Ready for more pain?
The third Madoka Magic movie, subtitled Rebellion, pushes angst to extreme highs (or lows), as Gen Urobuchi puts his cast of cute magical girls in heartrending situations and weaves an unexpected tale that will leave viewers breathless.
Continuing where the first two movies, adaptations of the original series, ended, Madoka Magica The Movie – Rebellion eases us into a familiar world, but one that shouldn’t exist. Madoka’s sacrifice seems to have never occurred, as this new world finds her along with the entire cast in existence, though a few have slightly altered personalities, including villains from the previous works. But what is this world? Why does it exist this way? And can Homura discover the secrets behind it?
This third and (possibly) final installment of the Madoka Magica series divides nicely into three parts. The first functions as a quizzical introduction. Viewers are left scrambling, wondering why things have turned out this way. Did we misunderstand what occurred in the finale? Meanwhile, we’re treated to Akiyuki Shinbo’s always interesting directing style, as uncomfortable backward head slants and dichotomous visuals mark the landscape of the film. But with a budget far surpassing that of the series, he is able to match his direction to some of the most beautiful and stunning animation scenes ever developed; it’s pure pleasure to watch the magnificent scene when the magical girls team up to take down their enemy. The same can be said of the scenery, as Shinbo treats us to some of his most intense or creative artwork during scenes of exposition or silence, ensuring us that despite a nearly two-hour running time, we won’t be sitting through a soporific movie.
Adding a further dimension is Yuki Kajiura’s score, which is almost a character in itself, adding voice to scenes throughout the film and at times affecting it as much as the animation and script. Truly cinematic, it is perhaps the beautiful scoring that particularly makes the movie one that should be enjoyed in theaters as much as the outstanding visuals do. The new opening and ending, “Colorful” by ClariS and “Kimi no Gin no Niwa” by Kalafina, respectively, are memorable and further add to the film’s scope, which is as large as to be expected.
Indeed, we fall further into understand the enormity of the story (emotionally more than physically) as the second phase of the tale follows Homura, poking and prodding in true tough-girl detective style, often coming to blows with her friends, to find out the truth. And what a truth it is.
Certainly, many fans will be shocked, more than once, by the final act of this supposed final film. It takes the story in a direction that is appropriate for the series, which has always been a mind bender, but it also alters significantly how we think about the franchise’s characters and the grand narrative. While I found the movie to offer a strangely comforting answer in a discomforting finale, others will feel quite differently. Certainly many in the crowd at my theater were shocked, and after the credits rolled, almost all were silent, perhaps both in confusion and awe.
And that’s both a strength and the weakness of the movie, as it perhaps tries to give too much story, working our minds like a steam engine, while denying us the enjoyment we could have in seeing a slightly less dizzying finale. This perhaps tells how fine the film is, though, that I would nitpick about the movie forcing us to use our minds.
I will say that Madoka fanatics may perhaps find other, more considerable flaws in the film, though if they’re there, I almost don’t want to know what they are. Please just leave me alone. I want to be free to soak in the most visually and musically impressive and compellingly scripted animated film I’ve seen in quite some time.