Hope Floats (Like a Bloated Corpse)

 Anime, Puella Magi Madoka Magica  Comments Off on Hope Floats (Like a Bloated Corpse)
Oct 032011

All the stuff that happened in the latest episode of Madoka was pretty damn awesome. Seeing all the alternate realities– how shit’s gone down and all that– rocked. But all of this raises a major problem in the series.

There’s hope.

The last thing Madoka needed as a series was hope.

And it isn’t just hope. Said hope is inevitable. Given the fact that Homura can control time and reset everything, all she has to do is continue to do her thing until she wins. Assuming that she doesn’t get killed (Although given her powers she can probably stop time and reverse that, too, if she doesn’t get gaumped like Mami did.) and assuming her will doesn’t break along the way (And if she’s made it this far, I doubt that’ll happen.), she has time on her side to get it right.

We have infinite possibilities– infinite realities out there. All possible conclusions exist out there, regardless of whether their probability is 100%, 50%, or 0.00000000001%. When you have this sort of power at your disposal and no apparent weakness that keeps you from abusing it over and over again, it’s just a matter of time before Homura manages to save Madoka from Kyubey’s schemes. And even if there’s no way to save Madoka, Homura will keep going and going and going like the Energizer Bunny in drag. She might not win, but she’ll get an infinite number of chances to do just that.

No matter what, Homura gets what she wants– she gets to retain that hope that Madoka can be saved.

And given everything that’s happened up to this point, isn’t that a big fucking copout?

Mami’s death had an impact because there was nothing anyone could do about it. She was dead. Her soul gem was trapped in some sort of subspace. You couldn’t even retrieve her body to give her a decent burial. Her death was cool because it was sudden and no one could do a damn thing about it. Now we know that there’s an infinite number of Mamis existing out there, and while many of the alternate Mamis have died or snapped or whatever, there’s always that hope that Homura will eventually figure out a way to save Madoka before Mami’s inevitable demise.

So yeah, that awesome bit in episode three? It ain’t nearly as shocking and ain’t nearly as devastating as it was.

And all these alternate realities were pretty cool. Mami snapping and trying to kill everyone so they won’t become Witches was awesome. Seeing Madoka and Homura share several before-death moments of friendship was nice, too. But given the fact that all of this can be avoided so long as Homura just keeps up with her time traveling antics renders all of that pretty meaningless.

And that’s what you get when you start screwing around with time travel in fiction. Time travel is the ultimate “fuck you” to good storytelling.

Superman fails to save Lois while saving the rest of the world? No problem, he’ll just fly around the sun and save her as well. The Borg can’t defeat the Federation in the future? OK, we’ll just send them back in time to try it there while also allowing Picard and his crew to be the driving force in Earth meeting the Vulcans. Every now and then you get a good story out of the time traveling gimmick (I love Groundhog Day and Tatami Galaxy.), but those stories are pretty damn few and far between. I don’t see Madoka being one of those stories.

I don’t know. Maybe they’ll pull off something that makes all of this worthwhile. Maybe Homura’s actions are breaking away at the space time fabric or some bullshit like that, and it’s her screwing around with the universe that’s causing all of this degradation of the world’s energies, and thus requiring Kyubey’s race to harvest energy from obnoxious little girls. That might be cool. But yeah, given the revelations up to this point I’m not seeing a cool ending in our future. We’ll either get some lameass happy ending where Homura wins, and thus rendering all of the previous losses moot, or she’ll continue on her meaningless quest in some infinite time loop of whateverness.

Gah. Madoka is turning out to be Angel Beats all over again. Fun set-up. Lots of neat bits strung about. But in the end, it all comes down to a massive copout that insists on playing it safe. Again, I’d love to be proven wrong with these last two or three episodes, but everything I’ve seen to this point is telling me I’m gonna be pissed.

What this anime needs is an evil Baka of a Prince to screw everyone over at the worst possible time.

Also: I really need to get some positive shit written sometime soon. I’m all for the snark, but damn…