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Old 2011-03-31, 12:41   Link #1661
Shadow5YA
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Originally Posted by Kazu-kun View Post
I don't think so. Madoka was willing to go MG no once, but twice for Sayaka's sake. She clearly doesn't enjoy being unable to "help", as she called it. In fact, I'll go ahead and say the only reason QB hasn't given up on her yet is because he knows that even after all she's learned about the MG system, deep down, she still longs to be MG. This is made clear by her little chat with Kyoko in episode 9.

It's not Madoka herself but others' intervention what prevents her from becoming MG. IMO, Madoka will finally grow up as a character when she gets the courage to give QB the finger on her own. Will this resolve everything? Probably not. But I got the feeling that's where the series is going.
This is not always the case, because even Madoka (passively) resists making a contract at times. She couldn't answer to Sayaka's provocation to become a Puella Magi. In the episode after Mami's death, Madoka admits that she's scared. If Madoka felt that she had no self-worth at all, why did she become discouraged after Mami's death? She could have attempted to wish Mami back to life. Why didn't she just agree with Sayaka to become a Puella Magi so that she can understand Sayaka's position?

However, I agree that the other Puella Magi's misfortunes are what help Madoka mature. She has to come a long way if she's going to refuse a wish when she has plenty of opportunities to use one.
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Old 2011-03-31, 13:06   Link #1662
Kazu-kun
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Originally Posted by Shadow5YA View Post
In the episode after Mami's death, Madoka admits that she's scared. If Madoka felt that she had no self-worth at all, why did she become discouraged after Mami's death?
You said it yourself, she was scared. This doesn't contradict my point. The opposite acutally, it tells us if Madoka is to reject QB's offer, she should do it for the right reasons, not out of fear. And it's not the she has no self-worth at all, but she's pretty close to that.

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Originally Posted by Shadow5YA View Post
Why didn't she just agree with Sayaka to become a Puella Magi so that she can understand Sayaka's position?
She was willing to make the contract for Sayaka's sake after that, wasn't she?

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Originally Posted by hyperborealis View Post
Whether sacrificing herself will be the right thing or not will depend on the act's effects, not its motives.
I think motivations are paramount in this work (in any work with good characterization actually), and the act's effects are, to some degree, dictated by said motivations. Walpurgis is not the point, in fact, it wouldn't surprise me if Homura, at the cost of her life, can deal with it alone this time. But even if that is the case, Madoka still will be prompted to give Kyubey an answer, and sacrificing herself in place of all the people who died, specially Homura who did it to save her, will be a great temptation for her.

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Originally Posted by hyperborealis View Post
Insisting on only acting out of pure motives--wouldn't that itself be a form of insisting on being in the right?
It's just character development. Motivations dictate how the characters act the way they do. As the motivations change, the way the characters act change too. It stand to reason that as Madoka overcomes her character flaw (her feelings of inadequacy, her inferiority complex), her decision will change too.

Of course, it wouldn't surprise me if she doesn't learn anything about all that has happened and doesn't grow as a character. Maybe Homura will die, and Madoka will sacrifice herself, and then she will become the giant witch that will end this world. If she doesn't grow, if she doesn't change, this is the ending I'm expecting.

It's all about her motivation!

Anyway, let's way and see what happens.
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Last edited by Kazu-kun; 2011-03-31 at 13:54.
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Old 2011-03-31, 18:21   Link #1663
ThereminVox
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Originally Posted by Kazu-kun View Post
You said it yourself, she was scared. This doesn't contradict my point. The opposite acutally, it tells us if Madoka is to reject QB's offer, she should do it for the right reasons, not out of fear. And it's not the she has no self-worth at all, but she's pretty close to that.
This is definitely her big weakness, as others have already said better than I. There's already been more than enough suffering which QB to tempt Madoka into sacrificing herself to reverse, even though she knows he's the bad guy.

It seems to me that the happiest we've ever seen Madoka was as a Magical Girl, because it allows her to be valuable and useful to someone -- anyone. One of her brightest smiles comes when she goes willingly to her death in timeline 1. Madoka herself says in no uncertain terms that she doesn't regret her fate, because she had saved Homura, and "that's enough". She considered it not only a fair trade, but indeed, a bargain. To call her sense of self-worth "unhealthy" is an understatement.

"What about Homura?" you might rightly ask. She willingly wishes to trade places with Madoka, all for her sake, possibly with the fatal end that such a wish might imply.

Indeed, Homura's sense of self worth is a conversation worth having, but I would submit that there is still an important distinction: Homura will lay down her life for Madoka because she places more value on Madoka's life than her own. Madoka will lay down her life for Homura because she places less value on her own life than anyone's.

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Originally Posted by hyperborealis View Post
How would you say, though, that Madoka is acting out of the need to be right? Is it by going along with Homura's program, and staying out of the MG game? The idea that one could be pure, that one can stay outside the messiness and the heartbreak and the risks of life--perhaps that is in fact Madoka's being "in the right," which she enjoys at the cost of not only Sayaka but also Homura's immense suffering.
Part of me thinks that Madoka could easily interpret Sayaka, Mami and Kyoko's deaths all as her mistakes, which she made by not contracting sooner, and being in a position to protect them. We have the benefit of knowing that things aren't so simple, but this is a hard thing for someone like her to get past.

These all feel like layers of interpenetration we could take from the series through the lens of Junko's heart-to-heart with her daughter. I think that's a very important scene, although it's possible I'm seeing more in it than there really is.
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Old 2011-03-31, 20:33   Link #1664
Sol Falling
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Originally Posted by ThereminVox View Post
This is definitely her big weakness, as others have already said better than I. There's already been more than enough suffering which QB to tempt Madoka into sacrificing herself to reverse, even though she knows he's the bad guy.

It seems to me that the happiest we've ever seen Madoka was as a Magical Girl, because it allows her to be valuable and useful to someone -- anyone. One of her brightest smiles comes when she goes willingly to her death in timeline 1. Madoka herself says in no uncertain terms that she doesn't regret her fate, because she had saved Homura, and "that's enough". She considered it not only a fair trade, but indeed, a bargain. To call her sense of self-worth "unhealthy" is an understatement.

"What about Homura?" you might rightly ask. She willingly wishes to trade places with Madoka, all for her sake, possibly with the fatal end that such a wish might imply.

Indeed, Homura's sense of self worth is a conversation worth having, but I would submit that there is still an important distinction: Homura will lay down her life for Madoka because she places more value on Madoka's life than her own. Madoka will lay down her life for Homura because she places less value on her own life than anyone's.
I wouldn't be so sure with regards to that last statement, as has been brought up (perhaps indirectly?) already. As Shadow5YA already pointed out, Madoka consciously chose in some manner to value her own life and well-being over Mami. Whether that was in terms of entertaining the idea of wishing Mami back into the world of human mortality or simply keeping her promise to her to become a Puella Magi, that is already one person whom Madoka quite deeply looked up to for whom she did not make a sacrifice.

Although Madoka obviously has some issues of self-esteem and valuation, I hesitate to say they are a problem to an 'unhealthy' extent or to assert that she would subordinate herself to just anybody. In both instances where Madoka was actually willing to sacrifice herself, in their contexts and timelines, the people who were to receive her goodwill and sacrifice (i.e. once Homura, once Sayaka) were quite important friends who we might say were more than usually close and special to her. And in fact, as for the first timeline, I might even go so far as to suggest you misinterpreted that sacrifice as in that timeline a somewhat significantly more confident Madoka had very much taken up the role of a 'protector' (i.e., Madoka was protecting Homura, not sacrificing herself for her).

To step away from this for just a moment though, I will agree that the extent of Homura's self-worth is certainly worth talking about, but ask even beyond that what kind of scale or measure can be used to determine 'healthy' self-worth in the first place. Is there some sort of minimum degree which is necessary for humans? Must that measure eventually at some level reconcile itself with reality (i.e. self-worth, versus objective worth of a human?)? This idea in itself--that Madoka's low self-worth is inherently negative irrespective of her own actual perception of her place/value in the world, (rational or not)--is interesting to me.

Quote:
Part of me thinks that Madoka could easily interpret Sayaka, Mami and Kyoko's deaths all as her mistakes, which she made by not contracting sooner, and being in a position to protect them. We have the benefit of knowing that things aren't so simple, but this is a hard thing for someone like her to get past.

These all feel like layers of interpenetration we could take from the series through the lens of Junko's heart-to-heart with her daughter. I think that's a very important scene, although it's possible I'm seeing more in it than there really is.
While I agree that Madoka might have an inherent orientation towards thinking in that manner, I think it is notable in this series that that precise line of thinking has been addressed not just once, nor twice, but by each and every one of the Puella Magi themselves. Mami, Sayaka, Kyouko, Homura, each of them has at one time or another explicitly instructed Madoka that a Puella Magi fights for themselves, that they persevere for the sake of their own wish, that they struggle because they wish to protect something important to them, that should not make such a grave sacrifice lightly on the grounds of mere feelings of debt or pity or responsibility. We have each of the girls telling Madoka to treat the contract with gravity, to understand the true price of what she would be paying, to understand what it is that she truly desires, to be willing to forgive herself if she acknowledges that the price might in fact be too high for her. So, after these words have really been pounded into Madoka's head so often and so repeatedly, I would be very disappointed if Madoka demonstrates literal character undevelopment and goes ahead and sacrifices herself for precisely those things. I think that that kind of conclusion for Madoka would be literally a betrayal of all the character development she has received so far, that beyond all the suffering of the girls around her, this is the single unified and positive message each of them have left to her. So basically though, what I'm saying is, I am fairly confident the show won't move in that direction. Low self-esteem or not, from my perspective, advising against this kind of thinking is precisely one of the clearest major themes of this anime.

To go further on themes and character dialogue though. Of course, I think many of us now agree that the episode 6 lines from Kaname Junko are, in some manner, going to be very key for this anime. I'd also like to bring up a separate topic and ask, for anyone else, if Kyuubey's words sometimes come off as very inspiring? In particular, I think many of his lines and the concepts behind them encompass the idea that 'you are the one who shapes your own destiny'. This is, of course, sometimes expressed in negative terms as 'you are the one responsible for all of your own suffering'. However, at the same time he is also consistent in espousing the mirrored idea that 'you have the potential to grasp your own happiness'. On the one hand this can all simply be taken as insinuous propaganda for his duplicitous wishing scheme, but I wonder if Kyuubey's words cannot be taken on a more general level. For one thing, Kyuubey's words in fact sometimes reflect those of the other girls' and work to persuade against a contract when, for example, Kyuubey tells Madoka that Sayaka's pain was her own and not Madoka's responsibility. Madoka's willingness to refrain from hating Kyuubey, to question the necessity of it, also reflects this same mentality. The empowering notion, that Kyuubey also feeds us, is that we are responsible for our own happiness and destiny. Joy and suffering are in our own hands, not dangling at the whims of a cold and impersonal universe. Even knowing of the true nature of Kyuubey, even knowing of the true nature of the universe, do you guys think, this could nevertheless be true? When Madoka says she thought "I would never amount to anything", or that she'd "never have any dreams or make anyone happy", and Kyuubey tells her she is wrong, is he lying? This question these statements raise--not as a reflection of the potential power of a wish-user, but as a statement on human life and reality--is if it is in fact, possible--do we ourselves, wield the power--to shape our own destinies and make ourselves happy? In Kyuubey's assertion, yes--I must admit I find a certain inspiration.

(lol okay, end of wall of text now. Btw, I just rewatched part of episode 8 to review some of Kyuubey/Madoka's dialogue, and incidentally just noticed something. Y'know, if we take the moment when Sayaka's body turns all shaded and then she actually disappears, completely literally--to be the moment of no return for Sayaka's transformation: then you know, just looking at the dialogue, and what must be Sayaka's thoughts at the time, I think we can conclude that witches really are, in fact, literally born from curses. The moment Sayaka truly cursed another human being, may have been the moment she had irrevocably fallen.)
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Last edited by Sol Falling; 2011-03-31 at 21:43.
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Old 2011-03-31, 20:57   Link #1665
ThereminVox
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Originally Posted by Sol Falling View Post
Although Madoka obviously has some issues of self-esteem and valuation, I hesitate to say they are a problem to an 'unhealthy' extent or to assert that she would subordinate herself to just anybody. In both instances where Madoka was actually willing to sacrifice herself, in their contexts and timelines, the people who were to receive her goodwill and sacrifice (i.e. once Homura, once Sayaka) were quite important friends who we might say were more than usually close and special to her. And in fact, as for the first timeline, I might even go so far as to suggest you misinterpreted that sacrifice entirely as in that timeline a somewhat significantly more confident Madoka had very much taken up the role of a 'protector' (i.e., Madoka was protecting Homura, not sacrificing herself for her).
Perhaps I'm taking Homura's view on Madoka's eagerness to sell herself short too much as gospel. There's no doubt another way to look at it. Having said that, the series seems to take great pleasure in turning character traits on their heads (see: Sayaka) and making ones that are ordinarily the stock traits of a hero turn out to ultimately be harmful. Madoka's selflessness, in any other series would be commendable, if a bit naive and idealistic, and Homura would seem jaded.

I'm rather pleased that such a slight shift in perspective can completely invert the take-away. I expect that even when the series is finished, this will still be the case.
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Old 2011-03-31, 21:29   Link #1666
Sekirei07
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I wonder, since this is basically the anime version of the Faust story and seems to be following the main aspects of it. Could the ending be derived from its ending as well?

Gretchen (presumed to be Madoka as her witch name is Kriemhild Gretchen which is Faust's first love) reappears at the end of Part Two as a penitent in Heaven. She offers to lead Faust's (This case Homura) redeemed soul into the higher spheres. Her request is granted. The story then ends.

Homura seems to be only capable of redemption if she can succeed in saving Madoka, I assume beating WPN. But the last part mentions that Madoka will still make a wish on Homura's behave, I can only assume she would make a wish because Madoka knows that Homura is doomed regardless of the outcome. The wish itself, the higher spheres, perhaps to protect the earth Madoka wishes that they leave the earth all together? (Hell maybe go to QB's home planet and beat the shit out of starters of all this shit)

I bet QB would show a bit of emotion if a being capable of destroying the earth in ten days suddenly appeared on his home turf.
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Old 2011-03-31, 21:35   Link #1667
Deconstructor
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Originally Posted by Sol Falling View Post
So, after these words have really been pounded into Madoka's head so often and so repeatedly, I would be very disappointed if Madoka demonstrates literal character undevelopment and goes ahead and sacrifices herself for precisely those things.
However, Madoka accepted the contract in timeline four, despite Homura's grand effort to prevent otherwise, as well as everyone else's assumed deaths. You certainly have the right to claim that Mami, Kyoko, and Sayaka's deaths should serve as valuable lessons to Madoka. Still, Madoka is the type of character to sacrifice herself for the well-being of others. In episode 8, Madoka nearly made the contract, because all she could think about was saving Sayaka. I find it reasonable to predict Madoka may once more give into temptation if Homura enters a similar peril.

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Originally Posted by Sol Falling View Post
I'd like to bring up a separate topic though and ask, for anyone else, do Kyuubey's words sometimes come off as very inspiring? In particular, I think many of his lines and the concepts behind them encompass the idea that 'you are the one who shapes your own destiny'. This is, of course, sometimes expressed in negative terms as 'it is your own fault for all of your own suffering'.
Kyubey does say some very inspiring things, such as: "If you want, Madoka, I could make you a God. You could easily save your friend." As you note, he can also say some very depressing things.

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Originally Posted by Sol Falling View Post
The empowering notion, that Kyuubey also feeds us, is that we are responsible for our own happiness and destiny. Joy and suffering are in our own hands, not dangling amidst the whims of a cold and impersonal universe.
A counter-example lies in Kyosuke's healed hand - his happiness was the direct result of Sayaka's wish.
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Old 2011-03-31, 22:04   Link #1668
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However, Madoka accepted the contract in timeline four, despite Homura's grand effort to prevent otherwise, as well as everyone else's assumed deaths. You certainly have the right to claim that Mami, Kyoko, and Sayaka's deaths should serve as valuable lessons to Madoka. Still, Madoka is the type of character to sacrifice herself for the well-being of others. In episode 8, Madoka nearly made the contract, because all she could think about was saving Sayaka. I find it reasonable to predict Madoka may once more give into temptation if Homura enters a similar peril.
I don't think Madoka was aware of the consequences in Homura's fourth try. It seemed like Homura just kept Madoka in the dark the entire time.

We still have yet to see how Sayaka's transformation to Oktavia affected Madoka's decision regarding the contract. However, if her opinion of Kyubey is any indication, she won't give him what he wants. Madoka has never seen Kyubey as an enemy until now.
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Old 2011-03-31, 22:04   Link #1669
Sol Falling
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However, Madoka accepted the contract in timeline four, despite Homura's grand effort to prevent otherwise, as well as everyone else's assumed deaths. You certainly have the right to claim that Mami, Kyoko, and Sayaka's deaths should serve as valuable lessons to Madoka. Still, Madoka is the type of character to sacrifice herself for the well-being of others. In episode 8, Madoka nearly made the contract, because all she could think about was saving Sayaka. I find it reasonable to predict Madoka may once more give into temptation if Homura enters a similar peril.
Well, the particular conversations I was making reference actually only happened (in any form which we have witnessed, at least) in the main timeline number 5 we have been watching. Although we've seen snippets of Madoka's character from the other timelines, none of those really constitute any actual character development, aside from perhaps giving us a clearer perspective of the original Madoka whom we have seen developing. In timeline 5 however, there has certainly been a lot of talk about not sacrificing oneself out of obligation to others.

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Kyubey does say some very inspiring things, such as: "If you want, Madoka, I could make you a God. You could easily save your friend." As you note, he can also say some very depressing things.
lol. Well, as for lines like those, it comes off a little too blatantly like he is selling something. I am moreso talking about instances where, under whatever circumstances, what Kyuubey is saying comes off as sincere or right or true--which happens for me with a somewhat surprising frequency.

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A counter-example lies in Kyosuke's healed hand - his happiness was the direct result of Sayaka's wish.
This is in fact, interestingly enough, not necessarily true. I very much feel that for Kamijou, just having had his hand healed guarantees nothing of his happiness. If the vast and unknowable universe sometimes seems to throw you scraps, it can also just as easily take them away. It could also just as easily have given them to someone else. For Kamijou to grasp his own happiness (i.e. become a famous violin player, or etc. etc. what have you) I feel that very much still lies in the hands of his own effort, and will itself not come without sacrifices.
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Old 2011-03-31, 22:10   Link #1670
Shadow5YA
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Originally Posted by Sol Falling View Post
This is in fact, interestingly enough, not necessarily true. I very much feel that for Kamijou, just having had his hand healed guarantees nothing of his happiness. If the vast and unknowable universe sometimes seems to throw you scraps, it can also just as easily take them away. It could also just as easily have given them to someone else. For Kamijou to grasp his own happiness (i.e. become a famous violin player, or etc. etc. what have you) I feel that very much still lies in the hands of his own effort, and will itself not come without sacrifices.
Perhaps this is not true in reality, but Kyousuke himself still believes he happy because of his healed arm. Since Kyousuke is happy about his arm, it is the direct result of Sayaka's wish.
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Old 2011-03-31, 22:46   Link #1671
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Perhaps this is not true in reality, but Kyousuke himself still believes he happy because of his healed arm. Since Kyousuke is happy about his arm, it is the direct result of Sayaka's wish.
Well, let me just put it this way: happiness about healed arm =/= happiness in general. Life has its difficulties, complexities, and ups and downs. To grasp happiness with that newly healed arm of his, Kyousuke himself has to go about using it, with all the accordant risks and consequences (inherent in life itself). Thus the manner in which Kyousuke uses his arm, his own actions and determination and sacrifices, will ultimately be what determines his happiness. It is not the arm itself.
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Old 2011-03-31, 23:56   Link #1672
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This is definitely her big weakness, as others have already said better than I. There's already been more than enough suffering which QB to tempt Madoka into sacrificing herself to reverse, even though she knows he's the bad guy.

It seems to me that the happiest we've ever seen Madoka was as a Magical Girl, because it allows her to be valuable and useful to someone -- anyone. One of her brightest smiles comes when she goes willingly to her death in timeline 1. Madoka herself says in no uncertain terms that she doesn't regret her fate, because she had saved Homura, and "that's enough". She considered it not only a fair trade, but indeed, a bargain. To call her sense of self-worth "unhealthy" is an understatement.

"What about Homura?" you might rightly ask. She willingly wishes to trade places with Madoka, all for her sake, possibly with the fatal end that such a wish might imply.

Indeed, Homura's sense of self worth is a conversation worth having, but I would submit that there is still an important distinction: Homura will lay down her life for Madoka because she places more value on Madoka's life than her own. Madoka will lay down her life for Homura because she places less value on her own life than anyone's.
I consider this whole line of argument flawed. Madoka does not sacrifice herself specifically for Homura, either in timeline 1, 3, or 4. More, she does not lay down her life in any case due to some idea her life is less valuable than others'. Finally and fundamentally, she does not suffer a low sense of self-worth in the first place.

What people have taken as signs of Madoka's low self-worth are in reality merely Madoka's perception of the distance between her ordinary self and the heroic and elevated level of magical girls. That difference is a real one, even if Urobuchi is busy subverting it. So far, Madoka's assessment of her place in the world is simply accurate. It does not in any way reveal some sort of psychological flaw, or a willingness to value her life less than other peoples'.

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Originally Posted by Sol Falling View Post
I'd also like to bring up a separate topic and ask, for anyone else, if Kyuubey's words sometimes come off as very inspiring? In particular, I think many of his lines and the concepts behind them encompass the idea that 'you are the one who shapes your own destiny'.
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Originally Posted by Sol Falling View Post
The empowering notion, that Kyuubey also feeds us, is that we are responsible for our own happiness and destiny. Joy and suffering are in our own hands, not dangling at the whims of a cold and impersonal universe. Even knowing of the true nature of Kyuubey, even knowing of the true nature of the universe, do you guys think, this could nevertheless be true?
I would just note that QB only runs this splendiferous pitch by the one girl with the greatest magical potential in the world, rather than any of those ordinary shmoes preyed on by witches and laid waste to by Walpurgisnacht. This little coincidence answers your question all by itself.

Last edited by hyperborealis; 2011-04-01 at 01:57. Reason: Take down boring wall-o-text, put up sunshade.
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Old 2011-04-01, 10:41   Link #1673
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What people have taken as signs of Madoka's low self-worth are in reality merely Madoka's perception of the distance between her ordinary self and the heroic and elevated level of magical girls.
This is not true. Madoka clearly says she has always felt inferior and worthless. The magical girl thing does emphasize the issue, of course, but it's not the cause, not at all. This is her main character flaw here.
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Old 2011-04-01, 11:31   Link #1674
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This is not true. Madoka clearly says she has always felt inferior and worthless. The magical girl thing does emphasize the issue, of course, but it's not the cause, not at all. This is her main character flaw here.
Your evidence?
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Old 2011-04-01, 18:45   Link #1675
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Originally Posted by Kazu-kun View Post
Madoka clearly says she has always felt inferior and worthless.
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Originally Posted by hyperborealis View Post
Your evidence?
Spoiler for subs, so inaccurate translation is possible, I guess:


I'm not actively looking to disagree, but on this point, I'd say he has a case.

Perhaps I'm putting too fine a point on it. Perhaps it's partly that the last Madoka Magica I viewed was episode 10, which makes me more sympathetic to Homura's view of things.

Spoiler for subs again:


I personally interpret this as a flaw; one that I think TL5's Madoka is starting to overcome slowly, by proving her value as a non-MG. Your mileage may vary, and I'm not married to the idea or anything, but it's not as if I'm making this stuff up either. There's still a couple more episodes, so it's just observation of what little I know so far.
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Old 2011-04-01, 19:15   Link #1676
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I wouldn't say that Madoka necessarily feels "inferior", per se, just that she doesn't feel "helpful" or "useful". I put this distinction on it, because I don't get a sense that Madoka is jealous of anybody in particular (which is what you often see with someone with an "inferiority complex").

For example, Madoka never really came across to me as being jealous of Magical Girl Sayaka. In fact, Madoka was often at odds with Magical Girl Sayaka and could even be said to be Magical Girl Sayaka's harshest critic.

I think that Madoka simply sincerely wants to help people, and to be someone that's useful to her friends, and perhaps even society at large.


I'm not altogether certain if Gen is favoring such aims or not.


Here we have Sayaka and Kyoko as argument/counter-argument.

Sayaka's descent perhaps suggests a dim view on outlooks like Madoka's, as Sayaka shared a somewhat similar desire to help others. Although, it could be argued that Sayaka's problem was not her altruism, per se, but rather how that altruism was corrupted somewhat by overriding romantic desires.

Kyoko's case may suggest that Madoka's sentiments are good ones. Kyoko seems to recapture some of her true self, and to rediscover some of her very humanity, after she goes from looking out just for herself to forming bonds with others while growing to care about them. On the other hand, she did die soon after, it seems...


Is Gen trying to say that Madoka should have higher self-esteem, and find that she can be helpful and useful as just a non-magical girl?

Maybe... but given that the pressing issue is Walpurgis Night, I'm wondering how that can be achieved in a practical sense. A magical girl could help against Walpurgis Night, but it's a bit difficult to see how a normal teenage girl could.


Or perhaps the secret is that Madoka achieving a greater sense of self-esteem and self-worth will somehow unlock her magical potential without needing Kyubey to do it for her?

That may be in keeping with the ideas that Kazu-kun are seeing developed here, while also enabling Madoka to be of practical help in stopping Walpurgis Night.

Many might consider such an end to be a deus ex machina, but in fairness, Madoka has frequently been said to be "special" and with "unusually high potential". So perhaps it wouldn't be too far out of left field for her to be able to unlock her own magical power, without Kyubey's help, whereas the other girls couldn't do so.


All of the above is presupposing a non-"bad end", of course. If we get a "bad end" then it's likely a matter of Madoka failing. From what we've seen from Gen so far, Madoka's failure may ironically come from listening to Homura when she shouldn't have.


Just some ideas I'm throwing out there for consideration.
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Old 2011-04-02, 00:07   Link #1677
hyperborealis
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ThereminVox View Post
Spoiler for subs, so inaccurate translation is possible, I guess:


I'm not actively looking to disagree, but on this point, I'd say he has a case.

Perhaps I'm putting too fine a point on it. Perhaps it's partly that the last Madoka Magica I viewed was episode 10, which makes me more sympathetic to Homura's view of things.

Spoiler for subs again:


I personally interpret this as a flaw; one that I think TL5's Madoka is starting to overcome slowly, by proving her value as a non-MG. Your mileage may vary, and I'm not married to the idea or anything, but it's not as if I'm making this stuff up either. There's still a couple more episodes, so it's just observation of what little I know so far.
No, no one's making anything up. I'm aware of these passages, too, but I don't think they mean what you and Kazu-kun think they do. Madoka is an ordinary girl. She recognizes that she is ordinary, average.

So, when she says, "I'm slow, and there really isn't anything good about me," she means she is slow, because she is. When she says there isn't anything good about her, she means that in the sense that she has no outstanding or distinctive qualities, since she in fact does not have outstanding or distinctive qualities. She is making an honest and accurate self-appraisal.

Likewise with the next quotation. Here we can bring in Triple R's useful distinction between feeling inferior and feeling oneself not to be useful or helpful. When Madoka says "I thought I had nothing good going for me. I thought I would continue living until I died, never helping anyone, never being useful," she expresses her awareness that she does not have any distinctive capabilities (something "good going for [her]) that would allow her to be helpful and useful to others. She does not express feelings of inferiority, but of frustration, of not being able to do what she would like to do, and of loneliness, since her lack of capability cuts her off from others.

In both instances, we see Madoka not expressing low self-esteem, but instead making an honest and accurate assessment of herself. As an ordinary person who has no distinctive capabilities, she recognizes that she is an ordinary person without distinctive capabilities, and thereby faces up to her real situation. To say that she expresses low self-esteem here is to suggest she is deceiving herself about her secret special capabilities, which is exactly contrary to what Madoka is actually saying.

Homura's words are more complicated. The selection you quoted represents her own answer to the question she has just asked, which is, "Why...Why do you always sacrifice yourself?" Madoka had been about to make a contract with QB on Sayaka's behalf. For Homura, to become a MG is to sacrifice oneself, since she knows all MGs are doomed to death or witch-hood. But Homura also connects this particular moment with all the previous timelines, the times before when Madoka "always" sacrifices herself. Homura's explanation for all this is contained in words you quoted, which very much follow the interpretation you and Kazu-kun are making.

Homura's explanation for Madoka's sacrifices, however, is simply wrong. I'd be glad to go over the previous timelines with you, if you like, but for the sake of brevity (ha!), let me invite you to review them and see if you don't agree that there issues of self-esteem are never raised, and that Madoka instead is consistently portrayed as acting heroically, responsibly, for the sake of protecting others from WN.

Homura's explanation for why Madoka wants to make a contract with QB at this moment is also wrong. Madoka has a genuine care and compassion for Sayaka, and is acting out of that feeling. The anime itself makes this point by its staging of the action of the scene. Homura has just implored Madoka to think of "the people who would be sad if they lost you," meaning of course herself, which she underlines by collapsing in tears at Madoka's feet. But rather than respond to this demand to consider Homura's feelings and Homura's sense of her worth, Madoka instead just gets up and leaves, to go find and help Sayaka. "I'm sorry.../ I need to go look for Sayaka-chan."

Now, I could be wrong. Perhaps Homura's point-of-view is correct, and represents the anime's own view on the subject. My own sense, though, is that her view reflects more on herself, and on her own sense of inadequacy that leads her in the first timeline both to idealize Madoka and to think about committing suicide.

I wonder how far the concept of low self-esteem is at home in the Japanese cultural context? Is this a peculiarly American concept, or is it one that is used as well in Japan? My own guess is that this is an American cultural thing that is out of place in any discussion of anime. That is just a guess--I would welcome being corrected.

Finally, I appreciate your taking the time to bring up these quotations. I asked Kazu-kun for them since I wanted, not to argue out our opinions (which we were going to do anyway), but to talk about the anime itself, and what it actually says. That always seems to me much more interesting than what I happen to think.
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Old 2011-04-02, 07:50   Link #1678
ThereminVox
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I appreciate the thoughtful responses. I still can't shake the feeling that they've set up Madoka's starting-line worldview and self-image as being a dangerous character trait, at least in the context the world Urobuchi has deposited her into. Sort of how Sayaka's strong sense of justice had two sides to it. She begins as a sort of knight-errant, but her chivalry turns to judgment; first of others, then herself.

I also like how Triple R points out that "inferiority complex" doesn't quite fit as the description for it. She does, as you say, lack the sense of jealousy. If she were jealous though, I think it would be of Mami rather than Sayaka. Instead, she looks up to Mami, and fantasizes in sometimes comical detail about being like her. Perhaps with time and character deconstruction -- which seems to be all the rage in this show -- it could have been corrupted into a sort of jealous obsession, but of course that didn't happen.

In the interest of not derailing the speculah thread (more than I have), I'll try not to harp on this particular point any further.
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Old 2011-04-02, 08:13   Link #1679
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Quote:
Maybe... but given that the pressing issue is Walpurgis Night, I'm wondering how that can be achieved in a practical sense. A magical girl could help against Walpurgis Night, but it's a bit difficult to see how a normal teenage girl could.
weeeell, as long as Madoka can enter barriers and witches prove not to be immune to human weaponry...oh wait, it would be Sucker Punch all over again...

Quote:
My own sense, though, is that her view reflects more on herself, and on her own sense of inadequacy that leads her in the first timeline both to idealize Madoka and to think about committing suicide.
and the worst thing here is, I get a vague suspicion that she might not have quite dropped it thus far, regardless of her cool exterior. Of course, the numerous failures to protect her most treasured friend hardly help here...
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Old 2011-04-02, 08:43   Link #1680
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A few more points I want to make given the last two posts.


Madoka's viewpoints are actually somewhat similar to Haruhi Suzumiya's during the Melancholy arc and novel. They're similar in that Haruhi, in one of her more memorable monologues, stated how she was greatly dissatisfied with being "ordinary" and not knowing anybody or anything particularly "extraordinary". This sense of dissatisfaction was rooted in feeling weighted down by sheer numbers (Haruhi starts feeling this way after attending a baseball game with a big crowd).

Japan is a very densely populated country, and has a society that tends to emphasize collectivism over individualism, so perhaps it's a peculiarly Japanese concept for a person to feel "lost in the crowd", and failing to stand out from the great masses of people.

Gen may be exploring that concept through the character of Madoka Kaname just as Tanigawa explored it through the character of Haruhi Suzumiya.

It's less a matter of feeling inferior, to feeling bogged down by sheer weight of numbers and societal structures. Madoka Kaname, like Haruhi Suzumiya, wants to be more than just some tiny cog in a machine operating alongside millions of other similar tiny cogs in a machine. Madoka Kaname wants to be important. To be someone who makes a difference, a real difference. And that's why she gravitates to the magical girl role. I think that Gen is hitting on something very essential here as to why magical girl anime can be very popular with young female viewers. Young Japanese girls may dream of being a magical girl superhero just as young North American boys may dream of being a spandex-clad superhero. In some ways, Sailor Moon's closest North American analogue is not a female character, but rather Superman.

Perhaps the reason why Madoka Kaname has such high magical girl potential is because she wants to be a magical girl for all the right reasons. She wants to make a difference. She wants to be helpful and useful, and in a general sense (as opposed to for one particular guy that she has a crush on).


The more I think about it, and the more I factor in Witch Madoka's stated effect as per Gretchen's witch card, the more I think we'll get an End of Eva-like ending here.

Madoka Kaname achieves her hopes and dreams, just not exactly how she thought she would. She becomes a magical girl, and later a witch, sucking the whole world up into her conception of Heaven. She becomes massively important, just as she always wanted. It's worth noting that Gretchen of the Faust narrative (which this anime has notably referenced at least a couple times now) ascends into Heaven after a lengthy series of horrible sufferings. If you wed that to taking the ideal magical girl to her logical conclusion, perhaps you get a magical girl that brings herself and the whole world into her conception of Heaven. It's worth noting that Madoka has now suffered a lot, and her witch name is "Kriemhild Gretchen".


Is this a good end, or a bad end?

Well, that'll depend on how each viewer interprets the oceans of Morning Rescue that used to be humans (or, in this case, Madoka's witches realm). Some may see Heaven or Nirvana or an utopia there. Some may see horror and tragic loss.
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