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MADOKA MAGICA #12 - - Watch & Learn

I'm a little awed by how successful this finale is.

REVIEWER’S SECRET #1: I actually watched this episode a few days ago. Big surprise, but it’s sometimes easier to just watch and review in bulk.

REVIEWER’S SECRET #2: Whenever I get to the end of a series - - especially one that’s built up such expectations - - it’s always difficult to decide where to start with my write-up. I’m not just talking about one episode, now; I’m trying to summate an entire series! So there’s pressure to say something significant.

Since a discussion of deconstruction has been the overarching theme of these reviews, it’s probably best to just focus on that…

I figure that one of the biggest conceits in any story about enormously powerful do-gooders fighting against evil is the notion that they’re going to be locked in perpetual battle against bad guys without making any lasting progress. You’d figure that if Goku kept leveling up to cosmos-shaking power, for instance, then he’d realize that his god-like abilities would allow him to proactively eradicate all potential threats to peace.

We know why that never happens, of course. This stuff is all about conflict, and a conflict-less show would be utterly boring. Also, the more all-encompassing the morality play gets, the more it starts seeming more like a New Age, philosophical treatise and less like entertainment. But still - - it doesn’t make much sense in the logic of the imaginary world. And that’s why the further I get away from this episode, the more impressive it looks.

So yeah - - it turns out that my predication about a tragic conclusion where Madoka becomes Walpurgisnacht was off the mark. The ending we get instead - - where Madoka ascends to a higher, omnipresent state of being that quite nearly solves all problems, at all times - - sounds on paper like the sort of pretentiously-vague finish that has made me roll my eyes for too many other shows. Honestly, it’s almost an anime cliché.

However, I think MADOKA MAGICA turns that cliché into a clever win because it keeps its cosmos-shaking solution centered on grounded character concerns. Indeed, continuing the analogy about essays I made last time, this was a tight conclusion paragraph focused on tying up its argument - - hinting at larger issues without getting carried about making a paper that applies to everything.

I realize that the wording here is ironic, considering that Madoka actually does make her heroic efforts apply to everything in her world, but again, I’d say it works because it’s zeroed-in on something specific. Madoka finally does something here that I’ve wanted to see a character do in every story about magical wishes - - she treats Kyubey's offer like a binding business agreement and makes sure to cover her ass with all the provisos you’d see in an actual contract.

Watching her turn the Magical Girls’ vicious cycle of sacrifice and damnation into an ever-rolling wheel of encouragement and affirmation - - essentially rewriting this universe’s rules of physics - - doesn’t feel like a cop-out; it feels like watching a “chosen one” finally live up to her supposed qualifications by applying original, creative thinking to a problem.

As you can see, the onus of a final write-up has already put me in danger of getting too big with this write-up. All I’ll say, in summation, is that this show executed stupendously and it did many things which I’ve really been wanting to see in action-adventures fantasies for a long time. And that’s the most significant stroke for this deconstruction of the Magical Girl genre, because I’ve never been a Magical Girl fan.

Watch this episode, "My Very Best Friend" here and decide for yourself, then read my comments on the previous episode here.

Tom Pinchuk’s a writer and personality with a large number of comics, videos and features like this to his credit. Visit his website - - - - and follow his Twitter: @tompinchuk

metalsnakezeroon Dec. 7, 2012 at 3:14 p.m.

It was a grand finale with showing Madoka's willingness to accept her role and to make good use of it. It was also clever that the world still has monsters that that the magical girls must fight but Madoka is around to support their struggle as a godly speaker to them.

I do wonder if other future Magical Girl show will follow suit and so far they have yet to do so and maybe because Madoka has set that bar super high. SHAFT is doing another Magical Girl show called magical suite prism nana and it is looking to be more traditional to the genre but SHAFT usually doesn't do things traditional very much so let see.

Destinyheroknighton Dec. 7, 2012 at 3:54 p.m.

I think that Homura will become Walpurgis Night or another powerful witch seeing what happen in the end (also there is a movie coming out)

Anyway, I did enjoy the ending

Lurkeroon Dec. 7, 2012 at 5:59 p.m.

I enjoyed the ending too. Madoka didn't get world peace or save the universe. She made a specific pact to protect the magical girls. The world is still as messed up as ever, but there will be less of a threat from witches. It is a decent conclusion which covers most of the basics. Of course there are some fanatics that will get caught up in semantics and debate over whether her wish really is the best solution, but I don't care to go that deep because the solution seems good enough to me.

I also felt like Madoka sat down with a lawyer before making her wish. There's no way she didn't look over all the legal papers first.

Overall, a satisfying conclusion to a satisfying series. Like Tom mentioned there was even the grandiose ending where Madoka became the universe. The conclusion here rivals Gurren Lagann's tossing of universes.

vergiliuson Dec. 7, 2012 at 11:20 p.m.

The thing that excited me most about this ending that it wasn't a subversion of a genre concept but an enlargement--many magical girl shows explore the idea of strength arising from empathy and altruism, and this is that writ large. What sets Madoka apart from the other magical girls in the show is that she wants to be a magical girl to help people, rather than wanting something for herself that she thinks is worth the price. She's put in the position to do that because in some sense she wants for nothing--she has a secure, nurturing family and a healthy social life. No absentee parents here. How many times have you wondered "what must the Sailor Scouts' parents think they're up to?"

On top of that, if the show hadn't been such a grimdark, crapsack world, the ending would have felt trite and saccharine. But because of the tone maintained throughout, we're willing to accept it. The story earns the grandiosity of the ending.

So because Madoka has that support structure, and because she has those heroic virtues of empathy and altruism, she's able to make a wish so big that it effectively breaks the system. The ending is big and bold, but doesn't feel gimmicky because it grows out of what we've been shown in the 11 previous episodes.

My point being that it wouldn't be quite right to call this a work of pure subversion and deconstruction, although much of it does work on that level. Many of the elements that are subverted are subverted to a narrative, rather than critical, purpose.

I've always thought that Evangelion and Gurren Lagann work best as a pair--the deconstruction and the reconstruction, respectively--and Madoka Magica felt like watching the Magical Girl equivalent of that mirrored pair combined into one narrative in a quarter of the space. Super ambitious stuff to be sure.

The writer has a new show out now called Psycho-Pass that's sort of like Minority Report meets Ghost in the Shell, and I've enjoyed it so far. It seems to be well crafted although not as ambitious as the writing in Madoka, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. You can't write stuff like this *all* the time and have it work.

ADDENDUM: Now that we've seen the show, everyone should go watch JesuOtaku's video review. It's *awesome.*

Marshal Victory is online on Dec. 8, 2012 at 3:54 p.m.

Well i had stoped at 8 or so an had new anime season come in an distract me .Finished the series today an its a great ride.Tho the Kyubey race was mostly with out emotion why would some one belive they could not lie then?Lies are told becuas of emotion some times true but also told for gain.

I stand by my coment that this is to magic girls as Batman: The Dark Knight was to super hero comics.Good stuff.

zaldaron Dec. 12, 2012 at 10:04 a.m.

@Lurkero said:

I also felt like Madoka sat down with a lawyer before making her wish. There's no way she didn't look over all the legal papers first.

One of the things I loved about this show and one of the reasons I think it deserves a larger write up (if not several) was the fact it got correct BOTH my past job and the current one I am training for. Its discussion of entropy was spot on for even the way I explain the basics of entropy in the freshman level chemistry classes I have taught...and the whole contract business here felt like what I will be learning in law school about contracts (can't wait....).

Other things that deserve discussion - where does the magical girl genre go from here

Compare this ending to the ending of the buffy series which I thought was pretty similar

Also one word...yuri

takashichea moderator on March 22, 2013 at 6:03 p.m.

Man, I totally forgot to chime in these W & L articles for Madoka. This was a swell anime that flipped my view on magical girls. I will never look at magical girls the same way.

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