puella magi madoka magica 11 & 12

The Last Path & My Best Friend

(“Tonight I’ll dream while in my bed /
when silly thoughts go through my head /
about the bugs and alphabet /
and when I wake tomorrow I’ll bet /
that you and I will walk together again /
cause I can tell that we’re going to be friends”)

So Homura jumping between space-time has made Madoka into the uber-powerful being that she is. Makes sense in the scope of gathering entropy… you know what I’m most amazed at? This is a fucking excellent original story, and Gen Urobuchi and Shaft did what really Kyoto Animation, PA Works, AIC, and Sunrise have failed to do over the past few years: tell a compelling, original story. Best one since Gurren Lagann. I guess the formula isn’t hard… take an existing tired genre, put an original spin to it, add some metaphysical soul-searching, add in some flawed characters, spice with hope and despair, and then kill off popular characters at the height of their popularity.

None of that is original. But it works, and it makes he wonder why people don’t do this more. (Oh wait, Angel Beats tried it as well. But it was nowhere as well directed or paced… which means Shinbo gets a lot of credit as well.) I heard this formula before on an interview with David Simon, the creator of The Wire, and he basically said the same thing which basically boiled down to know when to kill off characters and know when to jack up the hope and/or despair. Think about how flawed everyone is from McNulty to Avon to Omar… and how everyone grips with trying to have hope when there is none in drugland Baltimore, especially Dukie, Randy, Michael, and Namond. Hope. Despair. Sacrifice. Kyubey. All makes for some great storytelling.

Gen Urobuchi, Shinbo, and Shaft really outdid themselves with this show. So step up and take a bow. Only change I would make is that I just wish Madoka begged Homura at some point, “I want to sparkle!”

Homura is so bad-ass fighting against Walpurgisnacht. I gasped with giddiness when I saw her throw a fuel truck at the witch. Awesome. Only bad thing? Homuna never figured out why she couldn’t destroy Walpurgisnacht. Walpurgisnacht is the strongest witch to date (minus witch Madoka) and has familiars that are outlines of previous magical girls. Obviously, Walpurgisnacht is Homura as a witch. Homura– pre-Madoka intervention– will always eventually lose hope and succumb to the grief. When she does and turns into that witch, why wouldn’t that witch dick around with time? It also explains why Walpurgisnacht doesn’t exist in that world but rather is manifested into it unlike other witches. Simply put, Walpurgisnacht time slipped back to fight Homura… and Homura can’t win. Zetsubo da!

Witch Homura vs. Homura is probably the best magical girl battle since Vita-chan took on Nanoha (before she gets the Belken cartridge upgrade to Raising Heart Excelion). Shaft did a fantastic job at animating Homura’s futile effort, and it pretty much tops every show from the current season in terms of animation deftness. Just the right about of CGI and animation and Shaft being Shaft. Puella Magi Madoka Magica was just perfectly done with the Shaft being Shaft portions used as a great weapon. As I mentioned throughout the series, the fact Shaft managed to control themselves and only use their flair for the witches just made this anime better. You can tell Shaft being Shaft is bearable for Pani Poni Dash and SZS, but it is distracting and unnecessary for Negima, Bakemonogatari, and Maria+Holic. Madoka seems like the first show that I can’t imagine without the Shaft being Shaftiness.

(More importantly, I’m glad Homura didn’t do the black and white head turn while going, “Zetsubo da!” as grief filled her.)

(And, again, it’s called “Shaft being Shaft” since no one else does it. Sure, animation houses copy each others styles from time to time, but no one has a style quite like Shaft. No one has even tried to copy, though I suspect with the popularity of this show, more studios will try this… which might make me sick.)

Homura stashing and then summoning a SAM missile truck from the river? Awesome. Though she should have fanangled a Multiple Launch Rocket System.

Since 2004, Shinbo’s been pretty much doing all of Shaft’s directing. You can tell his influence since Moon Phase with the Shaft being Shaft art, the head tilts, and the camera angles. So what’s going on in Madoka doesn’t surprise me… one of Shinbo’s last gigs before he joined Shaft in 2004 was Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha. He moved the same genre ahead. Twice. That’s impressive.

“It’s certainly nothing you couldn’t have expected. The foreshadowing was all there.”

Sorry Kyubey, I was too busy staring at Madoka’s zettai ryouiki. I’ve been speculating that Madoka doesn’t turn into a magical girl until the final episode since episode 4. The show is linear and predictable with twists that make sense after the fact, which is 100% better than twists that don’t make sense after the fact (wait, why is Lunamaria smooching Shin again?).

(Come on, which magical girl show has a happy transformation montage in the OP? What Madoka did was made us realize that for the magical girl genre, the climax is becoming the magical girl. So why put that in the beginning? The rest of the series is then just a long plateau… instead, Shaft built up the events to becoming a magical girl. And put the climax in the right place. The happiness in the OP is just typical cocktease material on par with shark slicing in Katanagatari.)

“If there are rules against it, I’ll break them!”

Madoka has turned into Kamina! Yes! Fuck you physics! Fuck you Kyubey! Fuck you all! HAHAHA!

“If you were livestock, we wouldn’t meet you half-way.”

Hard for me not to go vegan after watching this episode. Didn’t help that I watched on Earth Day and thought, “Baa raw ewe… sheep be true!” Of course, if Kyubey destroys the earth for some huge amount of magical girl power, he won’t be able to get anymore in the future. Short term gain trumps long term results– good job! Shows Kyubey is human after all. He’s just strip-mining nubile young haremettes. Also shows that the “bad guys” to this show and Gurren Lagann are advanced alien races who discarded their emotions.

(Just can’t wait for the Vulcans to turn against humanity… oh wait… Romulans.)

Cleopatra and Joan of Arc were magical girls who made contracts with Kyubey? So that’s why they all had such tragic ends. More importantly, which other historical figures were also incubated as magical girls? Queen Victoria? Amelia Earhart? Anne Boleyn? Mulan? Mitsuki Koyama? Marie Curie? “I’ve discovered a substance that will usher in an age of cheap and bountiful electricity! Oh no, it is dangerous to people! Zetsubou da!”

“Don’t just fulfill hope. Become hope itself.”


Well, I can see why this show was not aired directly after the double disasters. Watching a city get torn apart with the residents cooped up in an evacuation shelter… yeah… how does anime manage to do this? Outside of Tokyo Magnitude 8.0, we haven’t seen an evacuation shelter in the past few years. Just so happens an episode feature on would go on air that week? Or how I can only think of one 747 hijacking in anime, and it just so happened to air September 2001? My gosh. Anime might be a predictor of global misfortune… we’ll know for sure if Nano rebels against Professor and launches nuclear missiles… in an episode scheduled to air a week after SkyNet activates.

(More importantly, Madoka was pretty bad-ass playing the “I’ve always been a good girl! Trust me! Have faith in me!” card. Not a lot of parents would let her go even after that. But shows she has a good relationship with her mom… her losing her family is one of the small tragedies left at the end. Of course, like all good magical girl plots, there’s some hope as Tetsuya remembers her.)

Really enjoyed this montage of Madoka going through the time stream and taking the despair out of all the fallen magical girls before they become witches. So awesome. So cute. So contrasting to the despair everyone goes through. The BGM playing during this scene is also awesome and mood-fitting. A nice storytelling touch. Madoka doesn’t just save magical girls of the present and future but of the past as well. She outdid Jesus.

(Should I be making this joke knowing Easter is tomorrow? Oh screw it… “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world”… Madoka isn’t Gurren Lagann as most others would let you believe. That’s the five minute drive thru comparison. The real influence of Madoka is The Bible.)

(Yes, I am retiring “Oharuhi-sama” for “Omadoka-sama.” Seems right.)

(Also, this montage is about 10X funnier if you imagine every magical girl that’s about to witchify going, “Zetsubou da!” with Madoka popping in, greeting them with a “Kiraboshi!”, and telling them, “I’ll make you sparkle!”)

(Andohbytheway, Salem witch trials had actual witches? Quick! To the Wikipedia editing box…)

(A great parody would be Fuko traveling throughout time offering each and every magical girl… yep… a starfish! Dozo! Have a starfish~”)

As bad-ass Homura is, Madoka was even more bad-ass in promising to crush all despair and be a source of hope for all. This was like Simon surpassing Kamina, Duncan surpassing Robinson, Leonardo DiCaprio surpassing Kirk Cameron. Madoka saves magical girls past, present, and future. She rewrites the rules of the universe. She founds her own universe. She sacrifices herself to bring about happiness for everyone else. I just hoped for a Gurren Lagann-like final beat down on top of galaxies. That would have been the perfect icing on the roll cakii.

“Even what you say is true, there’s no way to prove it.”

Kyubey is insufferable across all universes. I think one day I’ll get a dog and name him “Kyubey”… and then make “Do you want to be a magical girl~” jokes all day long. Omadoka-sama help me if I ever have daughters. Or sons that could be dressed up as daughters.

(Bright spot is I get to make Kyubey jokes! I’ll just add them to my usual tropes of Haruhigasms, killer lolis, and “and a toilet seat cover.”)

I’m going to redecorate my home office into Akemi Homura’s room. I just need floating iPads and a non-seeing pendulum. I figure I can get them at the Apple store and Ikea, right?

“Any wish, no matter how absurd, can be granted.”

Kyubey, please explain which came first: the witch or the magical girl. But we all knew Madoka was going to wish to end the cycle… and she did. Entropy, physics, and thermodynamics be damned– hope trumps all. A wise man once said, “Believe in me who believes in you.”

I like the color scheme of this anime. No, seriously, I’m impressed with how Shaft used colors throughout this show. I feel like they cycle through so many different palettes and styles, but they work well. A lot of lazy *cough* 20 shows this season *cough* anime just stick with one palette and be done with it. There’s just not a lot of variation usually.

(It is fitting Homura gets Madoka’s bow since she no longer needs to time travel, but I am kinda sad she no longer has an armory up her skirt. How can you not like Full Metal Homura? There’s just something magical about a girl with bazookas.)

(Interpret that last line as you will.)

Shaft really excels at this type of landscape. I have high hopes for Kizumonogatari.

(Kyubey makes me re-evaluate every since magical girl familiar… he/she/it/whatchacallit is the greatest anime magical girl familiar/antagonist/physicist ever. But Kyubey does show that not all motivation for why familiars do what they do is all roses and peaches and strawberries.)

“Magical girls make dreams and hopes come true!”

Probably the premier trope of any magical girl series. They’re all about making hopes and dreams come true… sure, transformation sequences, cute familiars, and friendship are also tropes common to the series, but nothing defines magical girl genre more than the passion to make hopes and dreams come true. What Madoka did so well was to turn everything on its head and then turn that on its head once again. The series used the hopes and dreams of magical girls to not only define them but to crush them when they realize they are working for the opposite end. In the end, it goes back to the original genre trope by saying, “Hey, you know what, even though this world has nothing but shitty futures for its magical girls, hopes and dreams do and will win out in the end. Because one girl didn’t stop believing. And she didn’t stop believing because she had a friend who wouldn’t stop believe in her.”

Great ending to a great series. Needs more Kyubey! I, for one, welcome our Incubatoring overlords.

“Madoka! Madoka! Madoka!”

“Is she an anime character or something?”

Oh Shaft… just like the “After all, my seiyuu is excellent” line from Tsubasa Cat.

“Do you want to be a magical girl~”

37 Responses to “puella magi madoka magica 11 & 12”

  1. A very nice end for a series that everyone thought would be complete freefall into hell. Though more than a few watchers will not like the almost-happy ending, I think it’s a well-deserved light at the end of the tunnel for the characters (barring poor Sayaka, but at least this time around she was comfortable with that fact). And considering Gen Urobuchi’s track record, I’d take a page out of Portal and say: This was a triumph.
    Incidentally you missed Anne Frank. How could you miss Anne Frank?

  2. Glad you like the ending as well, Jason. :)

    Also, great post. You express everything I feels about the ending and the show way better then I could ever hope to do. What a ending. What a great show. Thank you for making me watch this show too, Jason. I almost skip it if it weren’t for your posts early on.

  3. *What a great ending

  4. And so Goddess Madoka is about to take down OHaruhi-Sama. Makes sence since Madoka became god, killed the old god and took over. JOIN THE CHURCH OF MADOKA!!!! GODDESS OF MAGICAL GIRLS!!!!!

  5. May her wish bestow hope upon thee, fellow believers; for MadoKami will be with you, always.

  6. All praise Omadoka-sama!

    Well done, Urobuchi, well done Shaft. Fantastic end for a fantastic series.
    I will miss it.

  7. Best anime from the season bar none. And pretty sure best anime from its year as well.

  8. You don’t need to replace Haruhi with anything – Madoka is Jesus. Haruhi is God. Akemi Homura is one of her disciples, as is Yuki Nagato.

  9. I don’t really have words to add to what you’ve said, you’ve summed it all up brilliantly.

    Urobuchi really did troll us all. He not only broke down the key tropes of this genre, a genre that got its start as shows aimed at little girls, but in the end, as you said, built it right back up.

    Urobuchi, you really are a softie inside, aren’t you?

  10. Dazzling show.

  11. Simply the best show after Gurren-Lagann. How many time a genre can reinvent?

  12. Great post, great closure, great battles. I’m expecting the blu-rays to be 2x as dazzling.

  13. On first viewing, I pumped my fist into the air as Madoka formulated her wish. It’s so in line with the stories of pact with the Devil where the human outsmart the Devil and exploit a flaw in the contract. My throat started hurting when Homura screamed “You gotta be kidding me!? That is worse tahn death!”, and I feel a tear forming at the Sayaka scene.

    I rewatched it then again, and this time, I wept.

  14. I think that Silver Link tried to be a little Shafty with the first season of Baka to Test…
    But it will never equal this epic anime.

  15. We really need Homura to sort things out in Libya. Misrata would be clear of government forces in just 1 second.

    “So that’s why they all had such tragic ends.”
    Does that mean that Lohan is also magical girl?

  16. I’m just gonna say, where the hell is the OST, Yuki Kajiura is just the icing on the cake for the staff of this brilliant production.

  17. i was hoping for a “Sayaka dying in a local hotel” tsukomi…

  18. Warm: that assumes that she had actually contributed to the world… like Cleo, Joan of Arc, etc. Plus, she hasn’t turned into a witch yet, just a junkie. ;). I’m going to guess… no.

  19. Great post and great ending. *clap clap clap*

  20. Thanks to you, I can’t read “hopes and dreams” without thinking of Sheryl Nome.

  21. First: I’m quite sure it’s supposed to be “zetsubou shita”.

    Happiness in the OP? Well, there is a bit, but it is mostly made of tears.

    But really. This was a great story.

  22. This is mostly a very good review, and this was an excellent anime.

    However, according to some Christian theologians, Jesus’ act of salvation was also retroactive. So no, Madoka did not “outdo” Jesus…

  23. My respect for Shinbo, Urobochi and the whole staff from SHATF… because this was something I guess nobody gave a damn four months ago and now became part of the anime legacy we love so much.

    Kudos for Shinbo too, as you already said Jason, he was able to move forward the same genre twice. Back in 2004 with Nanoha and now he did the same thing with Puella Magi Madoka Magica. Call it coincidence; call it fate, still that something I’ll never forget.

    Life is made of hopes and dreams indeed.

  24. Only a new religion can guide a new age.

    We, the first apostles of Madokami, will be shunned and hated, but we must step forth and evangelize. Her Holiness made the ultimate sacrifice, yet merely asks us to remember her, so what matters are some kicks and bitter words?

    Her message of hope must reach all humanity, for we are her children. Without her we are none.

  25. Jesus is the wrong figure to compare her too.

    She overcomes her desires and makes a completely selfless wish. That wish is powerful enough to break the endless cycles of despair and cleanse the negative karma of the universe. In doing so she transcends mortal existence and becomes an invisible yet omnipresent elemental force. And Homura is released from her painful series of reincarnations to be at peace with herself.

    Madoka’s role is that of the Buddha, bringing hope and enlightenment to the world.

  26. Homura finally broke down! Good to see after months of callousness. And that fight scene… somewhere in the world, is Iraq wondering where all their WMDs went?

    The ending however… Kind of a deus ex machina wish, it has to be said. It felt good, but did anything really change that much? Was it a happy ending? Was it a bad ending? Was it a bittersweet ending? The world we’ve been following all season gets a bad end. Only Homura survives (Though Kyouko may get a reprieve too, since she only died to stop witch Sayaka, depends how much retconning Madoka’s wish did). But both of them will still vanish as soon as their soul gems are filled from fighting the…weird head things that popped up (or more likely just die from fighting them, if they can replenish their magic with the abundant grief seeds).

    In other worlds more of the cast (even unlucky Mami!) get a temporary reprieve. Depending on how much retconning occurs, original Homura may never become a magical girl to save Madoka, and in another, Madoka won’t need to become one to save her. But for the magical girls who didn’t become one directly because of a witch, it is only temporary, and their ends won’t bring about the destruction of all they’ve accomplished.

    And surely the incubators will have no reason to create magical girls now, since grief seeds appear from peoples curses. So how will humanity fight the demons?

    So in all respects it’s pretty much a bad end that appears good to some degree. Anyway, for me at least, the show was pretty good, but not one for the ages.

  27. @Neriya But the strength of the series was that Madoka’s final wish *wasn’t* a Deus ex Machina. It had been carefully foreshadowed in several previous episodes, ep 11 gave us a clear reason why Madoka now had such critical potential (thanks to Homura’s efforts), and it was all paid off in a carefully worded wish that, in the fine traditions of fairytales everywhere, was the only way to get a good end out of a demonic contract. Basically it was just damn fine storytelling.

    Nor is the world created as a result a bad one. Curses are still present, people still suffer, and girls can become magical girls in much the same way as before – with the difference being how Kyubey collects the energy from their battles. If they fail, they die – but further curses in the form of witches will never be a result. The world isn’t perfect – suffering and death are still there – but despair never wins over hope, which makes it a better place than it had been before.

  28. Don’t forget
    Always, somewhere,
    someone is fighting for you.
    As long as you remember her.
    you are not alone.

    I would keep on remembering Madoka as i have used Majin Boo’s tecnique to turn her into a pillow.

  29. I did say “Kind of a deus ex machina wish”. You’re right it’s not out of the blue, but it is a completely broken wish. It alters the past, transcending space, time and alternate universes, making for a convenient “happy” ending, where there was previously none in sight… I don’t call that fine storytelling. Should Homura hopping around timelines really be all that’s necessary to accomplish that? If a broken wish like that is possible, why didn’t the incubators tried to set up another broken wish long beforehand to reverse entropy, rather than doing it the hard way? What can and can’t be wished for has never been well explained, despite how central to the plot it is.

  30. The wish WAS impossible. Another girl, or the original Madoka wishing it before would have resulted in nothing, a not granted wish, and impossible wish. BUT thanks to the time hops of Homura, Madoka is not only Madoka, she has in her shoulders all the weight of those alternate universes. She is not anymore Madoka, but the sum of all the Madokas. All the parallels universes created with every Homura hop, all of them are centering in the present Madoka. For that only the wish can be granted.

    Basically, Madoka can wish that because she´s HomuHomu powered!! See, the power of yuri can change the universe itself! Yeay! (Except if you´re Kyouko, poor poor Kyouko).

  31. Best anime show in a long time indeed – and just the right post-review to top it all off

  32. Don’t stop believin’
    Hold on to that feelin’
    Streetlight people

  33. In the end, those white templar-like monsters replaced the witches, and I feel that the ending hinted that even killing those guys taint the magical girls in some way. If you watch the final ep again, when Homura lands with QB from that tall building (4th pic from the bottom of this post), her wings are white and angelic. However, after the credits, it shows Homura fighting those monsters again (in the future I’m assuming), her wings are now BLACK and sinister-looking, almost like demon’s wings. Do you think she is getting corrupted fighting those things?

    Sayaka still dies, and the other magical girls’ situation isn’t THAT much better than before Madoka changed the rules, but it is different enough that it gave them hope, and took away some of their grief.

    Overall, I wouldn’t call this ending “happy”. It’s bittersweet and dark to say the least, but it indeed is very touching.

  34. Some nice Madoka cosplay here:
    I wonder how much photo editing there was…

  35. Looks like Shaft went back and reworked quite a bit of the art for the Blu-Rays. Hardcore Madoholics probably already know this, but for those who are as out of touch as I usually am here’s a BD vs TV screenshot comparison:

  36. I love your review on the last episode!

    Madoka is definitely my favorite anime to date. I love the story more than anything. Shaft definitely outdid themselves with it. <3

  37. Love the review too. Gotta admit now that you’re glad this didn’t turn into a super perverted Kyubey, Mami’s really evil, and long glorious transformation scene anime you originally said it should’ve been.

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