“Even though I’m lonely, even though I’m sad, no one else can understand how I feel…” – Homura
After seeing this movie, I sincerely believe that Madoka Magica is going to be an enduring series for the rest of anime history. It’s left its mark. Seriously. And it’s one of those series that older magic girl lovers and anime fans are going to cosplay at conventions year after year after year. When people ask you, “What’s the best magic girl anime out there?” you say, “Madoka Magica, without a doubt.”
I had the pleasure of seeing both first parts of the movie in theatres when I was just starting this blog and this year, I’m once again stunned by how amazing Gen Urobushi’s story planning is and how awe-inspiring and outright smack you in the face gorgeous the animation touch-ups are. Major major props goes out to the character design, animation and art direction team.
In a review for a film of such magnitude, I’m going to be breaking it down in four broad categories – Storytelling and Script, Characters, Score and Soundtrack, Contribution to its Genres and lastly, Final Thoughts.
Storytelling and Script
Most of you might know that the original Madoka Magica series consists of twelve episodes, all released within a regular season of anime. When the movie was released, fans all over the world wondered if there would be extra added features that may explain certain aspects of the inner-workings of the world that were left out in the short original series. While Part 1: Beginnings left us at a sort of suspenseful part where the Sayuka and Kyoko action is building to its peak, Part 2: The Eternal Story, which resolved the original story, followed the anime’s plotline shot for shot, perhaps omitting certain details and throwing in a few action scenes. All in all, it was the handful of preview shots after the credit roll of Part 2 that had us on the edge of our seats for more answers. For me and my friends, we launched into a forty minute discussion on Kyubey and the concept of magic girls on the bus all the way back home though there technically weren’t any right answers.
For Madoka Magica being the first anime film I have ever seen in North American theatres, it certainly made my first experiences a memorable one. There were considerably more people in the theatre for Part 3: Rebellion – part of them were recognizable from the previous screenings while many were mostly likely attending to find out what happens AFTER episode 12. AFTER the “happy” ending with the salvation of magic girls, the conception of God-doka and Homura’s journey in the world as a magic girl AFTER the world is rewritten. Because of course, there’s no way Urobutcher could ever leave us with a happy endings with and rainbows and sparkly pink-haired magical gods. No… there must be more… because the incubators are still around, and you just know that creepy white kitty thing is just lurking somewhere waiting to make a magical contract with you.
The screening actually begins with a word from the main cast of Madoka Magica – Aoi Yuki (the voice of Madoka), Chiwa Saito (the voice of Homura), Eri Kitamura (the voice of Sayaka), Kaori Mizuhashi (the voice of Mami), Ai Nonaka (the voice of Kyoko), Emiri Kato (the voice of Kyubey) and Kana Asumi (the voice of Nagisa Mome – a new character of the show).
PLOT RANT SPOILERS~~ SCROLL QUICK IF YOU WANT TO SKIP!
Magica Madoka picks up in a reset world, or so you think. In Mitakihara City, Madoka Kaname, Mami Tomoe, Kyoko Sakura and Sayaka Miki with their old friend Kyubey – who incidentally only says “Kyu-Kyu” like Pokemon at the start of the film, welcome a new transfer student and fellow magic girl named Homura Akemi. Oh and by the way, did I mention that Charlotte, the sweets witch actually becomes Mami’s chibi creature sidekick nicknamed Bebe? Yeah, she’s the white-haired loli in the poster.
So at the start of the series, you might think that everything’s a reset, in a world where no one dies as a result of their wishes. Things are pretty good for the girls, they’re working together as a team to fight evil things called “Nightmares” and it seems like everything is as it should be in this classic magic girl world. But of course, something’s not normal and Homura is the first to notice this. She realizes, and after some investigation, realizes that this world, this version of Mitakihara City is not normal nor is it real. It’s a city created by a wish that was designed to keep this perfect idealized magic girl world. Now the question is, who is the creator of the world? And why?
It’s really Homura’s interactions with Madoka that prompt her to the answers she’s looking for. This initial plot conflict opener seems pretty big, but then it gets bigger. Homura pinpoints three problems of the perfect city ; the first is that certain magic girls should not even exist nor encounter Madoka, the second is that the sweets witch should not be an ally and the third is that Sayaka should not remember anything about Madoka, Homura is the only one who can ever remember.
As the story develops, Homura having been moved by Madoka’s kindness realizes the Madoka of this world is not a fake because for someone to create such a Madoka akin to the real one, it must be someone who knows Madoka well. Of course, the person who knows Madoka best is Homura. We discover that Homura is really a magic girl being experimented on by the incubators. At the end of Part 2, where Homura is explaining the aspects of the old world to Kyubey, the incubators start to become curious about the concept of “witches” in which they isolate a magic girl, enclosed from the “Law of the Cycle” that Madoka reworked into the universe in order to save the souls of magic girls, so that the incubators could learn about/recreate the “witches.” Even in this restructured world, the Kyubey have hypothesized that the transition from hope to despair that magic girls may make would generate enormous amounts of energy for their kind. What happened during the experiment was that Homura ended up reconstructing an entire city inside her mind and invited certain individuals to fill that city. After Kyubey’s explanation, Homura almost immediately guesses that the incubators are attempting to divulge the secrets of Madoka and control her.
In order to prevent the incubators from targeting Madoka, Homura decides to raise the witch’s curse on her own and attempt to commit suicide. At this point, Homura descends into her state as a witch and is prepared for her soul to be cursed for all eternity to suffer. At which point, Sayaka and
Mami Nagisa reveal that they’re “secretaries” for Madoka, who have been sent to help the Madoka inside Homura’s world to realize her true memories. At which point, Homura is purified by the magic girls and everyone returns to the real world. The action gets pretty intense… but it’s not over… Things get messy, but Madoka’s ready to receive Homura into magic girl heaven (wherever that is, out there in the universe) because her Soul Gem’s run out and she’s going to die. You’d think that at this point, this when the story wraps up with a nice bow but Homura actually yanks Madoka down from her godliness, and detaches the person that is Madoka, from her godly half. Homura is able to do this because her Soul Gem’s descended into a level of despair worse and way past a regular curse, where she’s reached the pinnacle of human emotion which she calls love. They say there’s a fine line between love and hate and Homura really embodies this by the end of the film. Her Soul Gem transforms into something so different that she herself becomes a powerful demon with the powers equivalent to that of a god’s. She’s ripped a part of Madoka’s universe for her own and exists as evil in which she states twice after that when the world ends, when all the magic girl’s souls will be collected, the final battle will very likely be between her and Madoka.
The greatest part of it is that Homura is powerful enough to take on the incubators. She abducts Kyubey to “help” her and returns the little creature, which can usually heal, respawn or regenerate and beats it into a PULP at the very end. Versus the many times that little magic girls look at Kyubey and think to themselves, “I really should have stayed away from this cat thing,” Kyubey’s got that same scared out of his mind look plastered on his tattered expression at the end. GO HOMURA!
END OF PLOT SPOILERS~~ KEEP READING FOR THE REST OF THE REVIEW
More on Storytelling
The sort of ending that you’re given by Urobushi is the sort of ending that completely follows his style but of course, it’s never anything you can predict or expect. And it’s so dark and yet plausible in that world that you can’t help but blink for a moment away from all the other magic girl and regular anime series that finish with super sunshine conclusions. For someone who’s such a sucker for happy endings – as clichéd as they may be at times, this ending thoroughly satisfied everything that you want in a happy ending and yet you can argue that it wasn’t an entirely “happy” ending. If you watch the movie or you’re familiar with Urobushi’s work, you probably know what I mean.
Urobushi really shook things up, but it takes a really great director and team to bring the screenplay alive. Akiyuki Shinbo and Yukihiro Miyamoto do a spectacular job at drawing out the storytelling in a fairly easy to follow pace even as we’re caught up in all the character development and action. And there is action. And there are explosions. Not only is it packed full of magic girl action we’re dying to see, there a wickedly innovative magic girl transformations for each of our characters who form a Holy Quintet magic girl team.
I don’t cry for anime much. This film did it for me. It takes a lot for an anime to make me cry and there’s only been one other anime that moved me to tears in the history of my anime watching.
Storytelling Rating: 5/5 legendary clouds
I hope you guys enjoyed Part 1 of the Puella Magi Madoka Magica Movie III: Rebellion review. Stay tuned if you wanna see the review on characters, the genre, my final thoughts and a little surprise at the end!
What are you pondering today?