Friday, 10 November 2017

Puella Magi Madoka Magica The Movie - Rebellion - Book 2

"As I thought. You were behind all of this weren't you..?" - Homura

We return to our look at the three volume manga adaptation of the 2013 sequel film to the acclaimed 2011 seinen Magical Girl series Puella Magi Madoka Magica.  In the first book we were presented with a situation that we knew to be impossible. Madoka was back and a normal Magical Girl not the Goddess she had become.  Sayaka was back from the dead and living with Kyoko who was a happier and more sociable individual with Mami the strong leader of the five.  Even Homura was different, back in the glasses and braids she had before she lost her innocence to her constant time looping, she even had those time powers back when at the end of the series she wielded a bow of light instead.  And they were fighting cutesy "Nightmares" using the power of kawaii and not the creepy wraiths seen at the end of the series. Even the Machievellian bunny-cat Kyubey was different, only saying "Kyu Kyu" like a Pokemon and hanging out like an innocent team mascot. Seemed like everything was going right. And for Homura that meant things were so wrong.  Unable to accept this happy life she began picking away at it and soon discovered that the world outside Mitakihara City did not exist and this could only point to one thing in her mind... a Witch's labyrinth and they are all trapped inside. The previous volume ended with this revelation, and with her shedding the glasses and braids to fit how she feels now, read on to discover just who is responsible for this labyrinth as she continues her investigation.

This manga is unflipped so reads from right to left.  Honorifics have been included and I gave up as regards to Kyubey's gender, it's a he and that's that.

Next day Mami accosts Homura on their way to school surprised her hair isn't in braids, although she says Homura looks amazing.  She invites Homura to come over to her place after school.  Later we join Mami, Bebe, Homura and Madoka having tea at Mami's place.  Kyubey is curled up close by, watching always watching Madoka.
Homura quizes Mami.
Homura asks Mami how long she has been with Bebe, who to Homura is the Witch Charlotte who killed Mami in the series.  Mami says they have been together for a very long time. She knew her before any of the others:

Mami:  "I was the only Magical Girl in Mitakihara... back then my only support, the only one who could encourage me was Bebe here... if this little one hadn't been here... I don't think I'd have been able to go on".

Homura tells her she is stronger than she thinks, she thanks Homura saying she likes being sensei to the younger girls, now she is surrounded by friends she can count on and doesn't have to push herself to breaking point like before.

Mami and Madoka discuss fighting the Nightmare while Homura sits in silence.  Then she asks Mami for another cup of tea and Mami goes into the kitchen.  Homura then transforms into her Magical Girl form and freezes time.  She grabs Bebe saying it's time to "end this farce". Homura believes Bebe is the Witch causing all this:

Homura: "What are you trying to do? Why are you toying with us? What is so fun about this to you?"

She chokes Bebe then goes leaping out of Mami's flat with her.  She think about how she was never able to get along with Mami, it was always the hardest to tell her the truth about Magical Girls.  She tells Bebe she would have rather remained ignorant of "how many times I've had to stomp on the hearts of others".
Steady on Homura.
She smacks Bebe round some more, but Bebe only babbles about cheese. Then Homura is tugged away from her by a ribbon Mami quickly attached to her ankle before time froze.   She has been following them and wanted to hear Homura's motive but "I can't allow you to hurt Bebe any more than you already have".

Bebe starts to make a getaway, and Homura starts to follow but Mami stands in her way.   Homura asks if she is prepared to protect "that thing" no matter what. Mami says yes and "if you don't stop it now then you and I are ready for a fight".

So with neither side backing down an incredible battle kicks off. Watch it here, it's amazing like something out of a John Woo fever dream.  For every bullet Homura fires from her collection of auto and semi-auto pistols and rifles, Mami summons a single shot musket and aims at each bullet.  The bullets freeze in time as Mami and Homura keep laying into each other until they both stop to catch their breath. Homura restarts time and all the bullets grind against each other and riddle the old part of town.  Realising the stalemate, Homura takes a pistol and fires upwards at a window hanging above where she is standing.  The shattered glass falls on her and as it cuts the ribbon holding Mami to her, Homura freezes time again.
[This use of the window is in fact a bowdlerisation of what happens in the film although the result is the same.  In the film Homura puts a pistol to her temple and pulls the trigger and we get a lovely gory shot of the bullet passing through her head and out the other side.  Panicked, Mami materialises the ribbon to try an unbalance Homura and to stop the bullet going through her head. As the bullet starts to slow, Homura kicks her leg up and uses the bloody bullet to slice through the ribbon cutting Mami off from her and freezing her in time.]
Homura contemplates murder.
Anyway, Mami is frozen now,  Homura approaches her, gun raised and aimed at Mami's soul gem, before lowering her weapon to shoot her in the leg.  But as she restarts time the bullet hits and Mami bursts into ribbons.  Real Mami made a ribbon duplicate, she was never in any danger herself.  She wraps Homura up in ribbon bondage, which is the third time she's done that to Homura.

Mami: "I'll admit it.  Your magic is very impressive.  But to always assume that you are in a better tactical position than your opponent will lead to disaster".

Homura shouts at her that Witches are their enemies, try to remember she pleads.  Mami she does't know anything about Witches their enemies are "magical beasts"  She pauses then slowly wonders if they fought magical beasts, "what are the Nightmares?"
Bebe/Charlotte - Nagisa Momoe.
Suddenly a fire extingusher is tossed down with a sword through it making it blast out a cloud of vapour.  In the confusion Sayaka cuts Homura free of her restraints and escapes with her.  Another figue appears to Mami, a young girl who says she will explain everything.  Sayaka takes Homura to an empty street and finishes cutting her free of the ribbons.

Sayaka: "Mami-san is at the top of her game... and you decide to pick a fight with her head on?  You're either way over-confident... or a complete idiot".

Homura says she hadn't meant to provoke a fight but it was unavoidable.  "Bebe right?" says Sayaka to Homura's surprise. Sayaka says she must have though she was behind all this because she used to be a witch, "there should be a limit to how many conclusions a girl can jump to".

She asks Homura what kind of Witch would create the labyrinth the size of a city and not kill or attack a single human being.   Bebe wouldn't do anything like that.   If Homura gives it some thought, it will come to her. This labyrinth is all about control, so who benefits from it?
Sayaka and Homura talk.
Homura starts to turn her shield to stop time and leave but quick as a flash Sayaka jams the tip of her sword in the shield's gears and keeps Homura there.  "That's a bad habit. You depend too much on that magic" says Sayaka.  Homura says that Sayaka is saying the labyrinth is being created by one of them. "The idea really shouldn't surprise you" notes Sayaka. She then asks what she intends to do when she finds who trapped them in this labyrinth.

Sayaka: "Is it such an awful crime... for the person to wish for this world?  Does she deserve to die? Is this place really so terrible?"

Homura is horrified that she would take the side of a Witch, but Sayaka says it's natural she'd have a little sympathy for it.  Mulling this over, Homura realises neither Mami nor Kyoko could detect the Witches barrier so it can't be them.

But thanks to Madoka's sacrifice, Witches shouldn't exist now.  Before they transform they are taken away by Madoka - The Law Of Cycles.  Homura says that there are three people whose presence should be impossible.  First the Witch who made this labyrinth.  Second Bebe here in her Witch form.  And finally Sayaka who knows all about Witches.  Is she the real Sayaka Miki?  Sayaka says she's the same person she's always known.  Then she releases her blade from Homura's shield and whirls her cloak round, disappearing and leaving the image of her Witch form Oktavia Von Seckendorff in the puddle of water.
Reflection of Oktavia.
Homura says Sayaka never used to be that accomplished as a Magical Girl.  Then she hears her in her head asking what she would do when she found who was causing all this, would she be indifferent to the destruction of this Mitakihara?  "You don't want to wind up with any regrets" she tells Homura.

But as Homura walks through the streets she thinks about what she has learned.  She believes someone has run away from the world and dragged them all with her.  Turning her back on a destiny fighting magical beasts.

Homura: "How can I be expected to permit such weakness? A Magical Girl must continue to fight.  That is the price of the miracle she wished for."

She believes this is making a mockery and a farce out of Madoka's sacrifice and she will not permit it to go on any longer.  She is interrupted from her reverie by Madoka who jumps down to join her.

Madoka tells her Mami-san is worried about her and she can sense Homura is keeping things bottled up. They sit together in a field of flowers and talk.  Madoka says seeing Homura in pain is rough on her as well and so finally, Homura lets it all out.

Homura: "I had a very frightening dream. in my dream you went to a far-off place... a place where we'd probably never meet again... and everyone in the world had forgotten about it... The only one who remembered that you had even existed Madoka... and as time passed I started to feel my memories of you were just something I had imagined... I started to doubt them myself".

As she tells Madoka this, tears fall from her eyes and Madoka starts to hug her.  She begins braiding Homura's hair again and says that it sounds like it was a scary dream, but "you know me. Would I go off alone to some place where I could never see you or anybody ever again?  You know I could never do that".  Uh oh, not what Homura needs to hear Madoka!
Madoka tells Homura what she wants to here.
Madoka says she wouldn't want to say good-bye to anybody.  And with that Homura realises that when Madoka made her wish to destroy all Witches before they were born and wrote herself out of existence as a by-product she should have done "everything in my power to stop you from going through with it...!"  She turns to Madoka and tells her she does have the courage to make that decision.

She lets her hair flow out of the braid and holds Madoka's hands saying it should be impossible for her to be here together like this "but I know... that you are the real Madoka". She gets up and says she has to go, there are still things she needs to do.  She tells Madoka that just the fact they were able to sit and talk made her very happy.  And she runs off down the field leaving a confused Madoka in her wake.

Alone now, Homura calls Kyoko, who I am pleased to see is back in her shorts and hoodie combo.  Homura asks if she remembers Witches, but Kyoko doesn't. Homura says that is how it should be. She then asks if Kyoko remembers Madoka, Kyoko says of course she does, but Homura says those memories are false. 

Homura: "It's so simple... if only I had put a little bit of thought into it, I would have known sooner.  The only person who could fabricate a world with Madoka in it... is someone with the knowledge of Madoka herself".

And that's how she now knows who rewrote everyones memories and created the false Mitakihara. Kyoko starts running, concerned about what Homura is saying, demanding to know where Homura is now.

Homura just says sadly that she has one last thing to confirm and then she can bring this all to an end, and hangs up apologising as Kyoko stands in the road facing a zeppelin falling from the sky on fire. Homura then leaves her Soul Gem behind and gets on the bus.  Magical Girls can't be seperated more that one hundred metres from their gem without the life leaving their bodies. As she does so, Kyubey watches with interest.
The fake city starts to fall apart.
The bus travels much further away and nothing happens to Homura.  The false Mitakihara starts to crumble and burst into flames.  She returns to the gem, tosses it high in the air and shoots it, shattering the supposed vessel of her soul.  And she is fine, except she isn't:

Homura: "So why?  Tell me... Why.. did I.. become so... and when did it happen?  When... did I... turn... into... a... Witch!?"

Could things get any worse for Homura? Yes they can because Kyubey slinks up to her and tells her that the "the truth should no longer be of any interest to you."  But he's going to tell her anyway because bunny-cat's a dick and this is all his doing of course.

Kyubey tells her that human curiosity is "simply illogical", he shows her that her body is lying on a dias in a desert being observed by floating eye-ball cameras which takes Homura aback somewhat.  Her soul has been placed in an isolation field and her Soul Gem is now saturated with impurities.  But it cannot be affected by anything from the outside world.
All bunny-cat's fault.
The Incubators have done this to try and discover the power that purifies Soul Gems and what happens to the Soul Gem if it is cut off from The Law Of Cycles, "researching you has yielded some quite fascinating results".   The formation of the labyrinth for one and its subsequent capture of several victims.  It's similar to the Witch phenomenon Homura rather foolishly told him about at the end of the series.

As long as her gem remains within the isolation field and does not break she will not transform fully into a Witch form.   She's like a chick that can't break the egg so continues growing inside it, "right now, we are in a world within your Soul Gem".  Homura says if she is isolated from the outside world how are others getting inside?  Kyubey says they made some adjustments so she could "guide and induce your victims to enter".

They are waiting to be able to isolate and observe the reason why Magical Girls disappear and understand the rules that govern it.  They've already noticed that there are individuals in there who who don't exist in the real world and of them there is one who "does not exist in the past. Nor is her existence possible in the future". 

There is one problem though, Madoka Kaname "hasn't demonstrated a shred of unexpected power".  She seems to have forgotten she was in there to save Homura and has lost her Goddess identity.

Kyubey: " And we find that we have reached a stalemate. It is as if Madoka Kaname has forgotten she is a God... and that Homura Akemi has forgotten she is a Witch".

Kyubey says that now Homura has realised the truth it is time for her to look towards Madoka to save her.  That way Madoka will remember why she came there in the first place.
Homura realises the truth.
Homura wants to know what they are after.  The eye-bots say they want to observe the Law Of Cycles.  Homura responds that they just said curiosity is illogical!  She realises they don't just want to observe, "you want to control Madoka?"  Kyubey says he cannot deny that is their ultimate goal.

Kyubey: "If we can observe it, we can intervene.  If we can intervene, we can exert control. And if we can control it, then Magical Girls can become Witches... and we can expect to collect much more energy than ever before".

The transitional state between hope and despair produces a quantity of energy far greater than they predicted.  There are unlimited possibilities hidden within Magical Girls and so they have to ensure their transformations from Magical Girl to Witch.

He tells her "the existence that was Homura Akemi is finished... your fate has reached its conclusion.  All that remains is to reunite with the one you've been waiting for.  Does that not make you happy?"  And we see braids-and-glasses Homura holding Madoka's hand.  She is happy and at peace ready to move on to the afterlife with the girl she loves. But then Homura says "no."  And coldly shoots her innocent self right in the face.

Homura: "That 'happiness' is something I have never sought".

Kyubey tells her the curses inside her are growing, she'll miss her chance of purification at this rate. But Homura says that Kyubey in this universe does not know she made her wish to protect Madoka. And instead of risking Madoka she'd rather become a Witch instead.

Kyubey asks if she is willing to spend all eternity living with her curses?   But Homura says she trusts Mami and Kyoko to kill her.  Kyubey says if she dies in the isolation field "no one will ever be able to rescue your soul from despair".  Homura just roars "SHUT YOUR DAMN MOUTH."

Kyubey looks on bewildered as Homura thinks to herself that all she can feel are her darkest regrets.  She is deep in true despair.   She thinks about how she was not able to say goodbye to Madoka and how sorry she is.  And thus is born "Homulily" the Nutcracker Witch.  End of Book 2.
You have to credit Kyubey, him and the rest of the Incubators have surpassed themselves in epic bastardry.  Essentially torturing a teenage girl and in doing so actually blocking the divinity of Madoka.  His relentless mind raping of Homura is a sight to behold and yet he still didn't count on the depth of love Homura has for Madoka that she would rather become a Witch than let the Incubators get their paws on her.  And we get to see just how tough the ending of the series was for Homura with her tearful confession to Madoka in the field of flowers about how lonely and sad Madoka being written out of her life left her.  There's also some cool moments to, I never liked Mami that much in the series but her gun battle with Homura shows that the veteran fighter can hold her own and out think Homura in a one-on-one battle.  Sayaka too takes a level in badass, and despite their antagonistic relationship in the series, here she tells Homura in a roundabout way not to be such a self hating individual.  We'll find out why she and the young girl who is also Bebe/Charlotte came to enter Homura's labyrinth in volume three. And let's for a moment consider what Homura's labyrinth says about her.  For all her aloof laser-beam like focus on Madoka, the two others left standing at the end of the series - Kyoko and Mami - she put together with people she knew would make them happy and deep down she wanted nothing more than to be part of a tight knit group of friends fighting together and hanging out. Madoka's words of comfort though will also come back to bite everyone in a big way, so join me for the final volume in a few days time.  Will it all end happily?  Hahahahaha. No.


  1. - “human curiosity is "simply illogical"”

    Not like the Incubators “FOR SCIENCE!” which is the pinnacle of logic because it's science. Circular reasoning? What's that.

    I would also like to point out that their methodology sucks. On the most basic level the sample size is way too low (1 person) and there is no control group at all. DO YOUR EVIL SCIENCE RIGHT!

    - “All bunny-cat's fault.”

    As it always is.

    - “It's similar to the Witch phenomenon Homura rather foolishly told him about at the end of the series.”

    I won. They all lost.

    - “"no one will ever be able to rescue your soul from despair"”

    Yeah… about that. She didn't expect to be rescued. I would argue she was/is prepared to sacrifice everybody to continue pushing her rock of protecting Madoka.

    - “Will it all end happily?  Hahahahaha. No.”

    If anybody thought that's a possibility I don't know what they read/watched, but not this series. It's pretty much a “bittersweet endings” (at best) kinda show. :3

  2. Homura even points out they are being hypocritical about their own motivations for doing Mad Science! I find myself drawn to SF Debris take on Kyubey, that he just enjoys messing around with the heads of teenage girls and watching them fight each other. Fighting entropy is just a bonus.

  3. I'm for properly done mad/fictional science. :3

    I never forgave the Tarzan novels for opting to explain how the main character learnt to read all on his own with no human contact at all in excruciating detail... I was around 10 and yelling at the book that that's not how writing and language works.

  4. In a way it's a shame that Kyubey is a hive mind. I'd love it if he had to answer to increasingly annoyed superiors and the kind of reports he'd have to file.

  5. Mid-level manager (I imagine them to be pink) Kyubey:

    - "What? Really? WHAT?! First you discriminate against half the population of that planet. Then you come to me with all these ridiculous contracts. Then you file a request for the extra large energy container, which then you cancel. (...) Now you tell me you created a *CENSORED-FOR-SPOILER* while running unauthorized experiments? Without even half the safety precautions necessary, I might add? I'M NOT PAID ENOUGH FOR THIS SHIT!"

  6. Hahahahahaha! Love it :D Now you might not get the reference, but Alan will, Kyubey reminds me of the super-computer ORAC in the show Blakes 7. That was always operating with an agenda of it's own and often used things like "you never asked" and "I think your EXACT words were" to make life difficult for the crew.

  7. I heard about Blake's 7 (not much that it existed and was a sci-fi TV series), but I don't think it ever saw a Hungarian release (so couldn't come across it accidentally while channel surfing or such) and I've not hunted it down in original. ^^;

    And now I'm reminded of one of poor Linkara's PO unboxing videos in which someone asked him about a British TV program, which he didn't see and he tried to find US equivalent of "you probably didn't see" things... and he got "Yep, we saw those!" comments (including mine). XD

  8. And now I want a Pirates of Dark Water rerun of all things.

    Or at least I should check if my VHS with the pilot movie (first two episodes slightly edited down for time) is still functional. :D

  9. Orac was great.
    "Save the ship."
    "You left us all to die!"
    "You said save the ship"

    But on a classic 70s 80s TV vibe, the magical girls are giving me all sorts of vibes, from Sapphire and Steel to those creepy kids programmes like Noahs Castle and the Changes.

    There's also an underlying eeryness that I can comprehend myself but is hard to explain simply. It's back to that ghost town existing on the edge of reality thing. How to explain? It's like q vibe you get from some fictional places that, for some inhabitants, they're like a closed loop. They're sort of trapped there even though there are 'normal' citizens who aren't aware of the magic. Think Sin City or even Royston Vasey. It's like there are two parallel societies, one inside and another outside the masquerade, and they don't really interact. Almost like they're in parallel universes that bleed into each other and occupy the same space but are also separate.

    The simulation thing is also a bit like the matrix. The good Dr Who one, not the keanu reeves monstrosity.

    Heh, bunnycat is a bit amoral. Although I can see the justification from his point of view. He does perhaps enjoy his work a little too much though.

    I still find the character design a bit cutesy, but I like the characters themselves. I'd find the fighting and gunplay a bit less incongruous if say the girls looked more like the real ones in battle royale.

    Malitia - I guess tarzan could have learned to read in the way described (essentially assigning word patterns to objects) but not to vocalise the related sounds. Of course his vocabulary would be limited to things he had captioned pictures of, and that book wasn't very big. But the actual ape language only has about 200 words and I could probably get by with it. It comes covers all the essentials.

  10. I love the mixture of cutesy Magical Girls with realistic weapons and gun-fu, I like it when things do something a bit out of the ordinary for the genre they are in. No lame "power of heart" here! I'm just sorry they censored Homura shooting herself in the head, her having half her brain in the process of growing back and blood all over her face while she sits and has a romantic moment with Madoka always amuses me.

    Bunnycat would insist to you that he does not feel the emotion of "enjoyment". I think the Hive Mind doth protest too much.

  11. @Alan:

    Also not grammar that is needed for even basic sentences. It also somewhat presupposes that ape language is like English for no reason what so ever. :/

    I've not read it since because it annoyed me that much.

    Bear in mind that my base language is grammar heavy and also noun (and the like) heavy. Pretty much what English isn't. :P (Closer to Japanese than everything found in Europe.)

  12. Ok. For someone who knows that "vödröt" (bucket) is the object version of "vödör" (bucket) just captioning 200 words in a book is not functional reading comprehension. :3

  13. Tbh, so long as I can yell "Kreegah Kreegah Bundolo!" and beat my chest I'm sorted. Johnny Weissmuller managed with just Umgawa (you sort of can, it's all about context). The weirdest primitive language is in when dinosaurs ruled the earth. Akuta appears to mean everything, but for some reason the cave people use the proper Latin names for the animals.

    Varalys - have you seen Sucker Punch?

  14. I haven't seen Sucker Punch. Is it worth checking out?

  15. Also if you prefer more realism with your manga gunplay I'm currently writing up a series I'm going to run next March which should be right up yer street.

  16. I'd be very interested in your thoughts on Sucker Punch. It's such a divisive film. Is it just the ultimate in male gazey fantasy, or is it the most feminist action film ever? Whichever way, it's got hot girls running around with swords and guns so you'll probably love it.

    (Personally I think it's very good. Got a bit of a Jacobs Ladder vibe about what level is reality and also I think you'll spot a few magic girl resonances)


  18. Does sound appealing yes. I'll keep a lookout for it in my local CEX. Does sound pretty cool from what you say. I shall have my Xbone next week so I shall FINALLY have a way to play Blu-Rays. Coincidentally I asked for Madoka Magica Rebellion on Blu-ray for my birthday. That is a film that deserves to be seen on a big TV in Hi-Def.

  19. I think you'll certainly appreciate it, whether you actually like it or not. Got a lot of themes you've expressed an interest in. There's even a 'is he a goodie or a baddie?' mentor/controller,

  20. Nice, if I don't see it in CEX. I'll buy it from Amazon come the new year. Cash is mostly tied up in birthdays and Xmas now chiz chiz.

  21. This is interesting. And it really pays off on screen. You don't get that waif-fu vibe, they do look very plausible as fighters.

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