As predicted, Madoka makes a wish not bounded by logic and becomes a Godess, defeating witches before they are born so that the magical girls can live happily. It was a satisfying ending which left everything resolved, but a bit too much Shinbo. Also the Gurren-Lagannesque galactic sized battle and the Trans-Am yuri scene were not strictly necessary.
While the middle of the episode was lackluster, particularly the Trans-Am scene and extended epilogue, the beginning and the end were well done. I especially liked the twist at the end where the witches are replaced by magical beasts and Homura works together with Kyuubey to fight them. It’s nice to see that it isn’t all happily ever after.
But overall, the finale was surprisingly straight forward and predictable, and lacked the twists and turns which made the earlier episodes so enjoyable, so I must say I was a bit disappointed.
Shaft made good use of the extra time they had to make the last two episodes, and it really shows. This entire episode was simply gorgeous from start to finish. Homura’s battle was especially great— although it’s unclear who wrought more carnage on the city, Homura or the witch.
Kyuubey further explained the Incubators’ interactions with humans, spanning from prehistory to the present day, without which humans would still be living naked in caves. The humans are like cattle to the incubators, and without them would still be living naked in caves. But the Incubators treat the humans as sentient beings, and get their consent first. They link the Incubator’s interactions with Prometheus, Joan de Arc, and the Creation of man (at least that’s what I caught on my first watch through).
Perhaps the most interesting revelation from this entire conversation is that some Incubators do develop emotions, and are treated as mentally insane. Ironically, Kyuubey seems to say that the Incubators would not have problems with entropy if they themselves had emotions. It reminded me of Raymond Smullyan’s Planet Without Laughter— give it a read if you haven’t already, it’s short. Any explanation I give of the story won’t do it justice.
Homura’s Sysyphean struggle to save Madoka is further developed, as Kyuubey reveals that it is hopeless and self-defeating. But in his explanation to Madoka, he may have revealed a way to escape the fate of magical girls. “Any wish bound by logic can be twisted.” Perhaps there is a way out if Madoka can make a wish not bound by logic.
On an administrative note, I’m back from a trip and will be playing catch-up for the next few days.
In this episode SHAFT takes a play from Higurashi’s book and looks at the possible futures Homura has gone through and her transformation from someone even less decisive than Madoka into a total badass. The contact lenses and stolen weapons helped too. It turns out that shotguns are stronger than magic wands, even if you’re a magical girl. Oh, and Madoka finally became a magical girl and Mami came back to life (each multiple times). LOLOLOLOL
Now both Homura and Madoka have been fleshed out quite thoroughly. These were the only characters that were missing, so I’m expecting the rest of the show to head straight to the climax. Still, one question has noticeably not been answered – what did Madoka wish for all the other times she became a magical girl? Perhaps a wiser wish could lead to a brighter future, particularly now that she knows more about Kyuubey’s true nature beforehand. Such as wishing for a xenocide of all the Kyuubey aliens and the witches and the return of the souls of the magical girls. I highly doubt this will happen though, or any particularly cheerful ending for that matter. The best I would hope for is either a reset ending, given the creators’ history, or Homura dies but Madoka doesn’t. Or Madoka wishes she could stop Homura from becoming a magical girl and the universe explodes, or they become yuri time travelling pals and abandon the world to its fate.
The pacing was particularly excellent this episode – by the time the episode was over I hadn’t even realized we’d passed the halfway mark. The music was integrating very well and served as a driving force. Needless to say, the animation was beautiful as well, particularly in the scenes of the Witch’s realms and the Walpurugis Night. They had more variety than usual in these scenes as well.
An aside: In case you haven’t seen it already, I highly encourage you to check out this Homu-homu Homura-chan video.
Nooo, Kyouko!!!! She went out with a spectacular bang, so I can’t say I’m disappointed though! Now all that’s left to see is whether the creators will be able to outdo themselves in the finale, and given this episode, that may prove difficult. But now they should have plenty of time to develop Homura and Madoka, who have largely been left out so far, since they’re the only ones left.
The second half of this show, particularly the battle scene, was simply beautiful. Shinbo’s style really worked out well here, with the orchestral music in the background, the concert hall, Sayaka’s crazy-awesome new form, Kyouko’s spear skills and Madoka’s crying. Everything just really came together in that scene – the animation, music, and voices, and blended together perfectly.
Another (of many) things this show does quite well is manage to keep you sitting on the edge of your seat. I don’t think I’ve anticipated the next episode of a show so much since watching Code Geass (well, it certainly did have other flaws, and let’s pretend the second season never happened). This is how you do a tragedy – something you know will be so terrible that you can’t look away. It manages to inject hope up to the point where you can believe that things could turn out all right, such as when Kyoko and Madoka head to help Sayaka, only to dash that hope with an even darker fate than before. Yet in spite of the dark fate of magical girls, we must conclude that all is well and hope overcomes despair, as Kyouko overcomes the darkness in her own soul and reaches out to Sayaka and Madoka.
If I had to nitpick, however, I was disappointed in Kyuubey infodumping all the secrets about his nature to Madoka. I feel they could have drawn this out a bit later to the end of the series. It seems that now there are few unanswered questions, except Homura’s past. I don’t doubt that there will be more surprises as we go along, but they could have found a more interesting way to reveal everything. Plus, aliens are lame. Things that walk in the darkness on Earth are way scarier.
In which Sayaka turns to the dark side and Homura goes on a shooting spree.
As we head towards the climax the pace is picking up and the pieces of the mystery are beginning to fall into place. It seems that magical girls are indeed the material for witches, if not something worse, as Sayaka seems as if she may have skipped the familiar stage entirely and become much more powerful than your typical witch. Kyuubey is the “Incubator” of witches / magical girls as everyone’s been expecting for a while now.
The “Homura is a time traveller” theory turned out to be correct as well, although it doesn’t seem like Homura is Madoka herself as I had theorized. Madoka would definitely have cared about Sayaka more than herself. She’s probably someone we and Madoka haven’t met yet, since otherwise Madoka would recognize her. Another interesting possibility is that Homura could be Madoka and Sayaka’s mutual friend (Hitomi), although this would need to involve a large change in appearance.
Homura’s development (and Kyoko’s) took an excellent turn this episode in the scene where Homura tried to kill Sayaka. I (and most other people watching, I’m guessing) assumed that although Homura put on a tough act of not caring about magical girls (esp. Sayaka), she actually did care quite deeply. It’s kind of a rule that the quiet ones are generally not what they seem. So it was quite refreshing to see that Homura actually did mean what she said, and really could care less about Sayaka. Which is, unfortunately, why she’s done such a terrible job so far at preventing Madoka from becoming a magical girl.
Kyoko’s reaction in this scene was excellent as well – the roles ended up being completely reversed based on my initial impressions of the characters. I suppose the rule for this show is that the loud ones aren’t what they seem.
But by far the best scene of the episode was when Madoka was just on the verge of becoming a magical girl, only to be interrupted by a bullet storm from Homura. Kyuubey eating his own corpse was just the perfect icing on the cake!