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The perfect finale to a wonderful series.
on 8 April 2013
Have you ever tried to write a review through a veil of tears? It's not easy. Thanks for that, Madoka Magica manga. And yes, I know I felt like I was punched in the gut in my review of volume 2, but this time, I have just picked myself up off the ground, out of the foetal position.
Alright, alright, maybe Madoka's not that sad, but there isn't really a poetic way of putting it - I cried at the anime, and I've just finished a fit of tears after finishing the manga. While volumes 1 and 2 did manage to keep a sort of light tone to them, volume 3 throws us straight into the futility of trying to turn Sayaka human again after her Soul Gem turned into a Grief Seed, meaning she'd turn into a witch, as well as Kyoko dying, Kyubey pulling out more Jeff the Killer faces, and taunting Madoka by describing why his race do all this energy-harvesting, and finally, an entire chapter dedicated to Homura. And then her and Madoka having to face against Walpurgisnacht, a witch of immense power who is coming to the city, as foretold by Kyoko.
Oh, also, did I mention that in between all of that, Kyubey is a right little bastard to Homura? She's been trying so damn hard ever since Madoka (who in an alternate timeline is her best friend and contracted with Kyubey) was defeated by Walpurgisnacht, that all her efforts are for naught. Indeed, as Kyubey explains...
"You rolled back time for one reason: to save Madoka. By repeating the same time frame for the same reason and purpose each time, you probably intertwined multiple parallel universes, all centring around Madoka. If the threads of fate from these universes - which were never supposed to interact - all connect to Madoka in this timeline, then I can understand why she has so much power. Every thread of fate circulating within the time-frame you've been repeating has wound about and connected back to Madoka. Great job, Homura. You've made Madoka become the strongest witch ever."
You can almost hear him slow-clapping his little paws, can't you?
Oh, wait, there's more.
"A Puella Magi's latent powers depend on how heavily that person is burdened by fate. I would understand if she was a queen or the saviour of a country, but I was baffled as to why the threads of fate all centred around Madoka, who had such an ordinary life. Hey, could it be that Madoka becomes such a powerful Puella Magi... because you repeat the timeline over and over? Yes, I thought so. You're the cause, Homura."
"If it comes down to it, Homura will probably negate this timeline and continue fighting. She'll continue repeating this meaningless chain of events, failing to learn from the past. Giving up and coming to a standstill means the same thing to her now. The instant she believes this was pointless and that fate can't be changed, she'll fall into despair and turn into a witch. She knows. That's why she has no choice."
I hate to use this term, but this manga really was an emotional roller coaster from start to finish. There's this moment towards the beginning of the manga where Kyoko brings Madoka with her into the witch's labyrinth created by Sayaka. Kyoko asked Kyubey if perhaps Sayaka could be revived if Madoka tags along and tries to get Sayaka to be happy, reminiscing on all the times they've shared together. Kyubey just smiles and withholds the information, but you know that little s*** is just smirking on the inside.
Naturally, Kyoko and Madoka's plan fails, and Homura asks Kyubey if Kyoko ever had a hope in hell of restoring Sayaka. Kyubey responds with a cheery: "Of course not!" Now, that is a true villain. I hate to keep referring back to Naoki Urasawa's Monster, but I get the same bone-chilling vibe I do when Johan Liebert is around. (And yes, I know Kyubey is just a cutesy magical girl mascot in the same vein as Mepple from Pretty Cure, but damn.)
I mean, you can't deny just how tragic this whole thing is. Homura has gone through alternate timelines so much, each time with the vain hope that she can perhaps save Madoka from ever making the contract with Kyubey. (Also, I don't remember it being mentioned in the manga, but doesn't Homura also have a limited quantity of sand in the hourglass in the shield on her arm? So she can't take her sweet time, she has to go into these timelines, try to save Madoka, and then try again when it doesn't work.) However, it just doesn't work as the poor girl actually winds up causing Madoka's undoing, all while Kyubey just smiles on.
Speaking of Kyubey, I know I've gone on a bit in these reviews of Madoka that Kyubey likes to pull out creepy faces, but here he does it every other pages. Perhaps to a detriment - I think the dark and twisted things he says to the Puella Magi work so much better when he's smiling oh so sweetly, or not changing his expression much at all, such was the case in the anime. Still, thanks for the nightmares, you little rat.
I'm not going to discuss much more about Madoka herself, since it's a huge, huge spoiler, and I hope you get to check out this anime/manga some day, but I pretty much started crying at this particular reveal about how great a friend Madoka is, and how she finally gets to tell Homura how grateful she is to have known her.
Man alive, I think I've still got something in my eye.