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.”
CAKII! ROLL CAKII!
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~”