So for this week’s Objection, we look at the highly acclaimed and hugely popular anime Puella Magi Madoka Magica. Instead of pitting one character against the other, which would be fruitless since we only get to know them for about 9 episodes each, we chose to debate points of the show as a whole, and going on from there. BE FOREWARNED, SPOILERS ABOUND!
Starshine: Hello Moarpowah! I’m Starshine!
Laevatein: And I’m Laevatein!
Starshine: And today we’ll be talking about Puella Magi Madoka Magica.
Starshine: So, Laevatein, I know you’ve got some strong opinions on some parts of the show?
Laevatein: Mm, not sure I’d say strong. But yeah, I have some stuff to say about it.
I guess I’ll start off by saying what I originally thought of the show. When I first started watching it back in the first quarter of 2011, I actually really enjoyed it but due to a number of reasons the show started getting rather boring. This is during the massive delay between episode 10’s and 11’s broadcast. Anyway, I winded up finishing the show and I did like the ending at the time, but as time went on I started to question my opinion of the show and now I think I reasonably settled on what I like and didn’t like about the show.
But how about you, what did you think about it?
Starshine: I thought it was a great show. It was an interesting, intricate look into what’s implicitly implied in the magical girl genre – these kids, basically that’s what they are, risk their lives, safeties and sanities to fight for everyone else.
Laevatein: Oh? A lot of people touted that in their recommendation but I’ve often struggled to figure out what the mainstays of a typical magical girl show are. I think people have used Sailor Moon and Card Captor Sakura as the standard of the genre but I feel as if many shows have changed the clichés those two shows introduced at least in some manner.
Starshine: You mean the essential tropes of it?
Laevatein: Essentially. Madoka took the magical girl genre in a unique direction, true, but I don’t think it was the first to do so
Starshine: Well, one of them is probably the prominent use of pink.
Starshine: And then the transformation scene, inter-girl friendship, romance, magic/superpowers, ROMANCE, the climatic battles…oh and did I mention ROMANCE? It’s my main gripe with the genre on the whole.
But who do you think did it first?
Laevatein: Well, one particular example I always use is the show Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha, which is a funny show since eventually it took some of the concepts and just broke them in a hardcore rage. Like, the fights and all that are extremely destructive. So destructive, in fact, that you can very well call the series something like a shounen instead. Granted, Madoka went in a completely different direction, and as you said, it focused on drama.
Starshine: What scale of destruction are we talking here?
Laevatein: Mm…like planets going boom! Sniping people across a several hundred kilometer long starship, all that stuff. Anyway, back to Madoka I feel a major turn off for me was listening to people chant “Deconstruction! Deconstruction!”
Starshine: Well Madoka focused more on the internal drama, less on external relationship, even though the friendships are key and at least there’s no romance and I mean the intricacy of the show, all the secret background details,is mind blowing.
Laevatein: Oh yeah, I really appreciated all the details
Starshine: I loved the witches and all the theories surrounding their previous forms. It’s a show all on its own!
Laevatein: I think I didn’t come to appreciate the characters all too much
Starshine: Really? I thought they were some really well written characters!
Laevatein: Hmm…Well I think they just didn’t give us enough time to empathize with some of the characters. Like Mami: ehe gained her legion of fans, true, but after a while, her importance all but disappeared.
Starshine: True…but she did die to show how much this shit is dangerous, her death was to prove a point.
Laevatein: Yeah, I think that’s a problem with a lot of characters, though.
Starshine: And we do get to know her…there’s just not much to know
Laevatein: Mm, of course but Sayaka, for instance, felt more like a plot device to me. “How can one happy girl’s life go oh so wrong?”
Starshine: I thought it was a discussion more about getting exactly what you wish for.
Laevatein: It’s also that, but the two aren’t exactly mutually exclusive.
Starshine: That just happened to that character, it felt like it could have been anyone. And it’s true but I’m not sure what you mean by plot device. Is there a particular moment where you felt where it was plot-devicey?
Laevatein: Hmm, not off the top of my head, no
Starshine: I think it was just that her character was the type to fall apart. But it could have easily been Mami or Madoka. The point of the witch system is that it WILL happen to them all
Laevatein: Yeah, that’s true. I don’t know, it’s not a very concrete feeling
Starshine: That…is very understandable. This show is very much about feeling.
Laevatein: I will say though I can’t for the life of me remember Kyouko’s character
StarshineL The red head?
Laevatein: Yeah, her.
Starshine: I loved her. Her story, to me was the saddest cause it also makes a commentary on religion.
Laevatein: Oh yeah, now I remember that. Did she have much beyond that though?
Starshine: Yes; she opened up emotional to Sayaka, fought against all odds to try and save her, something she hasn’t done in (implied) decades.
Starshine: Its implied in the show that she has been around for a very long time through the puppets being very old, and the church of her father being extremely dilapidated.
Laevatein: I see…well I remember reading that there was a drama CD that covered a meeting between Kyouko and Mami when they were younger. I don’t know what the specifics of that are but that might be something to look up further.
I think Homura’s characterization was pretty great.
Starshine: I really had a love-hate relationship with her, which is kind of weird, huh?
Laevatein: Yeah, I think that was rather intentional. She was probably the most heroic character of them all but she was portrayed as a really mysterious, possibly evil one.
Starshine: That is for sure…and the most masochistic
Laevatein: Ah. Yeah true, better than becoming a Witch, I imagine
Starshine: True. I wonder what her witch would have been…
Laevatein: Probably something with a lot of guns.
Starshine: I feel like Madoka wasn’t in the show enough to be named after her.
Laevatein: I know! The show should’ve been called “Puella Magi Homura Magica” Alas we can do nothing about that. I guess Madoka is important because for some reason. She had the sense to rewrite the entire magical girl system or maybe the lack of a dire need for a wish
Starshine: True, but like she feels like the “OH NO” character but I appreciate her trying to hold shit together.
Laevatein: Yeah, I think her solution was also incredibly contrived.
Starshine: Especially for her…I dunno and it kind of sucks that she ultimately the crux of the end of the world
Laevatein: The most important part of her wish was “with my own hands”
Starshine: MHMM! So true. Who do you think was the most self-sacrificing: Homura or Madoka?
Laevatein: I would probably say Homura.
Laevatein: She had to suffer for decades, perhaps.
Starshine: Collectively, true.
Laevatein: And even longer, after the world rewrite.
Starshine: But Madoka saves everyone and also have to go on for decades killing witches and then can’t even ever see her family again.
Laevatein: Right but she ascended to a higher plane. She become something akin to a concept. Now, I don’t know how this works in the slightest. But I’m not sure she exists as an entity anymore…But yeah
Starshine: I mean she might not miss it but that doesn’t mean it’s any better. She gave up her own existence as a person Homura gives up her life for one person but remains a person even if she loses who she loves she can go on with the knowledge she’s omnipresent and Homura can love again.
Laevatein: But who knows if she is actually aware of anything anymore?
Starshine: Who, Madoka or Homura?
Starshine: I think so. The ending suggests Madoka remembers Homura.
Laevatein: Who knows. But yeah, I guess I didn’t really appreciate the characters all that much I don’t think I can give an explanation about that.
Starshine: Any other aspect of the show you’re not thrilled with? My big gripe is the final wish
Laevatein: Probably that one. I think the plot was pretty good though it’s a bit straightforward aside from its deceptiveness.
Laevatein: Episode 1 and 2 were pretty cutesy compared to the rest of the season, right?
Starshine: True but it worked well in its favor. Trick the children! HAHAHAHA!
Laevatein: Oh yes, definitely! That was really appealing. Curiously, what was your favorite episode?
Starshine: What would have been your final wish? OOOOOHHH! Double qqquuueessttiiioonnn!!! We’ll do yours first!
Laevatein: Oh boy! Alright, mine was episode 10.
Laevatein: We finally saw what was really going on and learned of Homura’s character. I swear though she really went through some bad times. Funny thing though, ever notice how the timelines get progressively worse? The first one ended in a sort of bittersweet manner but each timeline started to become more like a tragedy. I still remember that one timeline where she has to put down Madoka. That was a powerful moment, I tell you though there was this one line in episode 10, it had me cracking up.
Starshine: I think she wanted to save Madoka but there was just no way cause Kyubey wouldn’t let her. I think he knew the WHOLE TIME. My theory is he ruins it everytime intentionally even if he claims to not know. So she’ll go back and make the lines around Madoka tighter so shell be a strong witch
Laevatein: Oh, hmm… That certainly seems like something it’d do.
Laevatein: But I don’t know how he goes about doing that
Starshine: Cause think about it…
Laevatein: I didn’t think he was aware of Madoka’s growing power, erm, the timeline hopping, rather.
Starshine: Kyubey drags Madoka to the battle scene in episode one to show her. I think he knew and was playing dumb cause he reveals in episode 9 or 11, I forget, that the events make Madoka’s witch even bigger cause more of the universe’s outcome depends on her. Remember, he doesn’t understand the concept of “lying” he just does whats needed to get stuff done.
Laevatein: I think withholding the truth is akin to lying though. How about your favorite episode?
Starshine: But saying he doesn’t understand the concept of lying could be a lie itself and therefore nulls everything else – OH SNAP! But anyways my favorite episode?
Definitely episode 8 where Sayaka slowly but surely starts to lose it. This episode characterizes perfectly what I was talking about before getting exactly what you wished for – she wanted him to get better but in the end he loves someone else who never visited him at the hospital. And also the sacrifice these girls, all magical girls in anime, inherently make they give their lives, their sanity, their well being and their family to protect others. Their lives don’t matter and we even see families in Madoka which we very rarely see in other shows and it’s just so tragic.
Laevatein: I guess. I think some of the tragedy was a bit heavy handed though
Laevatein: Mm, that’s just m.e
Starhsine: I think it was really to drive the point home.
Starshine: So my question: what would be your final wish?
Laevatein: Yikes. Well, I don’t know if there was anything I wanted so much
Starshine: If you were Madoka.
Laevatein: That I’d sacrifice my freedom for…oh, right right. Probably abolish the second law of thermodynamics, or something.
Starshine: I think I would have done the same ala “I wish the universe was set up in such a way that it never died, with no one getting hurt cause of it and therefore, witches would never have to exist”
Laevatein: Doesn’t look like you can misconstrue it at first glance but I think if I had all that power, I definitely wouldn’t want to keep the status quo, seeing as how it’s not working.
Starshine: I guess so…I mean in the end there really is no perfect wish ever. LOOPHOLES ABOUND!
Laevatein: Yeah. I guess what I learned from the show is that I really don’t want to be a magical girl.
That’s it for this week’s Objection! Stayed Tuned next week when two more Moar Powah writers enter the battlefield and leave with mutual respect for each other!