On the state of the movie: Why Madoka Magica Rebellion’s ending was brilliant

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It’s time to look at an underrated movie. Madoka Magica Rebellion’s ending was a very controversial one that had so many hidden meanings and subtext within each action that the fan base has written many theories on it. They were all pretty fascinating and it’s great to see everyone add more and more depth to the film. The reason they can do that is because the ending was so good and it was very unique. This editorial will naturally have heavy spoilers for Madoka, but also for the movies Bridge to Terabithia, The Amazing Spider Man 2, Batman V Superman, Don’t be Afraid of the Dark, Pay it Forward and several others so prepare yourself!

Rebellion takes place after the original Madoka Magica show. The title character of the series ultimately decided to ascend to a higher realm and became a concept of life itself. She became a living embodiment of hope who erased the cruel fate of magical girls that forced them to turn into a witch once they ran out of energy and despaired. Unfortunately, quite a few of the magical girls had already died and now Homura was the only one left to deal with the hordes of enemies that had been left. Witches were gone, but they were replaced with a form of demon.

The average franchise would have left things like this. Homura would gradually accept the reality that Madoka is really gone and help to protect the world until she ultimately died someday. Once she died, she would be able to be with Madoka to an extent since she will be past this realm, but maybe not. Now that Madoka is a force of nature, her fate is eternal and she will never get to have any rest as she constantly absorbs the evil nature of Witches so that they never exist. The world may be a Utopia, but there is still one person who didn’t get a happy ending…Madoka. In Rebellion, Homura decides that this isn’t acceptable.

So, Homura created a prison within her own head thanks in great part to Kyubei and didn’t even realize it. After escaping from this, Homura was finally granted an audience with Madoka. The whole episode had such large ramifications that even a cosmic entity was summoned. That’s pretty impressive eh? Now Homura has the ultimate choice, take Madoka’s hand and join her in the eternal beyond or drag her back down to reality and shift the fabric of the universe once more. Obviously, Homura has to choose the former option right? It is a metaphorical necessity as it is the only way Homura can truly move on. She must accept her friend’s death and then go back to living normally. Bridge to Terabithia believed in this message wholeheartedly and had the viewers say goodbye to the main heroine by the end as she plummeted to an unfortunate (Film wrecking) fate.

That’s the popular way to deal with this kind of film. It’s a great way to end the film on a sad note and remind the audience that they shouldn’t have bothered to go see it at all. It’s like offering someone a nice bag of chocolate chip cookies for after dinner, but then dumping the bag into a box of salt first. You may need to eat the cookie anyway because it’s the nice thing to do, but it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. Other films like The Amazing Spider-Man 2 have done this as well with the main heroine dying towards the end and the hero having to get past this. It always happens a little too fast though, but when should the hero get over it? Obviously, you have to move on at some point…or do you? Homura was in a unique position to actually get a second chance and decided that she wouldn’t simply wait around and accept the fact that Madoka could never rest. That’s why, bringing her back down to reality was in fact…the right move!

Have you seen the light yet?

Think of it this way, how can you not save someone when you have a chance to do so? Think of any classic superhero film where the hero decides to risk everything just to save one person. It’s true that you may be endangering hundreds of people just to save a single individual, but is it not still worth it since 1 life is worth just as much as 100? Madoka didn’t have a happy ending so even if everyone else was pretty happy, it just couldn’t fly. Just to add salt to the wound, Homura’s Utopia also seems to be a little better than Madoka’s. Now, this could be temporary as Witches should theoretically return without Madoka’s new concept, but what if Homura found a way around that? It’s unclear how since Homura shouldn’t have as much power as Madokami. Most likely, Homura’s chance is going to have a lot of bad side effects, which will get dangerous.

Of course, there is no sequel yet so maybe not. We are free to theorize at leisure now and I think I have a reasonable solution. Madoka still has her Kami powers as seen in the end where she starts to regain her memory. Since she still exists as a concept, the witches are still kept at bay. The only difference is that she’s still allowed to have a school life as well in the mean time. Then, Homura has really done it, she’s made a perfect world. Then why isn’t everyone happy about that? Well, there is one big problem which keeps you from seeing this as a good thing.

Homura is really doing this against everyone’s will. She got rid of Madoka’s memories so that everything will play out once more although Homura herself will have a different role this time. Controlling others is never a good thing no matter what the reasoning (excuses) are. You can never spin that into being the right thing so Homura definitely went off the deep end here. She started out with good intentions, but throwing in unlimited power to the mix clearly unhinged Homura and started her down a dark path. The original action of dragging Madoka back to the Earth even though she clearly didn’t want that? I can actually buy into this.

One common misconception is that you always have to follow someone’s wishes even if they clearly aren’t good ones. Just look at Attack on Titan where Levi and friends told Eren not to help his comrades so they can be eaten. They wanted Eren to run away so the Female Titan could eat them first while the hero escapes. Eren listened for a while before finally going into action, but it was way too late by then. Dragon Ball Z is another good example. In one scene, Vegeta is getting pummeled by Cell and Trunks decides not to help because Vegeta’s pride would be injured if he had to get saved. Well, better that his pride gets hurt than his life gets lost eh? I mean, it worked out, but what if Cell had destroyed Vegeta? I guess they could write “He died with his priiiiiide!” on the tombstone.

Nah, sometimes you have to go against someone’s wishes in order to save them. It’s like restricting cigarettes and beer from a teenager or making sure that a kid doesn’t get to play with sharp objects while he/she is too young. Even once the individual becomes an adult who can make his/her own decisions, you may have to help keep that person on the straight and narrow. That’s why we have laws and regulations. Madoka’s a nice kid and it’s cool to see her want to help everyone out, but heroes like that don’t typically think about how to protect themselves. That’s why you need a friend who’s got your back. In this case, Homura was the only one in a position to do anything about this. Madoka definitely didn’t want to come back to Earth since it could put her friends in danger, but how can they really enjoy this perfect world if they know that she didn’t get to partake in it?

Going to any and all lengths to help a friend is what really defines their bond. A big trend in many movies is to have the hero abandon the friend in a Flee or Fight moment and it’s praised as the right call. Even Dragon Ball Super recently had a moment like that where someone stayed behind to get massacred so that the hero could run. Luckily, he chose not too, but he was too scared to actually help so that’s nearly as bad. There are numerous examples of this, but I’m struggling to recall any at the moment. It’s the curse of the writer! I’m sure that many of you can think of times like this though, where a friend is alone against terrible odds and tells the main character to go off to stop the main villain anyway. This dooms the friend in the process, but at least the world is saved so it’s all worth it. Well, I’m here to tell you that this is the wrong call. Prioritizing the friend’s safety over the world’s definitely comes first. If you can’t manage to save your friend, then does the rest of the world really matter? Most characters come to grips with the opposite reality and justify their move by saying that the Earth was saved and that the friend would have wanted it that way. Sure, the friend is typically a noble character who is okay with dying, but as a friend to that person, you have to save him/her. At the very least, Homura made sure to keep this priority in mind.

So, that’s my spiel on why Rebellion’s ending is actually pretty fantastic. It broke the usual norms of the average film and decided not to be content with having Homura pat herself on the back for getting over Madoka’s death and going back to her day to day life. Way too many films do this and having a major/likable character die towards the end of a film is not a good way to end things. It may work for Oscar bait and it may make people appreciate the character more in retrospect, but it also runs the risk of damaging the entire film. The Forest, Don’t Be Afraid of The Dark, Bridge to Terabithia, Pay it Forward, and many other films decided to end with one of the main characters dying and they handled it horribly. Dooming those films to really low scores when they could have been semi decent. Don’t even get me started on Marely and Me or the Old Yeller. If these films had ended with the character living in the end, it could have made a big difference. At the very least, Bridge and Marley would have had positive scores in the end. I can’t really vouch as much for the others. Can a hero’s death towards the end of a film be handled well? Of course, but it takes skilled writers.

Batman V Superman is a great example of this. Superman died (for around 30 minutes) and it didn’t destroy the movie. Part of this is due to the fact that Superman knew the risks and the death wasn’t pure shock value. It wasn’t there to be super sad and emotional, but just to remind us that Batman’s the money factor in the DC universe, not Superman. In the comics, Batman semi recently went to great lengths to try and bring Damien, one of his new sidekicks, back to life once he died. In a universe where people are constantly bringing people back to life and there are many individuals who can do so, I would expect nothing less. If you have a really good friend and don’t try to bring him/her back to life in the comics universe, then I’m definitely going to doubt that bond.

Homura decided to change things even if it put the rest of the world in a dicier spot. Granted, she also turned evil by the end and completely cracked so now it’s going to have to be Madoka’s turn to try and save her once more. This circle should theoretically continue to repeat over and over until both of them are dead. An ending can make or break a film and this has always been the case. It’s a crucial element to any title and it’s important to get it right. What defines a good ending? That may be a topic for another day as there are many variables. One thing’s for sure, Rebellion gets my seal of approval and will go down as one of the better endings in a film. It was unexpected, it was hype, and it shattered the tropes!

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