I remember watching the original anime, thinking it was some regular magical girl anime. It started off that way, then started developing characters something fierce. Then the truth about Kyubey and Homura was revealed, and I was properly mind-blown. It was a crazily impressive piece of story writing, with a plot twist of plot twists. The ending was a Happy Ending, but of course, there were going to be the movies.
I skipped movies 1 and 2 because they were just recaps with new scenes, and I didn’t think it was worth watching again. So I picked it up from movie 3, Rebellion. It started out like the anime did, all peaceful and normal, bar the differences between fighting Witches and eliminating Nightmares. So I thought it was just a consequence of what Madoka did when she sacrificed herself to change the world; this was hinging on my poor memory of the anime.
Then came Homura’s discovery that they were in a witch’s labyrinth, and it was great to see how the movie turned the watcher from Bebe to Sayaka, all the while teasing the potential of Kyubey as the antagonist. It wasn’t that surprising when Homura finally revealed she was the actual Witch who made the labyrinth, although the whole Incubator Field thing wasn’t well done. The battle was trippy as hell (but were as good as any I’ve seen in anime, and better than in some live-action movies), and seeing Homura desperately trying to kill herself to protect Madoka made my heart ache.
Then Sayaka and Bebe revealed themselves to be Madoka’s aides, and Sayaka had a confession moment with Kyouko. I think that was pretty tastefully done, and does well to help promote LGBT rights in a show already chock full of lesbian references, given the way Homura is obsessively in love with Madoka. I forgot about the Sayaka/Kyouko dynamic, but I don’t think it was that big in the anime, so it could have been a movie thing. Nonetheless, well done.
Then came a very weird end to the battle where Homura captures Madoka, then changes the world so that Madoka thinks she’s normal again. It took all the way to the last scene with Homura leading Madoka around (a reflection of Homura being brought around the school by Madoka when they first met) before it made any sense, although it was both sad and terrific to see Homura become the antagonist in the end. She’s quite simply the most pitiful character, the most fleshed-out character, and the makers dared turn her into a Devil, a being that loved so obsessively it turned evil.
That’s got to be the best antagonist backstory ever. In a way, a lot of shows like to showcase a hero against an enemy, and the enemy turns out to have started out as a good person, but circumstances turned them towards evil. Rebellion, and the series as a whole, writes a beautiful, saddening story of how Homura became the magical girls’ nemesis. It’s one of the best scripts you’ll see, and it’s from something most people think is childish.
Feh. As if stuff like The Expendables, with its pointless fighting and fight scenes is any more detailed and intricate as Madoka‘s plot. Great for casual consumption, but it doesn’t have any meaning to it.
At this point, if the makers came up with a sequel to this, featuring Homura as the antagonist, I wouldn’t mind watching it. As it stands, however, it’s pretty much the best ending ever. I would never have envisaged such a twist, and it’s something that definitely needs consideration the next time I write a story.
That, and throwing audiences for a loop. The series has Madoka’s name in it, but in the end, the main character is Homura. Brilliant. Just brilliant.