On the eve of the Walpurgis, Kyubey appears before Homura and explains his theory that it’s due to the loops that Homura went through that Madoka has so much power, with each loop binding her fates together. Because of this he congratulates her on creating what could be the most powerful witch ever.
I don’t know whether it was procrastination, or just how inconvenient the time it finally aired turned out to be for me to write this up. But anyway…
Following this a funeral is held for Sayaka who’s body was recently found and Madoka’s unwillingness to talk only worries her mother, and when she meets Kyubey after this she confronts him on how he doesn’t seem to care about those who have died, leading him to explain that to him Puella Magi are little more than livestock. A relationship he thinks benefits both sides and shows her just how it has benefited humanity as a whole, with Incubators appearing throughout history before girls to have their wishes fulfilled, and of course it all ended in despair for them. However Madoka still cannot accept this as he explains his side of things and how amazed they were to find creatures living together with emotions.
Elsewhere Madoka’s mother and teacher meet up where the latter explains how a third year student has also been declared missing and that Sayaka’s death has hit Hitomi pretty hard, while her mother tells her that she’s been having trouble reading Madoka lately. Around the same time Madoka goes to Homura’s apartment where Homura tells that the Walpurgis doesn’t use a barrier and that fighting it alone should be something she can do. Of course she can’t seem to believe her and Homura soon breaks down, confessing how she’s continuously tried to save her only to fail each time and how much she means to her, ending with her asking to let her protect her.
A storm hits the city shortly after this and as everyone is evacuated to the shelters, Homura prepares to fight the Walpurgis alone and as she walks on, the curtain rises. She then wastes little time transforming and kicking things off with a rain or RPGs and Mortars before flinging a petrol tanker at it, however even after everything she has to throw at it, the Walpurgis emerges completely unharmed and attacks her with her familiars.
In the shelters Madoka meets Kyubey once more who tells her that there’s no way Homura could beat the Walpurgis and that she’ll just keep looping time, and so it’s only a matter of time before she falls into despair. This gives her the determination to do what she needs to do, however her mother stops her and upon hearing how much she, her father, and brother mean to her and seeing just how serious she is, she lets her go. Back on Homura’s side of things she struggles with keeping the Walpurgis and it’s familiars away from the shelters but gets caught off guard and trapped in the rubble. At first she goes to reverse time, but just as Kyubey had said before she realises how hopeless her situation is and falls into despair. Before this can fully happen though Madoka and Kyubey appear before her.
Continuing from this in the final episode, Madoka tells Homura that she’s decided to become a Puella Magi and apologises to her for everything she did against this decision before telling the Incubator to grant her wish. To erase every witch before they transform, and while a wish like this seems impossible she still wants those girls to not feel the despair that their wishes ended in. She’s somehow able talk with Mami and Kyouko as she does this which reaffirms her determination as they warn her that she’ll have to fight forever due to this wish, but tell her that in doing so she’ll become hope for every Puella Magi.
And so she draws her bow and fires a shot that clears the sky and transcends space and time, allowing her to give each fallen Puella Magi a send off and allow them to disappear without falling into despair. Eventually the Walpurgis itself also starts to fall to this as she greets it with open arms. Soon after this Homura finds herself alone as Madoka’s wish starts to reform the universe itself with her soul gem becoming a comet that almost threatens to destroy the world. However if her wish is truly granted, Madoka sees no reason to fall into despair and stops it.
As the universe starts to reform her very existence is also erased and while Homura laments this, Madoka comforts her by telling her that it’s not as bad as she thinks it is as she exists in everything, and tells her just how grateful she is to have had such a great friend like her all along. Of course this also means that she’ll always be by her side and in order to make sure she doesn’t forget her, she gives Homura her ribbon as they part, sure that they’ll meet again.
Following this Madoka meets Sayaka to see Kyousuke’s concert, where she’s able to help her see that what she did still had meaning and put her feelings in order, sure that Hitomi will do a good job in her place. At this point Sayaka herself had parted in one final attack to defeat the new foe that Puella Magi now face, demons. With Mami accepting it and Kyouko sad that they had just managed to become friends.
After this Homura bumps into Madoka’s brother who still seems to remember his sister and recognises the ribbon that Homura now wears, she also gets the chance to talk with her mother who can’t seem to remember her daughter but feels that the ribbon would be something she would buy if she had had a daughter. Homura later goes on to explain everything to Kyubey who sees it as being possible, but there’s nothing to support it, and after this the two of them head off to fight the demons together. Which are explained to be result of the despair people feel given physical form, and as she draws her bow Homura resolves to fight on.
In the epilogue Homura is shown to have fought on until what could probably be seen as the end of the world itself, and as she spreads her wings she hears Madoka tell her to keep going.
The airing date for it may have been delayed by over a month but as a finale for this series it was definitely worth it, going about Homura’s seemingly un-winnable battle with the Walpurgis and finally the choice that Madoka made in the face of this. In all it made for an almost breathtaking end to the series.
For what it was the first half of the eleventh episode was great for setting the scene again and tying up any loose ends along the way. Managing to almost make Homura realise that all the times that she had tried to save Madoka had also been making things worse and clearly displaying how Kyubey regarded Puella Magi. Which if anything that he thought of them like livestock was probably the best way to describe it, as he was essentially raising them to be witches. Coming with this it was also a nice twist to see that every famous female figure throughout history who fell into despair (Princess Himiko, Cleopatra, and even Joan of Arc) had been a Puella Magi, serving to show just how entwined humans and Incubators were and made their role a lot more deeper. Of course it was also kind of sad to see Sayaka’s funeral, which as brief as it was had a bit of weight to it given that she had been the only one whose body was recovered.
It was also nice to see Homura finally confess to Madoka, explaining everything that she had done and in a sense breaking down at the same time. Giving us another look as to what she hid behind her cold exterior and showing that the cracks in it were starting to get bigger, and that it would only be a matter of time until she did break down. Of course Chiwa Saito also did a great job of voicing her in this scene, you could feel the emotion in her voice which made it so powerful. Personally I also think she’s a good voice actress, able to pull off cold emotionless characters while still being able to do the overly cheerful sorts as well.
To put it simply Homura’s battle with the Walpurgis was simply spectacular, starting off by opening a curtain and a countdown which perfectly said that the show had begun. During the fight there were also no doubts that she was pulling out all the stops for this, even creating an RPG equivalent of Unlimited Blade Works and constantly attacking with attacks that seemed to one up the one before it. In all the animation and the scale to it all was absolutely perfect for the final battle of the series and it made for an amazing fight scene. However given that it remained unharmed it really has to be asked whether just like Madoka, the Walpurgis grew in power with each loop.
Which actually makes it pretty interesting, as the Walpurgis possibly could have been the result of Homura breaking down without creating another loop. The inevitable end point that would always be there no matter what she did. Explaining just why beating it may have been impossible for her, since as she grew stronger her inevitable witch form would have as well, allowing it to always be one step ahead of her. It possibly also could have explained how random it’s appearances would have been as it would have traveled through time as well, and as something interesting on the side it would have meant a paradox. But that said it’s just speculation.
Madoka’s actual wish though was actually sort of surprising for what it was, being something which only she could do and could be considered the result of all the loops Homura went through and the despair Madoka faced in this one. So as these all came together the result came as a wish that transcended time and space itself, allowing her to take out each witch before it formed as she became a mere concept in the universe. For what it was the universe it resulted in was somewhat bittersweet though, on one side it allowed Sayaka to actually come to terms and self assert why she made her wish and Kyubey wasn’t as much of a douche who led innocent girls to tragic ends. On the other it provided the world where Kaname Madoka didn’t exist, and while Homura and without a doubt Madoka’s younger brother could remember her. How close Madoka and her mother had been throughout the series was just something bitter when she didn’t even have the slightest feeling that she could have had a daughter, even if it was only an idea.
However even with her wish what Puella Magi would now fight, “Demons” almost made her wish kind of redundant, as while she had just took out one foe, another had raised up in it’s place. Making it clear that human despair was something that would always have a physical form in the series. Not to mention that the way that they were designed pretty much said that they were totally not witches. That said though I still don’t exactly think that Madoka’s wish was meaningless, she accomplished what she set out to by preventing each Puella Magi from falling into despair during their end and she removed the issue that they were destined to become what they had fought and used all along. So in a sense the Demons were something that was kind of interesting at the end, the only problem I have with them is that they lack the uniqueness that each witch had.
In the end what became of Homura was probably the most interesting part about the end, as while the universe changed around her she remained in place as one of the few who remembered Madoka, let alone had something that said that she once existed, her ribbon. The centre stone so to speak. Alongside this her powers also seemed to change as well, with her shield transforming into a bow and more noticeably she now bore wings, giving the impression that she was the angel to Madoka’s god. Also suggesting that her powers were constantly evolving.
As brief and vague as it was I also liked the end epilogue quite a lot, it gave the impression that after the credits rolled Homura fought on and on to the very end, showing that she had stayed true to the promise that she made with Madoka. Not wavering once as Madoka’s memory drove her own, even giving her something akin to Archer/EMIYA’s Unlimited Blade Works poem. I’m also interested as to what became of Homura in the end as well, as while her wings were pure white before they now bore the patterns reminiscent of the witches that Madoka erased.
In all this has been a series that I’ve enjoyed watching, and as a magical girl series by SHAFT/Akiyuki Shinbo and Nitroplus/Urobuchi Gen, it’s lived up to the expectations I had for it. Starting off with the usual fair before twisting it into a much more darker take on the magical girl genre, with Urobuchi Gen‘s way of storytelling shining through not that long into it while Akiyuki Shinbo‘s usual style stayed strong.
Taking that feeling of safety and reversing it to one of danger, I can even remember how terrifying the familiars we saw in the first episode were, as while there may be challenges that the characters would face there was never usually any fear of them dying. However this series pretty much did exactly the opposite to that with three of the five magical girls tragically meeting their end throughout the series. Firmly showing that Urobuchi could and would kill them off if the story called for it, let alone build up to it in a way that gave it a lot more impact.
Because of this I thought the characters were pretty good as well, they may have all started out in typical sorts of archetypes but as the story progressed they seemed to shift away from those. Either being inverted or completely breaking down in a spiral of despair, sometimes being given a glimmer of hope before such. Aside from that the reversal in Madoka and Homura’s roles was also pretty interesting, Madoka started off as a typical protagonist should and received such treatment, but towards the end it was possible to say that Homura was the protagonist instead, which episode 10 pretty much cemented. In all they just seemed to be used in interesting ways since it wasn’t possible to judge them at face value. Putting the main ones aside it also had a pretty good range of supporting characters, so I’m interested to see whether Shinbo really does carry through with the thing he said about a spin off for them.
Another thing about this series was SHAFT’s or to be more specific, Shinbo’s style, something which can really be a love it or hate it sort of thing. Depending on how you see the random quick and sometimes detailed shots along with the trippy sorts of scenes it can have. Personally I’m one of the people who sit in the former, I really do like their style and if anything I think a good amount of the series they animate turn out decent overall, you could look back on them five years from now and still say that they were all right. So this style was something that I liked about this show, it aided the approach it took to the magical girl genre, giving it a dark gloomy unsafe sort of feeling to the bright upbeat safe feeling that you would expect. And if that wasn’t enough the paper cutting style used for the witches and their barriers served as a perfect way of contrasting them from the rest of the series and showing how dangerous they were. Aside from that there were also quite a few moments where the animation was amazing, such as the fight between Sayaka and Kyouko, pretty much all of episode ten, and finally Homura’s showdown with the Walpurgis.
In all I thought that the story turned out all right, taking a different approach to the magical girl genre it had quite a few elements that you wouldn’t have expected to see without looking at the names of those putting it together. It focused more on despair and had a much more darker take on magical girls, in this case Puella Magi. You could probably refer to it as a deconstruction for it’s genre. Ironically enough it was also interesting to see that Madoka didn’t really make a contract until the end and all the things (the opening and promotional art) that seemed to show an alternative universe where she had already made one. But all up it ended in a pretty nice way,seeming to tell us the viewer that we should keep going. Kind of endearing in a way. Alongside all of that the series also had that feeling that it would be remembered in a few years from now, but I guess that time will only tell.