Review: Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica

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Anime: Mahou Shoujo Madoka★Magica
Animation Studio: SHAFT
Number of Episodes: 12
Length per Episode: Approximately 24 minutes

I’m not going to treat this like a normal review, because pretty much everyone in the universe has watched this show. That means it’d be pointless to go through a lengthy and vague plot summary. I’m just going to talk about the ending. I won’t treat this like an episodic post though, because those are boring as hell to write.

Also, if you somehow haven’t watched this yet, then go do so. Whether you like it or not, this is basically required watching among the anime fandom at this point.

WARNING: MAJOR SPOILERS OF THE ENDING. DON’T READ FURTHER IF YOU HAVEN’T WATCHED THE LAST EPISODES YET.


Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica is a twisted product of seeing how far you can torture little girls and still get it to air on television. We’re not talking physical torture, though, we’re talking about mental and psychological torture, which is far more painful and effective. The show is sadistic, and only sadistic people will like the show (which seems to be basically everyone).

Wait, stop! Don’t start throwing stones at me yet! Let me explain why I just wrote that paragraph.

While you can sum up the show as basically “lol torturing little girls,” the whole point is the show’s execution of it. From its happy-go-lucky beginning to its slow descent into madness, this torture-fest is orchestrated nearly perfectly.

This allows me to stress one point: no matter how dumb, generic, or strange a show’s setting is, it will always come down to the execution.


Anyways, getting to the last episode, there are only a few things I want to discuss/point out.

First of all, the ending was confusing as hell when I first watched it. Now that I’ve had time to think about it, it makes a lot more sense, though there are still some confusing parts.

But, getting to the point, first up was Madoka’s wish and what it resulted in.snap2

At first I didn’t really understand the point of this scene, because this happens moments later:snap3

To me it just seemed like fluff to help make the episode last its full run, but now I understand the point of it.

All of the wishes made by the girls so far always ended in disaster; as Kyuubey explained, with all of the hope and happiness that comes with their wish, there’s despair and sadness that’s also created to balance it out.

For one, it was important to have the scene so people wouldn’t start going, “lol plotholes, despair where?” But the other reason was to emphasize the magnitude of change that Madoka was bringing about. Normally the despair and hope practically cancel each other out, or the despair just consumes everything, but instead Madoka was just, “lolnope, time to change the rules.”

Madoka’s wish not only stopped witches from being created, but essentially created new rules for the universe, and thus created a new universe entirely. Showing her so easily removing her despair was to highlight this change that she was bringing.


Following with the whole “new universe” deal, this scene happened:snap4

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When I saw this I thought, “Wait, I thought I was watching Madoka, not Bleach.” I kind of just saw this as pulling something out of their ass so more :despair: could go on. However, after thinking about Kyuubey’s explanation for despair coming with each wish, and having recently watched the Matrix trilogy again, I understand the point of the demons coming about.

It’s all about balancing the equation. Witches have been removed entirely, so a replacement was needed. These demons, which seem to form from people’s despair (at least that’s the impression I was getting), were part of balancing the equation for the new universe.


There were a few scenes I didn’t entirely get, though.snap6

What was up with this scene? “Hey lets revive Mami and Kyouko for no reason other than to have some dialogue about what’s happening.” I mean, if that’s the reason, then I guess it’s alright, since the watchers do need to understand the overall picture, but if the scene itself doesn’t make much sense, then that’s kind of pointless.

It’s possible I’m just stupid and don’t understand the scene, though. I wanted to think of it as, “Madoka talks to them before trading places with them in the Purgatory-esque place they’ve been,” but this scene happened before any universe-forming was going on.


Another scene I didn’t get was the one with Sayaka.snap7

This scene somewhat confused me. I guess it sort of would make sense since Madoka is bringing people back to life by changing the universe, but then this next scene happened:snap8

So was Sayaka’s death guaranteed from the start or something? They seemed to make it out as her dying from using an overpowered attack on a demon, I don’t understand why.

If any of you lovely readers have ideas, please do say so.


Hmmm… guess I should give ending comments.

Well, I wouldn’t say the ending was incredible, but I did certainly enjoy it. I feel like it would have had more impact if the episodes had been released on time, and if I had watched them a week apart.

Nonetheless, Madoka offered as great a ride for me as Star Driver did. While Star Driver was more due to the fans (the show, too, of course), Madoka was a great ride just off the show itself.

As I said at the beginning of this post, this show has easily become required watching among the greats of anime history. Now Madoka only has to stand the Test of Time.

Oh, and…

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SHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAFT

RATING: 10 out of 10.

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23 Comments on “Review: Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica”

  1. kame-chan says:

    First of all, I totally loved the anime and the ending was a great bittersweet, fitting end.

    Second of all, here are my thoughts on the two scenes you brought up:

    Kyoko+Mami – This scene was probably brought up because these two were the ones that specifically gave Madoka advice about making the contract. Mami told her that she wanted Madoka to make the contract if, and only if, she truly wanted that wish to happen and is willing to take the responsibility for it (episode 3). Kyoko, on the other hand, told her that people with a great family and life like her shouldn’t be intertwined with the misfortune of being a Magical Girl (episode 9). By confronting them again right when she decides her wish proves that she considered their advice up to this point.

    Sayaka – In Sayaka’s case, she became a witch from the grief of seeing Kamijyo taken by Hitomi. If she was revived, she still wouldn’t be able to get him back, repeating the cycle again (since she kept that mindset). So, to save her, Madoka shows Sayaka Kamijyo playing the violin once again, the real reason she made the wish in the first place, and makes her realize that her wish did fully come true compared to the other Magical Girls. With this, Sayaka was willing to accept her death right there (instead of forgetting the fulfilled wish that Madoka showed her and going through the grief once again).

    • Riyoga says:

      Kyoko+Mami – Excellent points, but I was wondering more along the lines of HOW she was able to talk to them. Though it is possible she was just carrying out the conversation in her head, I guess. Or because she pretty much became a god and could do whatever the hell she wanted.

      Sayaka – Again, excellent points, but the scene talked about her “using all of her power” to kill a demon in this new universe. Maybe while she was happy for him and that her wish came true, her fate just stayed the same, except with her death being far more noble? I think I like that interpretation.

      • kame-chan says:

        Kyoko+Mami – I would think that it’s more of a conversation in her head at that time. It was probably still possible for her to remember their personalities and predict what they would say to her to make sure that she’s firm on her resolve.

        Sayaka – I like that interpretation as well. I think Madoka, realizing that having Sayaka live wouldn’t save her, had to have her die under different (maybe better?) circumstances and reasons. After all, dying for your loved one instead of dying because of jealousy always had a nice ring to it.

      • Sothe52 says:

        Alright, I know I’m a bit late, but I’ve got something to say. When Madoka was talking to Sayaka, if I remember right, she said something about not changing Sayaka’s wish because sayaka wouldn’t have wanted that. Madoka COULD have made it so Sayaka hadn’t become a magical girl, thus saving her life – however, she knew Sayaka cared too much about Kamijo, so she let her wish remain the same. Her wish led to her demise, of course, just as it had in the original Universe; that’s the whole balance-of-despair-and-hope thing. Kamijo’s life was more important to Sayaka than her own life, so Madoka didn’t change that.

        • Riyoga says:

          Hmm, that’s sort of a slight spin on what Nishino Kaede said down below. The additional point of it following the theme of balancing out hope and despair makes a lot of sense.

          Also, is your name based on Sothe from Fire Emblem? If so, you’re awesome.

  2. Bing says:

    I guess the ending makes sense and the character’s efforst are not in vain because it was Homura’s efforts and time travelling that gave Madoka the power to<> And thus a world where the traditional magical girl ideals of sacrifice for others being a GOOD thing is made. oh yey.

    However, this solution really doesn’t do it for me. I don’t like it. Why? Because they basically just negated the entire build up of the other 11 episodes which were leading up to the idea that one does not need to sacrifice oneself, and that in fact, by doing so, you are creating as much/or more/ harm than good. I really loved the series for the angle that it took on the girl’s importance to their family and how Madoka shouldn’t sacrifice that. Once her mother let Madoka go (what kind of mother would let a 13 year old girl do that???) the series started going downhill for me. Although the ending wrapped up a good plot, it really killed any unique meaning that the series had. The problem of Kyuubei and the incubators being evil was solved, but the series stopped applying to real life (where such rules do not apply). Because it wraps up with the same sacrifice/love/friendship/courage/happy ending as any other magical girl series…it really didnt feel all that ‘new’ anymore.

    • Bing says:

      was supposed to say “become god and create universe” oops.

      • Riyoga says:

        Hmm… I guess I would argue that the theme was never really “sacrificing yourself is more harm than good,” so much as it was “instant gratification can cause even more trouble in the long run.” Madoka was just the first one to think her wish through completely.

        Though I did have the same reaction with her mother letting her go. I know they were playing on the theme “letting go of your children,” but it was still pretty unrealistic.

  3. Bing says:

    I think you’re right , I was trying to put my own angle into the meaning too much. If there is a theme ‘thinking your wish through’ is probably it (and is what Homura helped Madoka realize) but i feel like it’s too simple a point (any person if given one miracle/ wis would probably REALLY think it through) and too unapplicable to real life. I really expected this series to be a complete deconstruction of the idealisms that make up the mahou shoujo genre, but in the end it just kind of boomeranged back to the same ideas.

    Also, in the new universe, if you think about it nothing has changed other than instead of witches attacking things, it’s demons. The magical girls still HAVE TO die because of their contract…just now they can FEEL good about it and die nobly. But really theres no net gain, other than good feelings. yay good feelings.

    • Riyoga says:

      Regardless if it’s a simple point, it’s just like the point I made about the plot. It’s about the execution. Take the simplest point in the world, but if executed correctly, you’ve got yourself something great.

      I never jumped on the bandwagon of the show being a “deconstruction” of the Mahou Shoujo genre. I always just saw it as a different take on it.

      It’s not that just that they can die nobly now, it’s that they aren’t being manipulated into becoming the very thing they’re fighting anymore. Sure, nobody even realizes this change except for Homura, but that’s just idea. You understand Homura’s feelings about how Madoka gave up her own existence to save everyone, and yet she’ll never even get thanked or even acknowledged for it.

  4. Nadja says:

    Had to super scroll through your post because I haven’t actually watched the show yet (I’m always a season behind, it seems), but it looks incredible, and as you have said, it’s kind of “required” watching in the anime fandom.

    • Riyoga says:

      Dat scrolling. At least I warned you, right?

      But yes, this show has easily become a show that pretty much everyone in the anime fandom will have seen at some point.
      I bet I’m going to see so many cosplayers for this series at the next convention I go to. I’m gonna try and get pictures of them all and count them up.

      Also, have fun with Kyuubey.
      /人◕ ‿‿ ◕人\

  5. Nadja says:

    Yeah, I can not tell you how many times I’ve been spoiled for the epic endings like those of Code Geass and Death Note. I do kind of have a gist of what will happen in Madoka, though.

    I’m going to ACen on May 20, and I’m trying to watch Madoka before then so I can take pictures of those cosplayers. It’s just a little bit weird taking pics of cosplayers when you’re not that familiar with the show, ya know?

    lol Kyuubey. I keep seeing that little fucker’s beady eyes everywhere I go. xD

    • Riyoga says:

      I’ve been spoiled on plenty of endings, too. Hell, I’ve already been spoiled on the ending to Deadman Wonderland (or at least a part of it). I still manage to enjoy the ride the show gives me, though.

      Yeah, exactly! That’s why I’m forcing my roommate to watch all the recently popular shows that have come out before we go to FanimeCon.

      /人◕ ‿‿ ◕人\

      • Nadja says:

        Somehow, if a show is really boring, a spoiler will make me more excited to finish it or get to that one episode and see it play out. For some long running shonen series, I will purposefully look up spoilers just so I know what to look forward to. Even if I do end up getting spoiled for a show, I know I’m going to end up finishing it, so it doesn’t really matter to me in the long run. Though, the first few moments where you realize that you’ve just gotten spoiled without knowing sucks. It’s just like… well… damnit.

        That way, when you go to the convention, you can buy tons of figurines, ridiculously expensive keychains, and posters of said show.

        Last time I went to Ohayocon I saw this really epic Gintoki figurine. It was a nendoroid type thing, and he was hugging a little plastic parfait. When I saw it, I thought, “Damn! That looks really cool!” but I didn’t buy it because at that point, I hadn’t seen the show yet, and I knew I would’ve appreciated buying the figurine more if I had seen the series and was in love with the character, ya know?

        Yeah, the feeling of walking into a convention and not knowing most of the anime is terrible. You just can’t help but think, “wow, I’m such a newfag…”

        • Riyoga says:

          “That way, when you go to the convention, you can buy tons of figurines, ridiculously expensive keychains, and posters of said show. ”

          I’m trying to catch up on popular shows I never got around to watching before the next convention so I can do exactly that.

  6. Nadja says:

    What shows are you trying to catch up on?

    I’m trying to fit in Gintama and Madoka before I go to ACen. I’ve only got a couple of weeks, so I doubt I’ll be able to fit it all in. :/

  7. Nishino Kaede says:

    Actually, For the Sayaka part, It’s quite sad… You see, Madoka could revived Mami and Kyoko without any problems or worries because they die without any pain or rather they died without feeling hurt in the heart.. while Sayaka was hurt because of Kamijyo. She was hurt, thinking that it would be best for her not to confess to Kamijyo since her soul isn’t in her body anymore. And that she let Hitomi snatch Kimijyo, She felt the more pain. Thanks to that, Sayaka has been thinking that there’s no point living which then she turned into a witch. Madoka knew that well and knows that if she revived Sayaka, All Sayaka could feel is pain. And so Madoka decide to fulfill Sayaka’s wish, which was to watch Kamijyo perform happily, and letting Sayaka die happily. For me this is the saddest part =\

  8. Sothe52 says:

    Ah, I didn’t see Nishino’s comment, that makes sense as well, and our theories don’t necessarily contradict each other. And yes, my name is based on Sothe from Fire Emblem, I use Sothe52 as my screen name in everything. I think you’re the first to recognize it :D


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