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Puella Magi Madoka Magica Ending Analysis (Spoilers)
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Any thoughts/constructive criticisms would be appreciated.
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1st question: Before I go into anything, did you come up with all this by your own analysis of the series?

2nd question: If so, how long did you mull over this analysis?

I won't offer any of my thoughts but I will offer constructive criticism, which involves thinking so they are my own thoughts so I just contradicted myself. Funny.

First, I would like to point out that there are shows that start sad and end sadder. Second, I noticed in paragraph three you put "...when a Magical Girl gives into despair and her wish reaches the climax of the good it will provide to the world, she passes on..." but from my understanding her wish has only provided the soul benefit as a collector of desolation of a young girl's heart to strive off the death of the larger universe by an expressionless extraterrestrial species and in the new world Madoka Kaname makes it so she collects all that desolation into herself before they officially pass on, thereby avoiding witchification and regrets. As Sayaka Miki said herself in response to Madoka offering to alter her wish so she could live in any rendition of the universe "... it's fine, how everything turned out...". I won't go into any speculation because that's exactly what it is and things such as that can go on forever. I will say this, if Homura Akemi hadn't traveled between different timeplanes, universes, etc. we wouldn't have found out about her past, yes, but also we wouldn't see the impact it had. This was stated in the show itself, but to further elaborate: As I have said, Sayaka's fate in all renditions of the universe is going to have the same outcome shown through the multiple alternates Homura travels through to save Madoka. In each one, she is either mentioned as been killed or missing. In each timeplane Kyoko Sakura, Mami Tomoe, and Madoka Kaname die or are missing as well. One must presume they all die. They have to. She could never change that absolute fact. What she could change, unwittingly and unintentionally, is the bearer of that fate. Namely, Madoka. With all that accumulated power, Madoka was able to make her wish to prevent all witches past, present, and future from ever existing at the cost of her own existence as an individual. She has ascended to a kind of omniscient being and at the same time, not. She can rewrite their wishes to alter their appointed deaths, in affect stopping that said death, but she cannot save anyone this way. Death is eternal, it will just rearrange it so the altered wish is given a newly appointed death later down the line. The Magical Girls can't escape their despair, they can't escape their grief, they can't escape their pain. The Witches manifest into the new entity, Wraiths, which are essentially the same thing, just not a true part of a Magical Girl's soul anymore. The only thing Madoka managed to truly change was the nature of the Witches, everything else is the same.
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1st: I did come up with all this analysis. However, I was inspired to do it by these articles. They really made me think about the series in a deeper way. http://glauconar.blogspot.com/2012/03/notion-of-tragedy-in-madoka-magica.html
http://animemoonblogger.blogspot.com/p/mahou-shoujo-madoka-magica-project.html
http://wiki.puella-magi.net/Talk:Philosophical_Observations
http://glauconar.blogspot.com/2012/03/notion-of-tragedy-in-madoka-magica.html

2nd: I've been thinking about this for about two weeks, but it's only in the last four days that I actually started writing.

The Rest: Yes their are shows that start sad and end sadder. I was just saying that to do that in Madoka would make it a really depressing series. Plus, I think it would make the series feel a bit repetitive and pointless if the characters failed and died as we saw over and over in Homura's backstory. There needed to be something different about this timeline.

How I understand the wishes/curses karma balance of the Magical Girls is that you become a witch when 1. You give into despair (like Homura almost did) or 2.Your wish fulfills the maximum amount of good it will do for the world; from there its downhill into evil (like what happened to Sayaka). Here are two quotes to help my point:

Kyoko: "Miracles aren't free. When you wish for hope, it creates an equivalent despair. That's how the balance of this world is preserved."

Sayaka "The balance between hope and despair remains at zero. That's what you said, right? I understand what you mean now. I did save a few people, but in exchange, hatred and jealousy filled my heart. I even hurt my best friend. Whenever I wished for someone to be happy, someone else had to suffer just as much. That's what it means to be a Puella Magi."

I think when a Magical Girl reaches this point of despair, they are greeted to a vision of Madoka much like we see in episode 12. She takes the darkness out of their Soul Gems and they simply die instead of becoming Witches.

You are correct that Madoka changes the form of the evil, but more importantly, she saves all the Magical Girls from becoming Witches. Yes they all still die eventually, but the point is that they don't become an evil force that kills innocents. That is the worse possible fate for any Magical Girl who cares about humanity. Madoka saves them from that suffering and lets them simply die when they reach their point of despair. It is a slightly kinder world for the Magical Girls, though in doing so Madoka may have sped up the heat death of the universe.
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To be completely frank, this whole show never really got me interested. I watched all the way through, though I didn't like it much....

In almost any anime there are philosophical and literary components that you can apply to them whether they were intended by the author or not. By this I mean if the author is actually educated in that field or rather, if they do a good job of portraying the issues in the show. It's quite easy to tack on a small portion of a huge theory and let the audience do the thinking, but this isn't really good for critical thinkers who are understand these topics prior to watching. For instance, if you major in English, you'll be able to pick apart the "Hero's Journey" in any film quite easily. Doing so really simplifies films.
Sadly, for this show, I really believe that most philosophical application are community implied rather than author implied; and likewise, the only whole series is pretty much geared towards the last sentence of the show and the connotations it's supposed to carry with it. I do think good arguments can be made to draw parallels between this show and things such as the Ethics of Care (and now that I think about it, very much so - though I don't think Gen Urobuchi is educated about this at all.. >.> but perhaps just implied the same theory basis)

In any case, that's what I think about this show. I really don't believe there to be too much "out side the box" thinking in this show. I think it was rather straightforward, but you can always attempt to rationalize an argument further and perhaps hit something good.

To date, the only two anime that I've watched that displayed a much deeper understanding of philosophical theory, and is shown decently well in the show would be Ghost in the Shell and Psycho Pass(yes I know this and madoka are both written by Gen Urobuchi, but on the other hand, psycho pass just does a much better job of communicating the ideas aka we know what he's actually trying to imply with his ideas) Of course, Psycho Pass isn't over yet. I hope it continues on it's journey to being one of my favorites, though I am willing to change that if it fails :L

With that said, I read through some of the links you provided on philosophical observations in the show and I think this is exactly why a lot of people still don't trust Wiki sites >.> To me, most of that information looked to be written by either 1st year students(college of course) or just random people with random tid-bits of knowledge on philosophy. It's mostly basic very Ethics course material.... @_@ (like low 200 level course, even pre-intro courses)

Some better information to help you study things if you're interested about the literary and philosophical side of anime:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethics_of_care <-- very good parallels to Madoka, I suggest you study some of this, and perhaps reply with some new knowledge ^_^ edit: this might be a little thick.. so if you do read it go really slow.. and you'll probably have to read the part above the context box 2 or maybe more times to fully understand just a skimmed down version of it.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monomyth (The hero's journey)

I'm currently a Junior majoring in philosophy with an asian studies minor so hopefully some of the information was helpful or relevant, and hopefully you take a look at the ethics of care as I think it will do you some good to look over!

For reference to a good wiki page that is still pretty up to date (last update in Nov for a very old show) check out ghost in the shell's page on philosophy. One of the only anime I know to have a legitimate wiki page on an anime's philosophy: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philosophy_of_Ghost_in_the_Shell
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I never got the time to finish, would you guys reccomend finishing it?
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Posted 1/2/13 , edited 1/2/13

darkfire9o9 wrote:

I never got the time to finish, would you guys reccomend finishing it?


Everyone except me seems to think it was a great show and it's quite a main stream one. Even if you don't like it I think you should probably finish it out if you find some time. Urobuchi's new anime have been doing really well so it's good to have some reference to previous works in addition to them when you get older.
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Alright Thanks man ^
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kyo7763 wrote:


darkfire9o9 wrote:

I never got the time to finish, would you guys reccomend finishing it?


Everyone except me seems to think it was a great show and it's quite a main stream one. Even if you don't like it I think you should probably finish it out if you find some time. Urobuchi's new anime have been doing really well so it's good to have some reference to previous works in addition to them when you get older.


I thought it was decent, but not great. I recommend finishing it as well because what's the point of starting it if you don't finish? Psycho-Pass is doing well for itself and it is very intriguing, not without flaws, but solid none the less. Another magical girl show that acts as a deconstruction of the genre is Uta Kata, which if I recall the name has a double meaning and Revolutionary Girl Utena. Even Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha has some darker aspects to it.
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Shrapnel893 wrote:


kyo7763 wrote:


darkfire9o9 wrote:

I never got the time to finish, would you guys reccomend finishing it?


Everyone except me seems to think it was a great show and it's quite a main stream one. Even if you don't like it I think you should probably finish it out if you find some time. Urobuchi's new anime have been doing really well so it's good to have some reference to previous works in addition to them when you get older.


I thought it was decent, but not great. I recommend finishing it as well because what's the point of starting it if you don't finish? Psycho-Pass is doing well for itself and it is very intriguing, not without flaws, but solid none the less. Another magical girl show that acts as a deconstruction of the genre is Uta Kata, which if I recall the name has a double meaning and Revolutionary Girl Utena. Even Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha has some darker aspects to it.


Well I obviously loved the show, so I'd definitely recommend everyone at least try it. I've heard opinions vary from the show being mediocore to others praising it as one of the best anime ever. Watch the last few episodes and reach your own conclusion, though I hope my post didn't spoil you.
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I think the criticism regarding the light handling of philosophy is a fair one, but it really isn't a big flaw in my book. Yes, Psycho-Pass handles it better but Psycho-Pass is, after all, meant to be a look into the darker aspects of humanity. Madoka isn't that kind of show.

First, I need to say, there's a difference between artistic quality and entertainment. A lot of people equate the two, but they really different things. You can dislike Madoka, but that doesn't mean it is a bad show. For that matter, you can like a show that is artistically bad.

With that being said, artistically Madoka is excellent. Structurally, Madoka is perfect example of how a show should be put together. It has tight, well-defined episodes that build upon each other. Almost nothing is wasted. Each episode not only moves forward the plot, but it provides significant character development. Madoka brilliantly uses foreshadowing to introduce elements that are used later in the show. Unlike other shows, plot points aren't randomly introduced. Symbolism is also used to reinforce the themes introduced in the show. This show was exquisitely planned and it shows in its overall quality.

One of the most enjoyable aspects of Madoka is that is its a deconstruction of the "Magical Girl" trope. If you aren't familiar with the elements of those stories, I think you might now enjoy how much Madoka plays and changes that trope. It's a key element to the story and how it plays out.

None of this, however, means you'll like the story contained in Madoka. That's entirely a personal preference. There are plenty of people that dislike this show, and for their own valid reasons. When it comes down to it, this entertainment.
Posted 1/2/13
I just wanted to say, I think

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Too long, didn't read. I thought the ending was alright for a tragic sort of anime. It almost made me shed tears. But it was not as powerful as other anime I watched. It's still a good show though. I liked it.
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kyo7763 wrote:

To be completely frank, this whole show never really got me interested. I watched all the way through, though I didn't like it much....

In almost any anime there are philosophical and literary components that you can apply to them whether they were intended by the author or not. By this I mean if the author is actually educated in that field or rather, if they do a good job of portraying the issues in the show. It's quite easy to tack on a small portion of a huge theory and let the audience do the thinking, but this isn't really good for critical thinkers who are understand these topics prior to watching. For instance, if you major in English, you'll be able to pick apart the "Hero's Journey" in any film quite easily. Doing so really simplifies films.
Sadly, for this show, I really believe that most philosophical application are community implied rather than author implied; and likewise, the only whole series is pretty much geared towards the last sentence of the show and the connotations it's supposed to carry with it. I do think good arguments can be made to draw parallels between this show and things such as the Ethics of Care (and now that I think about it, very much so - though I don't think Gen Urobuchi is educated about this at all.. >.> but perhaps just implied the same theory basis)

In any case, that's what I think about this show. I really don't believe there to be too much "out side the box" thinking in this show. I think it was rather straightforward, but you can always attempt to rationalize an argument further and perhaps hit something good.

To date, the only two anime that I've watched that displayed a much deeper understanding of philosophical theory, and is shown decently well in the show would be Ghost in the Shell and Psycho Pass(yes I know this and madoka are both written by Gen Urobuchi, but on the other hand, psycho pass just does a much better job of communicating the ideas aka we know what he's actually trying to imply with his ideas) Of course, Psycho Pass isn't over yet. I hope it continues on it's journey to being one of my favorites, though I am willing to change that if it fails :L

With that said, I read through some of the links you provided on philosophical observations in the show and I think this is exactly why a lot of people still don't trust Wiki sites >.> To me, most of that information looked to be written by either 1st year students(college of course) or just random people with random tid-bits of knowledge on philosophy. It's mostly basic very Ethics course material.... @_@ (like low 200 level course, even pre-intro courses)

Some better information to help you study things if you're interested about the literary and philosophical side of anime:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethics_of_care <-- very good parallels to Madoka, I suggest you study some of this, and perhaps reply with some new knowledge ^_^ edit: this might be a little thick.. so if you do read it go really slow.. and you'll probably have to read the part above the context box 2 or maybe more times to fully understand just a skimmed down version of it.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monomyth (The hero's journey)

I'm currently a Junior majoring in philosophy with an asian studies minor so hopefully some of the information was helpful or relevant, and hopefully you take a look at the ethics of care as I think it will do you some good to look over!

For reference to a good wiki page that is still pretty up to date (last update in Nov for a very old show) check out ghost in the shell's page on philosophy. One of the only anime I know to have a legitimate wiki page on an anime's philosophy: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philosophy_of_Ghost_in_the_Shell


Thanks for commenting. I'm actually a Sophomore majoring in film, so I know the Hero's Journey very well. It really depends on the film you're talking about. Star Wars fits the Hero's Journey very well, others like Blue Valentine or Inception are more difficult to nail down. Yes, it leaves a lot out as such structures are wont to do. It can't work for every movie, but it is remarkable how often certain elemts of it fit pretty universally (Call to Adventure, Return with the Elixer).

As far as applying philospohy and critical theory to movies/tv shows, I don't think it's always necessary for the author to have an intention or really be knowlegeable about a subject for the viewers to read into it. For example, Star Wars isn't usually considered a "thinking man's" kind of movie, yet there are tons of religious, philosophical, and technological observations that can be made about it becuase of its powerful story and interesting setting. In the case of Madoka, I'd agree that Urobuchi wasn't focusing on deep philospohical ideas. He seemed more interested in subverting the magical girl genre and exploring tragedy. However, that doesn't mean that fans can't read into the show from a philosophical perspective. Ghost in the Shell is an example of a movie that makes its philosophical themes pretty aparent. I agree that there is a ton to disect and discuss in it, though I do think they went overboard with the philosophy in the second movie.

Now I'd also agree that my article and the ones I've posted aren't the deepest philosphical papers. Certianly my knowledge of philosophy is pretty limited. I'm more educated in storytelling concepts.

I looked at the ethics of care page you posted. I like the part about "the change in the moral question from "what is just" to "how to respond"". That seems to fit Madoka quite well. Urobuchi doesn't lecture to the audience about whose actions and morals are right and whose are wrong. It's how they respond to changes in the show that reveals their true selves.



So yes, my article doesn't have the most complex, robust philosophy. I certainly agree. However, I don't think that makes my points irrelevant either.
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deadpanditto wrote:

I think the criticism regarding the light handling of philosophy is a fair one, but it really isn't a big flaw in my book. Yes, Psycho-Pass handles it better but Psycho-Pass is, after all, meant to be a look into the darker aspects of humanity. Madoka isn't that kind of show.

First, I need to say, there's a difference between artistic quality and entertainment. A lot of people equate the two, but they really different things. You can dislike Madoka, but that doesn't mean it is a bad show. For that matter, you can like a show that is artistically bad.

With that being said, artistically Madoka is excellent. Structurally, Madoka is perfect example of how a show should be put together. It has tight, well-defined episodes that build upon each other. Almost nothing is wasted. Each episode not only moves forward the plot, but it provides significant character development. Madoka brilliantly uses foreshadowing to introduce elements that are used later in the show. Unlike other shows, plot points aren't randomly introduced. Symbolism is also used to reinforce the themes introduced in the show. This show was exquisitely planned and it shows in its overall quality.

One of the most enjoyable aspects of Madoka is that is its a deconstruction of the "Magical Girl" trope. If you aren't familiar with the elements of those stories, I think you might now enjoy how much Madoka plays and changes that trope. It's a key element to the story and how it plays out.

None of this, however, means you'll like the story contained in Madoka. That's entirely a personal preference. There are plenty of people that dislike this show, and for their own valid reasons. When it comes down to it, this entertainment.


I would agree in general. There are lots of films I can admire for their craft and meaning even though I don't find them entertaining and they're not my favorite movies. Likewise, there are stupid action movies I enjoy for entertainment value even though they have no depth.

I'd also agree that Madoka's greatest strength is not so much its characters and entertainment value, but its near perfect execution of a well paced tragic story. The fact that they're able to pull of the metaphysical "character becoming a higher level of being" story without making a mess of what's come before or being confusing. Shows like Serial Experiments Lain and Evangelion do similar things during their endings, but I've never see anyone do it better than Madoka.
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magicuser360 wrote:

I just wanted to say, I think



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