I find it so strange that this film even exists. But Sequel films, man. Madoka Magica’s finale was conclusive. It said everything that it needed to say and felt marginally good yet not. Well, as good as one can get when a heroic sacrifice happens and the fate of the world for certain populations changed. There was only one person for who the story was not at least resolved in some ways for and that was Homura. That was the only way this film would function and work in the way it wanted to if it was focused on her. With Gen Urobuchi being the writer, he noticed this fact and exploited it to create a film that well…exists. Whether or not its good depends on a lot of things and how you interpret all of what the film does and whether one thinks the sequel will add anything else to it.
For reference, Madoka Magica Rebellion was one of the largest showings of anime films back in 2013. You know, way before anime films started to appear in movie theaters as often as they do now. So obviously, Madoka Magic appeared at the right time for streaming services to start and to increase the likelihood of anime films appearing abroad outside of Japan. So obviously because of how it was Madoka, there was so much hype for the film because of that fact. I remember hearing stories about people showing up for merchandise and other things and then trashing some of that merchandise after exiting. There were so many controversial things going on in that I think the sequel would make things clearer. Hopefully.
But anyway, the start of this film. I really dug how Rebellion starts or just generally goes about through most of its story. It’s too happy and that is a bit unsettling because this is Madoka Magica after all. The magical girl transformation sequences had some links to what happened to them in the series to carry that. Mami and the rest of the give girls defeat some threats known as nightmares and the hell are those? It also helps that Homura is the new transfer student once again who is living an ideal life with Madoka and the others. So obviously, the film is putting the watcher into Homura’s perspective. We follow along with her on this ride of something being off. Rebellion is Homura’s film after all and placing her into that view point as she explores the world around her and discovering that this world is only a witches den after all. A wonderful reveal considering who that is it is for. It’s Homura.
The one thing about making this film Homura’s is such a genuine and artistic choice that makes complete sense. This is such a Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya like film. How many time lines has Homura traveled? How much sadness and despair has she carried with her that can’t simply be wiped away? How much must she resist against the world she created until she finally realizes that everything there is all her wants and yet she is still put off by them? A happy but shallow Madoka compared to the original. A Mami who sees Homura as an enemy. A city existing in its own space and time. Kyoko’s despair also shows up in this film. All of this is because the Incubator Kyubei units exist to make this weird world function as it does. Once again, they are taken advantage of as girls with their autonomy taken away. So yeah, this is Madoka but twisting down so many of its idea.
The other part of this film that I enjoy is how much of a fanservice kind of anime. I mean, not the sexual kind of fanservice despite Rebellion having a lot of that too which is what it is. This film is like a smartly written fanfiction of after OG show. It really does service so many of the hanged over plots or ideas from the series. Sayaka returning to finally save Kyouko after Kyouko tried to save her. The group eventually saving Homura supposedly after her despair takes over. Especially since she spent so much time trying to save Madoka and all of that not mattering. There is just so much great stuff in this film for that. A lot of good redemption and hope. Hope that started with the end of Madoka and it finally catching up to Homura after everything that happened. It felt right because this is the film that people wanted to see.
Then the finale happened and it’s just…why? I did hear and read some interviews about this ending not being Gen Urobuchi’s idea and it really does feel like the hand of god wanting to turn this film into a franchise for more money. Seeing Homura acting so differently from how she did for most of the film in the end and ruining the lives of the people who saved her again doesn’t bode well for any of this. Especially since it was a cliff hanger. I mean, how does it feel for it to take 8 whole years for a film that was written years ago to follow Rebellion to finally appear? Doesn’t that just not make sense considering how Madoka is such a gold mine of money for shaft, yet they just shelved it for this long even if people ended up not liking the film for their own stupid decision that everyone hates? People would still hate watch this coming film sooner if anything.
With that disgustingness out of the way, this film is the best looking thing that Shaft has ever done. At least in my opinion because I am not a Monogatari fan. But man, this film is beautiful on so many artistic levels. It takes a lot of the direction and visual language of the series and expresses them in some interesting ways that works so well. Same with the character desigsn and the animation in them being more explosive. There are some excellent fight scenes in this from the girls using their powers in interesting ways. I mean, the Mami and Homura fight is a stand out portion of all of this. I just don’t know what else to say about it. Maybe too much focus on thighs because people who create anime are pretty horny, but I don’t think that takes away from a lot of the visual aesthetics of the film at all.
This film was a treasure trove of so many thoughts and ideas in an interesting way to expanded upon it all. What else needs to be said. I like Homura and I liked seeing everyone get together to saver her from her own self hatred and despair and so many other good things along the way. With the ending though, at least there is a sequel that is now coming out. But for the time it came out, it’s going to be lowered to a good for now and I don’t think that will changed anytime soon. The film has existed so long without anything coming after it which means that is the legacy of this film. Upsetting fans for years for no reason while waiting for a sequel that no one knew would ever happen. Madoka Magica didn’t need it, but it happened anyway. So yeah, it’s just a good film not a solid film.