Can Madoka Be Saved?

So I finally got my ticket for the third Madoka movie. Fifteen bucks to a theatre that takes almost forever to get to from where I live on a Saturday. Could have been worse. Could be better. Either way, I’ll be watching it and I’ll try to have a good time. Whether or not the third movie was necessary is something I’ll decide for myself when December 7 hits. It’s a weekend too. Hooray!

Personally, I’m hoping that Madoka can save itself and I’ll finally start to like Shaft again, because they’ve been disappointing me a lot lately. I mean when was the last time Shinbo ever released a good show? Arakawa? Soremachi? Katte ni Kaiz…well I didn’t really enjoy that one much. I could be kind and say the second season of Monogatari, but I didn’t make it past the Hanekawa arc due to how awful it was. And this must be your first visit to the blog if you think I’d consider Madoka good.

Quick history: I was going through a bad phase in regards to anime around the time Madoka got released, so when I saw the hype for it on Anime Nano one day, I jumped in and started loving it. A dark magical girl series? I never thought such a thing could exist. Yeah, keep in mind, I was pretty dumb in regards to my cartoons back then, so I tended to eat up the stupidest shit at the time. All those deconstruction talks and whatnot? Yeah, I bought into them.

Naturally, I got swept up by the hype and when I finally made my own MAL account, I gave Madoka a 9, praising it to be a classic. As such, I was vastly disappointed when I saw that Aniplex was selling them at too high a price for me to pay. Over $100 for four episodes? No thanks, Aniplex. But anyways, it was one of my favorite series of all time and I think I put it on my favorite anime list at one point.

Then I saw those movies.

The first movie was decent. It was pretty much what a recap movie should do in regards to handling the pacing of turning a few episodes into a feature-length film, but it also reminded me of what I liked about Madoka. I liked how we didn’t have much of a clue regarding what was going on. I liked Sayaka’s story and her “best friend” archetype. Now obviously, the “shock” factor didn’t have much effect on me anymore, but you shouldn’t rely on shock to tell your story anyways. Shock should make sense story-wise, and I was glad when I discovered that it did…at least in regards to the first movie. After all, since I didn’t have a clue regarding what was going on AND I was enjoying that fact, you could throw all sorts of shit at me and I’d be happy. It was fun.

As for the characters being boring and having no personality, that doesn’t bother me. I know a lot of my colleagues have problems with that, but I don’t have to actually “care” about the characters as long as I at least find them interesting to watch. I didn’t give a crap about the characters in Danganronpa, but that didn’t change the fact that they kept me engaged in regards to their courtroom duels and all. And yeah, it was pretty fun to watch Sayaka and Madoka fall into despair whilst that bastard Kyuubey stares at them with his blank smile. All he needed were Hanna Barbara sound-effects added to his antics and he’d be the ultimate dark master.

Then I saw the second movie. It was absolutely terrible.

The good pacing of the first movie was absolutely absent here. Events just happen with no cohesion and the whole thing was an utter mess that I kept tuning out of. It was a miserable excuse of a recap move in every single way. However, I wouldn’t have turned against a franchise I once loved if the pacing was my main beef with the thing. No. the problem I had with Madoka was how it was written. Specifically, it committed one cardinal sin: it explained things. It tried to give logic to all the mysterious things and shock factor I liked about the series. And by explaining things, it just made them more confusing and uninteresting at the same time. Rather than explain myself, I’ll let Updatedude from Mecha-Guignol do it for me.

It’s like knowing how the tricks work in a magician’s act. The performance (Madoka as a series) is still good, but the magic is gone.

It isn’t a matter of Kyubey being a dick. It’s actually the complete opposite. He’s NOT a dick anymore. Where once he was amoral, mean, malicious and mysterious; now he’s just a robot.

Also, the explanation was stupid anyway. STUPID. Because it has a major plot hole. Which is with almost 7 billion humans, all with emotions, you’re better off farming the ambient emotions rather than focusing so much effort on what’s essentially a drop in the bucket. Or hell, just go for people who are depressed or suffering from some sort of bipolar condition.

Before, it was all mysterious and any plot holes were either forgivable or made for fun speculation. By laying out the truth in such a technobabbly way, it makes the plot vulnerable. Suddenly, we’re presented with a 7 billion sized plot hole. – Updatedude

To add my own comments to his, I didn’t have a problem with the reveals at first. But the second time was different. Since I saw all of this before, it no longer had any real effect on me the same way it did when I first saw it and now I just see the revelations in the end as dumb. Revisiting your old favorites can do that to you, you know.

Madoka

The ending was also worse than I remembered. It was a goddamn reset button happy ending to a show that didn’t deserve one. Some people have said that Madoka was always a tale of redemption and whatnot, but I saw about as much evidence to that as I saw to the happy ending in Clannad (oh yeah, I went there). The whole thing ran on sad girl fetishism regarding boring characters with poor foreshadowing to its reset and aside from having some cool action scenes, being Shafted, Kyuubey, and the fact that they have some different styles, there’s not much differentiating the two in my eye. I’m sure you could argue that the stuff i mentioned is enough and I’ll admit that the former is a better series because the first half is legitimately awesome and despite explanations ruining them, at least it wasn’t boring. Oh, and there was a lot of cool shit that went down during the awful ending that alleviated me somewhat. But it was still a happy ending to a show that I saw no evidence of deserving a happy ending.

Also, this isn’t a major complaint since I can get past this if enough things appeal to me, but I am getting sick of Shaft’s visuals. It’s the same goddamn thing they keep doing over and over again with no variety whatsoever. I’m tired of seeing those goddamn architectures in Monogatari. I’m tired of seeing those constant far-away shots in Sasami-san. And in regards to that upcoming Nisekoi anime…well, I loathed the manga so maybe Shafting it up a bit would actually do wonders for that thing. For god sakes Shinbo, use your goddamn money! It’s called animation because you have to animate things. Not put a load of pretty pictures in the background and basically be the equivalent of an audiobook! It’s just gimmicky and gimmicks wear thin after overuse!

My love for Madoka was gone after that experience, I changed my score of the series to a 6, and haven’t really looked back. Madoka was basically a product of its time that lost its appeal way too quickly. Happens all the time. With that said, this new movie might be the thing the franchise needs to save itself. Maybe it’ll go in a direction beyond just making alternative fuels for Kyuubey’s race and give a better conclusion to the franchise. From what I saw of it, it introduces a new character and involves Homura still whining about Madoka. The new world created by the series’ ending does bring up some potential. As an anime fan, I’d be stupid to pass up on the chance to see it. So bring it on you third movie. Let’s see if you can fix that atrocious ending better than the main character in Misery tried to reverse his main character’s death.

Dangan13

And if it doesn’t, I’ll still have Danganronpa aka the show Madoka wanted to be. It told a great tale of despair mixed with hope with better visuals, better characters, and a better ending. *Sproing!*

19 responses to “Can Madoka Be Saved?

  1. I wouldn’t say the characters in Danganronpa were better. I couldn’t care less for either cast for the most part really. Fortunetly, that wasn’t contigent upon my enjoyment in Danganronpa (I just wanted to see how they die and all). Madoka doesn’t have that since it aimed at something bigger and all, but the results were mixed.

    But hey, at least Madoka was pretty darn entertaining to watch. I personally liked the visuals a great deal asides from the rectangle heads.

    In this case, it was babby’s first Mahou Shoujo deconstruction, and it eased me up to the whole idea of watching different shit like Princess Tutu and Revolutionary Girl Utena, a couple shows I dug more that only get better the more I think of em (unlike Madoka).

    • I’m mostly comparing the two characters that matter in each series: Kyuubey and Monobear. Monobear was the better character because he had Hanna Barbara sound effects. ‘Nough said.

      And I kinda liked the white-haired chick too.

      • And Kyubey’s motivation – also not a plot hole. This is fictional world and author can make all rules he wants. If he say that emo girls, produce more magical energy, than 7 billion people, then this is a fact in his world. If he wants to tell as that Kyubey uses improbability drive and his is sparkly vampire who hunts on pink elephants – then this is a fact in his world. And yes, emo girls are one of most emotionally unstable people that I know, and they are also naive enough to make contract without asking questions.

        BTW if you want to hate on something, hate on third movie – what a clustefuck!

  2. My only real complaint about Madoka is that Madoka always seemed like an alien to me. Like, more than Kyubey. It’s not just that she’s nice, she’s literally uncomfortable with letting people deal with their problems on their own.

    If the third movie doesn’t have her, maybe it’ll be a little better.

  3. The main difference between Danganronpa — and I’m speaking from visual novel experience here; I haven’t watched the anime — and Madoka is that Danganronpa never wanted you to take it seriously. Hell, you have a character in the final act of the thing pulling off Dio’s poses from JoJo. It ends up playing off of its absurdity in order to shrug off stupid storytelling.

    DR doesn’t necessarily try to be something more than a ridiculous murder mystery, whereas Madoka has that typical Urobuchi “look how clever I am” thing going on, which makes the whole affair almost unintentionally comical. You’re absolutely right about the ending, too. It was complete wish fulfillment for an audience that would have bitched and moaned if it had the ending it deserved.

    • I don’t think there’s anything to be gained from watching the Danganronpa anime if you’ve seen the game since it’s a pretty lazy adaptation where they lift stuff straight out of the game, scenes and everything. But yeah, it didn’t take itself too seriously, even when killing its characters. Don’t remember if the anime had Jojo poses though.

      Whilst I’ve mentioned that I don’t mind the “look how clever I am” thing about Madoka too much, Danganronpa’s ending just trashes Madoka’s in every way. Love the delusional hope in that.

  4. I haven’t watched the movies, and am staying with my first impression. Not sure if i’ll appreciate it as much on 2nd viewing.
    Still better than this awfull Daybreak Illusion in every way (Try to be Madoka, ends up beng sub – BRS)

    I will just say that it’s the one where the Shaft tricks were the best used, because they really added to the general atmosphere of the series. Visually, it was a pretty well made story, even if the story may be lacking (I’ll admit the shock factor is overused).

  5. Time to delete that feed. It’s nice that you have your own “taste” but you have been consistently out of tune and liking that piece of shit DR is the nail in the coffin. If at least the writing would suffice… it gets down to what “others have been saying”.

  6. So you judged the series by the movies instead of viewing them as separate entities? Come on, that’s lazy. If you want to hate Madoka, then rewatch the entire thing and complain then.

    Comparing DR to Madoka is silly. You liked DR because its campy and jadedly fast moving because the director knew the fans would buy the show anyways so he didn’t give a shit. One is attempting to be serious while the other isn’t. Madoka isn’t trying to be DR; its that you want Madoka to be DR because you’ve because jaded with the franchise.

    • The only thing the movies had that was different from the series was the pacing. Otherwise, it was pretty much a shot-by-shot retelling with only ten minutes of new animation. I recognized and hated everything that happened in that second movie because that reveal and almost everything that happened after was complete bullshit, and no amount of pacing is going to fix that. That’s like saying Angel Beats sucked because the director rushed through the material when it’s obvious that the very core of the writing made no sense.

      Madoka isn’t trying to be DR; its that you want Madoka to be DR because you’ve because jaded with the franchise.

      I compared the two because they had mascot characters and ended with a post-apocalypse setting. If you know my writing style, you’ll know that I’ll make ANY kind of comparison for a joke as long as I find some connection.

      Also, I haven’t become jaded with the franchise so much as I’ve become jaded with Shaft. Ever since they stopped doing comedies in 2010, they’ve stopped being entertaining.

      • I’m not a fan of Evangelion but I’m not going to watch Death and Rebirth and base my criticism of Evangelion off a clip show. Judging a show by its derivative work is irrational. Even if all of the inherit structural problems are identical, the movie still isn’t the show so lowering the show’s score after the watching the movie is stupid. Letting your former love of Madoka be influenced by the studio’s latter works means you’ve stopped reviewing anime and are reviewing studios’ entire body of work. But its perfectly okay to like an author’s/studio’s single work and hate the rest of it. If you want to really criticize Madoka then actually watch it again. Not doing so is just being lazy. Regardless of how the writing is the third movie, you’re probably going to hate it because it’ll be full of Shaft-isms.

    • Judging a show by its derivative work is irrational. Even if all of the inherit structural problems are identical, the movie still isn’t the show so lowering the show’s score after the watching the movie is stupid.

      Have you seen those movies? There’s almost no difference between it and the show at all aside from the pacing. I hated the reveals that happened after Sayaka’s death because they instilled “hope” into the series and explained things that were better left unexplained (and if you know my taste in anime, you know I prefer characters to end up miserably rather than get saved at the last minute). The ending didn’t accomplish a thing other than reset the status quo and basically give Kyuubey’s race an alternative fuel source. How is me finishing the series again going to change that?

      If you want to really criticize Madoka then actually watch it again.

      I tried during Winter vacation. Couldn’t make it past the second episode. Knowing how it ends up wrecked the fun for me.

      Regardless of how the writing is the third movie, you’re probably going to hate it because it’ll be full of Shaft-isms.

      You obviously missed the part where I said I can overlook Shaft-isms if the writing is to my taste. I still love Shaft’s comedies fine. Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei is great and Soremachi is still one of the best slice-of-life shows I’ve seen.

  7. “And if it doesn’t, I’ll still have Danganronpa aka the show Madoka wanted to be. It told a great tale of despair mixed with hope with better visuals, better characters, and a better ending”

    Do you remember at the end of Dangan Ronpa where everyone starts falling into despair because the Mastermind tells them things about the outside world?

    All I could think of was “This is the person responsible for all the suffering you’ve been through. Why are you believing what she says? Why aren’t you mad at her?”

    I never understood how hope and despair correlated to student murder. You could actually remove any mention of hope and despair in DR and the story wouldn’t change. It felt so tacked on, especially at the end. Meanwhile, Madoka Magica is inseprerable from hope and despair.

    So I have to ask: ARE YOU JOKING?

    And I liked Monobear better when he was an Umineko witch.