Opinion Prone

My opinions, let me tell them to you.

It really can’t be because I had high expectations. I didn’t really. I was skeptical. I’m always skeptical. Especially as the one series from the Winter season that seemed to be universally well-liked, I went into the whole thing with a large grain of salt. After all, I don’t seem to have a great track record for agreeing with the popular opinion (see Eureka 7 and Gundam SEED).

Magical girls? Yeah, okay, whatever. Even if Sailor Moon was my first and only, I don’t have a problem with magical girls — but my opinion towards the genre probably wasn’t necessary to factor in anyway, considering everyone was liking Madoka because it was “different” from what you’d typically expect from a magical girl series.

But the first two episodes bored the hell out of me. I didn’t see anything different. It wasn’t bubbly and shoujo enough to be typical magical girl, I guess, but it wasn’t groundbreaking in any way or even halfway intriguing. The characters were flat and uninteresting, wholly good and moral. Homura was a question mark, but did not provide a lot of excitement. Kyuubey was creepy though. Clearly he has an ulterior motive! The collage element in some scenes were kind of neat, but not neat enough for me to watch on that basis alone. And boy, was that opening theme fan-pandering or what.

So I thought about dropping because hey, when was the last time I actually ended up liking a series that I almost dropped early on? Oh, right, never. (The only halfway case was when I almost dropped Dennou Coil near the midpoint because it was slow, but I wasn’t bored at the beginning of the series.) But I was goaded into watching episode three because it’s such a short series anyway, and episode three was the first instance of Puella Magi Madoka Magica being different.

(Spoilers for the entire series beyond this point.)

Well, I guess one of the girls dying horribly when a monster witch thing bites her head off is kind of unexpected, yes.

But even still, the series didn’t seem to pick up. There is drama, but the characters continued to be flawlessly moral with every bit of negativity justified with a tragic and uninspired backstory, and I just didn’t care. Here is another series that failed completely at getting me to sympathize with the characters. All of them could have died and it wouldn’t have been interesting because I wasn’t emotionally invested at all. It might have been a little surprising, but it wouldn’t have been interesting. The backdrop for the series is not unimaginative, but without characters that didn’t suck, none of the events mattered to me.

The terrible wishes all of the characters were making also annoyed me. I mean, really, guys. First rule of wishing-making: say it right. It isn’t like you have a time or 140-character limit. The show isn’t even hinged on interpreting your wishes wrong, and it was established that Kyuubey isn’t really trying to trick you. You can be as specific as you want, right? If you’re selling your soul to the creepy white alien bunny, you should at least make sure that you get exactly what you want in return. Who’s to say you can’t have a compound sentence in there too?

We didn’t hear Sayaka’s wish specifically, but really? You wished his hand magically perfectly well again, but not his legs? I get that his hand was more important and that his legs were probably gonna heal anyway, but come on. We’re making miracles here! Kyoko’s wish is forgivable, I guess, since she was depicted as very young at the time. But Madoka’s? Man… Madoka, you could have fixed everything, but you didn’t. (More on this below.)

I was ready to drop it again around episode nine. At that point, I would have been fine if someone had just spoiled the rest of the series for me. It’s always a bad sign when I stop caring about spoilers. I normally hate spoilers, no matter how minor. But man. It’s such a short series. Twelve episodes! Just three more to go. How bad could it possibly be? And maybe I’d get some pay off finally?

So fine, I watched ten. Ten revealed a lot of things. Ten also made me make instant comparisons to Higurashi, which I had (surprise!) dropped for boring the shit out of me. (Umineko, too.)

Episode ten did make me care a little more about the outcome of the series though. With Homura’s motivation finally clear, I could almost kind of care about whether she succeeds or not! And I love time shenanigans. Time shenanigans are cool. But time shenanigans also opened the floor to a bunch of questions and possible plot holes:

  1. What was the contractual wish of original!Madoka if current!Madoka is having such a hard figuring one out?
  2. Is Homura actually retconning/rewriting all previous timelines by physically traveling back in time?
    1. But that doesn’t make sense since she never meets a younger version of herself.
    2. Kyuubey implies that she’s been traveling into parallel universes, but in this case, she’d still need to deal with duplicate versions of herself??
    3. It’s conceivable that she’s merely transferring her consciousness into a past/alternate version of herself, but in this case, I feel like her physical skills/prowess wouldn’t transfer as smoothly.
  3. Other than Homura’s knowledge of previous timelines, is anything else changing between timelines?
    1. Obviously, because Madoka is apparently having her fate twisted by the universe?
    2. And also, if nothing else had changed, Madoka would already be a magical girl in each timeline since she’s already one when she meets Homura and it’s implied that Homura restarts at the same place every time.
    3. Not knowing what Madoka’s contract wish was originally (since they hadn’t met at that point), I’m not sure how Homura could go about preventing Madoka from making that original contract. I guess Madoka could have told her, but
    4. Given all this, why does the mere fact that Homura is messing with time screw up these other things?

I didn’t expect the series to actually answer any/most of these. It’s actually pretty easy to be forgiving with timefuckery plot holes because it’s such a complicated plot device. But seeing as this turning point reveal was the only thing I found interesting in a series full of disappointments and that it took ten damn episodes to get there, well.

My brother had been amongst the people singing praises for the series and had specifically recommended it to me. He was disappointed that my final thoughts were basically “MEHHHHHH.” We usually have similar tastes, but it seems that every time we disagree, it’s me disliking a series that he likes. Rarely does he dislike a series that I like. He went through my MAL to make sure. The following is the conversation I had with him on Facebook about the conclusion of the series, and then the series in general. It’s unedited except to replace our names and his profile picture.

I like to think I won that debate. :3


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8 Comments

  1. Anonomyous on April 27, 2011 3:38 am

    Didn’t read the rest because the front part showed you don’t really think about stuff
    Why not just remove entropy?

    i) What if QB tells the truth. Want to be a cave man again because they don’t need humans anymore?

    ii) No heat loss means either 100% energy conversion or 0% energy conversion. The first means no life because nothing heats up because heat IS a result of entropy. The second leads to no universe in the first place.

    iii) Ever consider that you don’t know how the wish will be performed because basically you’re leaving all details to the wish itself which won’t read your mind (as is obvious from Sayaka). Eg. Entropy removed by removal of all energy in the system. Yay for that

  2. Son Gohan on April 27, 2011 6:22 am

    “What was Madoka’s first wish?”
    It’s not important, BTW it was revealed in a drama cd that she wished to save the life of a cat injured by a car.

    Homura was able to avoid Madoka’s contract in timelines 3-5 because she went back in time a week before Madoka contracted and then she stalked/killed QB. When she wakes up in the hospital you can see a calendar next to her bed: it’s March 16 and school starts on March 25.

    Madoka didn’t wish for the whole Puella Magi system to go away because she still wanted to grant the wishes of the magical girls. This is actually the better solution: the girls have a chance to achieve a miracle and the Incubators can still collect their energy to fight entropy.

    I guess Homura was spared from the universal reset because she was with “god” when the universe was changed. This is also the reason while she and only she remembers Madoka (Tatsuya’s imagination notwithstanding).

  3. Anonomyous on April 27, 2011 10:12 am

    The point of the show is about how difficult it is to make choices. And that once we make those choices we must be ready to accept the consequences. Madoka’s final wish was the best possible wish anyone could have made at that point in time. Did you even listen to QB explaining how Madoka before would have been incapable of making that kind of wish prior to the timeline resets?

    You seem to like to be told every single little thing in order to have no qualms or questions with anything by the end of the show. Every great show always keeps the audience guessing and wanting more. The fact that they don’t explain everything and leave things open to interpretation is because you (the viewer) would’ve complained over any explanation they offered.

  4. TheBigN on April 27, 2011 10:49 am

    “What was the contractual wish of original!Madoka if current!Madoka is having such a hard figuring one out?”

    Original Madoka (first timeline we see) had her wish for the sake of helping a cat stuck in a tree, I think, based on a drama CD. Given her initial idealized view of what a magical girl does (that notebook is important if anything), and on what she’s probably seen in magical girl anime, and also giving that fact that she’s only a middle schooler at this point (I believe), this silly wish is within the realm of possibility.

    In no way was I expecting any of the wishes made (even the last one) to be constructed well. Who has experience in constructing wishes or even thinking critically enough at that age? :P

    That being said, what makes Madoka’s final wish also important is the “by my hands” part of it, since it limits the amount of loopholes that the Kyubey could exploit, and ensures that she’s there to see that wish fulfilled. And if Madoka hadn’t seen all of the things that a magical girl in their world experienced, that final wish probably wouldn’t have come out that way.

  5. Hogart on April 27, 2011 11:05 am

    He didn’t like the show, but there’s no need for you to defend it.

    I wish people would just enjoy the show for what it is, and stop trying to make it profound… you’ve all been Shafted, especially those who think there is some real logic and sense behind Madoka.

    You can spin any reasonable solution to the problem as good or bad, and it won’t matter because Madoka is just there to tempt people into thinking. It’s not supposed to make sense, it’s supposed to be an emotional thrill ride.

    You either like it or you don’t, but there’s no more point to arguing over it then there was for the likes of Gurren Lagann. Any “depth” here is superficial and only really used for dramatic effect.. to entertain the hell out of you. Just let it do so, there’s no need to overthink things.

  6. Kiriska on April 27, 2011 12:25 pm

    @Anon1: Perk of being able to wish for anything — specify that changes only apply to present time, so the past isn’t affected (this also solves any issue with time paradoxes). I won’t pretend to be an expert on this subject, but energy lost as heat (which increases entropy) is not the same as energy lost into oblivion, which is what Kyuubey states is the problem. However, it probably isn’t worth it to delve into the extreme technicalities of physics here since the concept wasn’t explored upon very in depth. Madoka wishing a solution to whatever issue the incubators are trying to resolve would have been sufficient. Mostly my issue here is with the idea of being able to wish for anything.

    @Gohan: Nope, her wish isn’t important, but if Madoka had the capacity to think of a wish originally, simple and juvenille as it was, then it doesn’t really make sense that she would lose that capacity in subsequent timelines. It wasn’t explicitly shown, but if Madoka happened to make her contract in the week between Homura waking up at the hospital and school starting, then I guess I can accept Homura being able to prevent the contract by harrassing Kyuubey, but Homura time-traveling physically VS Homura time-traveling mentally still raises inconsistencies for me as far as her physical prowess. And I guess it’s also acceptable to me that Madoka would want the girls to still be able to make wishes, though she’s still also sentencing them all to a premature death, which might be questionable? *shrug*

    @Anon2: I never questioned whether Madoka would have been able to make her final wish in a prior timeline; obviously not, since she didn’t have the knowledge of time shenanigans. My issue was with the holes in that last wish and the potential for it to have been better. When you can wish for anything, there is probably always a way to make it better. Even taking the above response to Gohan into consideration and accepting that Madoka wanted to grant the girls’ wishes, she could have easily twisted it so their soul gems never expired and they wouldn’t need to eventually die for their wishes. A cop out for the idea of exchanging your soul for something? Yeah, definitely, but that’s why there are usually limits on what you can wish for. I don’t want things explained to the last detail, but I want inferences and conclusions drawn to be able to make sense. If I didn’t like having questions, I wouldn’t like Darker than BLACK as much as I do.

    @TheBigN: I don’t think wishing to save a cat is outside the realm of possibility, no, but I do think that kids at that age are capable of thinking a little bigger than that. They aren’t in elementary school (or are they? I really can’t bloody tell the age of lolis, arghaghargh). In general, I think the whole wish thing could have been better with some basic limitations built in, rather than Kyuubey emphasizing over and over that they could wish for anything. No one even tried to wish for more wishes! That is a basic thing that even elementary-age kids would be able to think of, right? :P If Kyuubey really had no emotions, they he wouldn’t really try to look for loop holes, though it’s also hard to say whether it’s Kyuubey granting the wish or some higher power coupled with the girls’ souls?

    @Hogart: I would contest the idea that something is ever enjoyable without making sense. Even an “emotional thrill ride” is some sort of sense because it is a purpose. Saying that there isn’t one is respecting it even less than I am. There is logic and sense in Madoka, and some people are convinced of it more easily than others. I didn’t find it as enjoyable as others, but I’m not trying to invalidate anyone’s views, merely offering my own. I tried to let it “entertain the hell out of me.” It didn’t. I’m explaining why.

  7. TJF588 on August 17, 2013 9:23 am

    *finally watches series and rightly reads blog*

    “It’s only natural, isn’t it?” I don’t know if Madoka pulled some Lelouch-level thought processes (I could swear I’ve thought to’ve seen at least somewhat critical commentary on Geass’s ending here, too) with that wish, but Kyubey was rather forward about the other girls’ disasters stemming from wanting an alternate reality. I’d like to think that at least the mechanics of entropy would be touted as consideration for how her wish went down. As we see, she only went god-mode after concluding the wish, from which point she could willfully muck with reality.

    While I liked the aesthetics of the show (moreso the witches than the scenery porn, beautiful as it was ridiculous), especially in contrast with the characters, those characters were less than attachment-worthy until, for me, the tail end of episode 9. I’d picked up on so many spoilers — Mami v. Charlotte, entropy & witches, Madoka amnesia, and just a week or so ago seeing a namedrop during a scroll of a “Top Time Travelers” list on ANN — so most of them having been addressed by episode 8 allowed me to enjoy the following three.

    Thinking about it (with my opinion prone to change after further mulling and/or outside influences), my draw would be the man-versus-the-machine struggle applied to these particular subjects, with “emotional teenage girls” for “man” and “spectacular magical outfi– powers” in place of “the machine”. When Sayaka (my brain’s all tossed on her and Kyoko’s names between JP audio and subs) full-bodily glazed over on the train, I felt even that was an “oh shit!” moment (in part by the spectacle; that she’d crack in some way was obvious), even though the real punch was minutes later (what…happened to those two “men”, anyway?).

    As for Walpurgis Night (Boogie? [see: Demons’ Score]), I had a feeling of Homura-relation, too. To backtrack, we see at least one time she pulled a Batman at her window to warn against contract work, and prior Madoka’d said she’d only been magical for a week, so I’d figure Homura’d had some downtime between her Groundhog Day and her first day of school. Back to Wal-Mart… I’m not too sure how that’d work out, not for want of it being so. Maybe it was from a situation like we saw in Ep12, but Madoka didn’t show up to stop the griefing, and Walpurgis overcompensatingly backtracked. There’s room for its backstory, but not in the scope of the show’s episodes. As of this bit of text, I’m ignorant of any extra materials detailing it.

    And great, now I’ve gotta read your piece on PSGep1…and then finish THAT one. (At least I have an option of dubs; rather enjoyed [MS]MM’s original cast, mostly toward the end).

    *after comments*

    Roadkill? /Really/? Oy… Wonder how impotent Madoka had been, at the start of things.

    [starting with Son Gohan’s second paragraph]

    Ah, forgot that in the blurb up top: Societal reset. “Naked in caves,” as said. Neutralizing the witch threat works out a bit better. I’m uneasy with the wraiths business, since I don’t know what threats they pose. Aside: This is another show like Haruhi where the leading character isn’t the main character, eh? (Kyon : Haurhi :: Homura : Madoka)

    “By my hands” strikes various chords in me, I’m sure nigh all as pop-culture notes, but not sure what to belt out.

    @”@Gohan” – I’d chock Homura’s prowess up to an aspect of the time magic. Memory, after all, is a brain configuration (even Kyubey called “souls” as neurons), so I guess the magic just synced Homura’s condition. Not sure how many times she went through that month, so not sure to call bullshit on aging. As for the premature deaths, Madoka’s shone to regard wishes and the effort behind them as precious (took me a double-take to rightly get what Madoka said during the concert scene), and, again, to neutralized the magical girls was to overcomplicate retention of human advancement (again again, before god-mode kicked in).

    @”@Anon2″ – ANOTHER show I need to get through. Anyway, I should just make a shield out of “preservation of human progression”; I’d call out Madoka’s handling of Mami and Kyoko compared to Sayaka, but those two’s Soul Gems didn’t corrupt during the month, like Sayaka’s apparently did. (Now I want to see what pre-god-mode visitations for Mami/Kyoko/Homura would’ve looked like.)

    @”@TheBigN” – Well, its phrasing did feel like, “This is THE wish, THE wish that your ONE AND ONLY soul shall be granted,” so “more wishes” might’ve been disregarded by default.

    …and to wrap up, I still get e-mail notifications from the Pokémon Type-combinations post, haha! Used one to find my way back to this, even.

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