Madoka Magica The Movie – Rebellion – and Redefining Love

How do you define love?

“Love” carries with it perhaps more meaning than any other word in the English language.  It’s such a powerful, personal concept, that each person connotates it differently from the next, carrying experience, beliefs, hopes, and other items into his or her definition of the word.

A Google search for the concept brings up this simple meaning: “an intense feeling of deep affection.”  On the other hand, St. Paul famously defines it this way:

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

– I Corinthian 13:4-7

In other words, love is demonstrating deep kindness to someone without regard to how it affects the lover.  This is largely the meaning for love which I embrace.

Homura Akemi
Art by Mitsu (Illustration ID 40042564)

Akemi Homura, on the other hand, sees love quite differently (Spoilers for Madoka Rebellion after the jump).

As Madoka Magica The Movie – Rebellion – comes to a close, Homura has become something other than that which we had known her to be all this time – through the television series, the previous movies, and even most of this one.  She calls that which she has become a “demon.”

Upon meeting the Madoka of the world she creates, Homura finds that object of her twisted love is already starting to remember who she once was.  At this point, Homura asks her what she values  more – desire or order.  In Homura’s mind, these are the two choices.  And knowing Madoka’s previous self-sacrificial actions, Homura seems to equate love with these two ideas.  Madoka answers “order,” referring to a world of harmony and cooperation, as her type of love; Homura, on the other hand, desires desire.

The newly-made demon’s choice comes almost painfully to the audience.  In a series so built upon making sacrifices to love others – Kyoko for Sayaka, Homura for Madoka, and Madoka for all – it’s perplexing that the entirety of the franchise ends on a note of selfish love.  Homura rewrites Madoka’s wishes and those of her friends as well to achieve her own desire.  Once starting out with a heart seeking to help Madoka, Homura eventually disregards her friend entirely, as she ironically saves Madoka not for Madoka’s sake, but for her own.

Homura’s choice is not uncommon.  If we’re honest with ourselves, we make that same choice daily, if not on the cosmic level that a magical girl makes it.  We choose our own desires when they conflict with the interest of others, even those we love.  We choose ourselves when it is easy, practical, and comforting.

Is that the state of man?  Is that what Urobuchi is trying to tell us, that mankind is ultimately destined to live selfishly, squandering even the selflessness that the best of us has to offer?

I don’t think that’s quite it.

While the movie ends with this self-loving, destructive tone, I found the finale to be strangely hopeful.

After Madoka replies that she prefers “order” to “desire,” Homura remarks that the two girls will eventually become enemies.  And it’s in that antagonistic line that we see hope subtly buried.

The final scenes demonstrate that Madoka will eventually remember herself – and maybe not so much because of flashbacks from the past, but because, as the movie tells us, Madoka is who she is.  Although timid in some timelines and take charge in others, one thing never changes about Madoka – her selfless nature.  And in this world, it won’t be some spiritual battle between rules/order and desire/chaos that will occur, but rather between selfless love and selfish love.

Homura’s fantasy is already falling apart, even as it has just begun.  No matter how many timelines she creates or how many universes she alters, Homura’s way is imperfect, for it is not love.  It’s the exact opposite – it is the desire for oneself without regard to others, rather than the desire for others without regard to oneself.

And as Paul says in the verse just following those I quoted, it is not selfish desire, but “[selfless] love [that] never fails.”

And ultimately, that’s the point of Rebellion.  After all their journeys, the girls’ story will end on an uplifting note, as they are reunited, some resurrected, and one perhaps brought again to salvation.  Homura, like a sinful mankind, attempted to destroy God as she builds her own image of God, but in a conclusion that will play out off-screen, she will fail against a higher love, which as Urobuchi has pointed out time and time again, will always save the day.

31 thoughts on “Madoka Magica The Movie – Rebellion – and Redefining Love

  1. Man look at this idiot
    I dont think you quite understand whats going on here
    Homura definately sees love in the way of self sacrifice.
    If you hadn’t been paying much attention in the movie its likely you’d missed it, so let me remind you. Homura was told by madoka that the life she decided to sacrifice would be hard on her. Homura. who understand Madoka’s nature deeply, was still surprised that being so selfless could be hard on her. and she said she shouldnt have accepted it.

    That Said, its not entirely your fault, as the ending is garbage in a lot of ways. and has plot holes that are actaully character centric more than anything. If this is the way they wanted to take the movie, they sure did it ham handedly, because madoka should realize this is coming, She’s seen every time line, and she’s seen the above scene and remembers homura’s talk with her in the lilly field, and even vows to Madoka during the fight to not hold back anymore.

    There’s lots wrong with this movie, and its kind of insulting that all these flaws are strewn through what is otheris a very nice movie.

    1. Well, thank you for forgiving my idiocy.

      But no need – I understood those scenes, and still stand by my conclusions, despite your protestations. I do believe that Homura believes that what she is doing is for Madoka’s good; that much is made clear. But certainly, that kind of obsession and pride, knowing what is best for someone – believing that your wisdom rises above their intentions – can warp people (and certainly anime characters!).

      Homura ultimately embraces herself, not Madoka. In believing that what she is doing is best for Madoka, she simultaneously ignores Madoka’s most heartfelt wishes and the very core of her being while saving herself the heartache of another timeline without Madoka. Purposely or not, Homura chose HERSELF in what was intentionally scripted as an action that was the exact antithesis of Madoka’s.

      As for plot holes and lazy endings, you could be right – I haven’t thought much about either and even if I did, I don’t think I’ve investigated Madoka well enough to make points about either. But flawed or not, I thought the movie was fantastic.

    2. Obviously, this is a very debatable point of view for any fan of the show (and it’s one of my all-time favorite shows, so…yeah. If I love a show enough, I try to look for meaning in it and try to understand it at a deeper level. Which I did with PMMM.) That being said, I agree very much with the blogger.

      I once watched a video by Fr. Robert Barron (brilliant man), who said that, “Love is seeking the good of the other.” It was something I carried with me all while I watched this anime, and when I saw the movie, it made me think. Especially, of course, the ending. From the beginning of the series, Homura has always put Madoka first, for multiple reasons. 1.) Madoka was her first true friend, and 2.) Homura herself struggles with some very deep psychological pains, such as a HUGE lack of self-esteem (that is never really healed by her being a Magical Girl, which in some ways exacerbates the pain) and some seriously painful loneliness (which explains why she is so CLINGY). In fact, I might compare her to Shinji Ikari from NGE, because both have the same problems that hinder their relationships with others, and both suffer from some very erratic character development. (Though it made Homura a very interesting character to watch, whereas it made Shinji a very ANNOYING one).

      All these things already make for a very shaky relationship with Madoka, who has a completely different view of love from Homura. This is mainly because Madoka, unlike her friend, has had most everything she hasn’t: a pretty stable life, a good family, and her loyal, cheerful friend Sayaka to back her up. Thus, Madoka sees love as a positive force, something light and freeing, and something that, as Fr. Robert Barron would say, puts others first. In the meantime, Homura sees love as some painful and difficult, a force for darkness. This difference in their ideas on love is what drives the entire series, and what comes to a boiling point in Rebellion.

      Throughout the series, we can see that Homura’s protective feelings for Madoka are at least less-than-healthy, but then we reach episode 10. Here we see Homura’s past, and how her repeated time-travel drove her to becoming so cold and driven. Of course, anyone would probably be driven at least slightly crazy by what Homura has put herself through. However, at the same time, one cannot forget their first meeting, how it cemented Homura’s ideas of love and how it indirectly sparked her road to darkness (not intentionally Madoka’s fault, of course. She just wanted to make a friend, not knowing how messed-up this friend was).

      Then, in the last episode, when Madoka makes her wish to save the universe, Homura is not pleased. Were she truly loving and understanding, she’d be fine with her friend making this wish, knowing that this is what will make her happy and that this is what will bring peace to everyone. Yet, Homura, like the blogger said, indeed puts herself first, and so she struggles with Madoka’s sacrifice. Then, in Rebellion, despite the fact that Madoka has made the world a much happier place, Homura is not happy. What more, she projects those feelings on Madoka (now Madokami), feeling that if she’s not happy, then her friend must not be happy either. She makes no room for her friend’s feelings or cares, seeing her not as a person to love, but as a possession to be had. This is the emotion behind why she brings Madokami down, in the end, and becomes a demon of sorts.

      Yet what ultimately defined it for me was how Homura’s wish turned-out. As was revealed, the more she went back in time, the stronger she got. However, at the same time, the more fragile and weak Madoka got. It seems that this was what truly marked her descent for me, that, paradoxically, in trying to save her friend, she blatantly disregarded her friend’s safety. This, to me, is why Madoka died so often in other timelines, because Homura had made her weaker and weaker every time (and once even caused her to become Kremhild Gretchen). Thus, when Madoka made her wish in the current timeline, she broke this curse and became the strongest magical girl ever. Again, Homura was not happy about it, because in this event, she felt she had lost her strength. The whole thing would almost qualify as bullying, to me, with all the overpowering and psychological implications that usually define bullying, if it weren’t for the fact that Homura was almost totally blind that aspect (or she chose to ignore it.)

      Thus, Homura’s actions were not selfless at all. In fact, they were the paragon of selfishness, which explains how she became the Devil in the end of the series. Just as the Devil’s love turned to hatred due to selfishness, and ended-up leading to his downfall, so did Homura’s love turn to obsession, and also led to her become the show’s main villain.

      1. Thank you for the feedback – I don’t even know where to begin! Your thoughts all make a lot of sense, and you bring in a lot of context I didn’t think about as I was watching the film. Thank you for all this thoughtful commentary – I’ll have to consider it all the next time I view the film.

  2. Wonderful and cool analysis, taking into account a Christian perspective on love. That’s a great statement at the end as well– “Homura, like a sinful mankind, attempted to destroy God as she builds her own image of God.” That was more pointedly put than how I phrased a similar concept on the ANN discussion thread for the movie premiere– where I described Homura as “one who has deliberately rejected one’s selfless love and sacrifice and has chosen a self-serving end,” and likened her to “someone turning their face from Christ and ultimately rejecting His sacrifice for the salvation of humanity.” I also agree on how an essentially redemptive path could work out after the film; the muddy groundwork has been passed through already for such a path. However, such a path won’t necessarily be relegated to playing offscreen– the ending was constructed the way it was at least in part because it left more room for further series expansion. Urobuchi said as much in a recent interview– he initially planned to have it end with Madoka successfully taking Homura with her, but then Director Shinbo and the producer encouraged him to have it end differently so as to leave wider room for a possible continuation. (Who knows how much input he’ll have on another extension of the story, though; it isn’t as much *his* story now as it may have been before.)

    Also, were the “choices” that Homura posed to Madoka at the end really between “order” and “desire?” Going by what I recall of the subs in the theatre showing, I thought it was a choice between order and *freedom,* which leaves me with an impression different from what it’d probably be had the official subs said “desire” instead. Whatever Japanese wording Homura used, could it be interpreted as both “freedom” *and* desire, then? The term “desire” carries more selfish and even repugnant connotations than “freedom” to me….

    1. Thanks for the commentary! I should check out what else was said in the ANN forums – there are always bits of gold commentary in there, like your own, among all the drivel. 😛

      As for another sequel, I certainly hope there is one. The movie definitely ended in a way that felt far from final. I would be satisfied to imagine how it might end, as I did in my piece, but an ending that demonstrated, in some way, what I believe will happen would be wonderful.

      My memory is now a bit fuzzy on the subtitles in the theaters, though I’m almost certain it read “desire.” “Freedom” certainly carries a much less selfish connotation, and with it, a whole new set of ideas to discuss, I think. Thank you for pointing that out – I wonder what the best translation would be.

  3. I think your being way too harsh on Homura. She had the chance to brainwash Madoka into becoming her lover, but she didn’t. Instead she weeped, gave Madoka back her ribbons, and left her alone. Also, she made the lives of her fellow magical girls lives much better then they were before (She honored Sayaka’s wish, and kept violin boy healed hand, and him ending up with Hitomi.) She’s a demon, but she’s far more benevolent then the Christian version of Lucifer found in “Paradise Lost”. (Who fell for Jealousy, and pride. Homura fell for love.) And besides, she fit’s Madoka’s mothers words, “doing somthing that the person thinks is wrong, is the right thing to do”. I would say she’s still has human qualities, doing things that can be perceived as selfless, and selfish.

    1. Thanks for the comments, and for pointing out Paradise Lost, which I think a lot of people will immediately think upon after viewing this film.

      You know, you could absolutely be right. I might be too harsh on her. There are things that occur which are to the best (or at least good) to the magical girls. And even as I watched, I thought that Homura was too harsh are her own self by saying she was a “demon.”

      That said, if I do critique Homura harshly, it’s a critique I lay on myself as well. I would probably have done good to point this out in the text, but while I embrace the view of love I mentioned, I don’t always follow it. In fact, I frequently do what I say Homura does, choosing my own wishes (which she does, even if they are altered a bit). I, and I think all of us, have much more in common with Homura than Madoka. But as she always will be, for Christian anime fans and otherwise, Madoka represents something “godly,” and her actions remain a reflection of that kind of love to which we should aim.

      1. Well true, I suppose we do look at Madoka for the type of love we aim to express. But I think I sympathize with Homura more, and her feelings. During her witch transformation scene, there’s a part were it shows a perverted version of the scene were Madoka and homura nuzzle each other in movie ones opening. You can see Homura reach for the falling Madoka, only to have her turn into liquid and vanish infront, and then see her crush all of the little homura’s on the surface with Homura screaming in agony. I think her entire motivation was the fact, that despite everything, she couldn’t save Madoka no matter how hard she tried. She was frustrated with her own disability to save her, and her pure love was twisted and perverted due to all the trauma and suffering she endured. Even still, she only wants Madoka to be happy (and sacrifices her own happiness, by leaving Madoka alone and giving her ribbons back, as a sigh she thinks she isn’t worthy of Madoka (aka’s God’s love) selfless love.) She’s much more tragic then Lucifer, and unlike him, she hates herself for doing what she thought needed to be done. (As shown by her giving her back her ribbons, thinking she didn’t deserve them. And her own familiars throwing tomatoes at her, along with her calling herself a demon.)

        So despite me thinking Madoka’s love is something we should strive for, I sympathize much more with Homura, due to the fact, unlike Madoka (whose emotions and selfless love is godly.) she, even in her ascended form, is much more human (Filled with great sin, but so much potential to repent.)

        LOL, you think Homura’s feelings were romantic in nature? I thought they were.

        1. I don’t know how I missed this comment – thanks for providing it. There’s a lot of great insight here. I really like this point about Homura, which gave some details I missed in the film:

          She’s much more tragic then Lucifer, and unlike him, she hates herself for doing what she thought needed to be done. (As shown by her giving her back her ribbons, thinking she didn’t deserve them. And her own familiars throwing tomatoes at her, along with her calling herself a demon.)

          And as for whom you relate to more, I probably would relate to Homura more, as well. Madoka’s sacrifice is the kind of love we should strive for, and one that we probably don’t reflect on a normal basis. It’s more representative of Christ’s love than ours. Homura, on the other hand, reflect a lot of traits (and love included among them) that we relate to on an everyday basis.

          And as for romantic feelings…maybe. Probably? I think the movie really emphasized romantic feelings between Kyoko and Sayaka, but only kind of nodded in that direction, as fanservice more than plot, for Homura and Madoka.

  4. I just watched the movie, and (even having my mind blown) I thank for finding this post. I think you speak some very interesting truths here.

    First, I don’t think that you’re too harsh on Homura. Her actions are selfish and indeed hinder the free will of everyone, including Madoka. Yet, let me twist a little bit the setting.

    Kinda-recap… Madokawishes for everyone to be free of suffering and despair, thus her selfless love changes the universe and stops Puella from becoming Witches. But that sets her away and forgotten, a goddess of mercy doomed to be forgotten. I won’t need to delve deeper on this point.
    But here comes Homura at the end, with her selfish love, to snatch the memories of Madoka and transcend the Witch state, creating a world where Madoka lives.
    BUT there are some finer points in her actions.
    First, she doesn’t snatch Madoka for herself, she lets her loose and free in the world, for everyone to meet her and for her to live happily.
    Second, although I think I saw a ring on Sayaka’s hand when she was talking to Homura, it was TOO brief. The talk, and Sakaya’s comments about “feeling like she WAS a part of something bigger” leads me to believe that the Puella contracts are no more. Or at least that Homura is doing most of the hunting anyway, which leaves the Puella to live more peaceful lives.
    Third, and less important, Homura certainly is controlling Kyuubei, which hints to the Incubators in general to be less free to conduct their trickeries and perform experiments on girls.
    Fourth, the very act of parting ways from Madoka and performing all the dirty deeds herself is yet another sacrifice she makes for love, in hopes Madoka and virtually everyone else get to live their lives in happiness and bliss.
    All in all, the selfish love of Homura IS selfless sacrifice that makes veryone else happier.
    Costing Homura her own happiness and robing everyone else a little of their own free wills.

    Thus, Homura becomes a dark, controling reflection of selfless love to Madoka’s forgiving and liberating selfless love.
    If Madoka becomes akin to a goddess of selfless love and redemption, Homura becomes akin to a demon, both fueled by the same core emotion: selfless love.

    I’m interested in your impressions of what I’ve just written, please leave me some feedback.

    1. Thanks for the commentary! Your watching of the film was more detailed than mine, so I really can’t argue with any of your points. Certainly, your analysis makes sense. And it functions nicely as a storytelling device is Homura achieves largely the same goals, plus switches herself, in a way, with Madoka, while becoming the opposite of what she became.

      I don’t usually like to talk of what’s to come, but I might in this case just to add a point. There’s this feeling out there that there’s more to come for this series, perhaps fueled by an audience upset at what Homura twisted into, but maybe also because the franchise just feels incomplete. Can this selfish choice (for I still think it was fueled by self-desire, unlike Madoka’s selflessness, even if they both led to “good”) really be how it all ends? The final few minutes of the movie tell us that the answer is no – Homura is destined to become an enemy. The question is whether or not we’ll get to see that filmed and see what eventually becomes of Homura.

      And I think that point, to me, is very significant. Homura’s “evil” actions led to some good, but ultimately, it condemns her and perhaps will hurt others as well. This is motivation is so important, and I think that’s reflected well in the series.

      Thanks for the commentary, again! It was very enlightening! 🙂

  5. Great post, though I think the topic of Homura’s selfishness is actually more complicated than you make it out to be.

    “Once starting out with a heart seeking to help Madoka, Homura eventually disregards her friend entirely, as she ironically saves Madoka not for Madoka’s sake, but for her own.”

    The issue is complicated because in the seen on the flowery hill about midway through the film, Madoka tells Homura that she would never leave her, that it would be too painful. While this Madoka doesn’t have her memories of the TV show, she is the true Madoka. It’s also suggested by the lyrics in the 1st ED song of the show ( that Madoka becomes the Law of Cycles more out of duty than happiness.

    So if it’s something that Madoka herself inwardly desires, to live a human life, then can we call what Homura does selfish? She could have ignored the other girls and forced Madoka to obey her will, but instead makes all the girls happy in her new universe and accepts the idea that Madoka might become her enemy one day. I think the post-credits scene in Rebellion shows how miserable and guilty Homura feels in the new world, what with all the suicide and self-loathing symbolism. She’s given up her own happiness in order to make Madoka happy, just like she did in the TV series.

    1. While I don’t interpret the end the same way as you, I definitely see your argument. And thank you for bringing up a couple of important points I hadn’t considered/known. It’s definitely a complicated film – I’ve only seen in the one time, but I feel a number of viewings would be necessary (at least for me) to get a better grasp on it.

      Thanks again for sharing!

    2. That last scene wasn’t suicide. She was actually happy at that moment. She could easily beat Kyuubey (previous devil) and was watching at the city from above like a guardian. She leaped toward the city which could actually mean that after kicking’s Kyuubey’s arse once again, she could return from her duty to living her life with Madoka as she always wished.

      Not to mention that for omnipotent, transcendent being – powerful enough to rewrite laws of universe and witnessing it happening twice – to commit suicide by breaking a neck sounds a little ridiculous.

      1. I agree that she’s not actually committing suicide in that scene. There’s no way a little fall could kill a god.Though it is interesting that she made her soul gem appear. If that breaks, she would die. Either way, it’s at the very least supposed to symbolize Homura’s suicidal thoughts. There’s more suicide symbolism with her familiars taking off their shoes and jumping in the river and them throwing tomatoes at Homura.

        Also I don’t see Homura as being happy in that last scene. She’s on the hill where there used to be two chair, but no there’s just one. The whole other half of the hill is gone and the moon itself is only half. This obviously emphasizes how alone Homura feels. You’ll notice she’s leaning her head over the cliff, right where Madoka’s shoulder is supposed to be. She even looks back surprised when she hears the grass rustle and is disappointed when it’s just Kyubey, perhaps torturing him in her anger. Homura realizes that she and Madoka will become enemies one day and accepts that sadness as long as Madoka’s happy and safe.

        1. This movie was so very rich, with meaning in practically every seen, even every movement. I’m looking forward to owning it on DVD and rewatching it to see some of these details you and others have brought up.

          1. I agree. Something I was just thinking about the other day is how Homura isn’t evil or good, she’s just very human. Madoka is saintly in her selflessness, kindness, and ability to forgive. She’s what we strive to be. Homura, on the other hand, is very strong yet flawed. She has the determination to keep moving forward no matter what, but she’s not able to detach her personal feelings the way Madoka can. Sure she lives on in the Madokami world, but can you really blame her for wishing it could’ve been otherwise, wishing for the perfect ending where Madoka could be alive, seeing episode 12 as her failure?

            She refuses to accept the status quo and fights for what she desires, as seen by her denial of the soul gem world. For a self-proclaimed devil she’s very human and relatable, more so than Madoka in a lot of ways.

  6. Interesting interpretation, although I have a different opinion about the final message.
    I think if we interpret self-sacrifice and selflessness as ultimate force that will save the universe, we always end up getting the short end of the stick. Look at all the results of it: in the series Madoka was erased from existence, Homura was alone, remembering her but never together, Mahou Shoujo still faced obliteration at the sake of one wish and saving the world. In Rebellion it turned out Madoka’s sacrifice was about to become a mere tool to Incubators, Homura became a witch and wanted to commit suicide. Later, Homura once again went god-mode to be saving Mahou Shoujo without having a (real) real life once again, losing the dream Homura created.

    Incubators still existed, wraith continued to destroy world, witches still could exist outside of Circle of Life. In other words, shit still hit the fan and happiness was only one huge compromise. There had to be balance between good and bad and while the good was Madoka, the bad was everything you could ever imagine happening to this world once again – even bringing witches back.

    All this turned around when the role of “evil” that was previously uncontrollable, of chaotic nature, was taken on by Homura. She was despair, she was demon, she was controlling the worst fate opposing to Madoka’s hope and salvation.

    You see where it’s heading to? That brilliant bastard, Urobuchi Gen, once again turned from messianism and Christianity to the philosophy of Yin and Yang. Homura became Yin, Madoka became Yang. Balance was kept and all fate stayed within control. Homura, demon, obviously had much love and hope within herself and while “evil”, she became able to control all the worse things in the universe – despair, curses, witches. She had her desire, but the cost for it was the imposed order on the world. Homura on the other hand, while a selfless god, shown that while she was supposed to sacrifice everything, she still had her wishes – that’s why she came to Homura’s labirynth, to have this normal life she wished so much for – she had to even remember she was a goddess to admit she didn’t really want all that sacrifice business. In her case, she ultimately achieved her order at the cost of having her “selfish” desire fulfilled after Homura talked her out of doing things for the sense of duty only. She wasn’t that selfless after all.

    The very last scene says a lot. Kyuubey, which some of us though of as a devil while TV series aired, was beaten by someone even more evil – a demon. However, is it bad? That demon can love, can feel, she cherishes Madoka and other people, together with Madoka she can mantain balance in the world and won’t allow to Mahou Shoujo die for the sake of slowing entopy. In reality, when she says that they will become enemies (supposedly till the end of times) it means that she will be together with Madoka, that they will balance this world and keep it in order, that she will not allow chaos reign the world once again, leaving Madoka fight whatever Incubators might have at dispose. After all, if there is good there has to be evil in the world and if there is evil, there has to be good. Homura is and will be the best evil universe could wish for.

    While at first I was shocked at the finale, after the initial “what the hell happened”, I understood that this is the true ending. I’d bet my soul (to become Mahou Shouj.. Shounen?) this devil Urobuchi planned this from the very beginning.

    1. Thanks for the great insight. Yes, I can definitely see that as the ultimate ending to the series, and it certainly matches themes and ideas that Urobuchi has previously mined in Madoka. It makes sense.

      I should reply, though, that I agree that Madoka’s love isn’t necessarily “selfless,” as an opposite of Homura’s “selfish” desires. Madoka, and I think this helps in representation as a Christian messianic figure, has desires as well. She wants to save Homura and the other magical girls out of a love for them. Her wish fulfills her own desire.

      That said, Madoka still sacrifices. And so, I would say that Madoka’s love is a “sacrificial love for others,” while Homura’s is a “sacrificial love for herself.” Her ultimate goal, I think, is to do what she thinks is best for Madoka. That’s, of course, not necessarily a bad thing (I think of parents and children), but in this case, it’s a choice that’s intensely focused on two people, and Homura in particular, since she’s overriding Madoka’s wishes. And as smart as Homura is, I’m sure she realizes that what she’s doing isn’t the morally right thing to do; she does it because she wants it so bad.

      But in the theme of the story, I’m definitely persuaded that you’re right about the yin and yang of it all. And in that way, Homura becomes a tragic player in the hands of another “god,” Gen Urobuchi, who uses her as the “evil” portion of story of balance that moves from a minor tale of teenage girls to a massive tale of the universe, religion, and life itself.

    2. I’ve purposely avoided the movie discussion because the plot was formed around the idea of creating more content which in my view invalidates any meaningful (or at least, intentional) interpretation. However, the claim that Urobuchi planned this from the beginning is false, according to Urobuchi.

  7. Interesting point of view here! As a Christian who decided to watch the series after hearing all the praise about it, I encountered this site and this article, and this site seems so at home to me! While watching the movie, my mom storms in (note: I have Christian parents), and says, “Why do you get mad at me for wanting to see [low-end] R-rated movies, and this is just as bad.” I wanted to counter her with the positive stuff about the series, but I know she won’t believe me. Once I’m done watching the movie she tells me to watch something normal, and turns the other tv in the room on to something I could care less about. She knows I’m an anime lover, and have been to three cons, but for once in my life I feel like I’ve been alienated from my own parent(s). She uses the idiotic statement of japan making video games and anime to turn America into useless people (america made gaming gaming a thing, the East is just superior at it imo) I feel I need help from someone I don’t even know in real life (yeah that sounds odd) Sorry to post this here, since I know this is not one of those help-line sites.

    1. Welcome, Seth!

      I’m sorry to hear about your conflict with your parents. Unfortunately, that’s not too unusual. If you think it would help, you can certainly refer your parents to articles on the site.

      Madoka is kind of a hard one when you’re trying to show you parents redeeming qualities in a series and that anime isn’t necessarily weird. Madoka is really made for people who are already used to anime, and it may turn Christians who aren’t familiar with anime off because the magical girl genre may strike them as strange, and certainly the yuri overtones might.

      There are series you may want to try to watch with your parents – we have a new section, which is accessible on the top menu, that offers some recommendations.

    2. A good starting point for those new to anime would be Trigun. Partly given that its somewhat based off of a manga by Yasuhiro Nightow, who converted to Catholicism as he was playing with concepts for his characters, before laying the groundwork for the series itself.
      (Lots of Christian symbolism is present even in the TV series, though the TV Series is slightly off in terms of how metaphysics works, seeming slightly more inclined toward Buddhism, which is what Yasuhiro Nightow’s worldview /used to be/. Granted, the TV series is written by a different group, yet due to being based on Yasuhiro Nightow’s work, the influence of Christianity is quite plainly visible in some of the scenes through the series.)

      Another good starting point is Cowboy Bebop, given its space westerner sci-fi style of setting, and given that it’s strongly influenced by a blend of different western cultures.

      And then I personally like Patlabor, since it’s pretty much exactly what the ’90s would’ve been like if giant robots were around at the time. A 20 minutes into the future slice of life comedy real robot cop show. (Real robot = a sub-genre of Mecha that attempts to realistically capture what mechs would be like in the real world.)

      Humorous and simplistic yet relatable characters, and some entertaining stories, are the main selling points of Patlabor.

      Thing is, though, not everyone likes anime, and if anything you probably shouldn’t try to force your parents to like what you like. If they are serious about seeing what sort of things you are watching, out of concern, you can start with that.

      HOWEVER, there /is/ something you could do to possibly shift how your parents look at anime and video games. Treat these things as a hobby, and demonstrate that though you like these things, that these things aren’t the main focus of your life. Be sure to take care of your daily responsibilities (such as chores), see about trying to get a job if you are old enough and do not have one already, [If you can’t drive yet, look for something local enough that you could walk or ride a bike to.] and have a positive attitude.

      Their attitudes might shift on the subject matter if they see first-hand that these interests are merely hobbies, and are not inherently harmful or causes of laziness: the real cause of such things is the human heart and the inherent fallenness of human nature. Seeing an example of someone who is in control of their hobby/passion, and not letting their hobby/passion control them, might change their outlook on the matter.

      There’s also the philosophic angle which will expose their claims as being sophomoric and amateur (misguided, ignorant, uninformed) at best, and flat out intellectually dishonest (blatantly deceitful) at worst. I’d sooner bet on ignorance than intentional dishonesty, though. But unless you’re familiar with how logic works and what logical fallacies are and the like, and unless your parents are also familiar with this process, then I suggest avoiding taking the philosophic approach with your parents.

      TL:DR version:
      If they take an interest in your hobby for any reason, introduce ’em to Trigun (which has some Christian themes due to the manga’s author having converted to Catholicism), Cowboy Bebop (Space Westerner anime that feels right at home with American audiences), and /possibly/ Patlabor (Something lighthearted and entertaining out of comedic value).

      If they don’t take an interest in your hobby, don’t force it on them.

      They’re misguided on the nature of these forms of fiction, so prove them wrong through your actions by being responsible, proactive, and hard-working, and treating your hobby for games and anime as what it is: a mere hobby.

      1. I especially second the commentary of treating anime as a hobby – good advice both on a personal level and when sharing your interest with your parents.

  8. “Once starting out with a heart seeking to help Madoka, Homura eventually disregards her friend entirely, as she ironically saves Madoka not for Madoka’s sake, but for her own.”

    As far as I am concerned, that’s actually pretty much right on the mark. I have always seen what Homura decided to do & did at the end is horribly wrong & selfish yet very much the most selfless thing she could possibly do. & yes I do think she finally snap along the movie yet I can’t help but cheered for her a bit along the way.

    I mean just think for a sec, if Homura never did what she did what would happen? She will finally be with Madoka at their version of heaven, Sayaka & that other girl proof that after their passing on they will still be sentient & not some eternal rest or whatever. she probably can even help Madoka in her never-ending quest forever & ever just like how Sayaka apparently is doing.

    But no, that’s not what Homura really wanted. What she wants is for Madoka to happy & normal & NOT forgotten by her almost perfect & loving family. She want to save her, whatever the cost.

    It is somewhat imply Homura’s new reality is pretty much unstable (with all those creatures around), & chances are things will get horrible wrong down the line but so what? As far as Miss Devil is concerned, damn them, damn humanity, damn the whole universe & more then anything damn her own very soul. Homura is willing to risk becoming the very thing Madoka despise just so her very best & only friend will gets her happy & normal life Madoka so afraid to lose when she forgotten about her oh-so-important duties.

    This movie actually reminded me quite a lot of what I was thinking when I’m watching “The Passions of Christ” (Not a good movie, & makes me very uncomfortable.) More now that I came across your post on this subject. And that is –

    Why is there not one of THAT person in Jesus’ followers? From the thousands of thousands of followers, not one?

    THAT person that after Jesus was taken by the Jews knew very well Jesus is being unjustly accused & possibly torture.

    THAT person that right there seeing Jesus getting crucified & apparently is all supposed to be that Jesus will either die slowly & horribly by blood loss or sun roasting.

    THAT person that will think: “No, not this, not worth it. I would rather damn the world & even myself if this is the ‘reward’ for Jesus for saving us. We do not deserve the love he gives us & I am stopping this now.”

    THAT person that will either rally brothers in arms the old fashion way or sold his soul to the devil to save Jesus from his self-sacrifice & probably slaughter quite a lot of people on the way.

    Yes, it would be sad & horrific & if Jesus have even a bit of human emotion (rather then totally divine) would probably scream in horror. But seriously can you really blame THAT person from doing that? You’ll probably secretly cheered for him/her. I know I would.

    “The road to hell is paved with good intentions”

    Because its one thing when you are doing the self-sacrificing, its another thing all together when yours most loved is doing it instead.

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