The young girls of Mitakihara happily live their lives, occasionally fighting off evil, but otherwise going about their peaceful, everyday routines. However, Homura Akemi feels that something is wrong with this unusually pleasant atmosphere—though the others remain oblivious, she can't help but suspect that there is more to what is going on than meets the eye: someone who should not exist is currently present to join in on their activities. Mahou Shoujo Madoka★Magica Movie 3: Hangyaku no Monogatari follows Homura in her struggle to uncover the painful truth behind the mysterious circumstances, as she selfishly and desperately fights for the sake of her undying love in this despair-ridden conclusion to the story of five magical girls. [Written by MAL Rewrite]
Puella Magi Madoka Magica: Rebellion is to its original twelve episodes series as to End of Evangelion was to Neon Genesis Evangelion. Both have an extensive and truly mind-blowing foundation to build upon as well as featuring an absolutely earth-shattering ending that leaves the audience feeling shell-shocked.
Veterans of the Madoka Magica TV series know that something is eerily off within moments of the movie’s introduction. Given the fairly conclusive ending in the previous installment, the setting in the movie’s beginning, is perfect to a fault. Characters, that should be dead, are back and everyone’s is best friends with each other including Kyubey .The same events are relived in different sequences and circumstances like some a twisted version of Groundhog Day. Even Mami gets a little friendly helper named Charlotte which, disturbingly enough, is the same witch that chomped off her head the first time around.
For the first forty-five minutes, the audience to treated to a mishmash of fanfiction and fanservice as the Holy Quintet goes about their business of smoothing the nightmares of their citizens and doing regular slice-of-life things. While it was pleasant to see all the main leads carry on with their lives in a typical happy-go-lucky mahou shoujo after suffering so much, I felt that the first act overstayed its welcome by fifteen minutes. By the time Homura begins to figure what is really wrong with this world, I was left tapping my foot and wishing the movie would hurry up and get to the point. Though, once the plot got over the initial hump, it just becomes a roaring rollercoaster ride to the very end.
Every main character, regardless of their status at the end of the TV series, makes a comeback. Starting us off is Homura is my favorite magical girl as she dethrones Sailor Mars of my childhood since she has an amazing power of manipulating time and uses high explosives and bullets to get the job done. Although, she regresses back to the timid and awkward girl in the beginning of the movie, by the time the second and third act hit, she is back into her badassery ways. Since the series is really about Homura and not Madoka, despite what the title suggests, she forms the core of the main narrative and Rebellion is just the continuation of her story, which is taken to the next level under Urobuchi.
Outside of the tremendous amount of development and dialogue given to Homura and Madoka, Sayaka is surprisingly given a good amount of depth and maturity this time around as opposed to her personality leading to some pretty dark implications in the preceding storyline. Where she was sort of unlikeable, Rebellion changes her into an assertive and confident young magical girl that put her on par with the rest of the Holy Quintet. Other members like Kyoto and Mami, while they do have their moments to shine and speak, aren’t given that much of role in the plot. That is to be expected since their back stories have reached their conclusion in the original television series.The much-hyped character Charlotte being included into the main cast doesn’t detract or add to the overall package. She is a colorful and playful thing of sorts and she does give Mami a witch/person to be paired with as strange as that sounds. Charlotte does suffer same problems as Kyoto and Mami in that they don’t have really much to do other than coming along for the ride and use their powers in a supporting role during the climactic battle of the movie.
Studio Shaft is notoriously known for rushing their episodes in order to meet airing deadlines and then redoing entire episodes for the Blu-ray releases. With all the heaps of money that they raked in with disc sales, spin-offs and merchandise, the production team spared no expenses for the entire two-hour long movie. At 2,300 shots, it is double of the typical amount in comparative animated movie and yet, all the visuals remain at a higher quality than the TV series.
If you thought that the witches and their labyrinth were trippy with their collage art project style, then be prepared to be utterly overwhelmed to point of questioning whether or not someone slipped LSD into your drink. At more than a few points, I was struggling to find traditional animation in the sea of psychotic art cutouts. Still, the creativity required to produced such things is nothing to scoff at. In fact, Rebellion has my favorite magical girl fight scene of all time and personal highlight of the movie which pits Mami and Homura against each other in a frantic gun battle. This fight is a display of Studio Shaft’s ability as these two unveil their full abilities in the torrents of bullets that they unleash at each other in a spiraling dance to the death which is unmatched in any other magical girl show.
Returning back once more to score the soundtrack is Yuki Kajiura, having down work on high-profile shows like Sword Art Online, Kara no Kyoukai, Fate/Zero and previous installments of Madoka Magica. While the quality of her music is still set to a high standard, I felt that her primary weakness is the lack of variety by reusing the same style of dance beats, strings and vocals. I could have literally interchange her music with her other projects and at one point, I thought I was watching another Kara no Kyoukai film. However, there were a couple of highlights and one of them, titled “Absolute Configuration” is perfect for the Homura/Mami fight scene.
Also coming back to sing the opening credits is ClariS, which give a very good performance that complement their pervious Madoka effort. At this point, the viewers know that cute opening is one trick pony that is not representative of the show but does have nice some fanservice and important insights for the interceding time gap between the television series and this batshit crazy movie. Closing theme is sung by Kalafina, Yuji Kajiura’s own band and while it sounded nice, it didn’t have that punch nor despair of “Magia”. Overall, the sound department was handled fairly well , even if it retreaded old ground and missed some opportunities to take Rebellion to the next level.
Betrayal and Rebellion
After consuming vast amounts of literature, shows and movies over the course of my lifetime, I have come to a point where I don’t really care what happens to the characters or plot as long as it’s reasonably justified. What I mean is that I don’t particularly ship couples or have an narrow expectation of where the story should goes. In the case of Homura’s being the Devil to Madoka’s role as God, I thought it was the perfect twist to a franchise famously known for its subversion and deconstruction of the magical girl genre. Love is often a central theme in this genre, where the power of friendship and justice overcome all evils and saves the day. In Rebellion, it is love that is taken too far and of a selfish nature that is the perfect instrument to stab the audience in the back in a delightfully manner.
It was reported that Gen Urobuchi originally writing a script that had an ending of Madoka carrying Homura into paradise after the Incubator ‘s trap was broken but Akiyuki Shinbo managed to convince him rewrite the conclusion into what it is today. First, this is an ending is entirely in line with Homura’s hardening mindset over the course of the television series and movie. Remember, according to comments made by the Madoka’s creative team, Homura had gone through the month-long time loop over one hundred times which is equivalent of reliving the same despair and death for five years nonstop. As an audience, we have only experienced glimpses of her past and the final iteration of her soul-crushing quest to save Madoka. Any teenager that has gone through the amount of shit that Homura has, is probably dead set on getting her own selfish way, even at the expense of the wishes of her waifu Madoka. Secondly, some viewers and pundits have decry the final third act to be an example of SHAFT milking the franchise and leaving it ripe for another season of Madoka Magica. To that, I say “who cares?”. As long as the quality is there, having more anime to salivate over is never a bad thing.
Although Rebellion is infinitely more comprehensible and easier to understand than Hideaki Anno’s definitive take on Evangelion, Homura’s descend into becoming the devil is no less digestible than the third impact. If you have watched Madoka Magica in its television form, you would be doing yourself a great disservice not giving the Rebellion movie a watch, regardless of how might the ending rips into your soul.