Puella Magi Madoka Magica Rebellion Review

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All right, it’s time to look at the movie that followed the TV show for Madoka Magica. I’m assuming that you have already seen the TV show so I will be mentioning the ending since we have to connect how it leads into the film and what happened. While the movie isn’t quite as amazing as the TV show, it’s still great and gives us some epic fight scenes while still dealing with deep themes. The ending is not as satisfying as the TV show’s end, but it is fairly original.

As you remember from the TV show, Madoka used her unlimited magical powers to recreate reality and add another rule to the books. The Law of Cycles was created and when magical girls are filled with despair, Madoka takes them to the afterlife so that no witches are born. Sayaka was taken so the rest of the magical girls were on their own and Homura was the only one who was allowed to keep her memories of Madoka. The witches were gone, but in their place came a new evil, the Wraiths.

That should have been the end of everything, but Homura wakes up one day in a world that seems to have forgotten this. Witches are still gone, but so are Wraiths. Nightmares have taken up their place and Sayaka, as well as Madoka are both alive once again. Kyubey acts like he cannot talk anymore and Mami is friends with the witch who ate her in the show. This world seems messed up and Homura has to find a way to make everything turn back to how it was. This labyrinth cannot hold her forever!

There’s a lot to say here so where to start right? Let’s go into the technical parts of the film first. The soundtrack is not quite as good as the TV show’s since we’re missing the incredible end theme that was present over there. Nonetheless, it’s still quite good and the songs definitely give the film the feeling that the heroes are always in danger. You can tell that the very city is sinister the entire time and it helps to create a good atmosphere for the viewers.

Animation wise, the movie likes to be very abstract so it doesn’t show off the animation very often. For the most part, you won’t notice much of a difference between the show and the movie. That being said, there is one scene where the film uses its animation seriously when Mami fights with Homura. That was certainly the highlight of the film and the action scene is quite good and we get to see why you have to fight very carefully when time control is being used. The two heroines shoot hundreds of bullets at each other so when time moves again, it gets very chaotic. These two are also likely the strongest of the magical girls so seeing them fight was epic.

The fight wasn’t very short either so we really got to see what they could do. Obviously, Homura could win in an instant with time control so Mami intelligently placed a thread on Homura so that Mami wouldn’t be stuck in time. That move’s what makes the fight so even. Homura was confident that she could win the fight, but she was also trying not to destroy her friend in the process. Both of them were holding back and due to the circumstances, I’m fine with Homura not winning. With her time mastery, she is virtually invincible, but take that away and Mami should in fact have the edge thanks to her incredible offensive capabilities.

I liked her as a character much more here than in the show. Of course, Mami didn’t crack here like she did in the other version and even tried to stop Homura from shooting herself. I’m actually glad that Mami defended Bebe since they were friends for quite a while so she shouldn’t betray the creature just for a transfer student. Protecting one’s friends is what a magical girl does after all so while I was rooting for Homura to win, Mami made the right decision in fighting at that point.

Kyoko’s still ahead of the other Magical Girls for me (Aside from Homura) and she gets a decently good role here. She’s the first to be told that the world isn’t real and she backs Homura up the whole time. By the end of the film, her role quickly begins to grow smaller, but she is a little outmatched against the heavy hitters. She has been surpassed by all of the other magical girls, but she still tries hard and is a nice friend to have.

Madoka is an interesting case here because some twists make her look a little bad and possibly weak considering that she’s all powerful. All right gang, spoilers for the film are coming up now so skip the rest of the paragraphs to avoid them until the final one. I do recommend just checking out the film before reading the review so you can have your own thoughts on what just happened and your views on Homura’s decisions. Before going into the characters, I should really talk about the timeline here so that it all makes sense. As you remember, Homura was still fighting Wraiths in the after credits scene of the show. She was not fighting to save the world, but she did it because that’s what Madoka would have wanted.

Well, at some point, the Incubators found her. It’s hinted that it may have been willingly, but even if it wasn’t, the Incubators trapped her soul in a prism so that nothing could interfere with it. This allowed Homura’s despair to turn her soul into a witch since the Law of Cycles cannot breach the barrier that the Incubators had put around her soul. If you think about it for a minute, this means that the Incubators were able to defy one of the fundamental laws of the universe. It’s been hinted that these cosmic beings can do just about anything, but their limits are very vague so it’s still hard to quantify. They cannot end entropy on their own after all and offensively, they don’t seem to have a lot of power, but maybe it’s all just an act. They have no emotions so they may not even care what happens to their physical selves.
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Back to the timeline though, as a witch, Homura recreated the city where she used to fight with the other heroines. Her soul lured in Mami, Kyoko, Sayaka’s friend, and the violin player among others. It was impossible for anyone to free Homura from the outside and once the heroes were tricked into entering her labyrinth, they could not get out again and they also forgot their memories rather quickly. It was like the old days of entering a witch’s labyrinth, but Homura is much stronger than an ordinary opponent. Homura even erased her own memories so that she could have fun with her friends. It was created to be a perfect world after all so she would have infinite happiness here.

In the end, her illusion was too good and Homura sought out the truth. There were 3 people in her labyrnth who didn’t belong. Madoka realized that her friend was in trouble so she assumed a physical form once more and entered the labyrnth. Realizing that there was a lot of danger here, she gave her powers to a creature known as Bebe and gave Sayaka her memories. They are essentially Madoka’s bodyguards and have ascended with her to the next plane of existence. Naturally, this means that they both got a big power boost, which explains why Sayaka was so quick in her brief scuffle with Homura. Madoka forgot her memories, but the two bodyguards didn’t lose theirs.

The heroes were able to defeat Homura’s witch form and made it back to the real world. Homura’s despair had still covered her soul so Madoka reached out to take her to the afterlife, but Homura had actually been tainted more than the heroes had realized and literally ripped out the human Madoka from her godself and altered the laws of reality once more. Homura essentially became evil to counter Madoka being good. If Madoka became a god then Homura was essentially a devil. (The word demon is used in the film) She decided to recreate the universe and now Homura is the ruler of it all. Madoka still has her limitless power and could overthrow Homura in time, but she has lost her memories again.

The film ends with Homura stating that the heroes will remember at some point and they will try to fight her. With Homura’s abilities are great as they are now, it’s hard to see how they can pose a challenge. Only Madoka can hope to defeat Homura and she will need to get her memories back first to do that. Sayaka seems to recall some parts of what happened even after Homura erased her memories so she will likely be the key if the film ever gets a sequel.

A sequel really isn’t needed, but I would like one. We know that Homura will either keep them under her power for eternity or they will eventually defeat her, but what will the heroes do then? Madoka can recreate the universe a third time or bring things back to the way they were. If Madoka does the latter, the Earth is not in a good state. From what we saw of the present, there aren’t many inhabitants anymore and the whole world is like a large desert. It’s easy to see how the heroes succumb to despair so quickly and it’s what ended up breaking Homura. If Madoka ends up just recreating things from scratch, it will be like Terminator where the cycle will never end, but at least then the heroes get to have more adventures.

By the end, I thought that the film did a pretty great job of explaining everything. Now, the whole film works well into a linear timeline and the show also made a good amount of sense and it’ll probably feel even more grim when you watch it since you know that Homura ultimately ends up turning evil and wasted Madoka’s wish. The one really iffy part here is how Homura was able to grab infinite Madoka and pull her down from the heavens. She is now a demon who is evil incarnate, but that should not be enough power to grab Madoka even if the heroine was surprised.

As I mentioned earlier, the ending is very original because evil actually won in the end. There was no happy ending to be found and the powers of love and friendship lost to a twisted version of those that Homura used. Whether you decide that good wins in the end or not, the film ends with evil having the clear upper hand and it’s really 50/50 as to what side will ultimately claim victory this time. Madoka can’t count on any of the other characters to help her aside from Sayaka so it will be tough.
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So, I still like Madoka a lot like in the show, but the one thing that makes her look a little bad is that she lost her memories when she went into the labyrnth. It’s okay for the mortals to lose theirs, but Madoka is literally a concept who is above everything in the universe. She should have had enough power to have stopped Homura without putting in any effort. I’m glad that she stepped in unlike most cosmic deities, but it did make her look a little weak. It’s a good thing that she has two bodyguards by her side. This will likely give One Above All fans from Marvel some breathing room for debates since Madoka clearly has some weaknesses now. Personality wise, she’s definitely still a lot of fun though. Even without infinite power, she’s a good fighter.

Sayaka is no longer mortal and she can now use her witch form to fight, which makes for a pretty good power up. She’s a solid character as you would expect and still backs Madoka up whenever they get into a tough situation. She has moved on from the violin player, which is great character development if you ask me. That guy certainly wasn’t adding to the story so I’m cool with him being gone from the main focus. The power up was also very good for Sayaka and I’m glad that she was able to keep her memories and personality since she had been dead.

Kyubey is still as sly and crafty as ever and his plan here is really ambitious as he wants to control Madoka and her unlimited power. I don’t think that the plan should be very plausible, but I suppose that if Madoka had destroyed Homura while inside of the gem, then they would be able to steal her power, but it’s all assuming that Madoka couldn’t break out of the barrier and with unlimited power, I feel like she should be able to easily bust free. Those cosmic beings definitely have some good tech to be able to stop her. His chase scene with Homura was a lot of fun and it was like a high budget version of what happened in the first episode of the show. It’s impressive that he was able to last so long when Homura was really out to get him.

Homura’s story is the most tragic like usual and she totally went off the deep end. At the start of the film, she was the Homura that we all remembered as she tried to escape this fake world. She was willing to fight her friends and get into a lot of trouble to restore Madoka’s vision because she’s always done everything to save her friend. That being said, the revelation of being a witch and the temptation of being able to keep Madoka in the world was too much for her and she ended up being a total villain by the end. Homura’s sharp change in personality was definitely drastic and she is now a complete demon and definitely not a magical girl. Her abilities have risen tremendously and she can now erase memories and do what she wants with the world. While her abilities aren’t unlimited like Madoka’s, she seems to have gained a fraction of them. She mentions that she took the Madoka part of the Law of Cycles while the other two are still around with their powers intact, but all three have lost their memories now. (Sayaka may have some though)

It’s too bad that Homura is a total villain now. I also don’t fully understand why Homura made her final decision. If she had gone with Madoka to the afterlife, they would have been together forever like with Sayaka, who is always by Madoka’s side now. That would surely be better than trapping her in the new Earth while repressing her memories. I don’t fully understand Homura’s rationale for doing this, but since she has become a demon, she may just prefer it this way.

If you ignore the moral implications for a second, Homura’s world is actually a lot better than Madoka’s. Everyone is essentially back to life and the world is how it was before everything was destroyed. The Kyubey race can no longer hurt them and while villains are still around, the heroes can defeat them with ease. Everyone gets to live and Madoka doesn’t have to be a cosmic entity who can’t hang out with her friends anymore. On the surface, it’s a perfect world. The problem is that Homura had to alter everyone’s memories so they wouldn’t object to it. Madoka simply erased her existence from everyone’s minds, which is different from Homura deliberately altering her friends so they wouldn’t try to stop her.

If she had willingly gotten everyone to agree to her plan, then it would be completely okay. She just went about it the wrong way. For her, it’s likely a deal that is worth it since she gets to hang out with Madoka again. (I don’t get why Madoka had to be the transfer student this time though. Wouldn’t that change so many things that Homura should be a little concerned?) As always, Homura is just doing things for Madoka. Now, the heroine won’t have to be a cosmic deity who is forever alone. That being said, Homura is also looking out for herself this time and now she gets to have the life that she always wanted. I feel like I would sympathize with her wish a little more if she didn’t act so creepy/evil in the final scenes. For some characters, their bond is stronger than their desire for justice so protecting Madoka at any costs is something that I wouldn’t necessarily disagree with especially with how well the world turned out to be. Seriously, if Homura hadn’t been so over the top at the end, I wouldn’t have minded the ending nearly as much. Homura’s still a villain, but she’s a very likable villain at this point. Who knew that one character would end up being the best hero and the best villain in this franchise!

When you think about it, friendship is still the main theme here. The main difference with this compared to other shows is that the powers of friendship actually hurt the main characters. Madoka sees that Homura is in trouble and decided to enter the labyrinth in a human form, but it was her undoing. Homura’s friendship for Madoka turned into something sinister and led her into the road of evil. Everyone believed in the power of friendship, it just turned out badly for the characters.

Naturally, the series got even higher in the tier lists here thanks to Homura’s big power boost. Not to mention that Sayaka was also a lot stronger as well. This series really does blow the rest of the magical girl series away with how strong the heroes are. Mami could likely take down the group of sailor scouts on her own if you ask me. The Wraiths and Nightmares weren’t particularly impressive, but they have a lot of minions, which will help to distract the opponents. In a possible sequel, I’m sure that the characters would get even stronger!

As with the show, we get a lot of random abstract scenes during the show, which are always intriguing. The cotton balls with mustaches are still around and we get to see them fight the new villains at one point. The magical girls also have a weird transformation scene for each of them, which are all odd and likely have deeper meanings, but it’s good to just take them at face value sometimes. One really entertaining scene was the cake song where the heroes took on the nightmare. It was fairly creepy, funny, and entertaining at the same time. Talk about high stakes!

With the battle between good and evil, the film reminds you that it can be very easy to cross that bridge. Madoka allowed her friend to pull her back from her ascension and Homura turned evil. One must be strong and know when to hold steady so that you do not end up being led astray. Saving someone else is always a top priority and you must make every endeavor to complete that mission, but you must also not allow yourself to become weak enough that you are dragged to the dark side yourself. It’s something that Madoka probably wishes that she had known earlier.

It should be quickly noted that the original ending was actually Homura ascending with Madoka, but it was altered before the film came out due to the company pulling rank. That’s too bad because that ending would have been perfect. It even felt like the film could have ended there so there was definitely some behind the scenes action going. The extra content isn’t bad per say, but this ending would have been superior!
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Overall, Rebellion was a fun movie and it was still really great. I wasn’t crazy about the ending, but it was a very thought provoking film like I expected and the characters were still all likable like in the show. The soundtrack and animation are strong and the film was around 2 hours so it had quite a lot of time to develop. The Mami vs Homura scene is the one to look out for and the film nearly ends at one point, which was a great fake out. It’s also slightly regrettable though since that ending would have been vastly superior to the true one that we got. If you enjoyed the TV show, then you should definitely enjoy this film and it’s cool to see the main characters finally get to fight as a team for a change since they all got to be alive in the fake world. I do hope that the film gets a sequel at some point so that we can have a more positive ending for the heroes. Particularly for Homura since she’s still my favorite character in the series so I’m hoping that she’ll see the light and realize how far she has come from being the noble hero that she used to be. I’m confident that she would become a hero again in the next film. While her new personality is still pretty epic as the villain, it’s just not the ending that I had envisioned for her. Madoka has always been a layered show and Homura’s final actions are much deeper than your average villain’s. I don’t believe for a second that she should not be considered as a villain by the end because her wish was selfish and altering someone’s memories is always immoral, but at least it’s a decision that I can understand. The whole concept of helping someone through whatever means possible is always an intriguing one and something that I can sometimes agree with. It’s a concept that I’ll probably try to discuss more in a future review that deals with the subject. It shouldn’t be too long until something has this theme again since it can be quite prevalent at times. Almost forgot, make sure that you stick around for the after credits scene. It is fairly vague, but you get to decide what just happened. I like to think that someone is protecting the world from Kyubey and doing it in a way that Madoka would object to, which will raise some tension for the next film.

Overall 9/10

2 thoughts on “Puella Magi Madoka Magica Rebellion Review

  1. The interesting thing Reager is that I agree with just about everything here.

    But I believe that an ending can wreck a movie.

    A bad ending doesn’t always have to make a film completely destroyed, but in this case I think it does. It ruined all character development for Homura, and erased the ending of the anime, which when you think about it, makes the anime almost void. To me that’s unacceptable.

    It basically makes the series start from scratch…all for the sake of sequels. This is really negative ethical business in the media landscape, and the ironic part is the sequel is nowhere to be seen or even formally announced with a trailer.

    There’s nothing worst than an ending which makes no sense literally. It’s almost impossible to defend it…in fact, I’d be astonished if someone can actually make a near-reasonable case for it.

    I really liked this franchise, so to see it go the other way is beyond disappointing.

    • Well Destroyer, I do agree that an ending can wreck a movie or a TV series. Bridge to Terebithea’s ending cost it 3-4 stars and Marly and Me’s ending cost it even more. Sword Art Online’s climax took the series from being a 9 to a 5 in my review and currently I would place it at more of a 1-2 so it’s a much steeper drop. Likewise with the second series although it is the ending of the first arc that brought it down from an 8 to a 4. Endings can certainly hurt if they are really bad…but I didn’t think that this was a really bad ending.

      It wasn’t a good ending of course, but it is definitely an interesting one. There’s a lot of ways that the film can run with this idea now. While Homura has essentially joined the side of evil, it’s not as if she doesn’t want to help her friends anymore. She’s still made them perfectly happy in this new world, but she has taken away their freedom. It’s similar to how some villains want to make a perfect world by having everyone experience an infinite dream. The only difference is that she actually succeeded for once, which was odd. The original ending should definitely have been kept in and it was only removed for sequel purposes, but I will definitely be looking forward to a sequel.

      Funny that you should mention that it basically erases the ending. On Reddit, someone made a verrrrrry long article talking about how Rebellion grabs all of the themes from the show and either reverses them or completely ignores it. It’s a very interesting read, I’ll just link the final chapter of the topic as it mainly deals with the movie.

      http://www.reddit.com/r/TrueAnime/comments/1wrc4k/rebel_with_a_misguided_cause_how_madoka_magica/cf4nsoc

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