The Power of Feelings — Madoka ep. 09

We’ve long known that feelings in anime are the most important and powerful force in the universe. If you only feel it enough, you can make it so.

Well now, we may have the the end-all and be-all of that in Puella Magi Madoka Magica. We get the “final” explanation (and I use that term advisedly, given Kyubey’s tendency to lie by omission.) Kyubey’s goal is quite noble — just ask him, and he’ll tell you. Feelings can save the universe!

Warning: MAJOR SERIES SPOILER. You see, Kyubey explains through some bad science mumbo-jumbo that the universe is losing entropy. Nobody’s stealing it; it’s just a design flaw. Eventually, this will cause Bad Things, so the race of beings that Kyubey belongs to searched the universe for an alternate energy source to boost the entropy back to stable levels. Lo and behold, they found that human emotional energy could supply that source through some hand-waved magical conversion ability, and of all the humans, the very best at it were females “in their second growth phase.” So the “Kyubeyans” set up a system whereby they would inject energy to change reality (grant a wish to a young girl), then harvest the emotional energies of the puella magi as they fought and fought and fought and eventually fell into PTSD, PMS, OCD, and a whole alphabet soup of despair. Then there’d be the big spike of emotional energy when they went over to the dark side and became witches. Finally, there would be another burst when the witch died.

And since all this was to prevent the destruction of the universe, and hey, there’s another ten humans born every four seconds to replace the puella magi, it’s not like this can be a bad thing, can it? In fact, it’s downright cool to be able to sacrifice oneself for the universe, isn’t it?

Darn humans, they just don’t get it.

I started to type a note about this the other day and had no time, but we are seeing the difference between a master and a pretender. Yamamato pitched a fit and said he was going to shake up the industry; he has produced a very pretty Miyazaki knock-off / road trip story so far. Shinbou has quietly assembled an all-star staff and turned out probably the best anime in years. Since Mami’s death
in ep.04, this show has been on rails (to borrow imagery from this episode). It may be a railroad to hell, but it knows where it’s going, and it’s going to carry the viewer through every last whistle-stop on the way there.

Definitely worth the ride; if it weren’t for this show, I’d probably be foolish enough to think thatFractale was living up to it’s hype.

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9 Responses to The Power of Feelings — Madoka ep. 09

  1. Andrew F. says:

    Definitely agreed on Madoka vs. Fractale, and the contrast is even more apparent since they both air on Thursday and I often watch one after the other.

  2. Madoka is unquestionably a superb show, or it will be if they pull out the ending. I expect they will.

    I’m becoming tempted to pick it up again, but I think I’ll wait until it’s finished and then watch it in a burst.

  3. Ubu Roi says:

    Ok, crazy, crackpot theory time about the ending.

    Setup: At the beginning of episode one, we saw Homura fighting a hopeless battle against a witch that is much stronger than her, and Kyubey urging Madoka to become a Puella Magi to help her. We now know that this is probably the upcoming Walpurgisnacht, and that Kyubey also believes that Homura is no match for it. Not only that, by letting Kyoko die trying to save Sayaka, there is now no ally to help Homura… unless Madoka, the most powerful candidate ever encountered, agrees to help. If he could gloat, that’s exactly what he’d be doing.

    Spec: But what if the Walpurgisnacht is really Witch Madoka also back from the future? She would be insanely powerful — as it seems Homura’s opponent was. Then Madoka hands Kyubey the ultimate FU: “Kyubey, I wish none of your race had EVER come to Earth or contacted humanity, and NEVER do so in the future.” Slam, bam, thank you alien tube rat! And as realities clash and change, we briefly get a slightly older Madoka hugging her younger counterpart “in passing,” just as in the OP. The last scene is a bittersweet montage of Sayaka visiting her friend in the hospital, Kyoko with her family, Mami’s grave, and Madoka eating breakfast with her family.

    Now THAT would be a slam-dunk ending. I’d even accept the “Happily Ever After” version in which we see everyone alive and doing well; i.e.: Kyubey was actually causing the events that led the girls to become Puella Magi.

  4. AvatarADV says:

    Evil happily ever after version:

    [spoiler]Madoka and Akemi don’t survive Walpurgis. Madoka wakes up… and they’re in a nice place, kind of witch-style but without the creepy overtones. Everyone else is there, all the other magical girls who’ve died fighting witches.

    “What? Surprised? We figured if you were going to die for the good of the universe, then the least we could do was provide a Heaven…” (alternate: “Eh, someone wished for it and it turned out to be not too hard, so…”)

    Since the reveal in ep 9, it’s pretty clear that Kyubei would not grant a “get the hell out of here” wish. He’s not doing this because he’s a supernatural creature who’s compelled to grant wishes; he’s doing it because his race can comprehend the motivation of wanting a trade, and by their lights are playing “fair”. In other words, if someone wishes for something that would be inimical to their efforts, he could just say “no”.

    We’ve still got one big reveal coming up before the end. We know a little bit about what’s going on with Akemi (i.e. that she’s a magical girl from the future and dead-set against Madoka signing up), but we don’t know what her motivations are (just that it’s important enough to her that she had a very big and typically Japanese breakdown in ep 8, along the lines of “don’t you appreciate how much other people care about you?”) So what will this turn out to be? It’s possible that Kyubei’s still lying by omission and that there’s something very sinister about what he and his are up to. Or it’s possible that Akemi’s motivations are personal, and she’s just trying because she cares about Madoka (which brings up the question, why?) Or, and this is an ugly possibility, the ones she really cares about are the victims of a future Witch-Madoka…[/spoiler]

    • Ubu Roi says:

      Nope, I think he’s bound. If he’s agreed to grant a wish, he has to grant it — at worst, he can twist the spirit, but not the letter. Remember, it’s a Faustian bargain. I can’t believe he’d send Homura back into the past otherwise. He was outsmarted by Homura, because if she could do it on her own, she’d just keep backing up every time she got anything wrong.

      But as a “Rocks fall, everyone dies” solution, your idea isn’t bad. It just … feels like a cop-out, and I don’t think it’s likely from Shinbou at this point.

      • AvatarADV says:

        I don’t buy it.

        [spoiler]We don’t actually know that he’s bound. We simply don’t know what happens if someone tries to play silly buggers with a wish. That doesn’t mean that he can’t be outsmarted – Akemi could simply say “I want to be able to travel in time through magic” and Kyubei would probably say “okay, can do.” For that matter, if all it took was a cleverly-phrased wish to get Kyubei to bugger off, why didn’t Akemi just do that? (Because Akemi wants to change her own past?) Of course, this is all assuming that Akemi signed on in order to fight/thwart Kyubei in the first place…

        Remember that Faust was a story specifically involving the Christian conception of the supernatural (i.e. it’s all the Devil and thus evil). That’s emphatically not how the Japanese look at it. Undeniably the story is inspired and influenced by Faust, but there’s no reason to believe that this Japanese Mephistopheles must therefore be a malevolent supernatural entity.

        Kyoko’s wish was completely Faustian. Sayaka’s… maybe not so much. She didn’t win the boy, but he’s okay and arguably happy. We don’t know exactly what Mami wished for, but she didn’t die and seemed okay with that outcome. An extremely evil-thinking friend suggested at the time that Mami’s wish was “I don’t want to die alone”, making it a double death flag…

        One additional question – what was with the bad blood between Mami and Akemi? If Akemi has simply come back from the future as a Madoka-savior, then it doesn’t make any sense. For that matter, how’d she get a reputation as an “irregular”? (Possibly she went around and hunted down tons of witches, thus explaining her completely-broken power level?)

        One final question – how did Akemi know about Willy Pete to summon one, but not know that you don’t really pull pins with your teeth unless you want to break ’em?[/spoiler]

        • Ubu Roi says:

          Well, I’m not saying there’s not going to be holes in any explanation. Quibbling over the pull ring is one thing — I certainly didn’t know that, brought up on WWII movies. But as I see it, it’s not how the Japanese look at Christianity and Faustian bargains; it’s how they look at the universe — and it isn’t rationalist at heart. We look at that and go, “what does a near-omnipotent alien race do? Whatever it wants to!” and they…. don’t. What I see is some concept of Eastern mysticism coming into play to enforce the deal. Some sort of Universal Force Contract, if you will.

          Seriously, they’re using emotions to stave off the heat death of the universe. Some cosmic force making them keep a deal is not even as silly as that sounds.

          • AvatarADV says:

            Still, they’re doing it; they have a motive for doing it, silly as the science is.

            [spoiler]That implies that they expect to be turning a profit off of it, as it were – that the investment in wish-fulfillment will be less than the energy gained by girls going witchy.

            We can also assume that there’s been a certain amount of risk assessment, and thus there’s not really any chance that Madoka could say, for example, “I wish all sentient life in the universe other than humans would die!” (Or for something a little less horrific, “I wish there wasn’t any magic anymore!”) Let’s be honest, if that was a real possibility, then Kyubei revealing their motives for making magical girls, and witches, was one of the dumbest moves in all existence.

            There’s a big difference between “does Kyubei have to keep the deal” and “does Kyubei have to take any deal that’s offered”.[/spoiler]

  5. Pingback: Madoka, the Ending. | Mahou Meido Meganekko

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