Madoka Clones Can’t Exist

No, this is not a click bait title. I honestly believe this fact. Beyond the surface level and superficial factors that people only see or look at when comparing two different series before dismissing or lowering a show when it doesn’t deserve to be lowered, no series are going to be clones of each other. This is the whole Eva is like Ideon or Rahxephon is like Eva discussion over again. Even if the stories go about things in similar ways, the characters are not doing the same things for the same reasons, and there is so much variance in stories in general. A magical girl show may look like another one on the outside because there are tropes that all series seem to have with each other. Same with super robot shows and real robot shows. There are going to be inherently similarities, but there are so many differences as well.

So, what is one of the things that people talk about when discussing Madoka? Will, I think the dark magical girl aspect is at least the main one. I know that I am not the biggest expert of magical girls series at all because I watched all the shorter and generally newer ones, but I have seen enough and watched enough videos to know that dark magical girls shows are everywhere and have been around since the dawn of anime. There are death game magical girl shows, once that put lives in jeopardy for the most extraneous reasons, ones where the magical girl becomes completely feral to defeat an evil witch, and so many other things. Even magical girl shows that are most known for being for kids have dark elements to it. Madoka is not original at all in that aspect.

There is also the fact that people consider Madoka a reconstruction of the genre too but I don’t think it’s doing anything new. In fact, I feel like I can make the point of how Madoka can be literally about anything else and still be as well written as it is. The center point of the show is about Madoka deciding whether or not to be a magical girl. That could be about anything just like the entire show could switch around characters genders or the central focus and it would still be as well written as it could be. Madoka Magica is written by Gen Urobuchi and he’s a good writer, but he’s very utilitarian in how he writes anything. I mean it, he doesn’t write characters by ideas of characters and concepts instead.

He wrote Madoka like a stage play and it’s a very good stage play to be sure. The normal moments on the outside world, how the story is told through well written conversations between people, and then the magical girl moments inside weird looking witches dens and back alleys. The show matches the writing by having the animation being like 2D plans like a stage. All of that stage writing can be switched for different things and concepts considering how being a magical girl is a mcguffin. You can switch Madoka to being about girls wanting to pilot evas and Madoka wanting to find a reason or wish to get her to pilot an eva and it would work. You can also switch it to being about magical boys or anything else because the show’s characters are not inherently gendered at all just like it doesn’t have to be singularly about magical girls. The writing is about as utilitarian as Kyubey is but it’s also very effective. That’s why I don’t really see it as a deconstruction in my eyes. It’s too general to be one.

Even with the fact of Madoka being written like a stage show, it’s not even the first magical girl show to be written like that either. Princess Tutu is also a “dark” magical girl show that has very stage like writing because it’s a literall ballet turned into anime. I am sure that other shows are like that too because the stage and anime have a very big connection to each other. If we really wanted to push more non originality into Madoka, time travel is irrrelevent because Nanoha has characters flying around through time and dimensions in space ships to fight evil forces all over the place. No, I am not kidding. Does Madoka being not as original or utilitarianly written bad? No. If anything, Madoka is good because or despite all of those facts. It’s directed very well and written very well. You can tell why it impacted the world so much.

So, why do people consider shows a clone of Madoka? Its once again a surface level analysis that lacks all sorts of quality. Why do people think something like Yuki Yuna is a Hero is a Madoka clone when its about something else entirely? I think people saw the key visuals in which the character designs are moe like and dressed in colored magical girl outfits and that’s it honestly. The shows can’t be any more different. The same could be said of so many other “clones” that clearly go for different things or go for a new angle. Welcome to magical girl shows, they have tropes that tie them together despite their differences Even Wixoss got caught into the Madoka Clone thing because of the supposed character drama when the show is about girls playing card games against each other and barely has any magical girl aspects in it. So, can we please stop calling things clones? Clones don’t exist because no one can directly make a copy of Madoka. Even the Madoka Side Story anime is different from main line Madoka.

26 comments

  1. Very good post. I hate it when people just throw around the term ripoff a lot. You’re right about how the dark magical girl concept isn’t even that original with Madoka. I’ve watched Shamanic Princess which came out in the 90s, so does that make Madoka a clone of that OVA? It’s not, but I used that question to prove a point. You’re right in how these discussions are annoying like the “RahXephon is an EVA clone” fallacy and I freaking HATE that accusation since I’ve seen both series. Yes, I get that I’ve been known around here to call out un-originality or plagiarism and a certain Top 7 list I put out this year REALLY seems ironic given this conversation, but it gets annoying with these accusations with superficial or baseless roots. If anyone is going to call anything a clone, then at least back it up with evidence and logic, people. I’m glad you’re calling this stuff out.

    Liked by 3 people

      1. I know, right? Even then some of the similarities can be quite superficial with some of these arguments. It’s certainly not the same thing when it comes to ranting about let’s say red-caped fighting game antagonists for example.

        Liked by 1 person

      1. Very good point. I haven’t seen the Reideen anime, but I know what that robot looks like thanks to playing Super Robot Wars Alpha. RahXephon didn’t seem like a ripoff of that anime from what I know about that older series.

        Like

  2. I think the reason people talk about everything else being a clone of Madoka is the same reason kids on Tik Tok try and argue why X anime are the new big three: a fundamental misunderstanding of the history of anime.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. I think much like Jack said, it’s a lot of younger fans saying ‘x is a rip-off of Madoka, or y is a rip-off of q’. There’s a whole generation now whose first exposure to the magical girl genre was Madoka, and therefore that’s their baseline of comparison. Despite the power of the internet there’s way too many fans who refuse to google something as basic as the original airing date for certain stories. I think it’s important to account for fans who also just like to start shit, just to bring attention to and defend their favorite. (Which sadly, there seems to be quite a bit of from what little I know of Madoka fans. )

    I also feel like a lot of people don’t actually understand what the true meaning of a clone series would be. Like a true clone would be what almost happened to Sailor Moon in the 90’s with Team Angel. Literally taking an idea, changing the bare minimum to avoid copyright issues, and pushing it out there. Thankfully, Team Angel never actually got fully produced, but I think that would be the better argument for a clone, then anything that’s out there with Madoka.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Oh, I believe that younger fans don’t know anything about googling. I feel like I have to tell as many older people as younger people to Google something. It’s really frustrating to have to do that at all.

      Oh, I didn’t hear about the Team Angel. Wow, that sounds awful.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I feel like the stock phrase of ‘just google it’ or ‘google is free’ is becoming more and more common as we go along. It’s still annoying to have to remind people.

        Team Angel would have been the best and worst thing ever. It was live action (90’s Lisa Frank style going on), AND animation. But alas, it wasn’t meant to be.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I find it egregious when this is said about Yūki Yūna wa Yūsha de Aru, because it is way different in narrative and, at this point, has become a Saint Seiya-level pantheon of a franchise.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I think it can be hard to get out of the mindset of comparing shows, especially when one of those shows has had a big impact on you. I love Madoka, it’s my 2nd favourite anime, and I know I did my fair share of hunting for clones and comparing stuff to Madoka, when I really shouldn’t have been. I was just so desperate for that same experience I had watching Madoka that I couldn’t get my head out of that space. It took me a while to come to terms with the fact that Madoka is it’s own thing and the only way I’m going to experience it again is to watch it again, which I do often now.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. OH, I can get like that too. When something hits you so hard, then finding something close to it just feels natural. I can’t help but say that I’ve had a lot of disappointments happen because of that fact because it’s not the first thing myself.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. Yeah, I remember people back in the day claiming with straight faces that Madoka “invented” dark magical girl, which is patently ridiculous. And as a huge Yuki Yuna fan, the Madoka fanbase’s stubborn dismissal of the latter just made me even more annoyed with them.

    Even from the first time I saw it, I’ve never been able to watch the first episode of Madoka without being reminded of both Nanoha and Mai Hime, with Madoka hearing Kyubey’s telepathic call for help just like Nanoha hears ferret-Yuno’s call for help, and Madoka intervening during Homura’s attempt to kill Kyubey reminding me of Mai trying to stop Natsuki Kuga attacking Mikoto on the ferry. Urobuchi himself has mentioned three anime (all Shinbo-directed) that he watched for research when he was writing Madoka and Nanoha was one of those (SZS and Cossette no Shouzou were the other two). But inspiration or not, I’d never call Madoka a Nanoha clone either – that’d be an equally ignorant take.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I remember something like that too and its just incredible how people just don’t want to look backwords for anything or learn more about a certain genre at all.

      Exactly. Even if there are similarities, there are some very clear differences because each show just does something different with their concepts.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Maybe it’s just because I haven’t seen a lot of post-Madoka magical girl series myself, but I’ve never heard of a show being called a “Madoka clone” by any means until now. I feel like people who usually pull this card do so because they want to unleash a certain gripe on the show being attacked, by comparing it to something that they like which, to them, is better.

    For example, the one I’m most familiar with is the “Digimon is a Pokemon clone” shtick. Even though the former is differently structured in terms of lore, storyline, and characters, everyone in America saw it as a Pokemon clone simply because of the absurd reason that “I saw Pokemon first, and Digimon sounds similar to it, ergo clone” – the classic post hoc ergo propter fallacy. I have a feeling that might be the case for “Yuki Yuna Is A Hero” too.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Wow, I remember some people saying “Digimon is a Pokemon clone.” when I was a kid and even then I knew that wasn’t true. Sure, both have battling monsters and involve adventures, but both works are nothing alike besides those basic similarities. Good call with mentioning that fallacy. SMH.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Wait, people even in this modern day still think Digimon is a Pokemon ripoff? Wow, just wow! I swear some people don’t know how to do their Googles for situations like these at minimum. That is an appropriate quote for the situation.

        Liked by 2 people

    2. Oh, I remember that digimon and Pokemon moment in my younger days. I never found digimon on time when I was younger so I never watched it, but that thought process is crazy. It probably is the same one.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I’m absolutely certain it is. Look how big Pokemon is compared to Digimon in the West; it’s no contest. The former will always trump the latter, which is unfortunate because of how deep Digimon is and how much I feel they’d like it if it was more bigger

        Liked by 2 people

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