magical Girls cannot exist. Anyone with power will fall to it, voluntarily or involuntarily.

    Everything in the world of Madoka seems to be imbued in dualities and grays, not black and white judgement, and the only way to have a black and white concept is when said concept is abstract, which was what Madoka did at the ending. Even Kyuubey’s attempt to save the universe, comes with a great price, the interaction of humanity. Which leads to:

    2. “Why does she only save only Mahou Shoujos?”

    According to the rules settled in the anime, Mahou Shoujo have the ability to lead the humanity and itself, some of the greatest women that have existed where imbued with magical powers and their whishes where the ones that led them to demise. So, Madoka’s take is plain simple: “She saves Mahou Shoujo who will in turn help normal non-magical humans and also, who will help the universe”.

    3. “Does that mean that humanity will always be a ‘farm’ for Kyuubey and the Mahou Shoujos? Is that an acceptable compromise to save the universe?”

    I think that the whole “farm” thing stirred up something on you. I think that this is not about “lesser” or “greater” beings, but about equilibrium. What Kyuubey was trying to explain was exactly that: we’ve given you all of this on cost to your soul. It’s not about us being a farm (which at the end of the day, in real life WE are part of the circle of life) for the Incubators, but rather, us being part of a greater cycle.

    I belive that the anime does bring this idea in a time of political and cultural turmoil, as much of the problems that we are dealing currently in our reality are about us forgetting that we are not superior, we’re all equal and we are all part of a single entity. What we do affects others in many different ways and we somehow forget that part.

    3. ““we can’t solve it using magic, so we’ll solve it using hard work and our own two hands”.
    Then what would’ve been the point on making every main character a mahou shoujo? I mean, the creators settled some rules and they abided for them. If killing a witch (Walpurgisnacht) did require hard work then the whole point of magical girls existing would be useless. Everything is there for a reason.

    At the end of the day, I believe they did solve it using hard work. It was the careful planning of Madoka’s wish for over 10 episodes that lead to this. And I believe it was genius of her (more wit and intelligence than what a 13 year old teenager can have to beat an overwhelming super intelligent race, but I’ll give them that) to say that SHE wanted to eliminate every single witch before even being born, which rid her and Homura from the curse of being a witch.

    4. “There will be countless people who will argue to the ends of the earth that Madoka’s wish was a selfless good deed, worthy of being paralleled to Jesus himself. ”

    I think that the anime just present the opposite: there are no selfless good deeds. Every deed we do is for our benefit, some benefit others as a counter point, but in the end, it’s about US. Thinking otherwise is exactly what leads to demise.

    Take Sayaka as an example: No matter what the universe is, she is still making her wish around Kamijo, which constantly leads her to her death. And Madoka’s whish exactly took this into consideration: It’s not about them, it’s about me (“I want to eliminate them with my bare hands”).

    This is also why Madoka’s wish seemed to be the ultimate solution to the problem of Magical Girls: She sacrificed her existence in order to get something. And that something was everybody to be happy so she could be happy. Of course, I personally am not a fan of “I have to please others in order to be happy” philosophy, however, these were the topics addressed in an anime aimed to the Japanese culture, which has this social thinking values that I as a westerner do not have.

    5. I am not going into the details of feminism; however, I think that actually this EMPOWERS women rather than bringing them down. I think that it’s somewhat sexist and derrogatory for US males, because according to the rules of the anime:

    1. Only women are allowed to have emotions
    2. Only women can have a miserable life which will lead them to be magical girls

    What about us males? Do we not have enough stress as well in our lives? Do we not have emotions? Are we not allowed to express those feelings as well?

    Again, in my sociocultural heteronormative westerner culture, we might go for something more “politically correct” including magical boys; but this anime was NOT created by westerns: it was created for and by an oriental culture, specifically, for and by the Japanese. This is something that I cannot critique correctly, as I am not part of that culture.

    If anything, I believe that INSIDE the world that the anime depicts WOMEN only can lead if they have magical powers BUT, this case in our real world IS NOT true. Reality vs. Fiction. And this might have some biased bases because of cultural and social context which for us being outsiders might not be able to understand it.

    6. I’ll give you this. I do believe as well that the soul theme was never addressed again and it would’ve been too cool to have it. But alas, much can be done in only 12 episodes. I do think that we need more of this series, however, I do not know how much it can explore the “soul” topic and “being a witch hunter” topic inside the Madoka universe. Maybe in one of the many spin offs they do take a look at this specific theme, however, I do not believe they’ll do on Madoka as again, this was all about a girl and her wish.

    And those where my two cents. Took my sweet time expressing them, but I needed to share these. Feel free to agree or disagree with it.

    Posted by Adriel | April 23, 2011, 8:10 AM
    • I’d like to just say that the fact we can agree to disagree on this point only shows the thematic depth of Madoka, and I am very happy that people like you take the time out to give me a verbal challenge, which I will always happily accept. As for whether I am missing the point here or not, I’d like to think that I am reasonably apt at analyzing literature, but we’ll see how your argument shapes up shall me?

      1. “Sorry dude, you are missing the point. We are not watching reality, we are watching an anime.” I’ve never thought for a second that the two were mutually exclusive. As a counter argument, I think a point towards Yojōhan Shinwa Taikei is sufficient.

      “I give you that Madoka became some sort of “Deus Ex Machina””. And you still consider the story thematically complete despite this? That’s interesting. I don’t.

      “So, the story must conclude using the same rules that they’ve settled from the very beginning, because that’s what a good story does: presents a problem, rules and then a solution using those rules. Plain and simple.” This is actually a very valid point. I agree with you here. Madoka’s solution is in the end, something that follows the laws her universe and therefore not necessarily incorrect. And that’s fine. I don’t have a problem with that. What I DO have a problem though, is that her decision doesn’t leave much room for learning, or for interpretation of the issue at hand. I also think that just because a world has different rules, doesn’t mean characters in them can’t make decisions with the thought processes that we can. A point to any Shakespearean text is sufficient. This is why the Deus Ex Machina plays such a negative role. Madoka essentially presents us with a “solve-all” answer, that to me isn’t acceptable.

      2. I can see that you’re whole argument is constricted to the laws of the Madoka universe, which forgive me for saying, is a bit narrow minded. Though you still make valid points nonetheless.

      As for “She saves Mahou Shoujo who will in turn help normal non-magical humans and also, who will help the universe”, I’ve been told this many times about my ideas but ironically this time it’s my turn to say it. Your idea is a bit of a stretch. Do you honestly think that Madoka thought that far ahead? As a middle schooler? I don’t think she considered the broader implications of her actions at all, only the immediate effect that they will liberate all Mahou Shoujos from the fate of becoming a witch.

      3(a). “It’s not about us being a farm (which at the end of the day, in real life WE are part of the circle of life) for the Incubators, but rather, us being part of a greater cycle.” That’s GREAT. An excellent take of a very difficult theme. Where exactly does the anime bring forth this answer? If we are indeed part of a greater cycle, why does Madoka try to hard to break this cycle?

      3 (b). “Then what would’ve been the point on making every main character a mahou shoujo?” I have a review written on MAL. If you go read it, you’ll see the point I make about Madoka NOT being your average Mahou Shoujo. It is what I like to think of as a deconstruction, and as such, these ideals should be thoroughly reexamined.
      “It was the careful planning of Madoka’s wish for over 10 episodes that lead to this.” Perhaps we have different ideas of what constitutes ‘hard work’. (DAMN I am loving all these disagreements). We can argue all day over this, but to us, the mere use of magic should be considered cheating somewhat. Then again, your argument is based around following the laws of the Madoka universe you probably won’t accept that, so I will offer this alternative argument. If you say that they that followed the universe’s law in order to defeat Walpurgisnacht was hard work, then shouldn’t Madoka’s changing of the laws of the universe be considered cheating? Also I’d like to point out that your two statements:
      “If killing a witch (Walpurgisnacht) did require hard work then the whole point of magical girls existing would be useless.” and
      “At the end of the day, I believe they did solve it using hard work.”
      are contradictory. I was confused for a second there on which angle to argue from.

      4. You’re actually the first person to comment who also thought Madoka’s deed was selfish, and for that I give you my thanks. Which then of course, presents the question of why SHAFT chose to draw the painfully obvious comparison between Madoka and Jesus. Is that not a comparison of seemly selfless acts? (Notice how because you’re arguing FOR my point, I am now arguing against it. This is why playing devil’s advocate is so fun)

      5. “What about us males? Do we not have enough stress as well in our lives? Do we not have emotions? Are we not allowed to express those feelings as well?” The show does explain this by saying that teenage girls have the most wide range of emotional fluctuation which makes them the idea material for turning into witches. While I can’t comment on this concretely, I do believe (based on my limited life experience), that they are correct. Though in saying that, I think your point of exclusion for males is absolutely brilliant. I never would have thought of it from that angle.
      But it still doesn’t change the reality that BECAUSE we can raise these issues in our discussions, it shows that:
      1. The show didn’t address it properly
      2. The show shouldn’t have brought it up at all.

      6. You’ll give it to me? Awww… </3

      Thanks for your view points, they were very refreshing.

      Posted by Ryhzuo | April 23, 2011, 11:14 AM
      • I guess that I need a little bit of tweaking here and there to make my point more clear and expand it a little bit.

        I believe that the whole “Madoka turns into a Deus Ex Machina” is actually a recurse that is MORE THAN OFTEN used in almost every anime, specially in the Magical Girl genre: The Guinzuisho in Sailor Moon, Hikaru being the Pillar on Magic Knight Rayearth and so on.

        Since we are talking about deconstructing a genre, some staples that the genre has have to be re drawn but in a different light. Almost every Mahou Shoujo anime that I’ve seen happen to have a Main Leading Protagonist that becomes a Deus Ex Machina solution and they can are led to be somewhat of a Mary-Sue. However, I do not believe this was the case with Madoka.

        Compare to Usagui’s Guinzuisho in Sailor Moon: Every single villain in SM was vanquished by her usage of her mystical powers that were somehow imbued on that rock. (I am talking about the anime, which is far shallow than the manga and it’s the fair representation of what the magical girl genre is. Also I believe only the Pharaoh 90 was the only villain who was defeated with an artifact other than the Silver Cristal).

        In SM, it didn’t matter what the other Senshi did or how much powerful they were: it was all about Usagui and her crystal and solving everything at the end with her emotions, as the crystal is a physical manifestation of her inner emotional world. Even the most powerful force, Chaos, was nothing when she shined her love accross the galaxy. This is clearer when comparing the anime and the manga: All the girls happen to be “Eternal Senshi” as well as Usagui. And she is somewhat of a Mary Sue because in the very last minute she is saved by herself from the future and becomes the ultimate Sailor.

        Now compare with Madoka: She was killed at least 5 times before we could find a positive solution. In all of the previous timelines, Madoka was stripped out of her choice to be a puella magi, or she was saved countless of times from becoming one.

        And at the end, she indeed became one and saved everybody not by becoming a god, but rather, by rewriting the rules which led her to be a god. It’s not the same as Madoka doesn’t care of what power she will harness as long as her wish is granted.

        Unlike Sailor Moon, the death of her comrades had an impact on her that served not only a pragmatical purpose (more on that later) but also, an emotional pressure to make things right and save all of them, because “that’s what a good puella magi would do”. She was saved by herself, -just as Sailor Moon in the manga-, but not because she’s “overly awesome”, but because she stated a wish that was clever enough to make her the end of the problem part of the solution.

        In SM, Usagui or her friends never suffered as much as Madoka (or Homura) did to find a solution. In SM, Usagui becomes a destined soldier and a fated queen “just because she was inherited with it”. Madoka did not became a God just because, she did it as a consequence of her wish. From my perspective, I think she earned it.

        I do believe there are a couple of things that are stretched from the story: I do not think that she being a teenager could phrase such a complicated wish, (and that’s the important thing: it was this clever framing of the rules that saved everybody) neither I think that she thought that “by saving the Mahou Shoujo of the world I am also saving humanity”.

        If anything, I think that what motivated her was her will to be a good girl. To save Homura and her other dead friends was only a duty of a good girl, and they happened to be part of the Mahou Shoujo and were also part of the humanity. And she wanted to save all of them because she would be pleased if all of them were happy. Again: she’s being selflessly selfish. She wants to bring a revolution to a world because she will ultimately gain something out of it. Plain and simple.

        This is why I belive there was “hard work” on it. Or rather, Madoka “earned” this solution instead of just “crossing by accident to it”. I think that being prevented many times from becoming a Mahou Shoujo and seeing all that could happen to other Mahou Shoujo as well served her as some sort of “observational experiment”. Let’s view it from Madoka’s perspective:

        a) I cannot wish something for others, as Kyoko and Sayaka did, my wish has to serve me or I will face the same fate as they did.

        b) I will not wish something out of the blue or pressured by the circumstances, (consider here Mami’s back story, this is why it was shown to the audience). I need thoroughly think on it, the phrasing is important . Mami pushed me to think on it, and I have to honor her because I am a good girl and this is what good girls do.

        c) I want to save myself and others, but I (Madoka) cannot compromise the hard work that Homura has already made because I was raised as a good girl and that’s something a good girl will not do. (This is specially important, and I believe this is the reason for that final PEP talk with her Mom at the end of Ep 11)

        So after a careful observation of these rules (both by the audience and the characters for over 10 episodes) we get to a conclusion that will happily solve all of those queries. Killing Walpurgisnacht was a reward itself, but not the main goal. The main goal was saving Homura from her fate.

        Was it cheating? Somewhat yes. “Rewriting the rules” instead of “fighting until the end” is something that I haven’t seen in other anime. This is refreshing and itself is another big plus for the series from my perspective. Again, I think I’ve seen too many “Gambatte!” anime where the main character fights until his/her last breath and very few clever anime where they solve the problem by other means but still using the same rules they wrote.

        Now for the Jesus comparison: Something to consider is that we are viewing Madoka from our westerner perspective where catolicism and hebrew-abrahamic religions have somewhat influenced the development of our culture. In Japan, as far as I know, Shintoism and Budhism are the two main religions of the country that have somewhat shaped the culture itself. I believe Catolicism in Japan is not as big as in other countries. If SHAFT were to do any sort of comparisons, I believe it would be between the tradition of the Buddha and Madoka, but I am not that versed on the topic to even bring it in.

        However, I am more versed on Archetypes and the mono-myth, thus I believe that Madoka’s story follow thoroughly this archetypal story of the hero that gives himself in sacrifice for the greater good. I believe this story has been around us for quite a while and the very function of it lies on the fact that we live in a network society: we share, we split, we as individuals live of the common benefits that our society offers (no matter the cultural background), thus, the stories on the society must fulfill a role in which a human that portrays the self sacrifice is rewarded and those that represent the selfish choices are punished.

        Different layers are added to give more cohesive development of the cultural values of the audience of the story, but pretty much the idea is always the same. I am from Mexico, living in the United States and a I’m a fan of the Japanese narrative, there are cultural values imbued on the story that I can see as a foreigner and that probably those more adept to it cannot see. This is where the whole historical figures name calling takes place, to show how Madoka’s tale actually fits our universal thinking as humans about the values that we do appreciate on others.

        I do think personally that is extremely farfetch to say that Cleopatra, Jeanne d’Arc or Himiko were Puella Magi, or those hints to the Auschwitz prisoners or to the middle east actual situation. However, I think of this as just a mere nod or hint, nothing that will take away something from the story that is already developed. I personally not believe that this is derogatory for the female of the world, because that would be take it out of the context of the series. Girls and Women in OUR REALITY have proven to break those social boundaries with their will power and human values, without the need of “tricks” or “magic” as they did on the show.

        On the other hand: I do still think that, if anything, is sexist against us males, yet, we are not the main target audience for the show so I can see why and how the whole story was developed around girls and the deconstruction of the magical girl genre.

        If you ask me, personally, I find Madoka as a better role model than any of the other Magical Girls laying around the anime universe and I want my female children to be raised on her example: she became a god by “cheating” the rules of the system (I’d say more of “rephrasing” the rules system or “reframing” them), she earned a solution because of her intelligence and genious, not because she was “meant to be”, not because she was “the chosen one”, not because “she fought hard enough”. She did suffer, -a lot-, but found a way in the midst of all the crap that she fought. I personally want my kid to beat the system using the same system rules and this is what I find amusing in Madoka.

        And thank you as well. I find this conversation to be really interesting.

        Posted by Adriel | April 23, 2011, 4:54 PM
  9. Although I didn’t think about all the topics you explain here, after reading your review, I must say I share your opinion.

    At first, Homura was introduced as a very mysterious character. She knew a lot of things the other girls were unaware of, and it seemed her origin was doubtful. In one of the last episodes (9th or 10th, I can’t remember) she kills Kyuubey to save Madoka from taking on a contract, and he says something like “now I know you can manipulate time”.
    That could mean she didn’t have anything to do with Kyuubey, but then we discover she was a time traveler and became a Mahou Shoujo in other time/space, but in the same way the others did.
    So here’s my question. If Kyuubey knew Madoka’s destiny was set or the parallel universes were overlapped, why didn’t he know the fact that Homura could time warp? I think this would need a deeper explanation.

    (Sorry in advance for my grammatical mistakes or an improper explanation of my point of view, English isn’t my mother tongue)

    Posted by Jelka | April 23, 2011, 8:17 AM
    • I fixed them for you =3

      Ah. That plot device, as much as I want to point out as a plot hole, it really isn’t . Here’s the basic gist of it.

      Kyuubey can be said to be a creature with much higher intellect than us. It is conceivable that he would understand the mechanics of time travel and parallel universe far better than us. In the present universe, he finds Madoka, a girl with an incredible amount of latent potential. He then finds Homura, who tries to stop him from forming a contract. Kyuubey then finds, that Homura is a time traveller, and infers that the goals of her time travel is to save Madoka, illustrated by her not wanting Madoka to form a contract. If this is the case, then it is safe to assume that in a normal timeline, Madoka will at some point meet a nasty end, something Homura is trying to prevent. This is backed up by the evidence that Madoka has so much potential, which is apparently a side effect of being the central subject of continuous time travel. (OK that last part wasn’t explained very well by the anime, I agree)

      I hope that is clear enough. For plot holes, you really should go ask IPX in the previous post, he’s much better at it than I am =3

      Posted by Ryhzuo | April 23, 2011, 9:54 AM
      • I don’t understand why anyone would think Madoka’s potential/the side effects of time traveling weren’t explained well. I know you understood the series, but bear with me. Her potential grew Homura went back in time to same her. This created an alternate set of events, a separate timeline/universe. The first attempt at saving her was not successful, so Homura tried again. Yet another universe, which had not existed prior to Homura’s time traveling, was woven into space and time, wrapped around the fate of Madoka. This happened several times.

        The several universes being created for the sake of Madoka created a sort of karmic buildup, which increased Madoka’s potential. I would also assume that the residual energy from the several times she was a witch and a magical girl built up her potential as well.

        Almost all of this (with the exception of that last bit about residual energy) is spelled out in the anime. It’s simple, concise, and it makes sense. I don’t see how it was badly explained at all.

        Posted by Mimo | December 17, 2011, 12:39 AM
  10. This is a bit of a pain…there are enough wildly differing and dissenting opinions regarding the ending of Madoka that I don’t really want to waste time commenting on just one individual blogpost (thank a link from a forum that I’ve even read this). But I’ll give it a go.

    Basically, you’re wrong about all these themes of yours. They weren’t what Madoka intended to address at all. Madoka presents *one* theme, and that one theme is: even if shitsux, and reality can always come back to bite you, it isn’t wrong to hope. The magical girl > witch system undermines this because it turns hope into despair, so Madoka sacrifices herself to fix that in order to create a world where hope is genuinely possible.

    I’ll interpret that theme in terms of all these questions of yours.

    1) Madoka’s solution satisfies/hinders Kyuubey at a cost to Madoka herself. It’s not that everybody is happy; magical girls still have to give up their lives in endless/lethal struggling for the sake of their wishes, and Kyuubey is getting less energy than he previously could. Madoka simply decided that the cost of MGs further becoming embodiments of despair themselves was simply too much to bear, and decided to offer up her own life to cut out that aspect of the system. If you want to take some moral out of this, it’s that sometimes there’s no perfect solution and something has to be sacrificed. In this case, Madoka offered up herself and her own existence. I don’t know how useful or acceptable this example of personal sacrifice will pragmatically be for you however.

    2) Yes, magical girls are still cattle, and yes, Madoka implies that this is basically just a compromise humans will have to live with. However, the solution Madoka (the show) left us with was in allowing one of them to reduce the burden of the other cattle; since if the girls were allowed to genuinely hope and fight for their own wishes, they might at least be able to believe in their sacrifice. Strictly speaking, this was simply an act of empathy from one cattle to the other cattle, so even if not so grandiose in scale, as a model for decision-making in real life this is theoretically applicable. (:P)

    3) Miracles *can* happen. See Kamijou’s successful healing, or the show’s ending. The more important/salient points to take from that though are to make sure you know what you’re really wishing for, and to be prepared to pay the cost for it. If you’re willing to accept that responsibility and those burdens, then the show’s theme is indeed that No, it’s not wrong to hope and believe in things. An agreeable and inspirational moral to live by, and one that is reinforced by both Sayaka and Madoka’s fates respectively.

    4) Selfless deeds are indeed possible. If not the deeds themselves, then the show at least shows that selfless feelings are possible. Sayaka manages to leave the world not cursing it for her misfortune, expressing genuine gladness for having been able to hear Kyousuke play again, and giving Hitomi her reluctant but accepting blessing. If you just want some sort of ultimatum on whether selflessness is actually possible, that’s your answer right there. The actual plotline is a bit more nuanced though. What the show actually shows is that Sayaka *did* start out with altruistic feelings and intentions, but came to regret them and see herself as a fool once they caused her personal loss and suffering. Madoka reminded Sayaka of the good intentions she originally held, and it was this act in itself which enabled her to no longer see her past actions as pointless foolishness. Thus, it was by showing Sayaka that the ‘hope’ with which she originally made her wish was not completely meaningless, that Sayaka managed to move on peacefully.

    5) If mankind would still be in caves without the Kyuubeys’ contributions, then it’s obviously not womens achievements alone which are being attributed to them. I think saying this development has unfortunate sexist implications is a stretch. Along the same lines though, this revelation and sort of thinking can address some sceptics’ other issues with the believability of Kyuubey’s motivations (with regards to entropy). If Kyuubey’s race has been around and fighting entropy since even prehistoric periods, then it might be possible to conclude that they’ve been doing so for some time now. If this is the case, then it would be possible to deduce that the natural rate of the universe’s progression towards entropy might actually be much higher than we know it to be. The only reason we perceive entropic heat death as a far off and irrelevant threat in the first place might be in fact because of the Kyuubeys in the first place.

    6) The purity of Soul Gems, in terms of mechanics, was clearly explained to be governed by two things: 1. use of magic taints it, and 2. emotional grief does at well. These are the only factors, and there are no religious factors/implications. As for the meaning of humans having souls at all, Kyuubey treats it as essentially a scientific phenomenon, and there is no point in looking for a objective or ‘definitive’ perspective on whether Puella Magis are still human. That is a matter of individual definitions of what ‘humans’ are in the first place, and as the hypothesis is a purely fictional one the question itself could hardly be more irrelevant.

    lol, yeah, sorry. The 5th and 6th questions can’t be interpreted in terms of the ‘hope isn’t wrong theme’, because they actually aren’t really relevant questions to the show at all. As a thematic narrative, Madoka Magica is actually remarkably coherent. Sorry to sound so absolute; I’d simply like to put down some of what I see as a lot of unwarranted criticisms surrounding Madoka. If it makes you feel any better, I dislike ImperialX’s take as well (far too much browbeating with what is actually a subjective take on the religious symbolism). But yes, the people who go around even going so far as to claim that Madoka has *bad writing* really irk me.

    Posted by Sol Falling | April 23, 2011, 8:24 AM
    • Cheers for giving it a go, you look like someone with solid views. *flexes fingers*

      1. “I don’t know how useful or acceptable this example of personal sacrifice will pragmatically be for you however.” The fact that you have to add this sentence only proves my point. I am VERY happy though that you pointed out the idea that sacrifice has been made by Madoka, I was waiting for something to point that out. However I will still have to disagree with you wholeheartedly. Why? Because Madoka sacrificed herself. Not others. This still does not address the issue at hand of save many or save few. Madoka saves EVERYONE. If I were put in such a situation where I could self sacrifice in order to avoid the pain of having to choose between who to save, I would. But to me that is not an acceptable answer, because reality isn’t always so kind, and I think you too, are avoiding this problem.

      2. “Model for decision-making in real life this is theoretically applicable.” What then, is this model? “The solution Madoka leaves us.” I’m not REALLY that picky here, I’m not actually looking for a solution, despite the fact that the one that the show leaves us isn’t really that good of one. What do I say to a farmer in this case? Oh it’s ok to harvest your cows, just make sure that one suffers a lot more than the rest so the others don’t feel as bad? I agree with you that the show sort of left the issue at compromise, but it gave no indication of WHY that compromise was reached, and whether it was the right compromise or not. I still think this theme was left far too unexplored. Thanks for trying.

      3. Kamijou’s healing left Sayaka dead. Madoka’s conclusion I don’t really count because she rewrote the laws of the universe, that is kind of grounds for dismissal. I DO understand where you’re coming from, “If you’re willing to accept that responsibility and those burdens, then the show’s theme is indeed that No, it’s not wrong to hope and believe in things” is probably the first clear argument I’ve heard for this point. If this is truly the case though, why does the show depict the girls falling into despair AFTER they’ve made their wish? Clearly they weren’t ready to accept the consequences, which emphasized MY point more than yours. If they wanted to get across your idea, I’d imagined they would have gone with something like, grant wish -> sadness -> overcomes difficulty, not grant wish -> depression -> death. Do you see where I’m getting at?

      4. This will be more difficult to argue. I should say now that I’ve have always believed that it isn’t possible for someone truly do a selfless deed. Why? All our actions are driven by our desires, whether it be mental, physical or emotional. Therefore, a direct consequence of all our actions will be a fulfillment of those desires and in that sense, all our actions will be for ourselves, regardless of whether consequences are selfless or not. WHY did Madoka sacrificed herself to save everyone? Because she wanted to, not because she had to. I think that more than qualifies as a selfish deed, regardless of whether her resultant actions can be interpreted as selfless or not.
      Of course, whether Madoka’s act is selfless or not is beside the point, and we’re really not here to argue that. In fact if you REALLY wanted to take the issue to the debating table, I think you would win the argument. But my original point was as soon as the plot kicked in, the idea sort of got sidelined. You say that ultimately Sayaka acknowledges her wish and moves on. Why does Kyouko have to live on with her mistake then? Aren’t the two results contradictory?

      5. It is a stretch, as you so say, because of the fact that the show doesn’t really explore this idea properly. I don’t really understand the point you’re getting at here. Are you saying that entropic decay is a irrelevant issue because the Kyuubeys are dealing with it? You’ll have to explain this point a little more clearly, sorry I’m a bit slow.

      6. “Kyuubey treats it as essentially a scientific phenomenon, and there is no point in looking for a objective or ‘definitive’ perspective on whether Puella Magis are still human.” You have in your argument perhaps raised another issue. “1. use of magic taints it, and 2. emotional grief does at well. These are the only factors, and there are no religious factors/implications.” The fact that there are no religious factors involved in the tainting is in itself, a religious implication. Why? Because it suggests that souls aren’t governed by a universal heaven/hell law like so many of us believe. If we assume what you say is true, the from the emotional aspect the line between right and wrong will be much more indistinct.

      Take for example, Kyouko. If she had killed Sayaka in their initial encounter, she probably wouldn’t have cared less, yet if Sayaka killed her, she would have most likely gone into grief, both from guilt and from Madoka’s disapproval, and thus taint her soul gem. This is exactly the OPPOSITE of what religions teach us. (At least, the 3 religions I am familiar with), and the questions as is this becomes essential especially as we see Madoka essentially BECOMING a deity with her own set of soul gem laws. Aren’t these two contradictory?

      Thanks for coming. =3

      5.

      Posted by Ryhzuo | April 23, 2011, 10:13 AM
  11. Okay, now I’m confused.

    If witches come from magical girls, then where did the first witch come from?
    If there were no witches before magical girls existed, then what is the point of a magical girl’s existence?

    I must be missing something here…

    Anyway, I’d argue that Madoka’s wish was pretty selfless. She’s not doing it for herself, and she isn’t just saving the magical girls either. Indirectly, she saves the people who would have been led into despair by the witches, and the people who might have been killed by Walpurgis Night. I’m sure she did think about regular people too, since she saw how her friend Hitomi was affected by the witches. What would have been selfish is if she didn’t do anything at all.

    Posted by K | April 23, 2011, 9:19 AM
    • I don’t think all witches are made from Mahou Shoujo, or wouldn’t they all drop grief seeds then? I’ve wondered that.

      Posted by Me | April 23, 2011, 9:38 AM
      • The first witch came from the first Mahou Shoujo, then Tsukaimas were created from existing Maho Shoujo which eventually turned into witches. Still suffice to say that one would not survive without the other.

        Posted by Ryhzuo | April 23, 2011, 9:43 AM
        • Kyubey didn’t need a witch to make a witch, he just found a girl who would have a wish, either use all her magic or fall into despair, wait for some familers to witch, and repeat until he could contract multiple girls at a time.

          Posted by frozenari | October 28, 2013, 2:28 PM
    • The first witch came from the first Mahou Shoujo. Kyuubey makes it pretty clear that his entire goal from the beginning was to harvest the energy which is released when a Mahou Shoujo turns into a witch. It is conceivable then than the first witch came from the first Mahou Shoujo. After all, I would assume that even without witches, people would still be motivated to take up Kyuubey’s contract for the wish itself. Basically, the only difference between Madoka’s world and ours, is the existence of Kyuubey. (and others)

      As for whether Madoka’s wish being selfless or not, we can argue all we want but we’ll best we can do is agree to disagree on this one. I can see where you’re coming from and by the Christian parallels that SHAFT draws I understand the angle you’re coming from. I will say this though. I think that as long as something we wish for is driven by something we desire, either emotionally, physically or mentally, then our wish is a direct fulfillment of that desire. Desire is after all, an imperfect human emotion, and I think that THAT, qualifies the wish as being selfish, regardless of whether the act itself is selfless or not.

      Posted by Ryhzuo | April 23, 2011, 9:39 AM
    • The first witch came from the first Mahou Shoujo. Kyuubey makes it pretty clear that his entire goal from the beginning was to harvest the energy which is released when a Mahou Shoujo turns into a witch. It is conceivable then than the first witch came from the first Mahou Shoujo. After all, I would assume that even without witches, people would still be motivated to take up Kyuubey’s contract for the wish itself. Basically, the only difference between Madoka’s world and ours, is the existence of Kyuubey. (and others)

      As for whether Madoka’s wish being selfless or not, we can argue all we want but we’ll best we can do is agree to disagree on this one. I can see where you’re coming from and by the Christian parallels that SHAFT draws I understand the angle you’re coming from. I will say this though. I think that as long as something we wish for is driven by something we desire, either emotionally, physically or mentally, then our wish is a direct fulfillment of that desire. Desire is after all, an imperfect human emotion, and I think that THAT, qualifies the wish as being selfish, regardless of whether the act itself is selfless or not.

      Posted by Ryhzuo | April 23, 2011, 11:14 AM
  12. Why do you keep spelling “mahou shojos” with an apostrophe when the instances are clearly plural?

    Posted by Me | April 23, 2011, 9:22 AM
    • I’m sorry? Clearly my lack of grammatical skill has left my argument poorly constructed.

      Just kidding. I did that? You know honestly I don’t notice these things. I think my point is given across clearly enough either way. But thanks for trying to be helpful, I’ll look out for it next time.

      Posted by Ryhzuo | April 23, 2011, 9:41 AM
  13. I really liked your arguments. But I have to say I partially disagree with you. First, you’re right. If Madoka chooses to protect mahou shoujo only, she clearky makes a difference between them and the rest of humanity. However, I don’t believe that was a prejudicial call. You see, mahou shoujos are the only ones who really need the kind of protection Madoka offers, since this protection is based only on taking away the pain and despair from the girls when they are almost changing into witches. No other humans have this problem. Everyone feels pain and despair in its lifetime, but only magic girls can turn into witches because of these feelings. Madoka doesn’t protect them (mahou shoujos) from their enemies or from any kind of bad things that may happen in their lives. She only makes sure that they don’t turn into witches. In the end the mahou shoujos continue to sacrifice their lives fighting against evil beigns and they continue to help the incubators in their task. But now, mankind is not the incubator’s ‘cattle’ anymore, since they don’t need to sacrifice human lives (the mahou shoujos’ lives) to gather their energy, they simply get energy from the demons (phisycal manifestations of humans’ bad feelings). In addition, Madoka helped to preserve the lives of those who were killed by witches. What I am trying to say is that, yes, Madoka’s wish focus on mahou shoujos only, but I can understand why she has made that specific wish. That would be because she finnaly understood the sacrifices mahou shoujos have been making. So, in the end, she haven’t put an end on sadness, grief or other bad feelings. Every single man is still doomed to feel these, and so are the mahou shoujos. The initial difference was that common men wouldn’t turn into witches beacause of these feelings, but mahou shoujos would. So now, basically, Madoka made mahou shoujos to be just like anyone else. Of course, they’re still treated as special, because of their powers, their sacrifices and all. And why not? This seems to be quite a feminist anime. To praise this girls makes sense. They fight for mankind and for the sake of the whole universe, after all.
    Oh, just one more thing. For me, it’s not like they have said ‘all humans’ accomplishes were due to magic’. It’s more like: ‘all humans’ accomplishes were due to these brave women, who sacrificed their lives for us’. But, for sure, the roles of the incubators should have been more discussed, since they are doing quite an important job saving the unniverse. The anime could have given more emphasis on these themes.

    Anyway, I don’t know if have made myself clear, but I hope you will read this and give me your opinion. Feel free to disagree and to correct me about any points. Thanks for the great text and I hope you will forgive for any grammar mistakes or lack of cohesion. My English is not the best. ^^ Thanks.

    Posted by Felipe Sales | April 23, 2011, 10:31 AM
    • Sorry, I missed your comment amongst the total avalanche of others I had gotten, but here’s my totally late reply nonetheless.

      You make a very coherent argument, most of what you say is I believe the “correct” interpretation of Madoka’s final wish, or at least, how SHAFT would have wanted their audience to interpret it. However… I don’t really understand which point of my original post disagree on. You said that “I don’t believe that was a prejudicial call”. And neither do I. I don’t think I ever tried to argue that it WAS a prejudice call. Obviously the implications are there, but consequences of the actions affect all of humanity, that really speaks of itself.

      I think you’ve confused a prejudice call with a selfish call. The two ideas are distinctly different.

      “all humans’ accomplishes were due to these brave women, who sacrificed their lives for us” I like this point that you make, it insteads focuses on the unknown sacrifice of a few to sustain the ignorant prosperity of mankind, a cycle that continues even as the anime ends. Very nice, I like this interpretation very much, more than my own I think ^^

      Posted by Ryhzuo | May 9, 2011, 1:32 PM
  14. okay quick question…after madoka made her wish and did what she did right.
    Why is it that..kyoko,mami, and himura are still magic girls? What exactly happened? I understand everything else that happened, but why were they still magic girls in the end? Can someone answer this question?

    Posted by Andrew | April 23, 2011, 10:39 AM
  15. “…MADOKA’S CONCLUSION DEALS WITH NONE OF THESE THEMES. ”

    BRAVO! EXACTLY!

    “Even in the new universe, we are still gathering energy from negative emotions.”
    Exactly! A true good end will promote a CLANNAD style happiness-light-orb system, where miracle-fuel is gathered via the emotions of content, empathy, and happiness.

    If that was what happened, the ending could have come close to achieving the level of the ending that was Code Geass…

    Posted by JimJim | April 23, 2011, 10:53 AM
    • Though I won’t comment on CG’s in fear of starting another argument over a different series, I will say that thematically, Code Geass did deal with it’s outstanding issues much more coherently than Madoka did. =3

      Posted by Ryhzuo | April 23, 2011, 11:17 AM
  16. “But when Madoka wishes for everyone’s safety, she gets that wish. Why is that?”

    It is because her wish is infinite, not finite like the other girls’ wishes. After the other Puella Magi got their wishes granted, the consequence of their wishes led to their downfall. Madoka needs to be omnipresent and continually fighting to keep her wish, as her wish directly involves her activity.

    “Yup, as a result of her wish, all the negative energy gathers into her soul gem and hurles itself towards earth.But then she gets out her bow and shoots it. Problem solved.
    Am I missing something here?”

    I believe this is magic that only she can produce not because she is the main character and the story had to end nicely, but because it fits the nature of her wish. Remember that each girl had unique powers that pertained to their original wish. Sayaka could heal herself quickly in the 1st fight against Kyoko because her wish was to heal Kyosuke’s arm. Homura could manipulate time because she wished to protect Madoka from before the time of Warplugisnacht. Thus, it should be understood that since Madoka wished to dispel witches from the past, present, and future, she gained the power to override time and space. When one can override time and space, she can override herself, thus she can dispel the grief contained within her soul gem before she became a metaphorical witch. Long story short, she cut the grief seed meteor with her bow because she had the power to destroy herself before she became a witch. She is omnipresent, also based on her wish, so she can be in two places and be two beings at once. But because she is omnipresent, she doesn’t cease to exist.

    I hope this cleared some questions up.

    Posted by Lia | April 23, 2011, 2:17 PM
    • “I hope this cleared some questions up.” I honestly laughed when I read this. Sorry no offense, just that when playing devils advocate it’s funny how sometimes people think you’re mentally retarded.

      As for all the points you made. Yes, I find that I can almost agree with all of them, and to be honest I already knew most of what you said. But I think you’re still not addressing the main issue here, just like the Madoka anime. What does the results of Madoka’s wish teach us? That if we WISH hard enough, we can will the laws of the universe to change until they suit our needs? To me that’s not an acceptable answer, it’s just an easy way out, and it avoids the fact that in reality things are not as simple as turning into a god and making things right. In fact, a good half of the anime was devoted to teaching us the exact OPPOSITE of what Madoka does, which why I find this conclusion questionable.

      I hope this cleared some questions up.

      Posted by Ryhzuo | April 23, 2011, 2:26 PM
      • It didn’t really clear much up, actually. And that’s not because I’m trolling or being sarcastic , it’s because there’s not enough evidence to back the argument that the “main issue” of which you speak is the moral behind Madoka’s wish. That is a theory of what the main issue could be. Madoka is an irregular anime, thus it could be that it could have irregular morals, or none at all.

        The show is about the power of wishes, so I feel that wishing her way out of the situation was suitable for the show. It is unreasonable to yearn for a lesson through Madoka’s wish or the countereffects thereof considering much of the show’s basis is about transcending reason. Although I do agree with your pointing out that the show also deals heavily with the theme of consequence, and the ending only scraped the surface of the consequences of Madoka’s wish. But perhaps the viewer doesn’t know what those are because the ending was not seen from Madoka’s point of view, but rather Homura’s. And even so, once Madoka becomes an omnipresent being, how can the viewer assume that she is even aware of or susceptible to such consequences? Perhaps Homura is the only one who can feel the whiplash of Madoka’s wish, along with the viewer. That within itself is a consequence, yes?

        Perhaps the writers wanted the ending to transcend reason like the theme of the show, to mimic how the girls’ powers related to what they wished for. Maybe there’s some artistic plot license found elsewhere than the “moral” of the story. You seem to be digging deep to find a satisfactory ending, but perhaps you’re digging in the wrong spot.

        .
        .
        P.S.

        “Sorry no offense, just that when playing devils advocate it’s funny how sometimes people think you’re mentally retarded.”

        I honestly laughed when I read that. Okay, not really, but I did smile cynically.

        I apologize if my words made you or anyone feel “mentally retarded”. That was not my aim. At all. I was not trying to outwit you or correct you or anything. You asked questions in the above passage, and I felt the liberty to respond to some of the points that were in question. I responded because I felt that your argument was smart and valid, and I wanted to be a part of it. And, honestly, what does backlashing me with sarcasm do for your counterargument? :(

        Posted by Lia | April 23, 2011, 4:08 PM
      • “And, honestly, what does backlashing me with sarcasm do for your counterargument?” I swear to god I wasn’t trying to backlash or be sarcastic. I actually DID laugh. I find the situation amusing. It was one of those “god I’m such a tosser” moments. I thought you might have wanted to know that you had made me laugh. (seriously, no sarcasm)

        “Madoka is an irregular anime, thus it could be that it could have irregular morals, or none at all.” I don’t think Madoka is a irregular anime, or rather if that is the right word. Madoka is a Mahou Shoujo deconstruction, and hence as such there really needs to be a strong focus on reexamining all common themes which Mahou Shoujo normall explores.

        “The show is about the power of wishes”, perhaps the difference between you and me is that you consider the show has a singular theme while I think that the show should have multiple interwoven ideas. I wholeheartedly admit that your solution fits the problem of why Madoka didn’t end up getting repercussions for her wish, but what I’m saying is that as a conclusion, it didn’t really address the issue that the problem initially raised, which is the theme of consequence.

        Personally, as an audience, I haven’t learnt anything from Madoka’s experience.

        Not to mention that still leaves my other 6 points (and various others I could name) that the anime raises but never fully addresses.

        Posted by Ryhzuo | April 23, 2011, 4:35 PM
        • I am curious as to how you expected or would have liked to have seen the ending address the issues? As far as I could tell, many of the interwoven ideas don’t have ‘answers’ so to speak since a simple viewpoint shift can entirely change the argument around, or the principle ideas behind the [insert any of your points] could be challenged and debated. I say that the ending is better for NOT dealing with the so called ‘issues’ because it draws a perfect parallel to how we as human beings don’t have the answers ourselves so many times we just like to sweep things “under the rug”. Also, while the ending is truly magical and happy in relation to the rest of the series, it seems bittersweet because we know that we ourselves cannot use magic to dodge the tough points.

          Posted by deli8079 | January 15, 2012, 12:03 AM
  17. (Not going to read other people’s responses right now to keep this as short as possible. It’s already taken me too long to type this and I’m tired so it might sound harsh in places.)

    “Because it doesn’t address the issue at hand. Who is right in the end? Kyuubey or the girls? Is it an acceptable sacrifice to harvest the witches’ energy or not?”

    I don’t think that was ever the issue, much less a major point. Consider Kyubey’s cattle analogy, Madoka actually accepted that. A universe was born from her, but she connot provide everything; neither happiness for all and/or the stability of the universe. She removed humanity from the vicious circle of witch killing and put those demons in their place.

    “And while from a story perspective this may be a clever way to settle things, it leaves a big gaping hole where a problem used to be.”

    No, it doesn’t leave a hole. Morality never was a narrative conflict, you/the blogosphere/whoever else made the assumption that it was one from your reaction to Kyubey’s explanations. Kyubey laid things out how they really were, granted, he did it in the most ***hole-ish way possible, but he did. I can’t think of a single question this anime posed that was based on morals.

    “Does she represent perhaps, our unwillingness to accept that there may be a force stronger than us that controls us (the value we place on our freedom) or is the relationship between us and Kyuubey a more sinister metaphor for our relationship to all animals we consider inferior to us?”

    Let me repeat myself: “Consider Kyubey’s cattle analogy, Madoka actually accepted that.” Madoka accepts that there will be sacrifices, and that’s why she doesn’t “save everyone”, but instead she becomes a Goddess, “Hope”, “the light”, “the future”, etc., etc. In doing so, Madoka gives the girls more freedom as they are no longer doomed to a vicious circle.

    “But when Madoka wishes for everyone’s safety, she gets that wish. Why is that?”

    Are you not paying attention? A universe was not born from Madoka that was all happy-happy. There is still suffering and conflict. Sayaka is still dead. One could theorize that thhose demons in the new universe are nothing more than the dissipated despair that Madoka took on as a burden in exchange for being “Hope”.

    “This point ties in with my previous one, but the anime makes a huge emphasis on the fact that there are no selfless good deeds.”

    Wrong. One of the anime’s points was that wishes backfire/have consequences/equivalent exchange/etc. You’re assuming too much.

    “Why draw the parallel between Madoka and Jesus Christ at all?”

    Can we please have one philosophical anime discussion without pretending the main character is another Jesus? Just because somebody sacrifices him/herself doesn’t mean that a Jesus comparison will work, and we know how much anime loves it self-sacrificing. Where are the Faust comparisons?

    “Not even Kyuubey’s origin is explored at all. Forget thematic, this almost feels like a plot hole to me.”

    Kyubey is a hive-mind alien race, where’s the plot hole in that? Does the narrative really need to lay out the history of every supposed alien race? This is all outside the narrative structure.

    “That would also contradict the idea that sins are predetermined by a set of written rules such as the bible, and raises some interesting implications about the validity religion. (Again, this is counter-intuitive considering the fact they made Madoka out to be a god)”

    They did not make Madoka out to be a god, only you and Kyubey did. Madoka pretty specifically stated otherwise.

    “And then there is issue of the soul within the body itself, which EVERYONE made a HUGE deal about. Sayaka literally depressed herself to death because she couldn’t see herself as a real person anymore. But then she dies, and then everyone else just decides to accept the fact and move on.”

    What else can you do but accept it and move on (or fall into despair)? These girls were already Magi, and Madoka made her decision even knowing how the Soul Gem works.

    “But as it stands, all SHAFT made Kyuubey out to be was an insufferable jackass who only cared that he got the energy he wanted. Why? Because Madoka’s final wish completely sidelined all the issues that Kyuubey represent and made them irrelevant. Nice one SHAFT.”

    Insufferable jackass, yes. Everything else, no. Kyubey was not concerned with the universe itself, only with the preservation of his own species. Note that Kyubey is quick to run away in the earlier timeline where Madoka becomes Earth’s strongest Witch. He is the character that states the rules. He has to accomplish his goals within those rules. His concept of morals is, not surprisingly, alien to our own. He doesn’t understand humans, so there can be no compromise expected from him. Madoka sidelined nothing. He’s still a jackass in the new universe. He still wants energy. He’s still willing to sacrifice girls for his goals. Taking morals issues with a character that has a completely different set of principles was a dead end to begin with.

    “Bottom Line. Madoka’s conclusion had one idea. And that was to make Madoka out to be some sort of Deus Ex Machina savior that solved all the problems and tied up the story in a neat little package.”

    stillmissingthepoint.jpg

    Madoka solved all the narrative problems, but she didn’t solve the character’s problems for them. She saved people from despair … actually, no, she didn’t even do that. She provided people the option of maintaining hope, so that people as dedicated as Homura would never despair. People have their own problems, but they need to deal with them themselves. Madoka removed the vicious circles that prevented “guaranteed outcomes”. If you have the heart for it, you can do anything.

    “It’s like writing a book, and then deciding to leave out the epilogue in the final print.”

    In your case, it is more like expecting the meaning of life by watching James Bond.

    “Madoka hasn’t taught me anything about myself. That to me, only makes for a relatively good, but not great, anime.”

    That’s assuming Madoka was supposed to teach you about yourself … Stop trying to overreach outside the narrative for answers the anime was never going to provide.

    Posted by ZeroOBK | April 23, 2011, 5:32 PM
    • TL;DR

      Hahaha just kidding.
      I think you’re the first one who instantly rejected all my ideas outright. This tells me that what we disagree on is not my theories, but a more basic principle. Aha! Here it is.

      “Stop trying to overreach outside the narrative for answers the anime was never going to provide.”

      Some people watch anime for enjoyment. Others for enlightenment. Only ones that can offer both without compromising each other can be truly considered masterpieces.

      I mean, you make valid points, and if I perhaps met you on the street or in a coffee shop and we got into a discussion, then I’d probably say the same as what you say now. And then I’d say, Madoka is a good anime. Nothing more, nothing less.

      But why do we have to restrict ourselves to such shallow interpretations?

      “LOLOLOL OMG MADOKA IS LIKE JESUZ LOLOLOL TATZ SO COOL 10/10!!!!”

      No.

      Posted by Ryhzuo | May 9, 2011, 1:08 PM
  18. One additional thing I found very disappointing was the reasoning of using the girls to prevent heat death. Heat death is still really far off, and Kyubei’s race has plenty of time to develop some other way of saving the universe. Now, I know there are some arguments against this – maybe Kyubei has lived for zillions of years or something, so heat death seems really close. Or maybe this is the best solution they have found so far and don’t want to risk wasting more time.

    At any rate, some of the things said more concretely in the last episode puts another nail in the reasons. Madoka clearly has enough power at this point to destroy the universe and Kyubei knows it. Doesn’t this defeat the point of using mahou shoujo to prevent heat death? If Madoka turns into a witch, she WILL destroy the universe immediately and I doubt Kyubei’s people have anything to stop her. I would say that living a couple 10^100 years more and maybe finding some alternative solution is better than dying in the very near future…

    Anyways, I just found that adding pseudo-science into the equation really degraded the experience for me.

    Madoka should have just killed the universe to spite Kyubei even more lol

    Posted by qwertas | April 23, 2011, 8:23 PM
  19. And another thing that I would like to add is that this was NOT broadcasted on Good Friday. It was originally broadcasted on Thursday April 22nd 2:30 am Japan time.

    So, there might be a relation of theme with self sacrifice but I highly doubt is related to the mythos of the Passion of the Christ. And I highly doubt the team behind it release it with that in mind…

    If anything, there’s more similarity to the original Walpurgisnacht, which is on April 30th. In fact, I remember reading a thread on /a/ pointing out the exact date for Walpurgisnacht arrival was the exact date we will be celebrating Walpurgisnacht in the real world.

    Posted by Adriel | April 23, 2011, 8:27 PM
    • I appreciate the input you’ve given so far, but there’s no doubt that the broadcast of this episode on Good Friday was intended by SHAFT.

      Every single anime delayed by the earthquake resumed airing one week afterwards, but Madoka was delayed for six whole weeks. Gen said the episodes weren’t ready yet, but that is just an excuse. Denpa Onna and Maria Holic started airing right on queue. Not only were they both directed by Shinbo, they started airing one week before the finale of Madoka. I hardly think SHAFT would prioritize these two shows before Madoka, their money tree. The episodes were obviously ready – they just didn’t want to air it before Good Friday. Not to mention the fact that both episodes aired in the same day. Why would they do that? There’s only one reason:

      Christ

      I should think that this position speaks for itself just who it’s a parody of.

      Posted by ImperialX | April 23, 2011, 10:34 PM
      • Unless you have enough prove to say that they intended this, all you are doing is just speculating that SHAFT released this with this intention.

        As far as I know, the episodes were not ready and were NOT broadcasted due sensibilities: Walpurgisnacht apparition resembles the current tragedy. The Japanese culturally speaking are WAY WAY WAAAAAAAY to sensitive when it comes with this, so sensitive that I can see why they didn’t want to be disturbed being reminded of their actual problem.

        The second thing to consider is that Japanese Tv slots are TOO HARD to schedule. It’s not like here in America where the broadcaster almost have the responsability to finish up the broadcasting. In Japan, TV pretty much serves the one paying the highest bid.

        I think that this Christ thing you are trying to hard. Besides this, there are no more similarities with it… Instead, look and compare Madoka with Amaterasu and I think you’ll find more material there.

        Posted by Adriel | April 24, 2011, 3:56 AM
      • Unless we ask SHAFT directly, I think we can only speculate as to whether they really did intend to draw the comparison. However, I do believe that it is beyond doubt, even if they had not intended it originally, that the subsequent scheduling after the delays on that date was intended. SHAFT obviously believed that the parallel was relevant enough to draw.

        SHAFT are obviously not dumb enough to not know about Easter. If they didn’t want to draw this comparison, they wouldn’t have released the final episode in such close proximity to the date. I don’t buy how they say that the episodes weren’t ready. Like ImpX said, there’s no logical reason why they would prioritize the other 2 shows over Madoka, given Madoka’s immense popularity.

        Posted by Ryhzuo | May 9, 2011, 1:39 PM
  20. I didn’t read that you have edited the original post for a more accurate version of your opinion. And I still have a LOT to say, so bear with me a little. And I apologize for the over posting but I think my opinion is important.

    Am I missing something here? Is the show telling me that the best way to solve a problem is to shoot it with a giant magical bow? Surely not.

    I think you are missing the point. By far. I think that, -if there was a moral (note: Moral, not theme) to this story-, it was “There’s no action without consequence. Take responsibility of those consequences”.

    I think you are forgetting how Madoka framed the wish, which is why she was able to appear on thin air and resolve everything:

    “I want to erase every single witch before they are born. Every witch from every world, from the past and the future. With my own hands

    EVERY meaning ALL of them. With my own hands meaning that Madoka herself would do it.

    In the end, the resolution was something that defied the conventions which the Madoka universe was set in, which to me just seemed like the easy way out in order to have a bittersweet ending everyone will like.

    So this is fairly easy (and I’m just following the show’s rules): Under the current laws, her wish is fulfilled as all the arrows travel across time and space and she releases the Puella Magi out of their problems. Her curse is that she is harvesting all of the pain and just when she’s about to become a witch, her wish takes form again.

    She’s now a witch, right… or about to be one, so she has to be stopped. And since she asked to defeat them with my own hands, she appears as Eternal Madoka (Named after Eternal Sailor Moon) to defeat herself.

    She DID rewrite history AFTER this, not previously. She pretty much took the problem into her hands and crushed it. Literally. The payback was that laws must be rewritten with her leading her out of the space: she’s no longer a puella magi, no longer a witch in a universe that has no place to her, thus, she becomes an abstract concept, like the gods.

    I get that you may personally dislike the ending (which I am interpreting you did), however, I do believe that the ending is a full circle closure to the theme and the premise (moral) of this story.

    Again, Madoka’s wish just HAS to be the exception to the rule.

    She was not. She payed the consequence: disappear. Not paying the consequences would’ve been that she goes back to her original life, with everybody and everything being the same. However, things were WAY different from the original timeline, so much that Homura has no time related powers (this is why she has wings and a bow instead of her original shield). Apparently the only one who remembers her is Tatsuya and Homura… and from Tatsuya we could imply that he does not necessarily remembers her, but rather, he just has a glimpse of his previous time lines (just as Madoka at the beginning of Ep. 1)

    The new set up make it out so that instead collecting energy from witches, we collect energy from negative human emotions. If I had to draw a parallel, it would be like: Instead of killing cows for meat, we are now picking apples off the ground from what the apple tree dropped.

    I think that this alegory is not specifically correct.

    In Madoka’s original universe, Incubators farm magical girls for negative emotions, so they can feed the universe, but the girl dies in the event.

    In our universe we humans farm cows for their meat, so they can feed our society, but the cows die in the event.

    In Madoka’s new universe, Incubators farm demons for their curses, so they can feed the universe, no girl dies in the event, unless she uses all of her energy.

    This would parallel better to:

    In our universe, we humans farm cows for their milk, so we can feed on their milk, cows do not die out of slaughter, but they will die out of natural causes.

    I see your point in drawing parallelisms with real life, but again: A human being cannot live on milk alone. He requires many other compounds and chemicals to live, different from Kyuubey’s enthropy. He specifies that this method is far less effective, but it gives them out their energy quota.

    So they are still farming magical girls? Sort of. I think of it rather that they just changed their place in the food chain from being predated/predators to being Industrial Revolution Mass producers.

    Desire is after all, an imperfect human emotion

    Just wanted to clarify that desires are not emotions. Desires are behaviors that are fueled by emotions.

    It was also explicitly stated that it was her dream for a talentless person like her to be able to help others. Her wish was a direct fulfillment of these two desires, and the result, however noble, was only a consequence of that. This was the unsavory truth that Madoka tried to drill home to us for 11 episodes.

    More than self fulfillment, there was a “I’m a good person, thus I give sacrifice myself for the greater good” motive for Madoka. The final PEP talk with her Mom pretty much reveals that she’s doing this because she “was raised to be a good girl” and she wants to help Homura because of this.

    Why draw the parallel between Madoka and Jesus Christ at all?

    Again, I should adress that SHAFT did NOT made this parallelism. It is us, the fans, who are drawing conclusions between Jesus Christ and Our Lady and Savior Madoka. The episode WAS NOT broadcasted on Good Friday, the religious overtone is only settled by us westerners as Catolicism doesn’t have as much impact as it does on the American Continent.

    If there is a paralelism to any religious synchronicity, I’d call a comparison between Amaterasu, the Japanese Shinto Sun Arch-goddess and Madoka: Both are presented as female leading figures, with long white robes and long hair, both presented with visual motifs of light, shine and brightness and both also surrounded by a cast of girls. Also they are both able to fly or hover over the sky.

    This might not be obvious to some, but it actually serves as a strong basis for the anime suggesting extraterrestrial interventionism.

    Ok, so the creators are pointing out to alien interventionism theories. And at the same time they are pointing out religious synchronicity with Catholicism.

    WAT?

    It’s either one or the other. It cannot be both. I think that if anything, the creators originally pointed out this “interventionism” as a plot mechanic and nothing more, which leads to

    For nine episodes, Kyuubey toys us with these ideas. And then they are never brought forth ever again. Not even Kyuubey’s origin is explored at all. Forget thematic, this almost feels like a plot hole to me.

    Ok, take Evangelion as an example: the original series was not completed and had tremendous plot holes. So they did the first two movies. And then added another one. And then they added the ReNewal.

    And yet the entire cosmogony of Evangelion was not complete or made logic (where does the angels, adam or Lilith came from? It was only revealed on one of the many games for Nintendo 64 of Evangelion). Then along came the videogames, the trading cards, the manga… and each of them added more and more and each of them created more plot holes. By the end of the last decade the creators saw this and REBUILD IT! And even so… there’s so much to still draw from it.

    So, how much of this is actually really important? Is it important for the message or the plot itself to know what or how or when the Incubators appeared or did anything? I do not think this was an error, as the german connotations and the Faust Motifs have been cleverly placed and disguised, meaning that the creative team behind it is far aware of the sub textual and metaphorical content. If they can do this, they will not leave a plot hole so distinguishable on the series. They only did not care to expand it as this is NOT important for the topic at hand. The audience is presented with the life of Madoka and what happens to Madoka (she’s in the main title, so I guess that’s gotta count), not with the shenanigans of the other characters. We are presented with Madoka as our lead in this world, she is the eyes of the audience.

    Just answer this: If Madoka knew the origin of the Incubator race, would that even change or impact in a huge way the outcome of the self-sacrifice theme?

    I guess it doesn’t impact it, so I’m fine if they do not expand this as much. They have quite the number of spin offs by now and I guess they will touch the subject in other issues in which perhaps that’s an important pivotal point for the plot. The same for the soul topic, as I explained on my previous post.

    Finally, I want to talk about Kyuubey, who I believe is the single most undeveloped idea in Madoka.

    Really? REALLY?

    Kyuubey IS the show. Even though Madoka was the main character, Kyuubey stole the show. He is adored by the fans, loved by the community, hated in so many different ways. I believe that he and Mami’s event in EP. 3 were the most outrageous ideas that SHAFT presented with this anime.

    If he were to be such an undermined character… how is it that this character is so loved? Undermined characters are those of the likes of Jar Jar Binks: A character that had no development, no plot, no service and no point for the story of Star Wars. He can be replaced out of the Phantom Menace and nobody will miss him or notice any difference to the plot itself. (so much that he never appears again in the saga for more than 5 minutes). However, Kyuubey is pivotal to the plot. He does not change during the development of the story, -true-, but presents himself to be quite the opponent to the Magical Girls, and yet, their only aid.

    I believe SHAFT, no, Gen Uborochi did an AMAZING job with Kyuubey’s character, as he was presented as more than just a magical girl’s sidekick. Compare him to Luna from Sailor Moon or Mokona (who BTW, was the supreme Deus Ex Machina on various of CLAMP’s works) and you’ll get my point. The only downside I do get is that he never changes trough the story, however, this is not Misleading Incubator Magical Kyuubey, but Madoka’s story, so it’s not important what happens to him but what happens to Madoka.

    It’s like writing a book, and then deciding to leave out the epilogue in the final print.

    I do believe that everything is where it needs to be. I do believe that it’s not the greatest anime and will be hated by some or loved by others. I do believe that you may disagree with what I am saying, however, I do believe also that the ending is a nice closure to the anime. I’ll give you that it lacks some stuff and leaves some questions unanswered, but the main important ones are here and those are the ones that matter.

    Posted by Adriel | April 23, 2011, 9:36 PM
    • I’d like to clarify something, because I think you’re getting the wrong idea about me here.

      “I think you are missing the point”.

      Believe me, I am not. I hear EVERYTHING you are saying, and understand it. There are always multiple ways to an issue or problem and I don’t consider one inferior to another. It is only for this particular post that I have chosen to play devil’s advocate and oppose the more common and accepted interpretations.

      You’ve been hanging around for a quite a while and posted a quite a substantial amount of comments (all of which I’ve read and I have to admit are incredibly well argued), so I think you of all people deserve me to be straight with you. I really am just messing with you.

      I like to play devil’s advocate because it I believe that reading and understanding different opinions, especially if they differ from your own, is important, because they can:
      1. Promote healthy discussion.
      2. Help you look at things from a perspective you may not have considered.
      3. Help those who may be uncertain affirm their own position, either for or against.

      You obviously fall into the third category, your ideas are very thought through and well rounded, so much so that I can’t argue against them unless I disagree with you on principle. And once an argument gets to the point where you have to disagree on principle, then it becomes pointless to continue any further.

      I’ll just take this space to make some points though, perhaps not totally related to the subject at hand.

      Desire IS an emotion. Too many people interpret desire from purely a philosophical sense. Emotions encompass far more than the basic hexagon of Happy/Excited/Tender/Scared/Angry/Sad.
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Desire_(emotion)

      “I get that you may personally dislike the ending”
      I don’t. I thought it was brilliant.

      “It’s either one or the other. It cannot be both”
      I disagree. I don’t believe that the two are necessary mutually exclusive. Unless you are fundamentalist, there is nothing to say you can’t believe in both God and Aliens.

      “In our universe, we humans farm cows for their milk, so we can feed on their milk, cows do not die out of slaughter, but they will die out of natural causes.”
      Eh… if you really wanted to nitpick my analogies then I can’t really do anything about it. But the fact that you understood it and came up with a better one showed at least that you understood the point I was getting across. =3

      “Really? REALLY?”
      Absolutely. Please don’t misunderstand undeveloped with undermined. The two are distinctly different. Kyuubey is already a fascinating character and I totally agree that Gen Uborochi did an amazing job with his character. However, it still doesn’t change that the POTENTIAL for so much more is still there. In fact, I can visualize it right now: a 3 episode miniseries based on Kyuubey himself, directed in the style of a documentary. A man can dream right? =3

      “I do believe that you may disagree with what I am saying”
      I don’t agree, and I don’t disagree. I’ve been through too many discussions and arguments in my life and understand only too well that there is no “right” opinion when it comes to these sorts of things.

      “I do believe also that the ending is a nice closure to the anime”
      This I can agree with. While we might argue all day about the thematic relevance of Madoka, one cannot deny that overall, the conclusion did offer good closure to the narrative. Closure is after all, not something you can measure or debate, but something you feel, and I definitely felt it.

      Thanks for coming. I sincerely hope you’ll stick around for future articles, interesting discussion and different viewpoints are after all, the point of this blog.

      Posted by Ryhzuo | May 9, 2011, 2:35 PM
  21. Who the hell said that anime is SUPPOSED to teach you something? It’s just entertainment. And who says they HAVE to deal with every single issue they mentioned? Has any anime ever done that, EVER?

    Posted by DmonHiro | April 24, 2011, 2:37 AM
    • i beg to differ.
      in fact, some anime I watched taught me a lot of things. Probably, unlike you and your kind, I don’t watch for the sake of MOE. At least, the writer isn’t as shallow as you are :)
      I don’t deny the fact I watch anime for entertainment, but at the same time I look out for moral values. If it doesn’t give me any, I can’t consider the anime as ‘great’.

      Madoka tells us something regarding the “wishing” part (as said in this blog), but the ending doesn’t.

      Posted by VieN | April 24, 2011, 3:30 PM
    • I have never said anywhere that I don’t watch Anime for entertainment.
      Lucky Star, K-On, Nichijou, Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei and Seto no Hanayome are among some of my favorite anime. That list should speak for itself.
      But saying anime isn’t supposed to teach us anything is like saying that BOOKS aren’t supposed to teach us anything. Anime is such a broad category that it is amazing presumptuous to say something like that.
      Just like comics, encyclopedias and fiction, anime have those that are meant to educate, those that are meant to entertain, and many do both.
      I definitely believe Madoka was designed to do both.

      Posted by Ryhzuo | May 9, 2011, 1:13 PM
  22. Perhaps we’ll never know who is right since after all it’ll been left to the audience to decide if Kyubey’s race was right or not.

    The argument to me leans against it since the threat is merely superficial and the heat death of the universe remains theoretical.

    Posted by G | April 24, 2011, 4:35 AM
    • What the actual threat itself is is largely irrelevant. Entropic death can be taken out and replaced with any number of [insert impending diaster of the universe that we have to make a difficult choice between fixing it at the sacrifice of people or letting it run it's course here].

      The overarching issue still stands.

      Posted by Ryhzuo | May 9, 2011, 1:20 PM
  23. I totally agree because the end just seems like a copout. It’s like, I dunno, having a problem with some energy source, so you just CHANGE THE FUCKING LAWS OF THE UNIVERSE to fix it. And I don’t buy the silly religious metaphor, it’s a trite and pretentious way to add depth. I think Bokurano did something like this better, adding in a much more cosmicist view of things over LOL I’M GOD I FIX EVERYTHING OLOLOLOL.

    Posted by Hvehve | April 24, 2011, 6:53 AM
  24. “But when Madoka wishes for everyone’s safety, she gets that wish. ”

    It’s possible that she doesn’t, in one interpretation of the final scene. Homura’s wish was to protect Madoka, a girl who’s existence has been negated. So unlike any other magical girl who ever lived, Homura’s wish can never be fulfilled — and so she can never be saved.

    And in a universe where witches cannot exist, Homura becomes the Last Witch, as her barrier fills the sky.

    Posted by Guppy | April 24, 2011, 1:35 PM
  25. I pretty much agree with you there, and I’m one of those peeps who are disappointed with the ending (to be honest, I’ve read this kind of ending in a novel. So one of the reasons I am upset with it is because of the cliche)

    It’s like, SHAFT decided to run away from problems by making Madoka into god. If becoming a god is that easy, Cleopatra and Joan of Arc could’ve wished for something like that. And if ET intervention with humanity (as Kyubei stated) is the one that caused modernization, why does it only involve girls? more particularly, mahou shoujo? As do other mahou shoujo themes, they fail to explain why can never be the chosen ones (but don’t get me wrong, I did enjoy Sailormoon during my childhood XD). Or is he implying that mahou shoujo worked behind the scenes during developments? what… those who found Physics laws that we apply today were because of the magical girls?

    And Walpurgisnacht, what is it exactly..? The one who causes apocalypse or something that appears annually/monthly? Does it only happen at Madoka’s city? The show clearly shows that mahou shoujos can be all over the world, but again, EVERYTHING HAPPENS IN JAPAN. Why won’t Walpurgis appear somewhere else? Why only at Madoka’s time walpurgis decides to destroy the world?
    tbh I was hoping that they’d explain a bit on the final boss’ origin, other than the origin of Kyubei’s race.

    But I gotta say that, Madoka’s wish is more selfless compared to Homura’s. I mean, Homura could’ve wished to save the world/city from Walpurgis, but instead she wanted to turn back time, meeting Madoka again and again. But can never really save her. Her wish was for the sake of one person, but doesn’t give a crap if others die (in 1st timeline, why did she cared less about Mami?), this makes me conclude that she isn’t really an amazing character. Plus, I don’t get why she’s too attached to a nice girl she just met for several weeks (how long was the interval between their meeting and Walpurgisnacht again?)

    Forgive me for asking too much lol, it does happen whenever I watch a good anime. But I just don’t like seeing people say this anime is “completely flawless” when there are loopholes they chose to overlook.

    Posted by VieN | April 24, 2011, 3:55 PM
    • “But I just don’t like seeing people say this anime is “completely flawless” when there are loopholes they chose to overlook.”

      There’s no such thing as a flawless anime. Much less anything else in life. Accepting that something is flawless is the same as accepting that we’ve reach the limit of our abilities, leaving no room for improvement and further development.

      Though I am very surprised nonetheless that someone actually agreed with all my points xD Thanks?

      Posted by Ryhzuo | May 9, 2011, 1:01 PM
  26. *Ad. 1, 2.*
    You’re right, the answers to those questions are not clear in the end. But that’s one of the things which make the ending good. Does every work of fiction need to answer each philosophical question it asks?

    You used a comparison to picking apples instead of eating beef. That’s a good comparison, but not perfect – I’d compare the resolve to drinking milk instead of eating beef. We’re still breeding those cows, but are not as cruel to them, and give them peaceful death. Isn’t that an answer? That’s the answer Madoka gives us – find a solution that every party can be somewhat satisfied with.

    *Ad. 3, 4.*
    What’s the burden of Madoka’s wish? That when fridge logic hits you, it turns out that not that much has changed. Magical girls now have an omnipresent deity who cares about them, and they do not turn into those very same evil beings they have been fighting. But that’s essentially the only difference. And that’s the ultimate sign of Urobuchi being himself in the series – even with a seemingly happy ending, with Evangelionesque visuals, glory music and tear-jerking scenes, when you think about it… it’s still sad and depressing.

    That’s also the lesson the show teaches us: when we think we’ve found some “magical cure” which will solve all our problems – we only think that. What we’re trying to get rid of, will manifest itself in other form (like witches being replaced by those demons). One of the basic principles of the Madoka universe is the equilibrium and zero-sum. We can’t overcome this, no matter how hard we try. Does that mean we shouldn’t try? Not necessarily, as Madoka’s sacrifice has indeed made things _a bit_ better. Not very much, and probably not for everyone, but still. That’s the happy part. The depressing part is that a HUGE effort will only make a TINY difference.

    *Ad. 5, 7.*
    To me, we need to have some mystery left to us after the show ends. To keep speculating, to make room for fanfics… or just to have a place where a second season can be injected ;) That’s quite typical in many types of shows. That’s something totally unrelated, but – would Pulp Fiction be what it is if we knew what’s inside that black briefcase?

    Or, if you prefer, think of Evangelion – yes, it has quite complete mythology at the time, but was everything so clear at the time of last episode airing? Hell, much less was known about Eva by the time its original airing finished that it is now known about Madoka, thanks to Eva TV’s legendary finale. Only years after, in the “expanded universe” we learn about the series’ mysteries. Let’s wait – maybe we’ll get a Madoka artbook, video game and maybe a cinematic feature which will address all that’s currently unknown.

    But don’t forget about Star Wars – when the Force was a mysterious power, everyone was happy. Then Episode I happened with all its midi-chlorian revelations, which outraged the fans. So having every plot element explained in depth is not always a good idea. As I said – mystery is good.

    *Ad. 6.*
    Madoka seems to see good in everyone. Or at least try to. Plus, she adores Puellae Magi, as they literally fight evil. That’s why she’s very merciful as a goddess – she saves everyone, or almost everyone, so there’s not a “predetermined set of written rules”.

    You say that Madoka questions the validity of religion? And why is that bad? Counter-intuitive to the fact that Madoka is now a goddess? That’s just another way for Urobuchi to troll us. We loved that for 11 episodes, why shouldn’t we love it after the 12th?

    You’re right that Madoka 12 sweeps the issue of separating souls and bodies under the rug – but… well, maybe that’s just my interpretation, but that’s why the finale is good. It makes you think about it afterwards. You realize that nothing changed, and that because of it the ending is not as happy as it looks like. And that’s great, IMO.

    *About the conclusion.*
    I don’t agree with what you said that Madoka doesn’t teach us anything. It’s just not obvious, and open to interpretation. It’s not a children’s book which gives us a clear moral. I’d even go as far as to say that how a given individual interprets Madoka, tells something about him- or herself.

    What moral do I see in Madoka? That getting rid of evil is impossible, but we should seek harmony nevertheless. That what we may think is a “magical cure” to everything, is by no means a perfect solution. That neither logic nor emotion is explicitly “better” than the other, since both can hurt others badly (compare: Kyouko and Kyubey). And… that we should never lose hope, because that would be the ultimate downfall for us.

    Trivial? Maybe, but most universal truths are trivial.

    But apart from being a trigger for philosophical dispute, Madoka was also 12 episodes of extremely good entertainment.

    Posted by kFYatek | April 24, 2011, 8:30 PM
    • “Does every work of fiction need to answer each philosophical question it asks?”
      No, but it DOES need to provide sufficient direction if it expects the reader to work it out for himself.

      “Find a solution that every party can be somewhat satisfied with.”
      Which, I stress AGAIN, is not a solution that is relatable for us as the viewers. The overlying solution is obvious. Everyone knows what compromise is, I don’t need Madoka to teach me this. What Madoka DOES teach, is to solve the problem by means of which a real person would not have access to.

      “The depressing part is that a HUGE effort will only make a TINY difference.”
      This point… I actually like. I will concede, you impress me sir.

      “To me, we need to have some mystery left to us after the show ends.”
      I think that in terms of story, there is plenty of mystery left even IF all the thematic stuff is resolved. The new world. Homura’s life after Madoka’s death. Kyuubey’s origins. This are all stuff the fanfic craze could hit on. Narrative and Themes are two very distinct concepts.

      “Then Episode I happened with all its midi-chlorian revelations, which outraged the fans”
      Getting into an argument over StarWars will make me mess up my schedule ><. I will just say this. I consider the original trilogy and the new one completely separate in terms of overarching idea. The original trilogy because it had everything that it needed. Lovable characters, surprising plot twist, the underdog versus the overlooming great evil. But most of all, the original trilogy was COMPLETE. It could stand alone, it had no issues withstanding, nothing else NEEDED explaining. Madoka… ehhh not so much.

      "It’s just not obvious, and open to interpretation."
      It would be, if there were anything to interpret.

      "But apart from being a trigger for philosophical dispute, Madoka was also 12 episodes of extremely good entertainment."
      At least we can end on an note of utter agreement =3

      Posted by Ryhzuo | May 9, 2011, 12:59 PM
      • Well, I mostly acknowledge your opinion, and yes, we could – mostly – end on a “note of utter agreement”, like you put it.

        But – you said one thing I just have to comment on:

        > What Madoka DOES teach, is to solve the problem by means of which a real person would not have access to.

        There’s some truth in it. But – as abstract as it may sound at first – that’s not necessarily a bad thing. “Solve the problem by means inaccessible to a real person” basically means “don’t be afraid to change the world”. Obviously, we can’t just become gods (or rather – abstract concepts, like Madoka became hope) and rewrite the laws of the universe. But what we can do is to make inventions, do good in politics, social campaigns, charity etc. – in short, do big things. Or at least try to.

        For 11 episodes, Madoka was constantly falling into despair and what the Romantic writers called “Weltschmerz”, getting depressed over how the world she lived in was bad and cruel. And in episode 12, she suddenly realized “why am I crying? I can make a change myself!” and did what she thought. And we can basically do the same – crying over how your country’s economy is bad? Study economy, run for some adequate position in the government and reform it. Crying over how there are too much crimes? Become a policeman and fight it. Crying over the starving in Africa? Donate to charity. Don’t be afraid of doing big things, thinking “I can’t make a difference”, but just do it.

        Posted by kFYatek | May 17, 2011, 5:01 AM
  27. I may be nitpicking here on Point #2 but didn’t Kyuubey specifically state that the cattle-comparison isn’t exact because they recognize the sentience of humans and thus negotiate with them? We don’t give cattle a choice (and cattle, hopefully, aren’t sentient and aware of their situation)

    Posted by woods | April 25, 2011, 5:40 AM
    • True. The comparison isn’t exact BECAUSE humans are sentient. However Kyuubey also stated that he never actually mentions the fact that Mahou Shoujo turns into witches because it “complicates things”. It’s like… if cattle were sentient for example, that you feed it grass without telling it that in exchange you would take it’s milk/kill it for hamburgers.

      Posted by Ryhzuo | May 9, 2011, 12:39 PM
  28. I think this series should have been longer … for all the themes it raised it didn’t have enough time to deal with them all. The ending had to focus on the characters and not the themes in order to provide some sort of ‘ending’. If there is a sequel then maybe the themes can be addressed.

    Posted by Jambo | April 25, 2011, 6:30 AM
  29. You know what – I think this wish of madoka’s balances out just fine. Changing time and space and existing as a “concept” that just goes around making shit happen, is a pretty fucking shitty deal if you ask me. Her wish essentially goes on forever though. For all the happiness she creates, she creates equal misery which she accumulates in her soul gem, destroys, then does it all again because the nature of her wish makes her omnipresent. I could interperet that as a pretty shitty existance. Then again, maybe it’s actually pretty cool. I dunno – I’m not an incorporeal concept that transcends space time.

    OR AM I?

    Posted by Chris | May 4, 2011, 3:54 AM
    • Hahaha, if you are, then I am honored that you took the time out to post on this blog. Then again, you’d have all the time in the world anyway ;)

      As for the existence of Madoka after her wish, I do think that SHAFT intended her act to be viewed as tragic and self sacrificing. Whether the existence as an intangible being itself can be considered ‘shitty’ or not, we can only speculate, as no one has ever turned into one, and then back to tell us about it.

      I would also assume that being intangible, Madoka would also loss all sense of humanity and emotion, so technically she wouldn’t be able to feel “shittiness” anyway.

      Posted by Ryhzuo | May 9, 2011, 12:46 PM
      • There’s no need to assume that Madoka has lost all sense of humanity and emotion. She still feels, or she wouldn’t be consoling her friends (giving Sayaka one last chance to see Kyosuke, telling Homura not to worry at the very end). Being numb or emotionless is not a side effect of being “intangible” or Godlike.

        Posted by Mimo | December 17, 2011, 12:51 AM
  30. Heyy! Ehm, dun have an idea if this post is active any longer, but… I finished watching Madoka just half an hour ago, and, well, can’t deny that it made me use my little brain cellz. : D I personally didn’t like the ending very much. Well I liked the idea of, how did it go again? …Madoka turning into hope itself orsumthinglikethat, and the concept of her turning into a god-like being. Liked the idea, but meh.. in practice it was just a bit… flawish.
    Okay, the whole series, though as awesome as a mahou shoujo series can get, was full of flaws. That kinda cranked me up (in addition to the character development, which sucked big time to be honest). : / Not really feeling like making a list of them all, but the biggest question for me was…
    How come had anyone in the long history of the puella magi not wished for eternal and universal happiness? I mean, wouldn’t that just have solved everything in the first place? D8>
    And then there’s another thing: since Madoka went as far as changing the laws of the universe… wouldn’t that just totally twist the whole goddamn history? Wouldn’t that mean that humans would still be in caves, as Kyubey expressed it? And wouldn’t that actually conclude in Madoka having not been existent at all, therefore reversing her wish to be never said aloud, and therefore the whole universe turning into a big scary paradox eating itself out and diminishing into nothingness?
    Well, just sayin’.
    (Btw, the Homura vs Walburgsnacht scene rocked hard. Waaayyy to go!)

    Posted by Anonymous | August 10, 2011, 10:33 AM
  31. I see many people address the battle between Kyubey and the magical girls as a war that needs a victor. However, I feel the way SHAFT leaves things is no less authentic.

    As a writer and an agnostic, the implication that Madoka is an intentional reference to Jesus Christ annoys the hell out of me. I’m sorry. Jesus Christ is not the only figure in history who made a selfless gesture, and even if he were, 1) You could argue that Madoka’s gesture isn’t selfless. She just wants to see the world a better place and make her friends happy, thus making herself happy (I do, however, believe in altruism, and think that people do good things for selfless reasons every day. We just take a cynical magnifying glass to everything.) and 2) You can’t say that it’s a reference to Jesus Christ just because the two happened to do the same thing. I’m writing a story where literally everything falls in line with Christian mythology, and it was unintentional. Our psyches are odd things. Story elements appear to fall from the sky but actually come from the giant fried chicken bucket at your local KFC or the neighbor next door who plays the piano badly. (In other words, all our ideas come from somewhere, and often they are unintentionally brought about.) What I’m NOT saying is that this isn’t a Jesus Christ reference: I’m saying that it’s not clear whether or not it is a reference, and that it isn’t absolute fact.

    As for Kyubey, I don’t feel the anime is obligated to deal with that, but that’s my opinion. There’s more than one way to end or to present a story, and in a way all of the problems were answered by the subversion. But again, that’s my opinion, and I could ramble on about that, but I’m pretty sure it’s already been argued on this page.

    Posted by Gannon Kendrick | August 25, 2011, 1:10 PM
  32. This is what happens when someone more intelligent (and over-analytical) than the target audience watches the show. Yes I agree it isn’t one of those pieces that will make humankind ponder for decades to come, but it is a contender for the best anime of the year, so far…

    The wish factor isn’t something to be analyzed. As wishes are something that cannot be explained with reason, trying to explain the balance of wishes is similar to trying to explain what God is. It is impossible for anyone to comprehend anything outside of their realm, and that includes Madoka being just “an average middle-schooler.” She could have all the requirements to carry the burden of all the griefs in the world…

    or not.

    And this is the problem with toying with the idea of a different dimension and the idea of “God.” All sorts of paradoxes and problems appear.

    Still this series has definitely made one ponder the many themes that underlay this world, and is one of those anime that actually hurt my brain a little, but actually made sense (Tsubasa is one of those anime that didn’t make too much sense, maybe because i read the manga too fast; but the time loop thing wore me out. But I digress.)

    Ok now that I have finished my rush of ideas, I know that my answer oscillates from agreeing and disagreeing, but that is what happens when one tries to analyze an existence higher than one can comprehend (<–hypocrisy, hahaha). But I commend you for contrasting the opinions of those who say "this is a perfect ending" because in the end, there is no perfect ending. I also commend Shaft (and any other anime that deals with these themes) for bring these questions up. By dodging the question, Shaft leave opportunities for one to interpret which side they take on the ever continuing debate of utilitarianism and altruism (or ethics vs efficiency, emotion vs reason, etc.), in a world where most usually agree with altruism.

    And the hypocrisy continues… along with people with clashing opinions (solve the problem with NGE's evolution of mankind!) Idk, but the anime was good brain food (om nyom nyom, gochiso-sama-deshita.). That deserves some credit. Now I'm just getting brain farts from the meal, so I'll stop.

    Posted by Anonymous | September 4, 2011, 1:12 PM
  33. Does Shaft have to spoon-feed you all the answers? Maybe if you contracted with Kyuubey you could wish for some creativity, and draw a conclusion from what isn’t labeled in black-and-white at the ending. The ending is ambiguous at some parts so you can think about it, and fill in the gaps with your own imagination, keeping the anime in your mind and letting it become more personal.

    And if you were to have it your way, everybody would die and be miserable. And that ending would truly suck.

    Posted by Ann | October 1, 2011, 7:52 AM
    • I agree, though I really hate how everyone is saying that the ending WASN’T handed to us on a silver platter. So much was explained, and while there was certainly room to hypothesize we have most of the explanations for us anyway.

      The biggest point to be made here is that the author of this article thinks it’s a cop-out for Madoka to save everyone, when it’s just the opposite. Madoka, from the beginning keeps asking “Why can’t we all just get along?” when she find the opportunity to make that happen, she takes it. If it had gone any other way, it would have been completely out of character. Madoka may resent the Incubators for deceiving humans, but she still needs them to same the universe and all other life in it. If the show is truly centered around Christian theology, then Madoka with all her goodness, innocence, and kindness, would be a forgiving God. She wouldn’t mercilessly sacrifice the universe’s well being for the sake of humanity and her disagreements over how the Incubators handled things. The idea that Madoka would handle it any differently is very much the opposite of Christian belief in a merciful, good God.

      Posted by Mimo | December 17, 2011, 12:58 AM
  34. ok so… I read the complaints, and then the arguments about the complaints, and then the arguments about the arguments about the… you get the point.
    Seems to me the biggest point of non-satisfaction was that Madoka created a end-all save-all solution,which doesn’t create a balance which the show stresses. A negative and a positive must be created, for the power of a wish to grant anything one’s heart desire, the equivalent price in misery must be paid:
    “In Madoka, things are much more clear cut, and throughout the anime the idea that good and bad must balance each other out is emphasized greatly. In Madoka we can more or less predict that a positive wish will have an equal negative repercussion.

    Again, Madoka’s wish just HAS to be the exception to the rule. When Sayaka selfishly wished Kamijou’s arm to heal, she died. When Kyouko selfishly wished for her father’s success, her family died. When Homura wished for Madoka’s safety, she got stuck in an endless loop of tragedy. But when Madoka wishes for everyone’s safety, she gets that wish.”

    But she doesn’t….. though… Her wish actually accomplishes next to nothing…
    -women are still farmed for energy by contracting with QB
    -wishes are still granted, this time for the eventual price of death when someone runs out of…idunno “magic”?
    -universe is still headed for destruction via entropic decay
    -QB is still active, still gets dat money, I mean energy

    The ONLY thing that she changed is that NOW, nobody turns into witches, They just die instead. Which begs the question, dafuq is the point.
    Am I right?

    But see there is a point, the point is and has always been you can’t solve shit by wishing for it, Madoka may have “taken away everybody’s grief” but if you take a step back she didn’t accomplish a whole lot, she didn’t accomplish a whole lot but she accomplished SOMETHING, something JUSTIFIABLY small to be traded for a life.That something not only provides some closure but illustrates the point that wishing for shit gets you nowhere.

    There IS a direction for you to work it out yourself, actually if you just think a tiny bit they give you the ending:
    She solved the problem by creating a completely different but almost equally shitty situation. Everyone convinces themselves she did the right thing and humanity moves on. THAT’S IT, there’s no more to it. Such is the infinite struggle we put up with on a daily basis, that’s a hit of reality for you right there, that’s the lesson: she accomplishes next to nothing.

    As Homura jumps down the building remember what she said? “in this world that CAN’T BE SAVED, ALL THE SORROW AND HATRED CONTINUES ON, yet this world is a place she tried to protect.” Translation? world is still shit, but I got the closure I need to move on because Madoka killed space-hitler with a giant bow.

    At the end of the day there isn’t much of a point, and THAT’s the greatest point… Everything Kyubey represents, every philosophical question he poses? no answer. Because no one can answer them, if someone did we wouldn’t have animal activists, we wouldn’t have philosophy.

    Is it right to sacrifice humans for the greater good of more humans? Is utilitarianism really the best solution? if we knew the answer we wouldn’t be talking about it would we.

    Posted by Andrew Ryan | May 20, 2012, 2:44 PM
  35. I think the biggest thing for me, was the sheer stupidity of the characters. Sure, maybe you can make an argument that all young girls are dumb, even though I think that’s rather sexist and ageist and completely ignores the fact that there are many intelligent young women. And for me, it’s a personal taste to not have a cast consist of stupidity.

    But that doesn’t absolve one character: Kyube.

    He is made out to be a member of a super smart race that is capable of deep, intellectual thought. And that race has a problem: Entropy. And their solution is to harvest the energy released when humans become witches (and why just girls? I’ve known many males and females of all races to be hyper emotional).

    But he ignores the one big solution staring him in the face: wishes.

    Humans get hungry and need to eat occasionally. So I farm cattle to feed that need. If my cattle could make a wish, they could easily make a wish that humans and cattle never need to feed again. Kyube never even considers approaching more rational humans and explaining the problem, and then asking if they would use their wish to help solve the entropy problem. By sheer fact of 7 billion people on the planet(and 10 times that when you consider all of human history), you are going to find humans who comprehend the problem and would gladly help out, statistically speaking. Many people would gladly give up their lives to make a difference. Sure, maybe one wish alone isn’t powerful enough to do it… but it can nudge things in a direction, and many wishes can add up.

    But all this is especially poignant when Kyube runs into Madoka. He realizes her potential to change the whole universe early on…. so why doesn’t he talk to her rationally, let her know that the solution they have is imperfect, but that she can rewrite reality to solve the entropy problem once and for all? And thus, no longer a need for girls to become mahou shoujo at all!

    A bit more of a minor complaint, but… all the “symbolism” that the show tried to throw in (the shifting backwards, awkward flashes to scenes of empty chairs, poems, etc.), reminded me too much of Evangelion’s pointless religious symbolism. Thrown in to make the show seem deep, but ultimately pretentious because 90% of that symbolism meant anything. Need proof? The black cat in the opening sequence, which befuddled many who tried to grasp it’s symbolism. The answer from Gen? He just threw it in because he likes cats.

    Get that? We’re trying to derive deeper meaning from the crayon drawing of a 5-year-old. Sure, you can think that crayon drawing is the best thing ever and really like it. But it is no Picasso.

    Posted by Anonymous | August 27, 2012, 12:15 PM
  36. I think the biggest thing for me, was the sheer stupidity of the characters. Sure, maybe you can make an argument that all young girls are dumb, even though I think that’s rather sexist and ageist and completely ignores the fact that there are many intelligent young women. And for me, it’s a personal taste to not have a cast consist of stupidity.

    But that doesn’t absolve one character: Kyube.

    He is made out to be a member of a super smart race that is capable of deep, intellectual thought. And that race has a problem: Entropy. And their solution is to harvest the energy released when humans become witches (and why just girls? I’ve known many males and females of all races to be hyper emotional).

    But he ignores the one big solution staring him in the face: wishes.

    Humans get hungry and need to eat occasionally. So I farm cattle to feed that need. If my cattle could make a wish, they could easily make a wish that humans and cattle never need to feed again. Kyube never even considers approaching more rational humans and explaining the problem, and then asking if they would use their wish to help solve the entropy problem. By sheer fact of 7 billion people on the planet(and 10 times that when you consider all of human history), you are going to find humans who comprehend the problem and would gladly help out, statistically speaking. Many people would gladly give up their lives to make a difference. Sure, maybe one wish alone isn’t powerful enough to do it… but it can nudge things in a direction, and many wishes can add up.

    But all this is especially poignant when Kyube runs into Madoka. He realizes her potential to change the whole universe early on…. so why doesn’t he talk to her rationally, let her know that the solution they have is imperfect, but that she can rewrite reality to solve the entropy problem once and for all? And thus, no longer a need for girls to become mahou shoujo at all!

    A bit more of a minor complaint, but… all the “symbolism” that the show tried to throw in (the shifting backwards, awkward flashes to scenes of empty chairs, poems, etc.), reminded me too much of Evangelion’s pointless religious symbolism. Thrown in to make the show seem deep, but ultimately pretentious because 90% of that symbolism meant anything. Need proof? The black cat in the opening sequence, which befuddled many who tried to grasp it’s symbolism. The answer from Gen? He just threw it in because he likes cats.

    Get that? We’re trying to derive deeper meaning from the crayon drawing of a 5-year-old. Sure, you can think that crayon drawing is the best thing ever and really like it. But it is no Picasso.

    Posted by Tom | August 27, 2012, 12:16 PM
  37. There was a very good thread on /a/ that discussed some of these issues.
    http://archive.foolz.us/a/thread/69902563

    Posted by Anonymous | September 22, 2012, 1:32 AM
  38. While I respect the amount of time and effort that has clearly been placed into making these arguments many of them, I feel are not well founded. Rather they are formulated void of what the intentions of the show wanted to do and did do.

    For example in number 1, (thanks for numbering them. It makes it so much easier to deal with)
    Madoka as a series was never concerned about the righteousness of Kyuubei’s race to collect energy. It was never remotely interested in deciding who was right or wrong, and so I don’t understand nor am able to agree with your take that it was a major point of the story. Long story short – it wasn’t.

    It was best summed up by Madoka herself, it was a horrible, cruel reality. And that is that. Witches will still rise, and young girls will fight them and fall. Kyuubei’s race’s intervention with the humans is treated as something like a law of nature – it happens and it is not at fault. It is a cruel reality but not a moral decision.

    It is moments like these, which are apparent in almost all the points above which make this critique appreciated yet unfounded and unprofessional in the sense that you are looking for problems in the show rather than looking at it objectively and finding problems.

    Posted by tsuole | April 23, 2013, 5:38 PM

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