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Puella Magi Madoka Magica April 30, 2011

Posted by coolmikeol in Anime, Manga.
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Purella Magi Madoka Magica (also know as Mahō Shōjo Madoka Magika) is a magical girl series, but is none like any before. Don’t judge it from its initial looks. Also this post is a SPOILER, so if you haven’t watched the series yet and want to, don’t go further than the synopsis, I’m warning you already. Here is a quick synopsis from Wikipedia:

There exist strange creatures who have the power to grant one wish to a chosen girl. However, in exchange, that girl must then become a Puella Magi, a girl with magical powers, and fight against witches, evil creatures born from darkness that are responsible for murders and suicides. In the city of Mitakihara, a schoolgirl named Madoka Kaname and her friend Sayaka Miki are approached by a familiar named Kyubey, who offers to grant them each one wish in return for making them Puella Magi. Another Puella Magi named Homura Akemi tries to prevent Madoka from making such a deal, while Kyubey urges Madoka by telling her she will become the most powerful Puella Magi. However unlike the glamorous notions of becoming a magical girl, the Puella Magi find themselves dealing with death, isolation, the value of their wishes, and existential crises. Madoka, following her Puella Magi friends, soon sees the darker side of being a Puella Magi, and despite knowing the truth of the existence of the Puella Magi, still questions if she should become a Puella Magi as well.

When Madoka Magica started, I didn’t think about watching it at all. I find it hard to try out new anime series unless someone recommends it to me first. I finally started watching Madoka in early March. The first couple of episodes were good, building ground on each other, but what really got me into the series was episode 3, with the death of Mami. That is where this show ceases to be seen as any light-hearted magical girl show. From then on each episode brought more and more depth about consequences and the meaning of gaining power and a wish with a ultimate sacrifice, your soul and destiny.

Any person who watched Madoka before episode 11 aired knows that the last two episodes were delayed for more than a month due to the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami. I heard that Shaft was redoing the episodes and were going to released late April; both episodes were aired on April 21. Only watched them today so I’ve been avoiding spoilers from the internet and people talking about it since it aired.

Here’s a quick summary of the terminology of the Puella Magi series. Kyubey, an alien familiar, can grant a wish to a girl on the condition that she becomes a Puella Magi (mahō shōjo or magical girl) and fights witches. By fighting and destroying witches, they obtain grief seeds that restore their magic power. As simple and cliche it sounds, there is more to what it seems. When a girl becomes a Puella Magi, her soul is removed from her body and placed in a Soul Gem, a container that holds their soul for them. The reason is because it is easier to treat a body as hardware, not as a vessel for living. The witches that Puella Magi fight against are actually Puella Magi that were transformed into witches from despair from fighting witches and using their magic without using grief seeds to cleanse their Soul Gems that hold their soul and magic. Thus causing their Soul Gems to become clouded up and eventually become dark, when all of a Puella Magi’s Soul Gem’s light is lost, she becomes a witch. The sad conclusion was that no matter what, Puella Magis were destined to become witches, and that it was a cycle that would seem to continue for all of time. The reason why Kyubey forms these contracts with teenage girls to make them Puella Magis is to harvest emotional “energy to counter the effects of entropy on the universe”, as they noticed “that the most powerful energy comes from teenaged girls during their transitions between hope and despair.”  All of these dreadful details were left out to most Puella Magi’s who formed a contract with familiars like Kyubey.

Each of the main Puella Magi characters in this series are unique and have their own sets of problems. Madoka Kaname seems like your ordinary school girl, and in fact she is. While she has no unique talents or qualities, it’s her constant wanting for everything to be alright that makes her shine in the series that has so much dark tones to it. For Madoka in most of the series, her mind wavers in deciding whether or not to become a Puella Magi. She learns about the truth of a Puella Magi, how their souls are ripped out of their bodies, how they become bound to fight witches and are destined to become witches themselves. She witnesses the trauma this truth brings to Puella Magi’s from her friend Sayaka Miki whose demise comes from her altered fate from becoming a Puella Magi. Madoka however fully knew the details of what a Puella Magi had to deal with, and she created a wish that broke the laws that created the Puella Magi despair cycle.

LAST EPISODE SPOLIER!  The events that occurred around her influenced her ultimate decision to become a Puella Magi. In the end, her wish broke the rules that limit what the mind could comprehend at the current time, to prevent all witches from being born in the past, present, and future by Madoka’s own hand, by firing arrows that travel to different time streams and arriving at Puella Magi who are about to fall to despair. By absorbing all of the despair that all those Puella Magi had that clouded up their Soul Gems, Madoka allows them to die without becoming witches themselves. By doing so, Madoka’s own Soul Gem (the size of a planet due to her massive magical potential caused by Homura’s constant trips through time to save Madoka) became clouded and transforms into a witch itself which threatens to destroy the world, however due to Madoka’s wish, a different form of Madoka comes and destroys the witch form of herself, a paradox of sorts which causes space and time to be reconstructed where Madoka and witches don’t exists, effectively destroying one major threat to Puella Magi and the world. Another form of darkness is created to replace witches, demons, but they don’t cause Puella Magi’s Soul Gems to darken (apparently). Her wish created hope for Puella Magi across all of time, becoming hope itself, but also Madoka became a being that doesn’t exist in the same plane as humans, like a God of sorts. The only one who is aware of her existence is Homura, probably due to her being a person who has traveled through time and space, and maybe also because she is Madoka’s best friend.

Homura Akemi in the beginning of the series was a cold Puella Magi who did not want Madoka to form a contract with Kyubey for unknown reasons. She was seen as an enemy who hunted witches for herself. Later on in the series, her interactions with the other characters increase, though only because she did not want Madoka to become a Puella Magi. At episode 10, Homura’s background and story is revealed; Homura is originally from a different timeline. Homura was originally a weak and shy glasses wearing girl when she meets Madoka for the first time, who was a Puella Magi alongside Mami Tomoe, another Puella Magi. In her original timeline, during the fight with the Walpurgisnacht, Madoka dies, causing Homura to make a contract with Kyubey with her wish being to “relive her first meeting with Madoka so she can protect her.” With the ability to travel through time, she attempts to protect Madoka, but ends up failing every time. With each timeline Homura’s skills and confidence as a Puella Magi increase, and also with enough time learns the truth of the Puella Magi. In one of the timelines before the current one, Madoka asks Homura to prevent her from being tricked by Kyubey, as she did not want to become a witch. Near the end of the series, it is revealed that the reason behind Madoka’s massive magical potential came from Homura’s time traveling, which created all the despair that is focused on Homura and mostly on Madoka. When Madoka becomes a Puella Magi, Homura is the only witness to Madoka’s actions of changing time and space. When returning to the world where Madoka never existed, she is the only one who retains memories of her, as Madoka is now like a imaginary being than a person who existed. Homura continues to fight, this time against demons, with new weapons like a bow similar to that of Madoka’s, along with space distortion abilities in a form of wings that seem to connect her with Madoka.

Madoka and Homura after the final episode.

I won’t go into detail about Mami Tomoe, Sayaka Miki, Kyōko Sakura, or Kyubey, mainly because I’m getting a bit tired of writing up descriptions of characters that can be found on Wikipedia. Just to mention a bit about them though, Mami seemed to represent a typical magical girl. In the beginning of the series, her presence gave the show that (false) feeling of it being a somewhat normal magical girl anime. Episode 3 literally bit the head off of this show being anything but a normal magical girl anime. (Sorry about the “bit the head off” thing, couldn’t help it.) Sayaka was used to show how Puella Magi behaved when being confronted with the horrible truth. She lost her mind after learning that she was not human any more, something she felt was a barrier to being with her loved one. Kyōko was the veteran Puella Magi, very skilled in fighting and also about how she learned to fight for herself. Kyubey, once thought of to be a “cute” being that grants wishes for becoming magical girls, is really making contracts with teenage girls to gather a form of “energy to counter entropy and prevent the impending heat death of the universe, developing a technology to turn emotions into this energy, [as] souls of humans, specifically girls in their second span of growth, puberty, contain the most powerful form of this energy. [Kyubey] claims his race lacks emotions and has little understanding of human values and morality, not understanding why the death of one human among billions is viewed so catastrophically, instead believing the Incubators’ actions are not cruel but utilitarian in nature.”

Looks can be deceiving.

Overall, Puella Magi Madoka Magica is definitely one of my top favorite animes, I rated it a perfect 10 out of 10 on MAL.net. Any anime that can blow my mind and cause me to lie down and think about how the whole series unfolded is amazing in my book. The animation is very different from other animes and that’s what makes it unique. Sure it may be a bit weird and abstract in the beginning, like in the witches realm, but it really produces the atmosphere that the series aims for. Everything else is pretty flawless, the characters, story, and mind games this anime shows. There is just one thing I’m wondering though, doesn’t the use of a Puella Magi’s magic cause their Soul Gem to darken? I already know that despair does that as well. When they fight demons, don’t they use their magic up? Do they get magic from the demons when they are defeated? I can probably answer the question about where the demons come from, I’m assuming that they are the beings of despair that materialize on Earth. Puella Magi still turn into witches but are destroyed before that happens by Madoka, only Homura knowing this truth as Kyubey in the new reconstructed time/space has no knowledge on witches. I suppose that they do get magic from defeating demons, and that the only difference from the original time/space to the time/space after Madoka’s wish is made, is that witches don’t exist that cause other Puella Magi to go into despair when learning the truth about their fate of turning into a witch.

Wow, you (the reader) and I can clearly see how interesting this series is by how much deep thinking I’ve done to write this post. It took me almost the whole day just to get it done, mostly from breaks and naps and watching YouTube videos during breaks. I wanted to get this done before the end of the month, which is in about half an hour from now. Assuming you already watched and finished the series, what do you think of Puella Magi Madoka Magica?

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Comments»

1. Luxlucis - August 29, 2011

I think it was an awsome series. Puella Magi do get magic from demons, at the end of the last episode Homura is seen cleaning her soul gem with some cubes dropped by demons and then giving them to Kyubey.

2. helen - November 24, 2011

yeah the soul gems do darken at the end but not because of despair like before but because they used up all there magic. that is what happened to sayaka in the moduka-less world. in the scene right after madoka and homura are talking (with sparkles or is it the violin scene? idk any ways) u see a fire-thingy being vanquished, well i had to replay it but it was actually a demon that sayaka just vanquished but her jewel was spent in the process so she disappeared.

3. scoop11 - February 18, 2012

One of my favorite series from last year…first show in a LONG while that inspired this non-artist to do some fan art (albeit crappy fan art, but still…).


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