We learn the truth about Homura, how this is at least the 5th time loop she’s in, in her desperate attempt to save Madoka. However, she still can’t defeat Walpurgis Night on her own, and in an attempt to save Homura and all other magical girls, Madoka makes the wish to erase all witches from the past and future everywhere in the universe before they come into being.
The price for Madoka’s wish is that she essentially becomes god, and is omnipresent everywhere at all times, meaning that no one can sense her presence, except for Homura, probably due to her ability to manipulate time, and for some reason Madoka’s younger brother Tatsuya. Evil isn’t eliminated – witches are replaced by demons formed by some unknown means, and magical girls whose Soul Gem becomes too corrupted simply die instead of becoming a witch. It appears like that magical girls that died fighting witches, such as Mami and Sakura were revived, but magical girls that died or became witches via other means, such as Sayaka, couldn’t be revived (or at least, still died via some other means in the altered universe).
This certainly was a new and creative anime series, at least for me. It took a concept – that of the magical girl – and basically turned it on it’s head by making becoming a magical girl almost entirely negative. One’s wish in order to gain magic almost always backfired, and then they eventually turned into the very witches they fought against. And the makers of the series didn’t decide to take some easy way out either, even though they probably could have with Homura being able to time travel. Even if Madoka is content with her sacrifice, it’s still a rather sad ending – if one could call becoming something of a god a sacrifice. It doesn’t seem like she is all-powerful, just omnipresent, kind of like being a ghost, except existing everywhere at every time.
Perhaps my only criticism of Madoka’s wish was that she didn’t wish for magical girls to not exist at all. If the magical girls didn’t exist, then the witches wouldn’t either. Maybe she didn’t do that because she agreed with what Kyubey said, that without the magical girls, human civilization may not even exist, so magical girls still had to exist, they may still despair and die, but they wouldn’t turn into witches.
I think there are other causality problems as well. Would Sayaka really have become a magical girl had Madoka not existed? Would any number of magical girls become so with witches having not existed. Hell, would Homura become a magical girl without Madoka existing? I suppose there is a timeline where she still would have become one, or maybe she is still one because she was insulated from the changes due to her own magical powers. Kyubey (I think) also mentioned that he doesn’t have the power to bring back the dead (which seems to be the one limitation to his power) which is perhaps why anyone who died before can’t be brought back now – though it seemed like Sakura and Mami were back, so that doesn’t really explain it, unless they were brought back only because they died fighting witches, which no longer exist. There are still contradictions. Are they enough to sour the show? No, I don’t think so, but I thought I would still note them.
I’m not sure I would go as far as saying this was one of the best series of all time, like what it’s rating on MAL suggests, but it was certainly pulled off well. You got drawn into the characters and cared for them, even characters like Sakura who initially you never thought you could like. I perhaps didn’t get as emotionally attached as I otherwise might have, since I watched this over the course of two days instead of 3 or 4 months, but I still thought the ending was touching. The storytelling was great, revealing just enough bits and pieces to keep you interested, but not revealing the whole story until well into the show. That on top of what I said above – turning the genre on it’s head and not doing the “everyone is happy, yay!” ending does make this a show worth watching. One’s heart kind of sinks knowing that Madoka is basically removed from the world, and her friend Sayaka still isn’t saved, but sometimes winning just isn’t perfect.