Before going into the movie itself, let me first preface this by saying that since its initial broadcast in 2011, Madoka’s been one of my all time favorite anime series. To say that I loved the series is an understatement (this and this should give you some indication) and the way the original ended was a key part of those feelings. In many ways, it was a “conclusive ending” that wrapped a bow around everything, and I found myself hesitant to watch Rebellion as a result. The act of revisiting what seemed like a “completed story” rang alarm bells in my head, and I was worried about it potentially just being a money grab that would also ruin some of the positive impressions I had of a series as a whole. That said, that didn’t prevent me from seeing this in theaters initially, and it’s been quite difficult waiting until the BD/DVD came out to write about it. Now that it’s out though, I present to you: Mahou Shoujo Madoka★Magica the Movie – Part III: Hangyaku no Monogatari.
OP: 「Colorful」 by ClariS
「劇場版 魔法少女まどか☆マギカ 叛逆の物語」
(Gekijo ban Mahou Shojo Madoka Magica: Hangyaku no Monogatari)
“Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica the Movie – Part III: Rebellion Story”
Going back to my preface for a moment, the biggest thing for me regarding this movie was whether or not it was just going to be “a money grab that would also ruin some of the positive impressions I had of a series as a whole.” As much as I wanted to believe this wasn’t going to be a factor in it all, the cynic in me couldn’t help but fear this as I watched it, and it was something that made me quite anxious in the days before the movie’s initial theatrical run. Looking back on it now, I feel a bit foolish feeling such a way though, because the fact is that Rebellion ended up being every bit as good as I wanted it to be. It wasn’t without its controversy—the ending had many people up in arms—but then again, when has Gen not been controversial with what he’s done with this series?
With that said, the greatness of this movie lies within the fact that it masquerades itself beautifully as something that’s “merely the reopening of closed doors.” What it actually does though, is anything but. Because if there’s one thing I realized from watching this movie, it’s that I was so wrapped up in the original series’ conclusive (and satisfying) ending that I didn’t see how much there was left here to expand upon following Madoka’s final wish. The fact is that we should’ve known that the Incubators wouldn’t just sit back idly after hearing Homura’s “theory” about witches at the end of the series, and it figures that they’d be back with a vengeance in order to try and harness an energy source far superior to the wraiths they ended up with. In this sense, this movie isn’t so much a reopening of closed doors as it is one that opened new ones. Best of all, it does so while naturally progressing the story lines in ways that don’t diverge from the sentiments and developments built in the initial story.
Case in point, what we end up see again this time around is just who Homura is: mentally strong, physically capable, and willing to do anything to get to the truth (or the end) she desires. She followed through with her desire to protect the world Madoka left behind until her Soul Gem could no longer be purified, and it was only fitting that she too was the reason our main cast realized the truth behind the isolated dimension they were in. To say the least, the latter was exceptionally fitting—leave it to her to find out the truth even if it was something she may have better off been not knowing—and it’s something highlighted further by her determination to speed up her transformation to a witch in order to be destroyed within the dimension and protect Madoka’s powers from falling into the Incubators’ clutches.
It’s been said that the “road to hell is paved with good intentions” however, and there’s something to be said about what happens here as a result of all her actions. This goes double for the controversial part where Homura rejects of Madoka’s Law of the Cycle, and the rapid fall from grace we see from Homura as she becomes the “demon” to counter Madoka’s “angelic” tendencies. Needless to say, this was a moment that likely made many people scream at their media player—there was a lot of groaning in the theaters that day too—and it’s something that really made me think quite a bit on what ended up being a multi-hour ride home. Because while it would’ve been great for the movie to end with Madoka taking back Homura into the Law of the Cycle, I feel that the key here was that it’s not about the ending we want, but the ending that’s right (and fitting) given the circumstances. And no, by fitting I’m not referring to how Gen pulled yet another twist on us—even if this ends up exceptionally true.
Rather, I refer to the fact that Homura’s ability to move on despite the circumstances doesn’t change the fact that she’s still human and feels quite a bit emotionally. She doesn’t show it and never complains about it, but it’s quite easy to see where a part of her couldn’t accept the fact that she wouldn’t see Madoka again until the end, and it’s also easy to see where “X” years of fighting Wraiths would have allowed some of her darker feelings to fester and grow over time. It wouldn’t have changed how she went about things and the fact that she does get to the finish line (pre-Incubator involvement) demonstrates this, but the point is that there was clearly a foundation for selfish desires within her, and her actions at the end of the movie are merely the natural progression that comes from succumbing to desires she wouldn’t have otherwise. In this way, it’s also fitting that the movie is a complete 180 contrast of the selfless wish that ended the TV series, and there’s much that could be said about the angel vs. demon contrast, as well as the whole rebellion vs. God aspect of it all.
Ultimately, the conclusion I arrive at is that the ending—however controversial—ends up at least fitting considering how the story was made up. Regardless, even if the ending wasn’t quite something you might’ve liked, I think we can all at least agree that the general development of the movie and its storyline was quite superb. It started out by giving us a glimpse of what could’ve been (how about that Holy Quintet?) and what had been (such nostalgia being reintroduced to the cast), gave us a clear vibes that something was terribly wrong with how things were progressing, then put the pieces of the puzzle together in a way that just blew off our heads (insert terrible Mami joke here). The soundtrack was especially impressive (as expected), and I think the important thing here is that the movie does complement the series in the end, which is what I feel is all we could ask for. The question remains however, whether this really is the end, and I really don’t think it is. Gen himself has mentioned that the series should continue even without him, and the ending here reeks of additional material sometime in the future. I guess that makes the real question just how long will we need to wait? (I fear for my wallet if they release more signboards again…)
ED: 「君の銀の庭」 (Kimi no Gin no Niwa) by Kalafina