Category Archives: Puella Magi Madoka Magica

“Puella Magi Madoka Magica” Assessment – A Tale of Consequences and Empowerment

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“Puella Magi Madoka Magica” is one of my favorite animes. At some point in the future I will review the films tied to the series, even though the series feels done and it doesn’t really need anymore stories told. It is this complete arc that is one of the things I loved about this series, the others being the message of empowerment of girls, the subversion of shonin anime and that the characters and actions that have consequences.

The story is really strong. In it we see that this is a world that is fully fleshed off. Kyubey’s people make deals with girls to give them powers so that they can collect the energy to trade in the Galaxy and keep Entropy from destroying the Universe. They aren’t human so they don’t understand emotions and they don’t even have individuality so they don’t understand sacrificing for another, Kyubeys seem to be one being that is a species. Within that the Magical Girls are used by the Kyubeys until the cycle is finally broken by Homura and Madoka whose wishes literally change everything. Homura creates a “Groundhog Day” situation where she creates many timelines to try and save Madoka. This wish gives Madoka the the magical potential to wish away wishes and change the Universe completely in ways that Homura’s wish never could. It’s a fascinating story and a great sci. fi.

The other message is the empowerment of girls and women. All the main characters are girls. There is Kyoko who is the rebel who actually cares, Homura who is the shy girl who becomes the stoic action hero, Mami who is the mentor to all of them in the first timeline and Sayaka who is the tragic lover and paladin. All of them move on and grow though through sacrafice or Madoka’s changing of the world. Sayaka moves on and is happy for her friend and the boy she had a crush on and before that she had changed Sayaka who had only cared about herself until Sayaka’s self sacrifice taught her that people are worth fighting for, especially Sayaka. All of them are empowered with Madoka and Homura’s arc being the most complete with Madoka literally becoming God and becoming greater than the self and Homura becoming the guardian of humanity and caring about more than just Madoka because of Madoka’s sacrifice. Through these arcs all of them become more than who they were before.

There are men like Madoka’s father and Sayaka’s crush but they are side characters who are there to show us the perspectives of the women. It’s a nice subversion of what I usually find in Shonin anime where it is all about the men and their relationships. Women serve the role of helping them grow, in “Madoka Magica” it is the reverse and I hope we can see more stories grow out of this.

I loved the characters in this! Even Kyubey was enjoyable as It showed it wasn’t primarily selfish when it lived in Madoka’s world and found another way to collect Energy and didn’t even think that the prior universes existed (showing the limitedness of the species). Kyoko was my favorite though, she went from antagonist to the greatest ally of Homura and Madoka and truly loved Sayaka. The main characters are neither good nor bad, they are complex. Madoka is the idealist but she also loses sight of individuals just like she can see friends but lose sight of the bigger picture. All the characters are complicated and flawed and it is what makes it such a great anime.

The final part of the series that made it truly remarkable was that actions had consequences. A  Magical Girl will eventually become a wish because every wish and hope has despair as the reaction. This lead to Magical Girls throughout history become Witches and to Homura’s “Groundhog Day” to save her friends but most of all Madoka. She isn’t able to change things though, but her constant trying makes Madoka have the greatest Magic Potential of any Magical Girl which allows her to change the Universe and become more than she ever was before. The consequence of this is she is wiped from history. The consequence of Homura tryin to save Madoka is she becomes hardened and appears uncaring because she has lost Madoka and the other so many times and we see it on the smaller level with Sayaka losing any chance of a relationship when she realizes the nature of what she is and that her soul is no longer a part of her because she was turned into a Magical Girl. It’s sad and powerful. This is a story of consequences and it makes the story matter. There are no happy endings, there is always loss of some sort and every universe has humans despair…within Madoka’s new world, Wraiths now haunt the Earth as that symbol.

If you like anime you should check out this series. It isn’t large, which is what I was looking for when I was seeking requests for the anime series I’d be reviewing…and I’ll be reviewing another series soon as well. I’ll leave it a surprise for now but it also will not be too long either and hopefully it will become a favorite too. It is the powerful stories that have the chance to inspire people and to at the very least give people the chance to learn something about themselves and about the world. This is one of those types of animes and is well worth your time.

Final Score: 9.8 / 10.

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Puella Magi Madoka Magica Finale – Season 1, Episode 12 – “My Best Friend” – The God of Hope

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      What a Finale. I got to say, “Puella Magi Madoka Magica” is one of my favorite animes after this and I’m grateful to all my friends who recommended the series to me. This episode tied all the timelines together and really defined all the characters in different ways and get glimpses into their souls after the Universe changing event that unfolds.

     The episode was directed by Jun’ichirō Taniguchi, Mika Takahashi and Yukihiro Miyamoto and written by Gen Urobuchi who clearly knew what he planned for the overaching arc of the series.

    The episode begins with Madoka making a wish to stop all Witches before they were born and to give hope to all those who had lost hope, doing away with the existence of Witches in all and every timeline. We see what this does to her as she becomes a God and how it affects the lives of each of the Magical Girls including Homura and Madoka’s family.

The Pros: Madoka’s Transformation into The God of Hope – Madoka’s wish is to end all Witches before they begin in order to give people a life. We see a scene with her talking with Mami and Kyoko about it. Mami warns her over her loss of identity and Kyoko tells her to go for it. From here we see Madoka begin her transformation into a God as she absorbs all the despair from Magical Girls throughout time, turns into a giant Witch which she then destroys which in turn creates an entirely new Universe and now in our Universe Madoka and Witches no longer exist. It’s a powerful sequences and transformation as you see Madoka rise in power and become large and later transparent, omnipresent and Omnipotent.

The Magical Girls of the Past – Joan of Arc receives peace, and countless others throughout time who were ready to give up and despair. It’s a powerful sequences as their deaths may not change (see Joan of Arc) but they receive hope again and are at peace.

Madoka’s Friends – None of them remember her outside of Homura but Sayaka’s spirit gets to see the boy she loves become successful and is happy for Hitomi. Kyoko misses Sayaka and we see that she loved her as much more than a friend and Mami mourns the loss of Sayaka too. Homura mentions Madoka’s name, but no one knows who she’s talking about.

How the Universe Changed – The new Universe is one where the Incubators made a deal to eat the remains of the Soul Gems that break and where they create Magical Girls to hunt Wraiths who are giant spirits who haunt the city. Madoka is gone but Homura remembers her as does Madoka’s little brother and even Madoka’s mother feels nostalgia in the name and feels like she would have named her daughter that and used the ribbon (Madoka gives Homura the ribbons from her hair) that she would have made her daughter wear. We see there is hope but still challenges and that the world is not perfect, it is changed though because of Madoka’s wish.

Homura – Homura has the hardest time letting go but in the end she finds peace too knowing Madoka is always with her and that she remembers even though the Incubators don’t. It’s really cool that Homura is the one carrying all the timelines and it’s made her Guardian of the World because she sees it as worth protecting because Madoka believed it to be. Her love for Madoka is truly what defines her in the end, even in a world where Madoka is no more. But now, Homura uses a weapon similar to Madoka’s bow and arrow.

The Message – It is never worth holding onto hate and despair, they only destroy you and those around you (the Witches as a living example of this). Madoka was that answer. Another one is that any girl can be extraordinary and make a difference. Madoka was just a kind school girl but in the end she saves the world and we see how any girl can transform the world in the actions and wishes of every Magical Girl and their roles as Guardians in the Universe before and after Madoka.

   This is one of the best animes I have ever watched, which this episode cemented. Things change but there are always challenges and always the darker side of human nature to face even if certain systems are changed. In this episode we see consequences and Madoka’s core good as she empowers all the girls to live and to live. It’s done really well and shows that hope and love are no small things, and that it’s our ability to feel those things that make us human.

I’ll be doing an assessment of the series as a whole later. Until than, it has been an amazing journey.

Final Score: 10 / 10. Perfect episode.

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Puella Magi Madoka Magica – Season 1, Episode 11 – “The Last Signpost” – For Friendship

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    This was a powerful episode that sets up the Finale really well. In this we see Homura open up fully to the Madoka in this timeline as well as having Kyubey reveal that all Homura has done has been helping his people more too as they get to collect more energy because of how important Homura has made Madoka with her wish. But more on that later.

    “The Only Signpost Remaining” was directed by Shin’ichi Miyamae, Toshiyuki Fujisawa and Kotono Watanabe and written by Gen Urobuchi.

     The story kicks off with Madoka’s mom worrying about her as the school mourns the death of Sayaka. Soon we see a storm coming in and the arrival of Walpurgis Night. Madoka is ready to make a wish to save everyone even though she doesn’t trust Kyubey, who shows her the history of the Incubators and humanity and how all women who shaped history were Magical Girls. When Madoka goes to Homura for advice Homura tells her not to fight as she’s been doing everything to protect her. From here the story unfolds.

The Pros: Walpurgis Night – The Witch is so large and powerful that to the rest of the world it looks like a hurricane is hitting the city. You really see how powerful the witch is too especially since Homura is using everything she’s prepared from all the times she’s time traveled but the Witch still defeats her in the end.

Madoka’s Mother – There are two great scenes with Madoka’s mother, the first is when she suspects Madoka might know more about Sayaka’s death and later when Madoka is about to go into the storm and she has to trust Madoka’s judgement. You can see how conflicted she is but also her love for Madoka.

Kyubey – Kyubey is still obviously an alien and can’t relate to emotions but he does a good job of showing how the Incubators and humanity have helped one another throughout history and surprisingly he never outright pressures Madoka again either, he’s just upfront and honest about the different situations knowing he’s lost trust for another reason.

History of Magical Girls – Joan of Arc, Cleopatra and countless powerful women throughout history were magical girls, all of their stories end in tragedy too as by making the wish it brings despair in equal amount. It’s powerful and really shows how broken the system is that was created.

Homura – Homura is as prepared as she’s ever been this time and we see her do everything she can to protect Madoka. From weapons and bombs hid throughout the city, to her confession to Madoka that she’s watched her die countless times and the confession that each time they grow more distant because of the cost of the magic. She is defined really well in this episode.

Madoka – This is the episode where Madoka gets all the information (Homura’s history, History of the Magical Girls) and also time with her family and the city under siege and it is here she  makes a decision to choose the wish. I’ll do the wish in the last segment since that is where we learn where it is. In this Madoka asks Homura to trust and protect her just as Homura has done, now Madoka wants to return it and wants her to live.

  This episode is Madoka fully coming into her own as a person. She knows the consequences of choices and events and is ready for whatever comes. It’s powerful too as we see her overwhelmed by Kyubey’s info dump on the history of Incubators and Magical Girls and Homura’s confession, and her mom trying to stop her…but all of these define and give reason to the wish she makes at the end. The wish that changes everything.

Final Score: 9 / 10.

Puella Magi Madoka Magica – Season 1, Episode 10 – “I Won’t Depend on Anyone Anymore” – The Girl Who Jumps Through Time

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     “I Won’t Depend on Anyone Anymore” provides Homura’s backstory and also fully shows what is at stake when Walpurgis Night hits. The layout of the episode is fantastic too with the opening song playing at the end which plays into how it is a prequel to the series really well and gives us a glimpse into all the characters and Kyubey’s end game.

     The episode was directed by Yoshiaki Itou, Kazuya Shiotsuki and Yuki Yase and written by Gen Urobuchi.

    The story is that of Homura’s where we learn that in the original timeline she was a timid girl who becomes friends with Madoka and later the other Magical Girls. Eventually Walpurgis Night occurs and all of them die but Homura makes a deal with Kyubey to become a Magical Girl to relive the time before she met Madoka so she’ll be powerful enough to save her. From here she continues to fail as she tries  to create the timeline where Madoka is protected, Walpurgis defeated and Madoka never becomes a Magical Girl.

The Pros: Sayaka – Sayaka isn’t the focus of this episode but we see her become  a Witch again in the different timelines and that she is hostile to Homura in all the timelines, especially after Homura reveals Kyubey’s plan to turn them all into Witches.

Mami – Mami is the mentor and the guide for Homura and Madoka initially and her protectiveness goes to the point of killing them after Homura tells of Kyubey’s plan as Mami wants none of them to become Witches.

Kyoko – Kyoko appears briefly and is shown to have feelings for Sayaka in this timeline as well as she wails when Sayaka in Witch form is destroyed by Homura. She also starts out as an antagonist at first too, just like the timeline we are in.

Kyubey – Kyubey is shown to not care about humanity reaching the stars, his whole agenda is the collection of energy and he just uses the Magical Girls in every timeline. In this we see just how cruel he is and that his species is not to be trusted even more, they are worse than expected as the destroyed city is something Kyubey is indifferent too as well as what the Magical Girls risked.

Madoka – Madoka is very active in this timeline and everytime she makes a wish or contract it is to protect others. She represents the ideal of the just Magical Girl far more than Sayaka does and it is only Homura protecting her that makes her passive in the current timeline. In each one she sacrifices all and in one of the major one asks Homura to protect her from ever making a deal before asking Homura to end her so she won’t become a Witch. It’s a powerful scene…and you really get why Homura and Madoka care so much for each other. In past timelines she was Homura’s best friend and the one who helped her open up from being shy, in the current timeline Homura has taken up that role.

Homura – Homura starts shy and has a similar arc to Madoka in the current timeline as Mami is her mentor and Madoka is her best friend who motivates her to make her contract with Kyubey (just like how we saw Madoka do the same for Homura). She starts out being shy and unsure of herself but becomes bitter and hard and talented after how many times she witnesses her friends die and turn on one another. At this point she just wants to save Madoka’s soul above all else.

The Premise – The idea of using Time Magic to create an infinite loop to try and find the perfect timeline is wonderful as each timeline has consequences and changes Homura in some way and in each Kyubey and his people are learning how Homura fights as well, so she doesn’t have an infinite amount of time either. She is their adversary.

   This was an amazing episode and highlights what is so great about this series, you have characters who are changed by circumstances thrust into a world far bigger than themselves. It is a world of consequences and you can relate to the characters who fight for their friends and for the world they want. This is shaping up to be one of my favorite animes and I can’t wait to see how the series ends.

Final Score: 10 / 10

Puella Magi Madoka Magica – Season 1, Episode 9 – “I’ll Never Allow That” – Someone to Fight For

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     This was a great world and character building episode. We get the motivation behind Kyubey and his people (and see more of just how manipulative they are), see that Kyoko has found someone to fight for again and Homura continues to be Madoka’s guardian angel. It was a fantastic episode with some great action too.

      The episode was directed by Miyuki Katayama and Masahiro Mukai written by Gen Urobuchi. ai a

      The story picks up where we left off with Kyoko escaping Witch Sayaka with Homura and bringing along Sayaka’s body as her soul is now a giant Witch. From here Kyoko approaches Madoka for help after Kyubey explains why his people create Magical Girls and turn them into Witches. In the end Madoka and the Magical Girls confront Sayaka’s Witch and try to save her soul.

The Pros: Kyubey – Kyubey is not good nor are his species but they at least have a motivation now beyond themselves. In this episode we learn they create Soul Gems and Magical Girls so that the universe will continue to have energy and to prevent entropy from ending all things and that Magical Girls becoming Witches and when they die releases so much energy that other civilizations in the Galaxy use and that they hope humanity can join them all someday. They still are unethical but you can at least understand their motivation now. Kyubey is upfront that Magical Girls are sacrifices.

Sayaka’s Witch – It is a giant night and her battle music is an orchestra…it all ties into her wish so well and we see that she is one of the most powerful witches so far as Kyoko who tends to finish off Witches easily even has a hard time and has to take her final form to neutralize Sayaka’s Witch. Best Witch design thus far. The use of music as a weapon and Knight’s armor was very well done and capturing Sayaka’s motivations for becoming a Magical Girl in the first place.

Homura – Homura is once again Madoka’s protector and also the adversary of Kyubey in his people, though with Kyoko staying behind and possible dying when facing Sayaka’s Witch she is alone with Kyubey and his people in control and counting on Madoka to not make the contract, even with the city at risk through Walpurgis.

Kyoko – Kyoko learned how to love again through Sayaka’s sacrifice and sacrifice’s herself in turn for Sayaka, staying with her Witch at the end when Madoka is not able to reach Sayaka’s soul. Her arc is powerful and shows just how far she’s come. She’s gone from selfish to someone who is willing to ask for help and work with others (Homura and Madoka) and loves Sayaka. She’s become one of my favorite characters in this.

Okay: Madoka – Madoka takes action to try and save Sayaka and her calling Kyubey’s people out showed good characterization but she still felt too passive this episode. She gets an information dump from Kyubey and Kyoko and she hasn’t fully acted on that information yet.

    This was another great episode, though the weakest link was Madoka…I’m very curious where her arc is going to go and what the writers have in plan. Kyubey and his people are manipulative and evil so we know we can’t count on or trust anything they say (Sayaka could never be saved Kyubey admits to Homura) and everything they want is to get Madoka. The big battle is coming and I’m very interested to see how the endgame turns out.

Final Score: 9.6 / 10.

Puella Magi Madoka Magica – Season 1, Episode 8 – “I’m Such a Fool” – The Evil of Kyubey

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          This is an episode leading up to some pretty big tragedy later. It was this episode where I think the most I can expect from this show is a bittersweet end, and that’s what I like since this show it fits the world and characters. Every Magical Girl is tragic and we learn the reasons behind that and why Kyubey manipulates and what it’s role is in everything and why it forms Contracts. Suffice to say, this episode was intense.

          “I’m Such a Fool,” was directed by Tomoyuki Matsumoto, Yuuji Kondou and Takashi Kawabata and written by Gen Urobuchi.

       This episode continues with Sayaka’s self destruction as we see her refuse the Grief Seed as she doesn’t want anything for herself. She is exhausted and drained and attacks Madoka for not becoming a Magical Girl too. Things come to a head when Homura attempts to kill her to protect Madoka. Kyubey also reveals his agenda and purpose to Homura when Homura attempts to kill him again after she kills him to prevent Madoka from making a Contract.

The Pros: Kyoko – Kyoko has become noble and saves Sayaka’s life when Homura tries to kill her and sticks by her when she transforms into a Witch when Sayaka’s Soul Gem goes black. She has become a truly good character now.

Madoka – Madoka is the one who feels pulled from all sides. Sayaka says she needs her to be a Magical Girl, Kyubey says she could become God if she becomes a Magical Girl and Homura fights for her soul knowing what could happen. Her decision is yet to come as she leaves when Homura cries before her as she feels overwhelmed and alone.

Homura – Homura truly cares for Madoka and it is implied she remembers the dream that kicked off “Madoka Magica.” She is driven to protect Madoka even if it is an impossible fight as Kyubey has many lives and every form she destroys does not end it. She is the one who learns his true nature too and that he is an Incubator (Kyubey) of Witches and that Magical Girls are that pre-form.

Sayaka – Sayaka is alone, refuses help from everyone as she doesn’t trust anyone and doesn’t feel human anymore and when her Soul Gem gets fully corrupted she is turned into a Witch. It is a tragedy that shows that she was always only a tool or food for Kyubey. He made the deal with her and many others before her just to make them Witches. Sayaka’s fall is that of nobility gone wrong and why taking things on alone and being self-righteous can lead to tragedy. You have to care for yourself and recognize those who care for you.

The Evil of Kyubey – Kyubey is a bastard and a great villain. The thing is an incubator of witches and a manipulator, evil in a nutshell as he uses innnocent girls as weapons against one another (since we see in this Witches were once Magical Girls) and that Kyubey cares nothing for what he does. Seriously, this character is one of the most cruel villains in anime. Most are openly cruel and don’t use innocents so.

The Cons: Scattered Narrative – At times the narrative was scattered but when it was focused on Homura and Sayaka it was really strong. Both of these characters really drive this episode and Madoka is the only one who really brings it down as her feeling torn makes the narrative feel scattered at time and takes the focus away from Sayaka’s decline and transformation.

  This episode continues the tragic bent of the show and has a powerful message on how important it is to recognize one’s own value so that bullies like Kyubey won’t manipulate you into hurting yourself. Homura cries before Madoka to recognize her value just as Kyoko and Madoka fight for Sayaka to find and discover her own self worth. This message is powerful and keeps me watching as characters continue to change and every action has consequences.

Final Score: 9.5 / 10.

Puella Magi Madoka Magica – Season 1, Episode 7 – “Can You Face Your True Feelings?” – Forever Alone

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     I really liked this episode. “Can You Face Your True Feelings?” Lives up to it’s name and we get to get Kyoko’s backstory and even get to know Hitomi, the one friend of Madoka’s not connected to Kyubey in some way. It’s a great episode that doesn’t forget the ripping of souls from the body of a Magical Girl to create the Soul Gems that we learned last episode and we see how each of the Magical Girls deal with this reality of their state.

     The episode was directed by Ryou Kobayashi, Tomoaki Kado and Satoaki Kidokoro and written by Gen Urobuchi.

      The story picks up where we left off where Kyubey defends his methods by explaining he trades in miracles and shows Sayaka that without her soul torn she would be destroyed by the Witches and feel nothing but pain. Later Kyoko meets up with Sayaka and tells her story about the deal she made as her Father was a preacher and and how the wish ended up leading to her father killing himself and their family with only her surviving. After Hitomi approaches Sayaka and confesses her feelings for Kamijou leaving Sayaka full of guilt and regret with her only friend she can be honest with being Madoka.

The Pros: Kyubey – Kyubey is an alien. He doesn’t understand what it means for a person to be seperated from their soul and maybe this is because He isn’t human which Homura thinks, or maybe he chooses not to because it would break whatever illusions and agenda Kyubey has. Suffice to say though Kyubey is controlling, he puts Sayaka in pain in order to show her why what he did was right…not a good creature.

Hitomi – Hitomi shows that she has integrity. After Sayaka healed Kamijou she wants Sayaka to confess her feelings first since they are friends and she sees that Sayaka has watched him longer. She has good intentions but it breaks Sayaka as Sayaka realizes that now that she’s a “Zombie” she can never share that connection again.

Homura – Homura is the observer again and we see her check in with Kyoko who now is no longer trying to hurt Sayaka, and she defends Kyubey explaining that he is alien and that is why he doesn’t get that the tearing of souls from the body is bad.

Madoka – Madoka is also an observer this episode but she is active too. When Sayaka needs a friend she is there and is the one person taking on everyone else’s pain. I don’t see her becoming a Magical Girl anytime soon as we see at the end that becoming a Magical Girl has finally broke Sayaka just like it did to Mami and Kyoko.

Kyoko – Kyoko’s story is a tragedy and a powerful one at that. Kyoko’s father was in charge of a Church got other ideas and began preaching his own ideas which lead to them becoming homeless and alone before she made the deal with Kyubey for people to listen to her father. This lead to her Father becoming famous but going mad in the end when he finds out what Kyoko did and kills his family leaving only her alive, he labeled her a Witch before the end which she sees as ironic given her job as a Magical Girl. It’s a really tragic story and we see how caring she is of Sayaka. She pretends she doesn’t care but chooses to care even letting Sayaka fight a witch and only joining in at the end to save her. Sayaka’s pain and wish for another is something she can relate too. It’s why she does whatever she wants since she no longer has anyone.

Sayaka – Sayaka finds herself forever alone as she loses everything…she loses Kamijou when she knows she can’t be with him and her friend Hitomi wants to be with him, she loses the connection to herself too after Kyoko’s story and being hurt by Kyubey as we see her say detachment makes it so there isn’t any pain as she kills the Witch she was facing off against. It is in that moment she loses Madoka as Madoka cries knowing she can no longer reach her and the Sayaka who was around before exists no longer.

    This episode captures the tragedy of what it means to be a Magical Girl really well. From Kyoko’s tragic backstory, to Sayaka losing everyone and herself in the end. These are young girls put into combat and trauma through how they are created and what their job is…and the one who creates them is indifferent and thinks it is justified. This is the tragedy of it all and why Madoka resisting is a good thing. This episode really shows why Homura wants to keep others from making the Contract.

Final Score: 10 / 10. Perfect episode.