Friday, 22 April 2011

Puella Magi Madoka Magica - Episode 12 (Completed)

So here we are at the end of it all, and what's more the potential end for Madoka, Homura and many others in the face of Walpurgis Night.  With Homura seemingly defeated, where do we go from here?

Shocking though it might be that it's taken so long, the inevitable finally happens and this timeline's Madoka decides that her only recourse is to become a magical girl, much to the despair of Homura.  Of course, this timeline's Madoka also has an advantage that perhaps none of her previous iterations did in terms of the information before her, and it's this which allows her to make an ostentatious yet carefully crafted wish... to destroy every witch in existence before it is born.

As wishes go, this is pretty major league stuff - enough to effectively alter the laws of the universe, and sufficient to turn Madoka from a mere mortal into what is practically a god; a being that transcends time and space with the ability to move within and alter history at will.  So it goes that Madoka achieves that wish, using the massive power and the hope that has built up within her to extinguish the despair from century upon century of witches.  The down-side of this is that she ceases to exist as a human being, and indeed even as a memory, with only fleeting recollections of her left within Homura (in particular) and her family.

I could probably write so much more to describe the events of this episode, but to be honest it's such a grandiose, high concept that I feel like I haven't entirely gotten to grips with it myself yet.  Perhaps what's more important from a series that worked hard to highlight the importance of human emotion is how I feel come the end of the episode - it was certainly an emotional (and genuinely tear-jerking) but ultimately satisfying end to the series.  Madoka's sacrifice doesn't create a perfect world - far from it, it's a world where magical girls still exist and give up their safety to fight demons that appear from within the confines of the human condition - but it saves those important to her or at least gives them peaceful closure, making for the kind of incomplete, emotionally charged and indelibly human wish that we would expect from a show that has cherished this kind of thinking above all else.

When a series proves to be so good, so impressive and so exciting to those who watch it, no ending will satisfy the hungry masses - a problem that is perhaps more keenly felt in Puella Magi Madoka Magica's case given the delays which allowed the hype around its ending to built impossibly high.  Given that, there will always be a twinge of "could they have done it better?" surrounding this final episode, but I will say this - it's a grandiose, brave and wide-reaching conclusion that exceeds the scope I imagined the series to have; it was a final, ultimate shattering of my pre-conceptions of both the series and the genre it represents in line with the smashing of my assumptions that it's been gleefully revelling in since that fateful third episode.

Puella Magi Madoka Magica is the story of the human condition, and what it is to "feel" something; to experience and express an emotion based on those feelings.  The fact that my feeling towards this final episode is one of love and that your own instinct towards it might well be something very different is, in essence, perhaps the most important thing to take from the series.

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