Madoka Kaname: The Wish

Madoka Kaname: The Wish

Introduction

Last week I talked extensively about how Homura Akemi is actually the cause of everyone’s misfortune in Madoka Magica, and how the “Homura did nothing wrong” viewpoint is incorrect. This week, however, Madoka Kaname is the featured character.

I mentioned briefly in my Homura Akemi post that I was going to write about how Madoka could be viewed as the antagonist, but that’s not what today’s topic is about. Instead, today I want to focus specifically on Madoka’s wish and how it affected the world of the magical girls.

Before I begin, however, it’s important to know how exactly magical girls work in the Madoka universe. Preteen girls are selected by beings known as incubators, or Kyubey, to become magical girls because they’re the ones who have the most extreme emotions.

The incubators need those emotions because their civilization uses them as a source of power. However, in return for becoming a magical girl, the incubators grant the girls one wish each. The contents of their wish are reflected in the type of magic they receive as a magical girl.

This may seem like a win-win for the magical girls, the girls will die prematurely. Magical girls fight against witches, and by defeating witches they’re able to prolong their life. But, after they die, they themselves become witches.

It’s this transition from magical girl to witch that releases an extraordinary amount of energy which the incubators then collect. The more powerful the magical girl, the more powerful the witch, and the more powerful the energy released during the transformation is.

Now, due to Homura’s mistake, which I previously wrote about, Madoka has the potential to become the most powerful magical girl the universe has ever seen, and therefore has the potential to be the most powerful witch, as well as the most powerful energy source.

Madoka Kaname in her magical girl form from the anime Puella Magi Madoka Magica
Madoka Kaname (Magical Girl)

We learn that the amount of potential energy a magical girl has is directly related to the scope of the wish they can have granted. In Madoka’s case, she has so much potential energy that she can essentially wish for anything, and so she does.

Madoka wishes for all of the magical girls, past, present, and future, to be saved from becoming witches and being used as an energy source for the incubators. This causes the laws of the universe to change and Madoka herself becomes an ethereal being known as the Law of Cycles.

So let’s now take a look at the outcome of Madoka’s wish for which she gave up her existence.

The Pros

There are a variety of good things to come from Madoka’s wish, and the most immediately clear to the viewer is the revival of her friends who died. Mami, Sayaka, and Kyouko are all resurrected in the new world which Madoka creates, despite this not actually having anything to do with the rest of her wish.

We also see Madoka, in the form of the Law of Cycles, going to all of the magical girls throughout time and space and retrieving their souls just before they die and become witches. This is the primary goal of her wish and the part which truly alters the universe.

Because the souls of the magical girls are collected by the Law of Cycles before they can become witches, this means that witches don’t exist in this new universe, and so the magical girls have no need to risk their lives fighting them.

The final pro is that by removing herself from existence and becoming the Law of Cycles, Madoka effectively saved the Earth from being destroyed by herself when she becomes a witch. Remember, as the most powerful magical girl, she would have become the most powerful witch.

So the four pros are that Madoka’s friends are alive once again, magical girls don’t become witches when they die, magical girls don’t need to risk their lives fighting witches, and Madoka’s witch form doesn’t destroy the Earth. Those are some pretty good outcomes, but just how do they stack up against the cons?

The Cons

While the resurrection of Madoka’s friends was the most immediately clear pro of her wish, the removal of Madoka herself from existence is the most immediately clear con. Sure, her friends are alive (for now), but Madoka technically isn’t, and nobody other than Homura remembers she existed at all.

Mami, Sayaka, Kyouko, Madoka’s family (with the potential exception of her younger brother), and even Kyubey all have no memory of a girl named Madoka Kaname ever existing. And, for Homura, the memory of Madoka is both a blessing and a curse. It’s what drives her to become the “devil” in Rebellion.

But let’s pretend that Madoka is okay with erasing herself from existence. Let’s pretend for just a little bit that her being gone doesn’t count as a con. What else could possibly be bad about the new universe her wish created?

A lot, actually.

You see, Madoka didn’t fully understand how the universe worked when she made her wish. By wishing for all magical girls to be saved before they become witches, Madoka didn’t really solve the problem, much like Homura with her creation of a fake universe as the devil.

The Law of Cycles is great and all because it saves the souls of magical girls, but they still become magical girls to begin with. And, if they become magical girls, then they have a soul gem which needs to be purified somehow or else they’ll die prematurely.

Madoka Kaname in her Law of Cycles form from the anime Puella Magi Madoka Magica
Madoka Kaname (Law of Cycles)

Remember, there are no witches in this new universe, but witches are needed in order to purify soul gems to keep magical girls alive. Since their bodies are being preserved by a small amount of their magic, even if they don’t actively use magic ever, they’re still dying at a faster rate than a normal girl.

But this brings me to one of the biggest issues with the new universe Madoka created. Wraiths. The Wraith arc takes place between the anime series and the Rebellion movie, so we only get to see a small piece of it towards the end of episode 12.

However, the Wraith arc is covered in the manga (which I need to actually read some time) if you’re interested in learning more about it. But, since I’m focusing on the anime today, I’ll just stick to talking about what we know about the wraiths from that medium.

Witches no longer exist in the new universe, but they’ve been replaced by another entity known as wraiths. These wraiths seem to serve the same basic purpose as witches and become the new enemies of the magical girls. It’s assumed that defeating wraiths does the same thing as defeating witches, which is to say they can be used to purify soul gems.

This means that while the magical girls aren’t risking their lives fighting witches, they are risking their lives fighting wraiths. Further, although Madoka resurrected Mami, Sayaka, and Kyouko, Sayaka dies once again, but this time at the hands of a wraith.

Sayaka sacrifices herself in order to save the others, and it’s this death that Kyouko is referring to when she reunites with Sayaka in the Rebellion movie.

The final con of Madoka’s wish comes directly from the Rebellion movie. As I mentioned, witches no longer exist in this new universe, but Homura was able to become a witch and create a witch’s labyrinth within her own mind which she then lured her friends into.

What this means is that witches technically do still exist in this universe as long as the magical girl they correspond with actively tries to stop the Law of Cycles from doing “her” job. The fact that this is even possible is a weakness of the Law of Cycles, but luckily only Homura should be capable of doing this since she’s the only one who knows the Law of Cycles even exists.

So, the major cons of Madoka’s wish are that she was erased from existence, magical girls are still being created and have to fight, wraiths replaced witches, and the Law of Cycles has a loophole with witch Homura was able to still transform into a witch. Four cons to match the four pros.

Conclusion

So, in the end, was Madoka’s wish worth it? You can let me know your conclusion in the comments, but I’d have to say that Madoka’s wish was certainly not worth it for one simple reason: she could have made a different wish.

If the choice was either for Madoka to make the wish that she did or no wish at all, then the wish she made is the clear choice solely because it prevents her from destroying the Earth in her witch form. However, seeing as she could have wished for anything, there are clearly better wishes she could have made.

Instead of wishing for all magical girls to be saved before they become witches, perhaps she could have wished for there to never have been the concept of magical girls to begin with. Perhaps she could have wished for the incubators to get their power source some other way that didn’t involve Earth.

That said, nothing is guaranteed. Even if Madoka had made a different wish, we need to remember the wise words of Kyouko:

“Miracles aren’t free, ya know. If you wish for something good to happen, a whole lot of bad stuff’s gonna happen too.” – Kyouko Sakura

If Madoka had wished for magical girls to never exist, maybe it would have been magical boys. If she had wished for the incubators to stay away from Earth, maybe another civilization would have come instead. It’s the same as the witches being replaced by the wraiths.

Speaking of Kyouko though, next week’s entry into my Madoka Magica character series is going to be about my personal favorite character, Kyouko Sakura: The Rival. But before then, if you enjoyed this post be sure to leave a like so I know if I should make more series like this in the future.

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2 Replies to “Madoka Kaname: The Wish”

  1. I agree that Madoka’s wish wasn’t worth it…but only based on the reasons you provided. In the absolutely ideal world, Magical Girls would no longer exist, the world would develop normally without Magical Girl’s help, and the girls would live normal lives without wishes. I’m almost certain Madoka could pull off something like this, she’s insanely powerful. Her Final Witch was bigger than the whole planet, and, from the pmmm wiki, it is said that “her body could even destroy the galaxy.” Which is unreal to think about. Madoka could pull this off. She would still need to erase herself from existence, and deal with other possibly unpleasant side effects from changing history that much. But she is powerful enough to make it work. So why didn’t she do it?
    And now the part I disagree with, that Madoka simply didn’t understand how the universe worked, and so she doomed the Magical Girls to fight for their lives and then die young. Well, yes, but that’s not really it.
    The thing is, Madoka LOVED her fellow Magical Girls. She loved them and respected them and, which is important, she respected their wishes. “I won’t let your prayers end in despair. None of you have to hate anyone, or curse anyone[…]so please, believe in yourselves, until the very end.”
    Her motivation for her wish was that she didn’t want her people to hurt anymore.
    Turning into a Witch is a terrible fate. Your very soul warps into a mindless monster, whose only purpose is to kill people. When Madoka made her wish and visited Mami and Kyoko in some kind of afterlife, Sayaka wasn’t there…because she died as a Witch, when Mami and Kyoko died by breaking their Soul Gem. She simply couldn’t be there…there’s no chance for an afterlife as a Witch. Madoka sacrificed herself by taking Magical Girls’ despair upon herself and saving them from this fate.
    After Madoka came to collect Sayaka’s soul in the new world, they came to watch Kyosuke’s performance one last time. Madoka says, “The only way I could save you would be to make it so none of this had happened…which means that this future would disappear as well” Madoka is so powerful she could even undo someone’s wish, and so, save their life. She could have saved Sayaka from disappearing and allow her to live a normal life, but..”But I go the feeling that you wouldn’t want it to turn out like that.
    /I truly value your wish[…] I don’t it was pointless in the end at all/” Even if she died because of it, even if her crush never loved her back and never knew what she’d done for him, Sayaka’s wish was still worthy.
    Madoka believed that every girl has a right to make wishes and to fight for them. She could never take that right away from them even if it meant a short life of fighting and then death. (Homura is the opposite, she values [normal, long] Life.) “After all, Magical Girls make hopes and dreams come true.” And so, Madoka made Wraiths for Magical Girls to combat, she made them drop multiple pieces of loot, encouraging team work. Incubators are less secretive with Magical Girls, because Mami said that she knows that they disappear once their Soul Gem becomes too clouded, and that she knew that from the start. And, most importantly, she made a certain afterlife only for Magical Girls, where they are granted eternal peace for their hard work. I’m leaning a little more to Homura’s side, that’s why I think the concept of Magical Girls disappearing altogether is the ideal outcome, but considering Madoka’s motivations, her wish was perfect, and she made enormous improvements. She did screw herself, her family, and /Homura/ over, but still I think.. She did pretty well.
    Whoah, this got long! Thank you if you made it this far.

    1. It seems that we both agree Madoka’s wish wasn’t the optimal outcome, but I really liked your point about her choosing that specific wish because it doesn’t interfere with the wishes of any other magical girls in the past. The only counter argument I can come up with to that is that the magical girls originally don’t understand exactly how their wishes are going to be granted, or what they’re giving up for those wishes.

      It’s more transparent in the new world, but I doubt many of the girls would have made their wishes to begin with if they knew just how things were going to turn out. Sayaka even mentions this just before she becomes a witch herself when she’s talking to Kyouko. She says that while she was able to save some people, she wasn’t able to save as many as she had hoped and in the end she even hurt people, such as Madoka. She also clearly wasn’t a fan of having her soul removed from her body.

      So, from that perspective, it would still be better to erase the magical girls’ wishes in order to prevent them from becoming magical girls in the first place. But, one of the things I enjoy about this series so much is that there is no one right answer to a lot of the questions that could be asked. This is exactly why I’m able to also make arguments for both Homura being the protagonist and the antagonist of the series.

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