65 CommentsAnime Analysis / By Scamp /

Madoka Magica: The Ending

Walpurgis Night was actually not some flying tree that the outline suggested it was, but instead an upside doll perched atop a giant gear? How friggen awesome is that!

After episode 10 aired, I wrote a post explaining why it was I liked Madoka Magica so much, before the final episodes went and balls’d everything up. My fear was that, for such a plot driven show with rather lame characters, a poor ending would diminish the overall impressions of the show a lot.And now, finally, we have the ending. The long of the short of it is: It didn’t fuck up. This was about a good an ending I could have hoped for.

There will obviously be spoilers.

Madoka Magica is about Hope. Or, for 11 episodes worth, the lack thereof. As soon as you entered the world of the Magical Girl, you had lost all hope of returning. You turned into a witch when all hope had been extinguished and you had given up on life entirely. That was precisely the message the show had been touting, even up until episode 11.I had theorised back after episode 10 that there was no method for Homura to ever save Madoka no matter how many times she reset the scenario. Madoka Magica totally ran with that and made that very fact what almost turned her into a witch. When she gave up all hope and disappeared into despair, she would become a witch. You can’t save someone from pure despair in the world of Madoka Magica. That’s the entire being of what a witch is. Hence why they couldn’t save Sayaka earlier on in the series. The series ended with Madoka becoming Hope itself. Her wish was to stop witches from being created ever. Nobody would disappear into the world of pure despair. Instead they would…die…

According to Madoka Magica, instead of wallowing in despair, you should commit suicide?

Except no, because You Are Already Dead.

This goes back to everything Kyubey said over the course of the series. Once you become a magical girl, you’ve given up your life. You are, from there on, dead. Kyubey’s speech in episode 11 explained exactly the reasoning why. The wishes granted by the In-Kyubey-tors are not within the realms of reason, so they pay for that with their despair. Madoka Magica stayed within the rules of this, even when Madoka went and changed the universe. I’ve heard people complain about the ending because magical girls still die, but doing otherwise would have gone against the cost of payment for the wish. She tweaked the results of the laws but not the core foundation of the magical girl contract, in that you pay for your wishes with, effectively, your life.

Woah, that post went a total different direction to what I was expecting. Either way, Madoka Magica kept their worlds’ themes and laws, and I have huge respect for the show to be able to do that. To be able to arrive at an ending that both fitted the worlds laws and without coming totally out of nowhere. It fit the show to a tee, and I’m amazed it was able to pull that off (even if the final episode itself was a bit clunky in its delivery). It’s about a good an ending I could have hoped for.

I want a cotton bud with a moustache to pet too!

Never change Shaft. I really do mean that, never drop this crazy artsy side you have. Even back when you didn’t seem to know what you were doing with the art style (Sayonara Zetsubo Sensei), or your anime I really don’t like (Maria Holic),  I’ve always loved how you try to do something different and imaginative. Also, thanks to the popularity of some of your recent shows, now other animation studios are starting to take a few leaves out of your books and embed some Shaft-esque eye-catches into their new shows. Long may that last I say. I’m long since bored of the talking head approach. Use what animation can do different to any other form of entertainment. What’s all the funnier is it was born out of cost-cutting methods, just like the so many other traits of anime have in the past. The incredibly smooth sci-fi world of Astro Boy that many future sci-fi series borrowed the same aesthetic from? Just a cost cutting method because smoother surfaces are easier to animate.

Little moe Viking girl! I got a good grin out of the magical girls through the ages montage. Cleopatra was a magical girl. Joan of Arc was a magical girl. Anne Frank was a magical girl, although god only knows what she must have wished for.

More than anything though, Madoka Magica was a wonderfully well told story. Possibly the best story I’ve ever seen told by an anime, with the exception of perhaps Berserk. I cannot give it any higher praise than that. Enjoy your nice comfy place amongst my top 30 anime Madoka. Always nice to know Japan can still entertain me this much.

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58 Comments

  1. Posted April 22, 2011 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

    A lot of people will quibble about the particulars of the ending for a while, I think, but in the end it worked. Despite the fact that, yes, it basically returned to having a wish fix everything, that wish was one that was made after almost ALL the facts were revealed to our pink-twin-tailed ball of emotion. It was not a spur-of-the moment wish (like in timeline 4), but an INFORMED wish, and I think that made all the difference. It did not solve everything, but it’s as happy an ending as we could hope.

    And yes. Anne Frank. What the heck Urobuchi?

    • Anonymous
      Posted April 22, 2011 at 7:33 pm | Permalink

      And yes. Anne Frank. What the heck Urobuchi?

      Young girl that died young in a tragic manner/situation and is well-known? You could ask the same for the other well-known girls they showed. It fits in the story since Kyubei attempts to force girls to make the contract (example 1. Mami).

  2. Posted April 22, 2011 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

    This was one awesome ending. I like how Urobuchi managed to keep the magical theme after the wish. It kinda reminded me of CLAMP, with when something perishes from the world, something equal will take its place. Here it’s those…. demons, and in CLAMP, there that Watanuki mindfuck. Hurray!
    It was also kinda romantic, with Homura taking Madokas place with the bow and the ribon, always remembering her… *sniff*
    I’m glad to see that it’s in your top 30. I guess it will also always have a place in my heart.

    Really, it’s nice to come back from your holidays, and there are two AWESOME Madoka episodes waiting for you. Now heading to watch that Tiger and Bunny and Steins;Gate episodes.

  3. Posted April 22, 2011 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

    I’d lol if it were actually Incubators and not cats that the ancient Egyptians revered as holy creatures.

    I thought it was a pretty good ending, even if I’m still not sure why Kyubey grants wishes that totally fuck him over.

    • Posted April 22, 2011 at 7:07 pm | Permalink

      I don’t think he had a choice. I think as long as a girl is willing to give up her very soul in return for a wish, he has to grant it. After all, the deal was he’d grant ANY wish.

      • Posted April 22, 2011 at 8:08 pm | Permalink

        I guess so. I just don’t really care for that. My reaction is less, “Wow, what a smart wish by Madoka!” (even though it is smart) and more, “Wow, Kyubey left a really stupid loophole in there, what a dumbass.”

        It doesn’t ruin the ending for me, mind, but I wish (lol) there had been a better way to go about that.

      • Posted April 23, 2011 at 3:05 am | Permalink

        Well, fans have been demanding for Kyubei to get his for trapping the girls in the contract, and the only way it’s possible (since he can’t be killed) is to be one upped via the contract.

        Such a wish should be impossible because a girl should be too weak to grant it, as I saw it, so Kyubei wouldn’t have worried about it. Madoka was just an exception due to being so powerful…and Kyubei wasn’t prepared for an exception.

      • Posted April 23, 2011 at 7:17 am | Permalink

        I don’t think it’s a matter of it being a loophole, so much as something that Kyuubey couldn’t comprehend.

        Just like how his race can’t understand emotions, he can’t understand using a wish, that can get you anything, being used for something that won’t result in any net gain for oneself.

    • Scamp
      Posted April 23, 2011 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

      Did it fuck him over though? He still gets his energy. Even the time travel one just created super powerful Madoka that gets him even more energy. Seems like a sweet deal to me.

      Honestly, I think he simply doesn’t have a choice in the matter. When the wish was granted, Kyubey was granting the wish while also pulling a WTF face (well, as WTF face as his expressionless face was capable of pulling)

      • Posted April 23, 2011 at 8:41 pm | Permalink

        I really loved how he had an expression in that scene, even though he’s expressionless.

  4. Posted April 22, 2011 at 4:25 pm | Permalink

    I had figured out that Walpur­gis Night was an upside down doll on a gear back in episode one.

    XD

  5. luffyluffy
    Posted April 22, 2011 at 5:15 pm | Permalink

    I only caught Cleopatra, but not Joan or Anne :(

    • Posted April 22, 2011 at 5:19 pm | Permalink

      I caught Jeanne, but just because Kamikaze Kaito Jeanne is my first and one of my favourite manga.

      • luffyluffy
        Posted April 22, 2011 at 5:22 pm | Permalink

        I only caught Cleo from the snake bite shot :/

    • Posted April 22, 2011 at 6:35 pm | Permalink

      Joan of Arc is the short-haired woman who is going to be burned at the stake.

  6. Posted April 22, 2011 at 5:16 pm | Permalink

    Through Madoka’s wish, I could not help but be reminded of the end of Gurren Lagann, “If there are rules in the way, I’ll break them; Do the impossible; Kick reason to the curb, etc.” But I don’t feel cheated because the wish mechanic was there all along. Madoka was just the only one with the imagination to make such a universe-warping wish.

    It’s a satisfying ending, even though the epilogues went on long after the true emotional resolution had set in. But it was as good as I could reasonably hope for.

  7. Posted April 22, 2011 at 5:21 pm | Permalink

    Oh, and just saw your twitter. I still like Arakawa more.
    You… don’t?

  8. Nebulous
    Posted April 22, 2011 at 5:33 pm | Permalink

    The scene with Madoka and Homura naked was a bit too sappy for my liking. You’ve pretty much hit the nail on the head as to regards the wrap up, as my thoughts where exactly the same though. I do feel that the people overhyped Urubochi Gen though. It pretty much forced me to play Saya no Uta just to see if it was as dark and despairing as everyone hyped it to be. Lacklustre at best, the storyline just seemed like an excuse to have sexual scenes with a loli. And we come to PMMM and we see this ending and the truth comes to light, that this show can’t pull off a show which keeps to the realism of life; that most of the time for most people, it kinda sucks. We saw this done well throughout (Sayaka + Violin guy, Mami, Homura), but to end it with the whole miracles and happiness thing is kinda off-putting. Still the ending was more that satisfactory, as you rightly pointed out.

    Still I ask with all seriousness; why don’t studios make more original anime? Its not like PMMM has any chance of not turning some significant profit, so why is it that people are not copying their example? There are of course one or two original shows, but you can tell by their approach that they are extremely conservative in their risk taking and trying to be inventive or original. I reckon that anyone could look at the storyline for PMMM and realise that this will be successful, it doesn’t take a genius. And I say this with great sighing because PMMM’s story isn’t even that ground breaking, it’s just well done. It often feels like the studio’s aren’t really even trying, putting out the nonsense like Dog Days and taking themselves seriously.

    • Scamp
      Posted April 23, 2011 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

      Why studios don’t make more original anime? There’s quite a fair few reasons why, but they all essentially come down to risk. Probably the most important point is, when it comes to adaptations, the original publishers are one of the investors in the product. Hence that’s where the studio gets the money to make the anime in the first place. It makes sense for the original publishers because anime adaptations are proven to increase sales of their original material. It also benefits the anime producers because they get funding at it’s not all on their heads if it fails

  9. Chipp
    Posted April 22, 2011 at 5:58 pm | Permalink

    So where’s Madoka amongst your top? Can’t find it…

  10. Posted April 22, 2011 at 5:59 pm | Permalink

    It’s 23.

    • Chipp
      Posted April 22, 2011 at 6:39 pm | Permalink

      ‘cos now it’s there =)

  11. Chipp
    Posted April 22, 2011 at 6:40 pm | Permalink

    Oh, it’s was my problem, forget it…

  12. Posted April 22, 2011 at 6:58 pm | Permalink

    Okay. I can quit the blogsphere now. I finally saw the anime I wanted to see. I won’t, but I can.

    I just can’t believe I nearly died before seeing it. Jeez.

    Being the Magical Girl crazy I am, this anime beats out Princess Tutu, and now sits at Number 1.

    • Anonymous
      Posted April 22, 2011 at 7:26 pm | Permalink

      Madoka easily beats Tutu imho. Tutu is great, but suffers for me from being twice as long. It has to rely on more episodic story telling and arcs and of course the jokes. Which are decent enough but not amazing. SHAFT visuals also helps against the more generic anime style of Princess Tutu.

      • Posted April 23, 2011 at 3:13 am | Permalink

        It definitely has nowhere as great storytelling as Madoka ended up pulling off.

      • Posted April 23, 2011 at 8:52 am | Permalink

        i still love tutu more only because i cared about the characters much more in tutu and, of course, im in love with the literary devices used in it forever. also i liked the setting more.

    • Scamp
      Posted April 23, 2011 at 3:26 pm | Permalink

      Time travelling lesbians using firearms > ballerina ducks

      • OHEMGEE
        Posted April 25, 2011 at 12:37 am | Permalink

        fo sho, dawg.

      • Anonymous
        Posted April 26, 2011 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

        Better to say ‘military equipment’ than ‘firearms’. Homerun unleashed armouries upon Walpurgis night with clockwork precision in regards to planning and staging it all. Hurray for unlimited practice rounds.

  13. Anonymous
    Posted April 22, 2011 at 7:19 pm | Permalink

    Pos­sibly the best story I’ve ever seen told by an anime

    You’re kidding right? The story is well told, sure. But to say almost-best is a bit over-the-top praise if you ask me.

    I agree with you that the end was well done. It tied it all up nicely, acceptably and in an entertaining way. The nude scene was a bit annoying though. No actual reason for it other than “LOOK. FULL BODY SHOTS OF NUDE LOLIS! BUY THE BLU-RAYS!!”

    • Scamp
      Posted April 23, 2011 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

      Yep, not kidding. The more the show went on, the more I realised how meticulously planned it was. Earlier events made much more sense with later revelations to the point that it seemed incredibly obvious in retrospect. It all kept to the themes and never faltered in its pacing throughout (well, bar maybe the last episode).

      The only show I’ve seen achieve all that better than Madoka is Berserk

      • Anonymous
        Posted April 24, 2011 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

        Fuck lengthy paragraphs. Can’t get ‘em right today. I’ll accept your opinion for what it is, as I hope you’ll accept mine. I still do not understand you though. Maybe it’s just semantics, but while I totally agree that the story in Madoka is told very well. That doesn’t make the story itself great though.

        My hypothesis is that either you mean it’s the second-best told story in anime you’ve seen, not the second-best story. Or you’re just piling extra praise on Madoka after Fractale leaving you with leftover praise to pile on an anime.

  14. rauc6788
    Posted April 22, 2011 at 7:27 pm | Permalink

    This ending was great and very satisfying. I love the fact that ultimately the rules of the game basically didn’t change. The world as it is full of both hope and despair didn’t change. It is not a “miracles happen” ending, but a miracles happen at a cost premise that is found throughout the show. Madoka only took out the part she liked least: the fact that the magical girls had no choice but to become the thing they hunted. Now the girls die for what they want and don’t help propagate despair. Also the world now has these odd demons that produce despair in the magical girls, which in turn feed Kyubey. It might be fallout from Madoka’s decision since she is now a universal presence that absorbed despair, and now this despair is also present everywhere.

    I just think it was very well put together within the confines of the rules. Of course some things were never cleared up. For example, how the wishes where granted, but in a show where magic and suspension of disbelief is involved I much rather be kept in the dark than given a crappy magical explanation (or worse yet, a fake, poorly applied pseudo-scientific explanation).

  15. Posted April 22, 2011 at 8:29 pm | Permalink

    My only gripe with the ending is that Madoka didn’t kiss Homura even though the moment was perfect for it. She suffered through countless iterations of a tragic April just to save you; at least throw the poor girl a bone before you ascend to a higher plane of existence.

    • OHEMGEE
      Posted April 22, 2011 at 9:01 pm | Permalink

      lmaoooo. Do you realize how many people that would’ve pissed off? XD

    • Posted April 23, 2011 at 3:11 am | Permalink

      This series is about metaphors you know.

      Homura hugging Madoka?

      That was sex.

      • Posted April 23, 2011 at 7:46 am | Permalink

        Comment of the year.

      • Posted April 23, 2011 at 10:53 am | Permalink

        THIS

      • Posted April 23, 2011 at 7:47 pm | Permalink

        The fact that someone out there has stronger yuri goggles than I do is both fearful and inspiring.

      • Posted April 24, 2011 at 4:40 am | Permalink

        @Yuki As big as a yuri fan as I am and as strong as my yuri goggles are, part of what I say is purely for outrageous value. ;)

        @Everyone *bows* Thank you, it is a great honor.

      • OHEMGEE
        Posted April 25, 2011 at 12:38 am | Permalink

        oh bby. that was the best sex I’ve seen in awhile ;D

  16. Elysium
    Posted April 22, 2011 at 8:45 pm | Permalink

    Madoka’s ending was mind blowing.

    I’ll be… thinking about it for a few days.

  17. KBKarma
    Posted April 22, 2011 at 10:51 pm | Permalink

    Brilliant, from start to end. I’ll be buying this when it comes over here.

  18. Posted April 22, 2011 at 11:28 pm | Permalink

    Much has already been said in other comments but one thing I wanted to bring up was how the show kept the whole entropy/heat death of the universe thing in mind even with Madoka’s solution. The ending, and the series, wouldn’t be what it is if that was just magically solved somehow. Having magical beasts that the magical girls have to fight in the new reality still keeps that looming threat to the universe in the picture and it was a great decision. I wasn’t too keen on the entropy idea at first because, like with politics in anime, series tend to put some big concepts out there but never with any understanding of them. But Madoka Magica set the idea down as a rule and stuck to it until the end. I really appreciate that kind of consistency.

  19. Posted April 23, 2011 at 3:06 am | Permalink

    I can honestly say that this ending surprised me. Really, nothing could’ve prepared me for what it did. Nor could it have prepared me for Viking!Magical Girl.
    Though I definitely got major End of Evangelion flashbacks, and I hope I wasn’t the only one (Let me hug you and end your torment).

    For what it’s worth, I entirely agree that the ending was satisfying, even if the delivery was a little awkward. I mean how is Madoka becoming essentially the deity of hope not awesome?
    Still a bit confused about the giant monochrome Buddhist monks though, but that’s a non-issue.

    • Scamp
      Posted April 23, 2011 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

      Never forget that someone, somewhere, is fighting a bunch of Roman-era politicians crossed with Missingno

  20. Posted April 23, 2011 at 4:31 am | Permalink

    Walpur­gis Night = Awesome hahahah

    Episode 11- Great stuff there reveals all the different eras the magical girls are from! Also Homura revealing herself to Madoka was nice, guess we can really tell why theres so much Yuri fanart of them haha they make a good pair xD

    Episode 12- Best part was Kyubei! After Madoka’s wish he so should have said DAMN IT MY PLANS RUINED!! Damn you MADOKA! Also giant universe Madoka wow so cool! Yes it has been done countless times before.

    Anyway Loved this series! Only complaint would be Madoka crying through every damn episode, ah well shes a sad girl. But redeems herself in the final episodes. And damn Homura with that final attack she planned out that was damn cool!

  21. Posted April 23, 2011 at 9:02 am | Permalink

    cleopatra and joan of arc were mahou shoujo? lolwut? i missed anne frank though D: what ep/time did that show up <_<

    i really liked the scene where madoka's mom talks about madoka suddenly being aloof and her friend commenting that she's growing up into a teenager and that she'll just have to believe in her. this dialogue all happening, of course, with an image of that famous micheal angelo painting (i think) where god gives life to adam. god gives life to man and must simply have faith that he will do the right thing? /reading into it too much

    anyways, the ending was….okay i guess. satisfactory. i rolled my eyes some at madoka's wish since it seemed like such an obvious choice; why didn't anyone else think of it sooner, etc. but whatever. ending wasn't overly happy nor was it angst central, which is what i was afraid it would fall into. epilogue was much too long though and tried to explain way too many things. and of course ending scene made me -____- for all the speculation it'll spawn. trolling 10/10.

    great anime though it still loses points from me since i still care nothing for any of the characters save for madoka's mom. i'll be spending the rest of my time thinking what the hell exactly did cleopatra wish for and what witches did she fight lol. yu-gi-oh monsters now = witches? mind blown, thanks.

    • Nop
      Posted April 23, 2011 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

      The woman Madoka’s mom was talking to was the teacher in their class, and other magical girls likely didn’t wish for what Madoka did because most of them never even knew about entropy and the thruth about witches (especially not before even becoming a magical girl). There’s also the fact that Madoka is much-much more powerful than other magical girls, so even with the powers given by such a wish, others likely couldn’t be able to be anywhere and everywhere, in every dimension, in past, present and future.

      • Posted April 23, 2011 at 5:45 pm | Permalink

        perhaps other girls didnt know what madoka did, but madoka figured this whole thing about witches and magical girls episodes ago. why didn’t she do it then? of course the convenience of having her make her decision during the finale and turning into psuedo jesus. reminds me a bit of sailor moon anime finales which always rubbed me the wrong way in that even in the manga people died and sailor moon couldn’t save everyone.

        there’s a blog that explains most of my feelings on this ending really well, but i forgot the link to it ;(

    • Scamp
      Posted April 23, 2011 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

      I liked the ending, but wasn’t too big on the final episode.

      The pacing was off, the scene with Madoka and Homura doing some naked space floating went on for far too long and was all a bit silly anyway, and it just generally felt bloated. But I was too relieved they wrapped up the plot in an acceptable manner to be too annoyed at any of that

    • Posted April 27, 2011 at 12:25 am | Permalink

      Who says no one else didn’t? The difference is the sentiment and wording of the wish, since the wish granting seems to be quite in tune with sentiment and intent, at least to a degree, rather than being a cheap monkey’s paw “I’ll mess your wish up by exploiting wording”.

      Most people making a wish probably would not take into consideration of their wish, witches from the future, and especially not from the past. Their goal would probably be to eliminate the immediate threat.

      The result would be that magical girls remaining would go on to then spawn more witches.

      The only way Madoka arrived at her wish, ultimately, was #1: learning of the nature of despair and the creation of witches, and #2: Homura’s existence widening her conception of her sympathy for Magical Girls across time (and not merely those in the present, or within her knowledge).
      Finally, experiencing the several girls’ tragedies through Mami, Sayaka, and Kyouko (she doesn’t really learn of Homura’s until after making the wish), allowed her to be sympathetic of their plight without first becoming one herself.

      With those 3 circumstances fulfilled, she was then able to #1: be still human, meaning have potential to have a wish, #2: know that witches are not really finite in number, #3: know that the suffering is equal across time, and #4, gain a clear understanding of their suffering, and come to sympathize with their despair.

      Only then, would someone conceive of “preventing the creation of all witches in all of time”.

      Not “destroy all witches from all time”.

      Not “stop witches from being made from now on”.

      Not “make witches not a threat to the world”.

      Etc.

      Because Madoka’s goal was never to solve witches as a threat to humanity. It was solve the witches as a source of hopelessness for the Mahou Shoujo themselves.

      • Posted April 27, 2011 at 9:08 am | Permalink

        still doesn’t solve why she didn’t wish for it sooner ;/ also doesn’t save her wish being perceived as the Jesus-mode other mahou shoujos are often responsible for (sailor moon, magic knight rayearth, and even princess tutu to a small extent). i mean, meh, at least it wasn’t a super complete happy ending, so i am satisfied, but the critic in me still scorns that such a well-written series had to solve everything with a loophole.

        it’s satisfying, but not brilliant, as i hoped it would be. but whatever. 8/10.

  22. Ata
    Posted April 23, 2011 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

    Possibly the best anime that broke all the prejudice about magical girls or whatsoever.

    Now somebody tell me about the witch-like wings on Homura.

    • mizu
      Posted April 23, 2011 at 6:15 pm | Permalink

      I read somewhere that the wings were to show Homura is using up all her power right before dying. Or that it means Madoka is helping her fight the ghosts, but why that would make her sprout black wings I have no idea.
      Maybe she just gained new powers since the rules of the universe were altered or whatever. And it does look cool.

  23. Anon
    Posted May 3, 2011 at 7:32 am | Permalink

    I’m pretty sure Madoka personally appears once an MG is about to turn into a witch and escorts her to Magical Girlhalla

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