Mahou Shoujo Madoka ☆ Magika Anime (魔法少女まどか☆マギカ)

July 3rd, 2011

Any wish bound by logic can be twisted….

A few months ago, I wrote a preliminary discussion of Puella Magi Madoka Magica (魔法少女まどか☆マギカ) and I noted that, at the time, almost no one seemed to understand my point. ^_^ I’m going to try again, this time without being clever about it.

The reason for magical girls is very simple. Teenagers desperately want to be grown-ups – to have people rely on them and to be mature and reliable. Unfortunately for most teenagers, they have neither the critical decision-making skills nor the life experience to make mature decisions. Young adults often mistake the trappings of adulthood (drinking, driving, sex) for real maturity (the strength to say “no,” for instance.) Magical girls are needed, Kyuubey understands, because magical middle-aged women would look at him and say, “You know, I have no reason to believe that you’re telling me all or even part of the truth. It’s in your best interests to keep this cycle going by your own admission, so why on earth would I take your advice?”

Kyuubey, like all good Lucifers, speaks mostly truth, and in some cases, the exact truth. Innocents are too innocent to parse the one from the other, or what the significance of that truth really is to them.

Any wish bound by logic can be twisted….

Well, duh, then…right? The answer is obvious.

So, Madoka Magica was very interesting to me. I very much loved the art used in the witch’s realities, and very much didn’t like the design of the people. If this series had character designs as beautifully done as the witches art and the buildings, most of the fans who loved it wouldn’t have given it the time of day, but, oh how gorgeous it might have been!

The ending was…what was the ending? Was it the expected ambiguity or was it writers that don’t know how to write a or are uncomfortable with a happy ending? Was it, in fact, a happy ending?

Here’s what I think – I think “end of the world” scenarios, like “Good” and “Evil,” are too much for human brains to really grasp. We assign funky art to represent Evil, because it’s easier than really establishing a new normality. We make terrible things the purview of Evil, because we can’t grasp that the selfishness of self-preservation is really what creates terrible things that other people have to live with.

Any wish bound by logic can be twisted….

The answer to that is, obviously, that one has to make a wish not bound by logic. Madoka did that.

In the world of Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica, it is established that this Good/Evil, Hope/Despair dichotomy runs the universe. Girls sacrifice themselves to stop this cycle, but only end up repeating it over and over. Until one girl wishes to stop the cycle before it ever begins. And you know…her wish comes true. But, it doesn’t stop the fact that the tension between Hope and Despair still powers the universe. So…did it work? Is Madoka a God, or is she still fairly limited in her ability to think outside the box?

What would you have wished? I know what I would have wished, but I’m not going to tell you. Wishes should be made in secret and not in front of Incubators. ^_^

And Yuri. Yes, Homura is clearly in love with her ideal of Madoka. An ideal, I can’t help but point out, who fails to live up to her expectations eternally. And yet she goes back again and again. Sounds like a lesbian to me. Madoka loves Homura like the Virgin Mary is supposed to love you.  An utterly unsatisfying situation to me, but I was never the target audience for this anime. The target audience for this anime are boys who think magical girls are a good idea.

Ratings:

Art – 5/9 for character designs and “witches” worlds respectively
Story – 8 It’s not standing ovation-worthy, but it’s good for a conversation
Characters – 7 pretty much types, rather than fully-fleshed out personalities, but in 12 episodes of angst, there’s not that much time to bother
Yuri – 5
Service – This series is, by default, created for otaku. For the amount of time we stare at the girl’s legs – the zettai ryouki, specifically – 10

Overall – 8

I had initially wanted to watch the final episodes on Walpurgisnacht (April 30,)  but life kept me from doing so. I’m almost glad I didn’t because, for an utter destruction of everything, this was a little disappointing, honestly.

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8 Responses

  1. Rynnec says:

    I never really understood the difference (in terms of concept) between Magical Girls, and Teenage Superhero stories like Spiderman, Batman Beyond, Danny Phantom, Jake Long etc. It’s pretty much the same basic “average person gets extraordinary powers that come with great responsibility” schtick.

    As for the character designs. I agree that they could have looked more like they did in the Oriko Magica spinoff manga, but I do think that the anime’s artstyle really did work in its favor in an odd way.(and I’m not just talking about the shows popularity.)

    I viewed the ending as bittersweet, leaning towards idealistic. I also think it was meant to be open-ended, a new world was created after all, who’s to say we won’t have any sequels focusing on it? SHAFT now has a new way to milk a used Cow.

    Was anyone really expecting much in the way of apocalypse from Walpurgisnacht? Not only was the conflict more or less Homura’s battle, but what could they do to make it apocalyptic? The March 11 disaster meant they couldn’t get too detailed with the destruction, most of the cast was already dead, so they couldn’t do a kill’em all-type thing, and the conversation between Madoka and Junko was kinda needed, so they couldn’t kill off anyone in the shelter.

    As for the HomuraxMadoka resolution, I thought it was satisfying, I viewed it as somewhat of a punishment for Homura’s recklessness, because of it, the world turned into a better place overall, but in the end, it cost her being with the person she loves the most, a sort of double-edged sword. I felt the same way with the SimonxNia ending in Gurren Lagann, Homura and Simon, would’ve been nice if their respective lovers didn’t die/ascend,(not saying that that’s the ending you wanted from this show, just speaking in general) but I think their respective endings wouldn’t be as powerful if they did end it that way.

    I’m suprised you didn’t mention Kyouko and Sayaka in this review. Since that went out with an Utena shout-out and all.

    Speaking of Kyouko, I thought her civilian outfit would be what bumps up the LFB rating rather than the Zettai Ryouiki (which I barely noticed, then again, I don’t really pay attention to the legs of fictional girls who’re supposed to be way younger than I am, nor do I think that that fashion trope is very fanservice-y at all, good looking to be sure, but not for fanservice. Do LFB’s really think that that’s fanservicey?), I’m usually not the one to tell people what to wear, but if I were related to her, I’d tell her to put some actual pants on ASAP. XD

    As for the actual question about whether or not Madoka became a Goddess; yes, I do believe she did become one, and is bound by whatever rules and limitations one has. As for whether or not she’ll be a good Goddess…well, it’s not like other Deities were any better if their tales are to be believed, so I think she’ll do just fine in her new role.

    It should be noted that I’m not much of a fan of magical girls, other than watching Sailor Moon and Cardcaptors(ugh) on Toonami, and to a lesser extent, Nanoha. Yet I really enjoyed this anime despite my lack of familiarity with the genre.

  2. C. Banana says:

    One point to defend the character art styles is that it does play with perceptions to make people who haven’t been spoiled think that it’s a more idealistic and typical magical girl show. That way, when the show takes a sudden turn towards darkness and grittiness, it comes as a lot more of a surprise.

    Mind you, I would still love to one day see an anime with a similar character art style to Koumajou Densetsu.

  3. Sariel says:

    I really wanted to like this series. Rather- I really liked the story, but that was all. The story was god, but there was not enough character interaction/development for me to be able to like it, and I couldn’t see the Yuri beween Kyouko and Sayaka, just that SPOILERS FROM HERE ON Kyouko wanted to die a human, and frankly, I didn’t like Sayaka much. “Boo-hoo, I’m a zombie, I’m not gonna take this chance because zombies like me don’t deserve it..”. So yeah, they could have let the characters find out things for themselves, by being themselves rather than singing songs of exposition.

    I liked the story of Madoka, but the only couple I ended up shipping were Mami and Madoka, because Mami actually had somewhat of a character-defined scene.

  4. Dop says:

    One of the things I loved about this series was the amount of misdirection they put into it.

    Ume Aoki’s character designs, and all the trailers and promotional artwork that appeared before the show started were all set out to make it look like just another magical girl show.

    Then for a lot of the first episode, it did look like just another magical girl show.

    It was only when Shinbo unleashed those magnificent mad bastards who’d been responsible for the ‘Terry Gilliam nightmares on acid’ weirdness of some ‘Zetsubo Sensei’ opening titles, that it started to look like this wasn’t your typical mahou shoujo at all, a feeling confirmed in episode 3.

    I think one thing they did was take a lot of the basic premises of magical girl shows and take them more seriously. Be careful what you wish for. Magic comes with a price. You can’t battle bizarre monsters and escape completely unscathed.

    I suspect that whoever was responsible for scheduling the delayed final episodes in the early hours of Good Friday knew EXACTLY what they were doing. That or it was just an excellent coincidence!

  5. @Sariel – “Singing songs of exposition” <–THIS

    Hahaha, yes, exactly!

    I’m so stealing that line. ^_^

  6. Rynnec says:

    @Dop- Wait. Is the opening scene in the first episode considered typical magical girl stuff now? Ominous music and backgrounds and all?

    I haven’t been in the magical girl loop since Sailor Moon went off the air, but damn.

  7. Having finished the damn show finally, I felt I could come back here and actually comment.

    I myself am not bothered by the lack of reciprocation by Madoka toward Homura since I find it hard to take Madoka seriously as a potential half of a couple, given that she goes from dithering crybaby to deity with not much in between. I also would make the argument that Homura couldn’t’ve herself grown had Madoka reciprocated. I didn’t like her much as a character throughout, so I liked seeing her at the end, more at ease with the world and more mature as well.

    Some folks had speculated during the broadcast run that Homura and Madoka’s mother were the same person. I like to think that Homura grows up to a woman like Madoka’s mother; fairly well-adjusted and confident. And that she finds someone who is neither goddess nor child, someone who can love her back the way she loves them.

    Anyway, on a different note, I liked the last two episodes but didn’t really like the other ten. Ah well.

  8. I watched this series the other day and I loved it.

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