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.