HERE BE SPOILERS
Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica is the greatest anime of all-time. iFull stop. ii Drop the mic. To me, it is perfection in the form of Japanese Animation. Thus, I was more concerned than excited when it was announced that Madoka would be getting a “third” movie. iii How do you surpass perfection? Well, you cant. You can only come tantalizing close to it or overshoot it and fall off the precipice waiting at the end because you got too far up your own asshole and fucked the whole thing up. I was as equally prepared for the former as I was for the latter when it came to Madoka: Rebellion and after viewing…the wave of emotions inside of me are hard to describe.
When we last saw our tortured heroes, 3/5ths of them were dead, one had turned into a literal god, and the other was left to pick up the pieces of her life and carry on in the new world of 1 AM. iv With this knowledge in hand, it was strange to see Madoka back to her regular, non-angelic self. The first half hour of the movie takes you through what seems to be the beginning of Madoka, but not the timeline we’re familiar with.v
It seems to be more akin to the OG Madoka vi timeline where Madoka already seems to be a Magical Girl as Kyuubey is already in the fold and Kyoko has replaced Hitomi in Madoka’s and Sayaka’s trio. It even has Homura being introduced as the transfer student, sporting glasses and braided hair but from then on you can tell that something’s up. The Homura that is being introduced is not the meek, frail child she was in the OG timeline but more personable, friendly, and already a god damned magical girl. Hell, even Mami’s back in action with a pet that craves cheese but the flat out disturbing part about this is her pet is THE SAME GOD DAMNED WITCH THAT BIT HER HEAD OFF IN THE FIRST PLACE! MAMI GET THE HELL AWAY FROM THAT THING!
From there, the “Holy Quintet”, yes that is what they are called, go on to hang out, drink tea and eat cake vii, and fight Nightmares rather than Witches featuring artistically stylish and wholly masturbatory transformation sequences. viii Before I saw the movie, Ruben told me that the beginning of the movie was pretty much entirely fan-service and I can see where he was getting at. All the girls are alive in their healthy, un-emotionally molested forms; hanging out, doing girl things, and being generally more happy then we have ever seen them in the original show. We even have a Madoka/Homura nighttime beautiful expository sequence. ix Homura though, as she is wont to do, is more hip to the jive than anyone else and quickly deduces that the world they are living in is fake, most likely an illusion in a Witch’s labyrinth. As she comes to her senses, this changes her high, demure tone back into the lower, more serious voice we’ve come to expect out of the Chiwa Saito-voiced character. It’s even complete with the removal of glasses, displacement of braids, and legendary flip of the hair.
After deciding that one of them must be the Witch that created this world (followed quickly by a Mami/Homura misunderstanding fight sequence) Homura narrows down that the only person who could create a world like this with Madoka in it would have to remember Madoka in her pre-deity days, which is impossible. This means, that the only one who could do this…was Homura herself. Homura had become a witch.
This was a hell of a gut punch if there ever was one. At end of the series, Madoka had become the
Breaker of Chains Deity of Hope who would forever prevent Magical Girls from falling into despair and becoming Witches. This led to a world transformation in which everyone who had ever known Madoka would forget she ever existed. This transformation was as necessary for the good of the world as it was cathartic for Homura. Homura seemed, against all odds, to finally have her shit together but it appears that it was short lived as she had fallen into despair and had become a Witch.
Except not exactly. Before she could become a witch, Kyuubey (the magnificent, irredeemable son of a bitch that he is) put Homura’s soul gem in stasis. Partly to observe the effects of Homura’s soul, but also and most importantly, to lure Madoka in the hopes of controlling her and her power. The twist is that while Madoka did take the bait, upon entering the world she forgot the reason she arrived in the first place and went on being the normal high-school girl she used to be. Upon Kyuubey’s absolutely shocking revelation, Homura forces herself to complete the full Witch transformation as a means to save Madoka from Kyuubey. What Kyuubey and Homura did not count on, however, was Madoka having help. Sayaka and Nagisa Momoe, the newest Magical Girl/Witch hybrid thing (?), who strangely received very little screen time during the film, spearhead the fight against Witch Homura and with the help of a converted Kyoko and Mami, breakdown the barrier surrounding the labyrinth allowing Goddess Madoka to come cleanse her soul.
At this point, the film was around a 9 out of 10 in my head. I felt like it was an incredibly tight and well made film and one of the best anime movies of all-time but it felt a little like rehashing old ground. A biased, and maybe even unfair point but I felt like I had seen this all before and that to warrant at 10, it would have to change the game. As Madoka was about to cleanse her soul, Homura releases all of the pent up curse in her soul gem, sucking Madoka in. Yes, Homura was in danger of becoming a Witch but not because she had fallen into despair. It was because she had given into the most terrible, most powerful emotion known to man: Love. She used the power of her love for Madoka to suppress her godly power and in the process, become a god herself. But not just a god, a demon. Devil Homura. With this power she rewrote the rules of the world and created a new one where Madoka is now the incoming transfer student with no knowledge of the immense power that is being actively suppressed by Homura as Homura pulls all of the strings, allowing/forcing, Madoka to be a regular girl. Except Homura realizes, as Madoka almost taps back into her power, that she can not control Madoka forever and one day soon they will be at odds, the Yin and Yang of Magical Girls and metaphorical Goddesses of Heaven and Hell.
I can’t believe it. I can’t honestly believe it. They did it. They changed the game. Gen Urobuchi and SHAFT changed the entire world of Madoka again, something I thought impossible. But as it turns out, Impossible is Nothing. They once again pushed it into a stratosphere of legend, becoming quite possibly the greatest anime movie of all time. But was it able to surpass itself? Was it able to surpass what I thought was perfection? I don’t know, I honestly, truthfully don’t know. And that means it probably did.