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No Country for the End of Madoka

February 13, 2011


At this point in time, I can envision only two possible endings for Madoka that’ll please me. And, no, neither one is particularly happy. You gotta earn those happy endings, and like so many other series I’ve seen nothing in Madoka that makes happiness a viable option.

1) Madoka goes Neon Genesis Evangelion on us.

2) Madoka goes No Country for Old Men on us.

The first one seems a bit more obvious.

  • Madoka continues to hesitate in her acceptance of her destiny to become a magical girl.
  • Sayaka dies because Madoka refuses to make a pact with Kyubey.
  • Witch Night comes and the other magical girls fight and fail.
  • Madoka finally realizes that she’s all that’s left and makes a pact with Kyubey.
  • Madoka still fails because now she has no support from her friends.
  • The world goes to shit. The End.

The series has gone on and on about how Madoka needs to “grow up” and accept the fact that you gotta do “bad” things if you want to do the right thing. You gotta sacrifice and compromise and all that shit. Madoka’s still stuck in the dreamy-eyed, immature, naive state of mind that so many anime series mistake for “purity” and other noble things, and she needs to go “full Shinji” before her pact-making will have any real impact. If she makes a pact too early, that moment won’t have nearly as much of an impact. She’s already crossed that threshold with Mami’s death. It would have made sense then, but now that said moment has passed anything sooner than “the end of the world” will be a cop-out.

And if the series goes this route, she needs to fail. Again, nothing about the series has shown that Madoka deserves to be a savior. She’s had plenty of chances up to this point to accept her fate. According to Kyubey, Madoka is the token “chosen one,” but like Shinji she’s refused her title. And like Shinji in End of Evangelion, she needs to be punished for her cowardly sins. Everyone else around her, from Sayaka to her mom to Mami, has made sacrifices, and only Madoka has refused to follow suit, believing that she can stay “pure” while also helping everyone around her. The world doesn’t work that way, and like Shinji, Madoka has to learn the hard way: by being the reason why the world gets screwed.

As for that other route, in some ways it’s a bit more happier, and in others it’s probably considerably more devastating.

  • Madoka realizes that making sacrifices is not in her skill set.
  • Madoka never becomes a magical girl.
  • Witch Night comes and goes. It isn’t the end of the world.
  • Sayaka and the other magical girls die during Witch Night.
  • No one, other than Madoka and Kyubey, know Witch Night took place, since only a comparatively small number of “normal” people die.
  • Madoka’s family may or may not be a part of those deaths. Probably not.
  • Madoka is left to ponder what could have been.

No Country for Old Men boiled down to the fact that Tommy Lee Jones’ character was out-of-place in the world. His outlook on life, where the white hat-wearing cowboy could make a difference in the world and defeat the man in the black hat, was more than outdated– it was never relevant in the first place. He did his best to track down Anton Chigurh and end his killing spree, but doing so was beyond his power. The man who found that money was killed by drug dealers and Chigurh carried out his promise to murder that man’s wife for refusing to turn in said money. Jones’ sherif truly believed that he could help, and he’s a good man for trying, but he was far too naive to believe that was the case.

That’s pretty much what Madoka’s going through. She thinks that she can remain “pure” and not make a contract with Kyubey while still making a difference. Even her attempt to “do wrong” in episode six was just a rash attempt to force said “purity” upon Sayaka– she wanted to deny Sayaka her magical girl powers, and thus bring her back to Madoka’s “side,” but there’s no coming back now that Sayaka’s soul is bound to that gem all Lich-like. In the end, Madoka’s actions there are no different from Tommy Lee Jones sticking to his ineffective methods– neither one can affect change because they aren’t willing to take the dark path of action.

And much like Jones at the end of Old Men, Madoka will be left to contemplate her actions and the way she views the world. Jones makes a visit to an old friend who tells him a story about a do-gooder who gets callously gunned down. It’s a story not unlike the one Jones just witnessed, except it took place almost 100 years before. It isn’t a matter of the world getting worse with time, it’s a matter of the world just plain being worse forever. There’s nothing anyone could ever do to stop bad shit from happening, and that’s what Madoka’s gonna have to face at the end of her series if it goes down this route. If she became a magical girl, she’d be just as dead as Mami and her friends, but in not becoming one she feels helpless and useless. So yeah, it isn’t about fighting evil by moonlight and winning love by daylight, it’s about making the choices that stem your own personal dismal tide and finding a way to make your life worthwhile. And while Madoka may still be alive, and she may still have her family, she’ll have to live with her decisions. In a way, that’s probably considerably harsher than falling over dead. When you’re dead, you don’t get to wonder “what if.”

And, no, Madoka saving the day will never be anything more than a cop-out. If she made the decision earlier, like when Mami kicked it, it would make sense in the context of the series. But now that the series has gone down this path for this long, “happily ever after” will be just as cowardly an ending as Madoka’s actions up to this point.

Also, Kyubey = Anton Chigurh. That would be awesome.

10 Comments leave one →
  1. Hogart permalink
    February 13, 2011 5:35 PM

    With friends and role models like hers, I can’t see things ending up much differently.

    I’d like them to end Madoka how it began – Madoka becomes the next Kyubey by doing what she thinks will save everyone. She then desperately tries to find another Madoka to take her place and free her from this cyclic hell.

    Honestly, some stories are designed to be disgustingly morbid, and this is one of them. Anything less than a dour, possibly-grotesque ending would not be a successful twist of the magical girl genre (at least, not one that’s memorable).

    The ending will make or break Madoka for a lot of people.

  2. February 13, 2011 5:38 PM

    I’d be satisfied with either ending. I think it’s pretty clear that whatever happens in Madoka, that it won’t be a happy ending.

    Also, I’m not sure if it’s Madoka’s hesitation is all that’s preventing her from becoming a Puella Magi. Homura has been doing everything possible to prevent Madoka from contracting with Kyubey. It’d be interesting to see what happens to Homura in either one of those scenarios you wrote about (besides dying).

  3. Divine Excrement permalink
    February 13, 2011 7:41 PM

    Both scenarios are terribly depressing. I’m holding on to the feeble hope that Madoka and her friends will find themselves a happier resolution to everything that’s been going on, but judging from Urobuchi’s interesting comment on episode 6 being the top of the rollercoaster, I’m preparing for a mindblowing and scream-worthy ride down.

  4. Liddo permalink
    February 13, 2011 8:39 PM

    I would probably agree with you if Homura wasn’t there every time Madoka is at risk of becoming a Magical Girl. In fact, Madoka would have made the contract back there in episode 3 if Homura didn’t appear to take care of things. The same in episode 5.

    All in all, I don’t think this series is as much about Madoka accepting her “fate” or not, as it is about Kyubey and Homura competing with each other to see who gets to Madoka first. In essence, this show seems less like Evangelion and much more like Faust, its main inspiration. If it does go that route, the ending will probably feel like a cop-out to you, but I still think a bittersweet but hopeful ending is more likely than what you’re proposing here. Even if it’s Uribuchi who’s writing it.

  5. Myssa permalink
    February 13, 2011 10:26 PM

    Ahaha, and to think that my current PIXIV project ( has more of the former in mind, though with Urobuchi in the writing helm anything could happen… It might be dark (Saya no Uta) or depressing (Fate/ZERO and Requiem for Phantom), or it might be bittersweet. All that’s clear is that it won’t be happy, and will likely end with Madoka in tears.

  6. February 14, 2011 8:59 AM

    I think it’s clear. There will be no happy ending.

    What’s interesting is Homuru is dead set on not making Madoka a magical girl, and she’s succeeded. Theories say she may be a time traveler. But what if, by not letting Madoka become a magical girl, she actually makes a worse outcome? What then?

    • Myssa permalink
      February 14, 2011 10:37 AM

      The manga adaptation that just came out (sold out almost everywhere, apparently) is ESPECIALLY blatant about the fact that Madoka and Homura may have known each other before.

  7. tonybalony permalink
    February 14, 2011 7:10 PM

    Watch she wishes all the dead magic girls back to life, becomes this uber magic girl, and that’s the end. It would be the twist of all twists because its so terrible no one would ever guess it would happen.

    • Jake Was Here permalink
      February 18, 2011 1:27 AM

      That’s exactly why they’d do it. They’re pulling out all the magical-girl tropes and holding them up to the light just to show us how stupid and irrelevant they are. What would prove the point better than throwing in a deus-ex-machina happy ending anyway, just to hammer it in that happy endings are retarded and unrealistic?


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