A fitting word to describe this anime would be: smart. My guy reactions to the ending would be stunned, awed, inspired. As if I had just walked out of a visual feast for my eyes and mind. SHAFT has provided an experience that I won’t soon forget.
Puella Magi Madoka Magica is a strange anime. It attempts to bridge the old and the new with SHAFT twisting and manipulating to my delight. Many people who have watched anime will remember Sailor Moon or a magical girl of some description. The genre in the past few years has essentially withered into nothingness, disappeared from the mass market. Modern times call for modern takes after all. Novels, for example, have strayed away from the singular character centric plots and now revolve around chaining intricate stories together. With Puella Magi, the magical girl genre is revisited and it’s well… quite magical to be honest.
In these final two episodes, which I consider to be one, there is less of a focus on witches and fighting evil. Madoka and Akemi rule the stage, rightfully so. They did a good job setting up the finale. It views much like a movie in that there are definite highs and lulls, perfect for creating suspense. Immediately to begin, questions are addressed and answered. I love that. So many times have I been stuck wondering what truly happened. Why does this or why does that. Closure is important and Puella Magi leaves no end untied.
As questions are acknowledged, the viewer is kept entertained by one of SHAFT’s trademark acid trips. This provides ample substance to gawk at while Kyubey speaks. They really went all out with their canvas painting style. What I would normally expect would be face shots of Madoka crying or perhaps QB smirking and while those do appear, they aren’t as prevalent as in other anime. It’s unique and I must give it bonus points for that. Smart in their presentation, smart in their storytelling. Very nice.
To transition into the next scene, a few random characters are pulled in. Madoka’s mother and teacher are used as an interim. They speak of death and anguish, leading the viewer to hold some form of attachment. Following this is an emotional Akemi clinging desperately to her one hope. This is all in preparation for the climax. The entirety of episode 11 is devoted to crafting a moment in which happiness is achieved. Again, smart.
Ending off the episode would be an epic battle against Walpurgisnacht and I must say that the animation is spot on. It’s crisp enough so that each individual rocket is discernible even while flying through the air. This has not been rushed. The explosions and scale are simply massive. Akemi roars through the fight on a truck, via rockets, buildings, anything really. It’s great.
Of course, we expect Madoka to jump in and save the day. Well she does but not before her mother chimes in asking where she is going. FINALLY, a mother with some common sense in an anime. You cannot understand how surprised I was when her mother didn’t say “Oh, you’re going to the washroom? Take care, don’t trip.” A tiny guts pose for me.
Skipping to the next episode, Madoka makes a wish, stepping in just as Akemi was about to lose hope and with it, her life. Her wish is to become a goddess so that no more witches may be formed and that salvation can be had. It’s grandiose and the laws of nature literally change with it. Sprinkled in between all the heartwarming savings, she finds time to visit Kyouko and Mami, Sayaka as well. Closure, I love it. However, by rectifying the evils in the world, she will be erased from all history. Only Akemi will remember her as she is the single anomaly. Tragic but necessary I guess. Though epic as it is, it’s ironic that her wish only included witches. A new evil soon emerges as the “Magical Beasts”. FFS, and here I thought it would end happy. I guess not as Akemi is left to deal with the problems and salvage what remains of the world that Madoka has so painstakingly fixed. This could be grounds for a sequel, we’ll see. I doubt it though because that just wouldn’t be received well like reviving Rurouni Kenshin from the dead. Oh. Right.
All in all though, it was amazing. Fans are calling this the best anime ever and though I am inclined to do so, it’s too fresh in my mind to assess without bias. It’s good though, the best that SHAFT has made and probably a contender for the best of the century. If you haven’t watched it, do so. It’s fantastic.