Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica Episode 12 (final)
What this is about: Watching all of the anime shows so you don’t have to! For more information about me and my reviews, click here.
Series Premise: Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica, or “Puella Magi Madoka Magica”, is a twelve-part weekly television series aired between January and April 2011, and original series developed for television. Madoka is your average middle school girl, until one day she is approached by a magical familiar, to form a pact to become a “magical girl” and fight the forces of evil and darkness. But despite normal “magical girl” stories, it doesn’t turn out to be all happiness and friendship, bright shiny colors and sparklies; instead, Madoka finds herself dealing with such angst-filled issues as death, suicide, isolation and murders.
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Episode Summary: SPOILERS! As Walpurgisnacht threatens to destroy everything and Homura is defeated, Madoka finally makes the decision to become a Magical Girl. With her one wish, she asks for the power to stop all witches from the past, present and future, from ever existing — a massive wish that could only be made possible by Homura’s reiterative actions. This wish goes so far as to change the very fabric of space and time itself, changing how magical girls exist and operate, but also removing Madoka from have ever existing in the universe in the first place. As is removed from the universe, the world changes to one where Homura, Mami and Kyouko still fight “distortions”, and still feed Kyubey, but the vicious feedback look of magical girls changing to witches has been broken. Only Homura has memories of Madoka’s existence in this new world.
My Impressions: It’s the end of the world as we know it…and I feel fine.
So it’s finally over, probably the best thing about the conclusion is that it is open-ended enough to allow for multiple interpretations. So…basically, Madoka became God? That’s more or less how I see it, although another interpretation is that she is essentially a Jesus analogy (giving her very self so that the world can live). Another interpretation calls Madoka the “anti-Evangelion”…which would make more sense if I had ever managed to finish off Evangelion (I’ve tried three times, and it just gets too ooky and boring before I get to the end to finish it off). In any case, there has definitely been no shortage of discussion about Madoka — most of it dating back to April of last year when the series actually completed — and I would hazard to say it was probably the most talked-about show of 2011.
After mulling it over for a few days, I have decided it’s a fitting ending, and there could not have been any other “happy” ending. The feeling is far from universal, with many viewers (based on online reaction) with mixed emotions, albeit generally positive. In the end, Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica was, in fact, a “magical girl” show, even if there was so much talk about deconstructing the genre, and it does return to its magical girl roots in the end.
The final Walpurgisnacht battle itself was somewhat anti-climactic, but that’s okay because that was not the point of the final episode itself. Instead, it was Madoka’s world-bending decision to break the magical girl/witch cycle by sacrificing herself, which was only possible by building up Madoka’s importance to all the different world’s timelines by her endlessly repeating the same cycle so many times. We leave the show with an unexplained addendum of Homura facing off against “distortions” on a featureless plain, Madoka’s words echoing in her mind, sprouting ‘wings’ as she enters battle. Make of that what you will.
FINAL GRADE: A – I’m still in the middle of watching several shows from 2011 so it’s too early to judge, but I would be confident in saying that Madoka is in the running for the top show of the year. My complaints about Madoka are quite minor: I felt that her relationship with her family got the short-shrift and seemed almost like an afterthought; it did not have the strongest start and did not really get the ball rolling until the third episode; in many cases the artistic style was overpowering the story itself, and I always find that when you end up paying more attention to the medium instead of the message, it’s always a negative. But overall, the story was strong, the characters interesting, the artwork unique, and it ended up being the must-see show that everyone was waiting for each week. Unreservedly recommended to just about every anime fan.
And what about a sequel? Well, with the entire universe rearranged and operating under new rules, it is certainly possible, as “Mahou Shoujo Homura Magica”. But as for Madoka herself, her story has been told, and there’s nothing else that needs to be said. Any attempt to return to Madoka at this point would seriously detract from the finale, much in the same way as I think the Haibane Renmei story that needed to be told is complete and any additional story after the final episode would have ruined it. Nope, no sequel necessary, the story is complete and time to move on, methinks.
For more information:
- My earlier reviews:
- Info resources: My Anime List, Anime News Network, AniDB, and Wikipedia
- You can now buy the entire series on DVD at Madokamagicausa.com. Available on Feb. 14, 2012 as a limited edition boxed set or as three DVDs. C’mon, it’s worth splurging those hard-earned shekels on!
Sampling of Online Reviews:
- “Puella Magi Madoka Magica is an impressive and ambitious deconstruction that turns a typical magical girl plot into a Faustian pact. Kyubey will probably ruin magic-bestowing mascots in anime for years in much the same way Watchmen ruined superhero stories. But even though it’s primarily about desperation and the folly of putting others before yourself, it nevertheless builds up to a selfless wish of hope and a cathartic, bittersweet resolution. Yes, at the last moment, SHAFT deconstructed their own deconstruction. For that reason, I could recommend this show equally to people who want something tragic or something uplifting. Grade: 5/5.” – Project Haruhi
- “Some people probably disagree, but I’d say Madoka has indeed managed to crack legendary status, at least in my book. There’s no doubt that it has been the most hyped, talked-about anime of Winter 2011, and although I’d love to rip it apart because I’m a cynical old grouch, I can honestly say that it deserves every bit of praise it’s received. This is one of those rare examples of perfect story-telling out there, and anyone who has skipped out on such a gem really has no idea what they’re missing.” – Sekijitsu
- “Personally I found how everything unfolded rather satisfying, but my opinion is very subjective here. I do know that the ending was pretty over the top, so I do expect a lot of people to be disappointed with this ending. All in all, Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica was one heck of a fun show to follow, with a rather intriguing finale. Grade: 4.8/5.” – Emory Anime Club
- “Teh thing that’s especially amazing about this series is how well everything fits together. It’s twelve episodes long, but it makes excellent use of its time, the characters all fit the story perfectly and everyone serves his own purpose to the points that this series is trying to make. The show really makes sure that it doesn’t waste its time and just about every episode adds something to the overall story and characters. Grade: 87.5/100.” – Star Crossed Anime Blog
- “Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica is by far, the most exciting, artistic, thrilling, mind blowing show of the Winter 2011 Season, and may go as far as being the Anime of the Year for me. Studio SHAFT made this show a stunning, breathtaking production that captures everyone’s hearts and knew exactly how to catch the fans completely off guard. Grade: 10/10.” – Angry Anime Bitches
- “Madoka also stands out for its excellent cast of characters. The weakest is the titular Madoka, but her indecisiveness serves as the main driving force behind the show. The villain, Kyuubey, will be remembered for a long time. This is how you make a great villain – not someone who cackles evilly while destroying the world, but someone who considers what they’re doing good. Grade: 9.25/10.” – Draggle’s Anime Blog
- “When a series proves to be so good, so impressive and so exciting to those who watch it, no ending will satisfy the hungry masses – a problem that is perhaps more keenly felt in Puella Magi Madoka Magica’s case given the delays which allowed the hype around its ending to built impossibly high. Given that, there will always be a twinge of “could they have done it better?” surrounding this final episode, but I will say this – it’s a grandiose, brave and wide-reaching conclusion that exceeds the scope I imagined the series to have.” – Hanners’ Anime Blog