Every time I watch Puella Magi Madoka Magica it reverberates through me for days. It sticks to me aesthetically, thematically and emotionally and refuses to let go. It’s often noted that Madoka is a “dark” series, and in many ways that’s true. It’s filled with loss and tragedy and a hint of existential dread. It acknowledges and understands the struggle of humanity in a troubled world that can’t begin to value all our sacrifices, contained in a universe where the way we think and feel is utterly miniscule. And yet it’s ultimately a tale of hope.
Against all odds Madoka Magica believes in human beings, believes in the value of the good we do even if sometimes it seems like it doesn’t make a difference. Because our ability to fight for others, no matter how impossible that fight is and no matter how much pain it takes, is the most beautiful and profound thing we’re capable of. These young girls all have dreams to change the things they can’t accept and for that they each find themselves struggling under the weight of their ideals. Some of those struggles are won, others are lost, but all of them matter. All of them embody the goodness we’re capable of.
In carrying these humanity encompassing themes Madoka Magica comes wrapped in the stylings of a lucidly abstract stage play of sorts, full of beautiful and haunting and weird images that each convey their own atmosphere. It breathes with moments of warmth in between moments of sadness, from the endearing formative interactions between Madoka and her mother to the subtle intimacy of Sayaka and Kyouko as hopeless romantics. It’s not Gen Urobuchi’s most deeply character focused work, but the character moments it contains are powerful emblems of human connection. They complete the rich tapestry of Madoka‘s tale of struggle and sacrifice.
Puella Magi Madoka Magica leaves you with a poignant emptiness, but in that emptiness it contains a profound and unshakeable optimism that people will continue to fight for each other. And if in this chaotic world we can make just one person’s life better then maybe it was all worth it.