An Analysis of the Themes and Characters of Madoka Magica

Don't cry, Madoka...

 

Now, for the true purpose of this weblog: an in depth analysis of events, themes and characters of different anime, manga and visual novels. First up is Puella Magi/Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica. Uhhh… so, you may wanna stay away from this if you haven’t watched episode 4 yet. Yes, I’m going all out with everything I’ve got, this is an all out spoiler post.

This series came to me as a shock as I didn’t know that “a Mahou Shoujo Anime produced by SHAFT” was going to be aired (well, Negima!? was… something else). I have seen other SHAFT anime, and what I can say is that they have a very… unique way of presenting materials. Their intricate, abstract artwork is both famous and notorious among anime fans. SHAFT is also infamous for their cost-cutting measures, such as overuse of Kanji frames, animation frame reduction among some other things, which is the reason that SHAFT tries to stick with animating writing-driven works with less frames to work with, thus, less costly to animate.

When I saw that they were going to do a Mahou Shoujo anime, of all things, I just can’t help but raise a brow. Will they be able to pull off a genre of anime with elaborate transformation sequences(Negima!?’s transformation sequences were a bit off at times) and flashy battle scenes(again, Negima!?’s battle scenes were good for the most part, but it kind of gets bland at times, a no-no for a Mahou Shoujo Series[well, post-Nanoha Mahou Shoujo Series]) with what they have given us recently (Ahem, ahem, Bakemonogatari Kanji Screens, anyone?)?

The big day has finally arrived. I was greeted by a Black Rock Shooter-like place with Madoka running like crazy. I wasn’t particularly amazed by SHAFT’s interior designing as I’ve seen others like it. Madoka then finds an exit. She opens the door, and I think you would have guessed what was on the other side: some dark world with a bunch of oddness and things reeking of a Nitro+ VN all over it. While this is not uncommon among dark-themed anime, to use such a setting in the first part of a series that is supposed to be fluffy and frilly and all that jazz is somewhat new. I got my habit of overthinking things get the better of me and decided to follow this series, whether or not it turns out to be good just for the sake of getting something to think about, and of course, entertainment.

Now, back to business. As I continued to watch, I saw some common anime events which I thought was pretty generic at first, only for me to be smitten by what happens later on in the story. Here’s what I think about some of the key events in the story. This was how my thoughts progressed as the story goes on. There may be contradictions in my theories here and there, but those are just changes in my impressions on the matters involved.

  1. The messed-up world at the beginning of  episode 1: Think this is foreshadowing things? It maybe so, but I’m not going to be too quick in assuming that the world will meet its end in this season. What bothers me though is Madoka and Kyuubee’s conversation. Kyuubee says something along the lines of: “It is a burden too heavy for ‘her’ alone. But I’m sure that ‘she’s’ prepared.” and “You can change your destiny.”
  2. What Junko said to Madoka: Junko obviously doesn’t want Madoka to be humble. Here, I was starting to feel that Junko will at least have a part in this story and not just an ordinary mom side character. By the way, I kind of like the relationship between Madoka and her mom.
  3. Madoka’s HR teacher: Based on what she always complains about in class, it may be that she has some sort of problem rooted in her personality due to her failures in her romantic endeavors. We’ll see if she gets more development.
  4. The appearance of Homura as a transfer student: Why would she transfer here? Matters with Madoka perhaps? But if that’s the case, why her? Why not another girl from where she came from? It seems that she knows Madoka quite well. And she seems to be Christian as she went to a sectarian school in Tokyo before she transferred.
  5. What she said: “Don’t try to be someone that you’re not. If you do, you’ll lose everything.” This may be something to think about. Ususally, when a girl becomes a mahou shoujo, the worst thing that could happen to her is that she may die while fighting(shown in Nanoha StrikerS, though no one in the main cast actually dies), they don’t usually involve the said girl’s family except when they also have some sort of mystical abilities. I’m betting that a deeper meaning lies within those words.
  6. Homura attacking Kyuubee: It seems that Homura is somehow hostile towards our cute magical pet, Kyuubee. What could be her reason for doing so? Was she trying to prevent something from happening?
  7. Kyuubee in general: The magical pet of the year seems to be a contractor of sorts, as he says in the beginning of the episode.
  8. The witches’ barriers: The witches’ barriers are all hell incarnate from what I see just from watching episode 1. My theory on this is that the witches are the fears, despairs, and hatred of humans given form, but then again, they could be something else entirely.
  9. Deus ex Machina(?): Oh, someone arrives in the midst of all that madness and pulls off the Gate of Babylon (Musket Version). I can practically swear at this point that this wasn’t just a coincidence. I thought that she somehow knows what was happening there (probably informed by some kind of entity).
  10. “I mean that I’m going to let you get away with your life for now”: Mami makes it clear that mahou shoujo can, in fact, kill one another. Personally, I like this setting.
  11. “Boku to keiyakushite, ‘mahou shoujo’ ni natte hoshiinda.”: Kyuubee ‘innocently’ offers the deal. Well, I wouldn’t call it the deal from hell just yet.
  12. Oh, my goodness! The OP!: The events from episode 1 contradicts the OP. Is this Urobuchi’s way of messing with us fans? Or is there meaning in that overly colorful OP?
  13. Madoka lies: She says that she went over to a friend’s place. Well, I didn’t think too much of this as all people hide something.
  14. The soul gems: The soul gems, the source of magical power at the price of your soul fighting the witches. I still think that these soul gems are not what they seem to be.
  15. Junko’s wish: For the record, Madoka’s mom is twisted in her own way. But I guess that is what makes her human. Sure, she will be disliked in her workplace if they happen to find out about that, but I think Junko’s mind works like an efficiency and productivity machine, which is kind of required in the business field.
  16. Isn’t she a bit too forceful?: Well, for a second, I kind of disliked how Mami is a bit too forceful. Episode 3 justifies that. Now, I just feel sorry for her.
  17. I think Kyuubee’s lying: Witches are born from curses and despair and Puella Magi ferom hopes and dreams? Oh, come on… what’s with that shounen anime mumbo jumbo? I think Kyuubee’s hiding something. No, he’s definitely hiding something.
  18. The system (or so it seems): It’s said that Puella Magi compete for the witches’ seeds to purify their soul gems. This raises a very important point: Why does Kyuubee want to create more magical girls? Is he just another cog in the murder machine? Or is he forced to do this but doesn’t tell them? Personally, I would like the most optimistic, ‘to make more allies’ excuse, but knowing Urobuchi’s works, this won’t certainly be the case.
  19. “Shiawase baka”: I think Sayaka showed her maturity in this episode. She claims to not know of misfortune, but I think she knows it quite well as she is able to speak of someone else’s condition with that much relatability.
  20. Hospitals are the best places for witches to go: Hospitals, with the terminally ill patients, are supposedly the jackpot for witches to spread their impending wave of curses.
  21. Faust shout out? Really now?: One of the most famous theories out there is the Mephistopheles=Kyuubee or at least Kyuubee=Evil one. I still sort of stick to this theory as it has not yet been disproved. ( ◕ ω ◕ )
  22. Why are witches like that?: As I said earlier, witches are manifestations of negative feelings, or at least, that what it seems to be. So it did not really come to a surprise that Gertrud looks like that.
  23. Kyousuke: He’s a guy with broken dreams. Oh, goodie! Another bad guy later, perhaps?
  24. They keep stressing and emphasizing the dangers, yet…: While Mami’s case will be justified later, Kyuubee’s agenda remains a mystery. He talks like he doesn’t want to put the girls in danger, but asks them to make wishes right after.
  25. Madoka’s motives: It seems that she is looking for a purpose in life. Considering her personality as of now, it’s really a valid reason.
  26. Kyuubee’s sweet talk: Oh, give me a break, Kyuubee… don’t give me that “you have the most potential” crap. Are you trying to mess with me?
  27. Why, Homura?: She’s another enigma, second only to Kyuubee. What are her motives?
  28. I think I have an idea on how Kyuubee chooses his targets: I have a very wild idea that Kyuubee intentionally goes where someone is in despair or has a very big problem. This allows him to form contracts faster and forces his victims the girls to make a selfish wish, instead of the more “everyone-friendly” wish. This raises a very nice question that I will be addressing later.
  29. People act at their best when they’re depressed: It has been proven by science that positive feelings impede one’s ability to rationally analyze things. With the hope that Madoka gave her, Mami lost her calculating personality and rushed HEADstrong into battle without even stopping to think why the final boss was too easy to defeat.
  30. SHAFT pulled one over the fans: SHAFT is trying to mess with our HEADS. Heartwarming story my face, Urobuchi…
  31. Madoka won’t be using her wish on Mami, I think: She doesn’t want to become a Puella Magi anymore, she’s scared as hell and guilty of Mami’s death. What I think will happen is that they will push Madoka to the edge of despair and make her wish for something selfish, just like the others.
  32. Oh, then there’s the ending theme: The ending theme is like a bomb. It showed the true colors of this anime. Urobuchi trolling for you!
  33. Be thankful for your life: Really, be thankful, Madoka. Your guilt is something that you should not cling to.
  34. Homura doesn’t want more puella magi in the system because…: She says that she doesn’t want to see anyone die again.
  35. Unrequited kindness leads to greater sadness: Hope, kindness, happiness and love. These are the most powerful positive feelings that a human may possibly have, but like all things when corrupted, is one of Kyuubee’s the devil’s most powerful tools.
  36. Sayaka… Magic and miracles do exist: They do exist, Sayaka. Too bad they probably won’t be able to save you when you finally kick the bucket.
  37. Oh, Kyuubee, you little…: He conveniently popped out of nowhere when Kyousuke was about to lose hope. How messed up is that?
  38. Hitomi and others: Here’s a little chemistry lesson: mixing an acid cleaner, such as muriatic acid (HCl) with bleach (NaClO) produces chlorine gas (Cl2). As we all know, chlorine gas is very toxic. Good thing Madoka knows that.
  39. What?: Kyouko appears with her Nonaka Ai voice.

Characters:

Madoka: I think that she will get her world upside-down and become perfect puella magi material (aka depressed, broken, and hopeless). Urobuchi himself confirmed that he is not able to write a non-tragic story. Part of me wishes Madoka to be just who she is yet another part of me wants her to suffer so much that we can see all hell break loose.

Sayaka: She’s finally become one, and for what? A selfless wish? No. As Mami pointed out, humans always want rewards. While I don’t know what her reward may be, I am betting that she won’t get it out of Kyousuke.

Homura: Okay. I still can’t fully understand what she wants or the reason for her to become a magical girl. I haven’t even seen her parents yet.

Kyuubee: If he’s really Evil incarnate, it means that he must have some ulterior motives. So far, we haven’t seen anything like that, so I think I would hold my judgement for now. As I’ve said earlier, he may be just another cog in the murder machine, but it’s also possible that he acts on his own, and for selfish reasons (not necessarily evil) ( ◕ ω ◕ ).

This show has got me thinking way too much recently. I apologize for the giant wall of text that I have created.

Also, please feel free to oppose my ideas and suggest other things that you find plausible. Philosophical discourse is one of the thing I like to do in my free time.

Advertisements
  1. Because of your hard work and determination to explore this show as deeply as I did, here is a present from me to you.

    http://www.animeforum.org.uk/showthread.php?p=885316#post885316

    • That was a very nice introduction for everyone who’s looking for something to watch. If I hadn’t cared about Madoka Magica then and I saw your post, I would definitely start to watch it.

      • By the way, I still can’t believe that I made that wall of text.

      • Well I do my best when it comes to writing a good review. This show has definitely pumped me up and I can’t wait to see what happens next and just how dark it’ll become.

  2. MadoMura must shine! Somehow, someway it must shine.

    • I hope it won’t be depressing, though.

      • Depression is an unavoidable factor when it comes to dark anime. Just look at others such as Red Garden, Devil Lady and Shiki. Those are perfect examples. We shall see whether Madoka will follow the same path or not.

  3. Episode 5: Oh yeah, an awesome 1st clash of superheroes I must say, but DAMN that cliffhanger, it was just getting good. I DEMAND A REMATCH in the 2nd half!

    In any case my opinions on this show haven’t changed. It’s still the most epic show this season. Interesting conversation between Madoka and Homura. Sure the end result was obvious, but I still wonder why exactly Homura has such a high interest in Madoka. Personally I’m more intrigued to find out for myself rather than speculate a conclusion. This is one of those shows that it’s more fun seeing for yourself than reading the wise opinions of others. no offense to all of you since you all have made some very good assumptions as to what Homura might want with Madoka and what kind of sin/wish Homura committed/made to have made her lose all hope in humanity and herself. Back to my question, what could be the reason Homura pays so much attention to Madoka? I know Madoka is a unique superhero in training, but there’s definitely more to it than that.

    • I was kind of thinking of giving up on speculating on this show myself since it just gets better and better and I want to be surprised by the genius of Urobuchi’s writing.

      Now, the matter with Homura: I just sort of gave up on finding out her motives. But what I can be sure of is that the reason won’t be covered in sugar and rainbows, it will be wrapped in thorns and submerged in acid. At least, that’s what I want. When an anime is depressing, I want it to be depressing until the end, or else there won’t be much point in making it so.

      And, of course, I don’t take offense from your opinions. Rather, I’m quite glad that I found someone who just wants to enjoy the show, unlike me, who can’t stop thinking about all the possibilities and may end up eating my words.

      • Well said dood. Let us continue enjoying this show’s greatness and hoping for a Madoka + Homura kiss or subtext at the very least.

      • I think a kiss is a bit too much for this kind of anime. I’m rooting for one, or more to be honest. Actually, I don’t mind even if they go further. It’s a late night anime, so almost anything goes.

  4. I’m expecting something along the lines of Devil Lady with a different outcome…I hope.

    • Yi
    • February 9th, 2011

    Wow, such an exhaustive list of your thoughts, and quite a fascinating list that is. You picked up on a lot more stuff than I did, so this was a fun read. ^ ^

    I really liked Madoka and her mom’s interactions too. I hadn’t given Kyubee that much thought other than a generic hate for mahou shoujo animals, but now I think he might be quite… not nice.

    • Haha, I’m flattered. It was just something that I had to get off my chest, so I wasn’t really expecting it to be THAT long.

      Anyway, thanks! ^^

  5. I just watched episode 6, and there are some really serious stuff happening now. I feel bad for all of them now. No kidding, I won’t want ANYONE I know, not even those people I dislike to be in any way involved with Kyuubee, not only for their sake, but also for the sake of my sanity.

    • And, furthermore, it appears that Kyuubee may not be evil, but he has a notion of morality different from what us humans have: he is a pragmatic creature that only cares about practicality.

      On a note, I watched the raw, so I’m only about 90% confident on what I gather from the episode.

      • Question: What nationality are you afkeroge? I’m guessing you are partially Asian.

        Alrighty then, we continue with episode 6 and another big shocker is revealed by our local Mephisto plushie near the end. Other worthwhile notes include Homura paying homage to the great Pierre Kirby with her badass stare and poses, Kyoko continues being an antihero…to an extent, super mom returns and once again takes the role of Madoka’s wise mentor (She’s THAT awesome). Minor spoiler, I didn’t get my rematch. Last but not least, Homura mentions an ominous event that will be coming later on.

      • Yah, She mentions something in German, I think. I didn’t get what she said exactly, though because I watched the raw and my German sucks.

        About Madoka’s Mom, she’s so cool that I probably think that she is one of the most elaborately thought of ‘minor’ character of the series.

        About my nationality, well, since it’s not really a secret, I’m Filipino.

  6. Madoka’s mom is a rare breed of anime mothers, meaning that they are knowledgeable instead of insane or silly. She rocks and will always rock.

    I looked up what “Walpurgisnacht” means and I must say that if the show uses any of the European celebrations based on this night…it’s not going to be pretty let me tell you.

    • Homura: Pierre Kirby
      Sayaka: a slightly weaker Reb Brown
      Mami: Bruce Willis.
      Madoka: John Cena (For now. I’m guessing she will become Stone Cold Steve Austin later on)
      Kyoko: Cynthia Rothrock.

    • I also just found out what Walpurgis Night is. I don’t know if it’s just a coincidence, but it seems that “Walpurgisnacht” is the title of one of the scenes in Faust. There are two scenes with that title, one from the first part: “Walpurgisnacht” and the second part: “Classical Walpurgisnacht.” Also, the German celebration of Walpugisnacht seem to involve witches.

  7. obviously like your website however you have to take a look at the spelling
    on several of your posts. A number of them are rife with spelling issues and I in finding it very bothersome to inform
    the truth on the other hand I will certainly come again again.

  1. June 22nd, 2013

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: