Puella Magi Madoka Magica – The Finale

Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica

Never has that phrase carried that much weight

It has been a surprisingly hard thing to actually make myself sit down and start writing about the Madoka Magica finale over the past few days since it aired. Partially due to IRL concerns (job skipped out two months of my pay, company melting down), partially due to laziness and the rest due to me trying to organize my thoughts about the finale in a proper manner.

After taking all that time, I can definitively say I liked the ending a lot. I had a lot of mixed feelings initially after the Madoka livestream on Friday morning was over, but after the course of roughly rewatching both episodes 5 times, I’ve come to really like how Urobuchi wrapped up Madoka Magica.

Frankly, at first, I was actually expecting a whole lot worst from the finale, taking in to account Gen’s penchant for the grimdark, but the moment Madoka made her ultimate wish to Kyubee validated his claims about writing a ‘happy’ ending for this show. Make no mistake, despite the prices paid by everyone, this was very much a happy ending ultimately. A bittersweet, but nevertheless a happy ending.

Probably the biggest stroke of genius here is the specificness of Madoka’s wish… “To erase all Witches, past and present, before they were born. With my own hands.”

Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica

Best. Wish. Ever.

It was certainly a wish that carried upon a humongous price for her, as given that it was a wish that pretty much rewrote the laws of the Universe that Madoka Magica is set in (entropy concerns left aside). Not only did it remove the biggest and most horrifying aspect to the Puella Magi system, it also left the wishes that every Puella Magi intact. The genius in this is that Madoka could have wished for the abolishment of the Puella Magi system as a much more easier way to remove the corrupting presence of the Incubators totally, but Madoka realizes that most wishes were truly made in an earnest hope for a positive outcome. By not denying that system, by making such a wish, she pretty much made it clear that even in the presence of overwhelming despair, one should never ever lose hope and Madoka became, herself, the ultimate personification of that one principle she learned and believed in. In essence, she became a concept… a Goddess.

Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica

Our Goddess is an awesome Goddess

The second genius of that wish was by making herself in to a concept that can not be erased, she also allowed Homura’s wish to essentially be in effect indefinitely since Madoka cannot be killed anymore or become a Witch herself. Of course, I was also toying with the idea that Madoka, by elevating herself to Domain of the Gods, but erasing all her mortal presence, she also ‘reset’ Homura’s wish as well. However, given the fact that Homura herself was not affected through multiple time loops and her retaining of Madoka’s existence, I’m pretty sure her original wish is still very much in effect. The final scene as well also gave me confidence on settling with this interpretation, as Homura has taken on herself the job to continue her role as a Puella Magi and protect the world that Madoka gave herself up for.

Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica

Can’t end this show without the trademark yuri embrace

In another way as well, the fact that Homura continues to take on the responsibilities of being a Puella Magi can be construed as the “bitter” part of this ending, as she is eternally locked in to self-fulfilling her own wish to protect Madoka in the form of the world, and it is hinted at the epilogue that it lasts quite a very long time. Of course, there are other ways to see it as well, but as for me, that will be my own interpretation of the epilogue. In that sense, Homura’s dedication towards Madoka is really the most admirable thing of the entire show.

Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica

These wings are seriously badass though

Of course, the finale also had its less than satisfying parts for me. For one, Tatsuya’s residual recall of Madoka strikes me as rather weird considering he was not really a meaningful character in any sense throughout the series. The other plot hole would also be how Tatsuya’s image of Madoka is of her Puella Magi form instead of her normal look, which comes as really weird even more so when you realise that Tatsuya probably never saw Madoka in that form as well!

Another thing as well is the entropy angle the Incubators were playing at as the raison d’etre of the Puella Magi system was conveniently not mentioned until the very end, and even that as an indirect reference too. Then again, the entropy angle was quite bullshit in the first place so maybe not mentioning it was a good thing in the end.

Walpurgisnacht’s origins and existence was also not quite explained well enough too, considering how much of a major antagonist she was built up as. Of course, I guess having Homura go all out on her was worth her existence in the show, but dammit, could’ve had a better exposition for her! Well, that’s just nitpicking right now.

But all said and done, Madoka Magica really ended on a great note, with the tinge of bittersweet becoming the best spice of the show to date. This is a show I am glad I did not miss. The rest of the year has a really high bar to overcome now. Thanks for the great time, SHAFT, Urobuchi, members of #madoka and to TheFluff (you’re my internet hero!) as well.

Liked: It’s the BEST SHOW OF THE YEAR, GODDAMNIT.
Rewatch: Like, about 5 times already now?

37 Comments

  1. stuf Said,

    April 25, 2011 @ 11:33 pm

    Oh god just thinking about this ending gives me a permanent erection, accompanied by bitchtears over all the sad parts. ;_;

    Gonna have to do my own writeup soon.

  2. thatredsky Said,

    April 25, 2011 @ 11:34 pm

    I liked the part where Kyuubey was just like, “WTF, you can’t do that Madoka, you’re gonna rewrite the laws of the universe!”. Felt like Kyuubey finally got trolled after all that trolling he did in the previous episodes. :D

    Gratifying ending imo.

  3. panzerfan Said,

    April 25, 2011 @ 11:38 pm

    I do not feel that Homura’s conclusion is truly bitter at all, given that Homura will never be fighting in total isolation after this. Homura has to battle despair, even that of her own, to protect Madoka arguably, and it goes without saying that Madoka is an assurance that Homura will not fall due to despair.

    Moreover, defending Madoka, now more or less a concept of hope, has become more a case of mounting a successful argument for hope. A vigorous defense of hope is something that can stand the test of time, and cannot do without if such a concept needs is to be understood… it would then be logical to say that Homura is indispensable in Madoka’s own eternal fight against despair.

  4. T.K. Said,

    April 25, 2011 @ 11:48 pm

    By reading your views, it helped cleared some qualms I had with the ending. I’d say this post was worth the wait. XD

    Definately gonna rewatch this again after the Blu-Rays are complete, looking forward to what SHAFT is gonna add to them.

  5. Yamibakeru Said,

    April 25, 2011 @ 11:50 pm

    There was a train of thought where Homu Homu was Walpurgisnatch, since that witch had all those time related shit as well, but ah, we’ll never know.

  6. Kurogane Shiroikaze Said,

    April 25, 2011 @ 11:53 pm

    @Yamibakeru: Yes, I know. But it’s impossible for Homura to be Walpurgisnacht due to the fact that:

    (i). Madoka’s wish.
    (ii). Homura never became a Witch herself.

    So there goes that school of thought.

  7. Metalnsnakezero Said,

    April 26, 2011 @ 12:04 am

    Its one of the best shows I seen for a long time since probably Bakemonogatari.

  8. Game8910 Said,

    April 26, 2011 @ 12:13 am

    Pretty much on the same boat on some points.
    I was a very fitting ending and I liked it because it was executed very well, yet it did feel like there could’ve been something more to it. I guess I set my expectations too high for it.

    I enjoyed Madoka Magica, while it really wasnt anywhere close to show of the year for me it was still better than your average anime. So I guess now comes that SoL sequel Shinbo wants? CHIDAMARI SKETCH WHERE!?

  9. Also Said,

    April 26, 2011 @ 12:18 am

    I’d say the motives of Kyuubee&Co works great in retrospect. While their worries about the heat death of the universe seemed initially far removed from the rest of the show, in the end I can’t help but see the entire plot as centering on the concept of (to use the FMA term) equivalent exchange. Every major point – the aliens motivation (derived from the second law of thermodynamics, which is closely tied to the first which madates conservation of energy), the system they devised to gather energy (whose mechanics relied on every positive effect having an equivalent negative one), and Madoka’s solution to her dilemma (respecting the rules of the magical girl system, in that said mechanic purposely remained unchanged) – stuck to this as a rule, whereas the other rules of the show – the laws of physics (pretty much anything related to the magical girls violated these even before episode 12, especially Homura’s wish) and the rules of the magical girl system were changed, surpassed or ignored at some point. Additionally, Madoka’s solution is even expressly one where, despite its conceptual difficulty (who can relate to a universe-wide disaster billions of years away?), the heat death of the universe is still prevented (although to be fair she might have just been afraid what other insane ideas Kyuubee would cook up if they couldn’t use magical girls for their purpose). Plus, when you decide to make the antagonist completely inhuman and unrelateable on every level, a motivation as alien as this seems fitting.

    Madoka’s mother willingly letting her daughter go out into the storm without supervision was the only big issue I had with the ending really. Even if you trust her to make the right decision that doesn’t really change the good chance of her getting maimed/killed by some random hazard.

  10. Xellos-_^ Said,

    April 26, 2011 @ 12:42 am

    “BEST SHOW OF THE YEAR, GODDAMNIT”

    Not best show of the year but best show of the new Decade.

    Puella Magi Madoka Magica will be the show by which all other shows this decade will be measure against.

  11. thatredsky Said,

    April 26, 2011 @ 12:52 am

    @Xellos-_^

    I beg to differ! I say Hanasaku Iroha’ll surpass Madoka. I see the potential! D<

  12. Jimmy C Said,

    April 26, 2011 @ 2:08 am

    “Tatsuya’s residual recall of Madoka strikes me as rather weird considering he was not really a meaningful character in any sense throughout the series.”

    Not that big a mystery. He is Madoka’s little brother after all. After Homura, who do you think she’ll be watching over the most? And it’s often been said little kids can see the supernatural better than adults.

  13. AidanAK47 Said,

    April 26, 2011 @ 2:38 am

    “Liked: It’s the BEST SHOW OF THE YEAR, GODDAMNIT.”

    Wait for fate/zero before you claim that. Seriously, Gen’s behind Fate/zero as well. I read the light novels and I can say this. If Ufotable can pull this off as well as they pulled off Kara no Kyoukai then we are in for something absolutely amazing…

  14. cx Said,

    April 26, 2011 @ 3:04 am

    six posts in a row u sure love madoka

  15. Captain Bright Said,

    April 26, 2011 @ 3:20 am

    Best show of the year? Keep it on hold till the end of the year, brother. I wouldn’t bet on it, until I see what’s up for store in the coming months.

    Oh 2011, bring me glorious Berserk and more GAR than all of the previous decade, and thou shalt be praised……

  16. Anise_Punter Said,

    April 26, 2011 @ 3:32 am

    I was more fond of Kyouko than either Homura or Madoka so seeing her get maybe two seconds resulted in a pretty unsatisfying concluding episode. It also annoys me any time the laws of the universe get rewritten, or maybe I’ve seen too many of the old Doctor Who episodes.

    This was a really good show with some parts that were absolutely spectacular, but I’m totally not buying the paradigm-shifting aspect. Five years from now if we’re looking back on this show the question won’t be “How has Madoka Magica changed the concept of the Magical Girl Genre?” or some such, but more likely “How come they got Ume Aoki to design the characters with that all-encompassing weird lookingness instead of someone like Kentaro Yabuki, my head would have exploded.”

    It could still end up being the show of the year, but we’ve got a long way to go before then.

  17. Mitch H. Said,

    April 26, 2011 @ 3:35 am

    Definitely best show since Gurren Lagann, and surprisingly similar in the end.

  18. Organics Said,

    April 26, 2011 @ 6:25 am

    Watching that fucking ferret squirm and sputter was so satisfying. And Madoka’s response was GAR beyond words. “Grant it, Kyubey. Bend over, and grant it.”

  19. darkout123 Said,

    April 26, 2011 @ 6:29 am

    yeah man i’m so glad i didn’t miss this show almost did ~ ^^ but wow just the feeling of “its over” is kinda weird but it all ended well so i’m satisfied one of the best anime this year~

  20. Black Gekikara Said,

    April 26, 2011 @ 8:04 am

    @ thatredsky,
    You can categorise Iroha as ‘just another drama/romance, which really it is. it just looks prettier. What are you gonna call Madoka?

    ……………

    Kurogane,

    I was waiting for your take on the finale and I am glad you thought of it as such.

    I really don’t think there is going to be an anime that moves us as Madoka did. Not for a very long time. I base this on the fact that I thought if the previous great anime and what I felt while watching them.

    While they had great moments that occurred periodically mostly during the end, none of them were as thoroughly thrilling as a whole as Madoka.

    While it’s true Fate/Zero is hyped up for the best, we all know how adaptations work out! And for Madoka it was not up to just the story.

    So, I am with you on best title of the year but personally, Madoka is way higher on my list as my all time favorite!

    But alas!

    Only Japan agrees with us it seems!

  21. Black Gekikara Said,

    April 26, 2011 @ 8:15 am

    PS,
    Sorry, Looks like I messed up in the URL. Fixed! You can delete this afterwards.

  22. Mushyrulez Said,

    April 26, 2011 @ 9:37 am

    It’s obvious, Tatsuya would grow up to write God’s Spell.

    Also, if Madoka’s God, who’s Kyubey?

    http://j.mp/hu7DQU

  23. Random Said,

    April 26, 2011 @ 9:57 am

    I think the ending is more bitter than sweet
    Madoka is gone forever
    Homura is meeting her death (Why would she be in the wild when her wish was to protect the city)

    The chance of Madoka being the best show of the year is about 90%, unless we are extremely lucky and get two epic shows a year. Clannad’s anime never turned out to be better than the game. So unless Urobuchi changes the light novel in to a script by HIMSELF, I doubt it would be able to overcome Madoka.

  24. FlameStrike Said,

    April 26, 2011 @ 10:18 am

    Madokami is just awesome. The ending works on so many levels. Some people said they were annoyed that the end shifted from a trend of despair into one of hope, but that was the whole point of the ending; to show that even if the situation is the worst, you should keep on hoping. Hope can overcome despair.

    I have high expectations for Fate/Zero, but TV adaptations of TM works just don’t seem to get it right. The KnK movies were good, but those were movies. Also the FZ ending is waayy too grimdark for me.

  25. ~xxx Said,

    April 26, 2011 @ 10:53 am

    Awesome…

    I wish Kyubey just died in the process…

  26. ryvrdrgn14 Said,

    April 26, 2011 @ 12:43 pm

    “@Yamibakeru: Yes, I know. But it’s impossible for Homura to be Walpurgisnacht due to the fact that:

    (i). Madoka’s wish.
    (ii). Homura never became a Witch herself.

    So there goes that school of thought.”

    There was another discussion about this somewhere and some points were brought up to support WPN Homura.

    (i) Madoka’s wish only applies after the final episode where WPN and all other witches ceased to exist so I don’t think this can be an argument for Homura != WPN.

    (ii) Homura never became a witch herself, but the fact that her ability is to travel in time and given the assumption that she eventually became a witch in some future reality/alternate time, her witch form would have the ability to travel back in time even before she became a witch.

    We can discuss time paradoxes and butterfly effects, but if we consider WPN as not the original Homura due to the changes, then they can both exist in the same timespace. I do not think the show was too keen on the whole time theory thing anyway.

    Someone also mentioned that if WPN was Homura, it would always be a future (hence stronger) version of herself that is why she was never able to defeat it no matter how much her present self improved.

    You could also say that the other witch silhouettes were witches that WPN Homura dragged in/defeated from other worlds/timelines.

    Finally it’s really hard to ignore that huge gear on WPN that’s the same one as in Homura’s room and shield.

  27. Mentar Said,

    April 26, 2011 @ 9:44 pm

    Who would have thought that in the end, a “nicer” QB is working as Homura’s familiar? *grin*

    I’d wish we’d stop with this “Madoka is god” stuff, she is not. She is no (al)mighty entity, she has turned into a “force of nature”. the wish enables her to take out dying MGs before they turn to witches, and THAT IS IT. This is what I like so much about the ending: It is limited and logical and does not pretend to explain the inexplicable. Madoka saved the MGs, and she did so very thoroughly. But she’s no “goddess” in any way. Better this way, too ;)

  28. Son Gohan Said,

    April 26, 2011 @ 11:27 pm

    I don’t have a problem with Tatsuya “remembering” Madoka because it is linked to the usual trope that little children can see magic. On the same note, Madoka dreamed of the previous timeline in episode 1, something that she shouldn’t remember.
    As for WPN, I think that most likely she is a conglomerate of many witches. This is supported by the original Walpurgis Nacht in German mythology being a festival of witches. And I think we can see little black witches detaching form WPN when she is falling.

  29. Mitch H. Said,

    April 26, 2011 @ 11:44 pm

    Also, if Madoka’s God, who’s Kyubey?

    The Peacock Angel.

  30. J Said,

    April 27, 2011 @ 4:17 am

    I tend to think that Walpurgis was Joan of Arc’s witch. Pretty hard to think of something more disheartening than saving your country only to get burned at the stake for witchcraft.

  31. mr.poneis Said,

    April 27, 2011 @ 11:09 am

    Madoka is to continue in the man ga right?

    and maybe the alternative continuity in the form of slice of life? That some gossips talked about?

    Thats some show I have to watch someday…

    see ya
    mr.poneis

  32. Crisu Said,

    April 27, 2011 @ 11:56 am

    In a way I’m glad that QB and the Incubators are better now — mostly since there’s not a system they can exploit. I find his “question mark” pose every time I rewatch the episode kind of cute. http://bit.ly/fUNOpR

    I enjoyed this series a lot and look forward to more content, like those drama CDs. Thanks for blogging it all, Kurogane.

    I wonder if anyone would go as far as to use Madoka and Homura’s names in vain, though I certainly would not.

  33. Mmm Said,

    April 28, 2011 @ 10:43 am

    wonderful reviews about Madoka magica.(JAPANESE)
    http://d.hatena.ne.jp/makaronisan/20110425/1303689150
    http://d.hatena.ne.jp/makaronisan/20110425/1303689149

  34. deBurg Said,

    April 28, 2011 @ 2:52 pm

    @mentar

    Sorry but an anthromopic personalization of a force of nature is what we call a god around here. OK we kinda got a bit overboard with the Jesus stuff but thats just because it aired on Good Friday.

  35. Someone Said,

    May 2, 2011 @ 8:36 am

    As far as the entropy thing tying up goes, it was pretty quickly explained, perhaps too quickly – because there are no more witches, this ‘miasma’ is a new outlet for despair, and the little black box thingies are something that Kyubey can harvest in order to counter entropy.

    The idea of entropy kind of makes sense if we’re willing to suspend a bit of scientific disbelief… But hey, one modern science inaccuracy in a science fiction-ish series is hardly a bad record.

    My theory as to why Homura remembered Madoka is because the idea of human-Madoka may exist in the same way the concept of Goddess-Madoka does. Furthermore, the fact she was never born into this universe would explain why there is no solidity to the vague recollection of Madoka. Though it may just be the idea that they all saw him as children because of the trope.

    Also, as far as not explaining Walpergis Night at all goes, I kind of like the technique of a totally unknown major antagonist.. It keeps the mystery going nicely.

  36. Coulda be better Said,

    August 22, 2011 @ 11:59 pm

    The show COULDA been better and probably longer.
    A lot of reasons too.

    The whole entire Magical girl concept is VERY different from
    a lot that I seen though.
    Girl dies – comes back to life type of thing is what we usually see, but not here.
    I think the end shoulda had a little more to it, but I guess
    I was shooting for the stars on that.
    Madoka didn’t feel as though she was the heroine until the very end…literally.
    They kept saying she was the most powerful, but that is thanks to Homura, technically Homura was the most powerful. The ending I didn’t get. Someone can explain to me?
    All I got was, Madoka sacrifices herself for no more witches, but in the end there are DEMONS they fight, and Sayaka dies during a fight? It feels like she did all that for nothing, and everyone will just die all over. It’s really sad..
    She should of ended it on a happier note, though I do enjoy kinda bad-ish endings.
    Weird chibi characters with a mindfxk of a storyline.
    It was good…not the best but it’s like a 6/10 here.

  37. YuriMoe Said,

    August 7, 2012 @ 1:21 pm

    I was crying but homura`s wings at the the end are awesome. her witch name is homulily.
    http://wiki.puella-magi.net/Homura
    http://wiki.puella-magi.net/Homulilly
    I just put them down but i bet everyone here has this saved in there bookmarks or as there homepage.

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