Warning: Spoilers for the end of the Madoka Magica TV anime series, along with some other minor spoilers from the movie.
For what appears to be the final installment of the Madoka Magica series, The Rebellion Story shows just how cruel the world of witches can be in a staggering and glamorous way.
The Rebellion Story continues where the original 2011 anime left off; Madoka has become God, and is no longer existant in the world. However, to much confusion, Madoka appears in this movie as a regular magical girl, as if none of the events that happened at the end of the series occured. The Rebellion Story mostly revolves around Homura, whom, at the end of the original series, was lost without Madoka by her side.
Because of all the sudden events and complication, it may seem very confusing at first. This was why I decided to watch this beautiful movie a second time-so I could grasp an understanding for The Rebellion Story. After watching it for the second time, I realized the inner beauty of The Rebellion Story.
The music composed by the most wonderful Kajiura Yuki (Sword Art Online, .hack) brings out the light of this piece of art. Each piece fits well and gives the watcher an even larger interest in the movie.
Speaking of art, I am in love with this movie's visuals. The differing art styles make ones' eyes pop out of their head. Not to mention the varying animation styles for the different events of the movie; swift action scenes and stunning witches have never seemed so glorious. You can tell that Shaft has gone a long way if you look at the original series and then at this movie.
The introduction of a new, adorable character shocked most people, though I wish she had a bigger role in the movie (in other words, more screentime). Even so, she makes a nice addition to the Madoka series with her cuteness and child-like phisique.
The Rebellion Story lives up to its name, for the saddened Homura does something that no one would have ever thought of. The movie may not seem like a continuation at first, as many might say, "How can this be? She's gone right?" . Well, not exactly.
The Rebellion Story is a movie full of beauty and sadness packed all into one. It displays the sorrows of Homura Akemi after the original series. If there was one word to describe this movie, it would no doubt be "despair". With all of its stunning visuals and epic music, The Rebellion Story is truly worth watching after finishing the Madoka Magica TV series.
There are two purposes for an anime review: to assess whether or not you should watch an anime or to prompt a discussion by seeing other people's opinions. If you're already planning on watching this movie in the near future as a Madoka fan then the bottom line with this review is go watch the movie regardless of what I say. If you don't fall into this category, then read on.
I shall try to keep this review spoiler free. It will use pictures from the trailers, which I don't consider spoilers. If you want to read my unstructured spoiler filled reaction to this movie then read the blog I posted on the movie (FINALLY POSTED HERE).
Figure 1: I really wish I got this poster
Puella Magi Madoka Magica Movie 3: Rebellion (hereafter referred to as Madoka 3) is the third movie in the series and the first entirely new animated content for the franchise since the TV series ended in 2011. It is a true sequel in that you do need to watch the TV series and/or the previous movies to understand what's going on. “Rebellion” is a very good secondary title for this movie, but I'll divide this review into sections based upon alternative titles I came up with for the film while watching it.
Madoka 3: The Plot Twists
Akiyuki Shinbo's vision for this movie is very apparent; he wanted to make it different from any other anime movie. This is supported by its strong focus on the modern aspects of its animation, the avant garde style showcased in the witch's labyrinths in the previous movies. There were segments that were so obviously trying to be “artsy” that I thought I was watching a preview of Shaft's version of Disney's Fantasia. This worked to the movie's advantage at times by supporting the mood that it was trying to set and the emotions expressed by the characters, but other times it just seemed like it was trying to be “high art” and “edgy” for its own sake (and as much as I think the word is overused, this is the definition of “pretentious”).
Another aspect of the movie that separates it from the standard anime is its numerous use of plot twists. Considering that this is a Madoka movie, I wasn't surprised to see plot twists; however, I was surprised to see how frequently they were used and how shocking they would be. You know the first plot twist is coming; there's no way that the plot established at the beginning of the movie would continue without some sort of catch. Even after the facade is broken and things “get real” (think episode 3 of the TV series), there are several plot twists after that, so many in fact that I think the movie gets confused and ends up strangling itself on its own plot line. The movie features another freaking AMAZING Kyubey explanation that manages to be even more convoluted than the one from the TV series (although perhaps not quite as scientifically incorrect). Finally, the last plot twist really brought the whole movie down for me. Despite it being one of the most shocking plot twists I've ever experienced (think Bioshock Infinite ending shocking), I really don't think it worked with the characters that had been established. It stretches certain aspects of the characters way too far, to the point where it seems like their actions later in the movie are in direct contradiction with their actions just 15 minutes earlier in the film. I'll talk more about these plot twists in my blog post, but the bottom line is while the last twist made for an exciting finish, I don't think it improved the movie as a whole.
Figure 2: My reaction during the last 15 minutes
Madoka 3: The Struggle is Real
The movie's strong points are in its execution of its vision, even though I don't necessarily agree with the direction at times. They spared absolutely no expense in animation, and the battle sequences in the movie were absolutely stunning. They rival the Nanoha movies for some of my favorite battle sequences I've seen in anime. As I mentioned earlier, the surreal art does achieve its purpose at times, and there are moments in the movie where the combination of pristine animation, masterful voice acting, and sweeping melodies of the Yuki Kajiura score (in my opinion, one of her best yet), combine to create what can be described as no less than a masterpiece.
The emotion that is portrayed by the veterans on the voice acting team, particularly Chiwa Saito (Homura), Aoi Yuuki (Madoka), and Eri Kitamura (Sayaka), reinforces the overall mood of a conflict that is as much a sentimental one as well as physical. Watching these characters wallowing in misery would usually result in a dismissive labeling of “wangst,” but these actresses manage to remain convincing throughout the film.
Figure 3: An 100% legit picture of Aoi Yuuki in studio
Madoka 3: You can (not) hate this movie
Besides the major points of the last plot twist and the animation pretentiousness mentioned above, the movie has other relatively minor problems. First is a big lipped alligator moment that occurs about 15 minutes into the film. It's based upon a lot of Japanese language puns and essentially has the magical girl quintet rapping an incantation (a sentence I never thought I'd have to write). Not only is this very confusing for foreign audiences, it serves virtually no purpose whatsoever in the film and is never explained or mentioned again. Second, the new character that is introduced doesn't really get a lot of screen time and is essentially useless. As timeroverx will so diligently point out, she wasn't pointless since she serves a couple purposes in the movie (I won't say what because of spoilers), but she didn't have a huge impact on the group dynamics at all.
That all said, I can't hate this movie. In the end, it was just too good. It was the Madoka franchise being the Madoka franchise. It was Akiyuki Shinbo trying to push the boundaries of what is possible to do in animation, and while some of his decisions will keep this off my list of all time favorite anime, it was still a very good movie overall and highly recommended for any Madoka fan.
Figure 4: Thanks for reading this wall of text
If its the final installment, someone is too dense to realize the story is only half told.
I find Hangyaku no Monogatari satisfactory proof that a bad worldview can be painful to anyone with an inkling of sense. The ending of the first series was so fractured and inconsistent that it came as no suprise to me that the makers were hijacking the author's work and rendering much of the orignal intended theme null. Nobody likes when a story tries to disguise itself as logical but isn't. Rebellion hits the "Star Trek" reset button and sets it up so Homura has a chance to pull a "Dr. Who" on Madoka. The story single handedly rejects the dualistic worldview of the previous series and presents an open ending with lots of possibilities. Only time will tell however if they can finally sew up the holes of the original writer's outlook.
Madoka Magica Trilogy Review
Please note: The following is the second review I’ve written for Madoka Magica; the original review was over twenty thousand characters too long for this website and, as such, had to be rewritten from scratch. (Hey at least I learned that there’s a character limit on this site. You learn something new every day…) Least to say- I’m very passionate about my experience with Madoka. However, three big points to keep in mind about this review. First, is that it's a review of the entire trilogy. Second, is that this review contains spoilers. Finally, that this review focuses on the movie trilogy over the original TV Series. I’m not sure if I’m painting myself into a good corner here- but rather than focus on the content itself I’ll also mostly be focusing of my own experience with it. So if you are looking for a Kotaku-style general review or a deep analysis; this writing will unfortunately be both and neither; there are much better and more articulate analysis/explanations online, and more entertaining pieces that get their general points across without the spoiler tag. The big goal writing of this piece is mostly to come to terms internally with my own experience with it in my own way. I need to do this so I can finally expunge myself of my PADS (Post Anime Depression Syndrome) and focus on finals. I simply cannot satisfy that urge with superficial or general overview.
With those points out of the way, let’s begin.
I know pretty much everything there is to say about this series has already be said, but I’ll start by laying out how I genuinely feel: this trilogy is one of the most unique and fulfilling experiences you’ll ever get within this medium. (Super cliché thing to say, I know.) So if there’s any doubts as to whether you should see it: I’ll say that the bottom line here is that you should at least try it. And try be enthusiastic about the venture, too, because if you go in with a negative attitude and are looking for faults with this series/trilogy you’ll certainly be able to find them. Plenty of them. While you’re focusing on what’s wrong with this series, though, you’ll be missing out on the magic of it. One statement I think isn’t made enough about this franchise is that it’s nowhere near as perfect as most fans make it out to be. While certainly one of the most unique stories you can ever experience, I wouldn’t go as far as to claim that Madoka Magica is the “best of all time” or any nonsense like that. In fact: in terms of quality and lasting emotional impact; it’s quite similar to something like Stien;Gate. Both of these series, while very innovative and unique and emotional and indispensable- aren’t inherently better than each other, and neither are perfect either. That’s the point I’m trying to get across.
Anybody who makes such a claim is lying. That sort of chatter and exaggerated gossip serves no one, and will only blow up expectations for fans looking to sink their teeth into this series for the first time. Particularly those fans that have been left disappointed again and again by overblown expectations for “great” top-tier shows that do not deliver. Case in point is myself: I know I’m going a bit off topic here in in what certainly can be construed as a tangent—but it’s a very true experience I think more readers than not can resonate with. For example, I have no great love for the original Neon Genesis Evangelion and End of Evangelion. I think the writing is clunky for how complex it is. I feel the characters are dry, and while I respect and acknowledge Neon Genesis Evangelion’s contribution to the anime industry and place in anime history: I have no love for it. In my eyes, the fact that to this day we have people defending a TV series that contains a completely contrived ending is beyond me. (They ran out of budget guys. No one disputes this.) Frankly, it is of my opinion that the Rebuilds or any number of Evangelion’s spiritual successors are a much better substitute experience—and are probably much more in line with what director Hideki Anno had in mind for the series in the first place. It’s one of those rare examples where what comes after it is better than what comes before.
Anyways- you never can really know what kind of viewer/reader you’re talking to when you recommend or criticize a title. To this day I face pre-conceived judgment from any otaku I admit the above feelings to, as if I’ve disappointed them. Admittedly, I’m stuck in something of a liminal space. I don’t typically stick my nose up at “mainstream” titles like Sword Art Online, (though I was very critical the recent show Re:Zero and wrote a lengthy review on this site detailing my issues with it.) but find I’m constantly drawn to them over titles that are held up as intellectual. As if trying to elevate my perceptive horizons and try new kinds of experiences within anime has led me on an opposite discourse. To that end- I was lead to and disappointed by a number of “critical” hit titles over the last few years. Only some of which I really felt were great. (Chief among them is Stiens;Gate, by the way. That is one of the few series I'd say lives up to its hype.) Is it any small wonder, then, that I would be lead to Madoka Magica? Three years ago I watched the original TV series in preparation for the upcoming film and had left only moderately impressed. (And extremely disappointed.) While the first four episodes flowed nicely and were indeed gripping, I would hardly have called what followed it as such. Following the fast pace of the first four episodes the series slows down dramatically—the focus of the plot muddled as the story refocuses on the side characters Sayaka and Kyuko. It picks up again towards its final few episodes with the POV shift to Homura, but that doesn’t last long as the series ends on what can best be described as a mind-screw ending. (Which I loathed.)
Fast forward three years; I watched the series Re:Zero and specifically criticized it for telling an incomplete story…as well as made the following statement: “I thought using the concept of time jumping as a magical power in a fantasy story could be worth demonstrating [exploring]. However, this does not prove to be so for Re:Zero. The reason is because, without the internal logic of Stiens Gate’s science backing up the limitations of Sabaru’s power- there’s no real reason anything can stop him… ” It was at that moment that I had an epiphany. There was another high-end fantasy anime that utilized time travel in a believable way: Madoka Magica! It was also in that moment that I realized that I may have been a bit unfair to Madoka having walked away from it without ever seeing the whole story. After all, there yet remained the film Rebellion, which from what I read online was something of a full-blown sequel to the original series in the same vein as Stiens;Gate’s film The Burden of Déjà vu was a sequel to that series…but better. Released not too long after I had finished the Madoka Magica TV series; I had never gone about watching it as a result of my disgust at the original series’ ending. Following my distasteful experience with Re:Zero and determined to see an old regret put to rest; I decided to return to Madoka Magica and—one way or another—lay my thoughts “in stone” by writing a review for my entire experience. To be more objective and to fill in the three years’ worth of gaps as to the finer details of Madoka Magica’s story, I made the decision to rewatch the TV series before realizing that, lo and behold, there were two films that were made specifically for that purpose.
I went into those films expecting the same disappointing experience, as well as a massively disappointing and overhyped sequel...
I left with an experience that rivaled Stiens;Gate itself, and one that completely changed my opinion of Madoka Magica forever.
It was as if I had had the ear of Gen Urabachi, directors Akiyuki Shinbo and Yukihiro Miyamoto, and studio Shaft themselves when they went about creating the films Beginning, Eternal, and Rebellion. Now, keep in mind that this is my second time writing this review. It’s been a number of weeks now since the original end of my experience with these films, and—I do not exaggerate—my feelings regarding my experience remain just as vindictive as the night I finished watching it: most, if not all, my major gripes about the original series were addressed. The inconsistent pacing of the TV series was what was principally fixed, with about thirty minutes’ worth of the series’ superfluous material cut for the first two films. The animation and direction? Both of these were touched and to a significant degree to make the presentation of Madoka Magica much more in line with other contemporary tense/mature action series out there. And, most damning of all, the original series’ ending? There were a number of logical questions that I had major gripes coming to terms with (namely, that despite the message of love and hope and all that other “Godoka” nonsense, the bottom line was that Madoka was still sacrificing herself, wasn’t she? Didn’t that defeat the entire purpose of Homura time looping over and over again to save her?) became the entire premise/setup of the third film Rebellion, which the first two films—to a much better degree than the TV series—felt like a natural extension of. Now, there were still some issues to contend with. You can imagine my incredible frustration, having believed that Gen Urabuchi and company had finally learned from their mistake the first time around from the end of the TV series and second film Eternal, that they would provide the exact same faux-ex ending a second time in the film Rebellion, and I’m exaggerating only slightly. The execution was much better this time around- but on the whole it still seemed like a faux-ex plot decision that creates more questions than answers, and specifically sets up for another sequel. That defeats the whole purpose of what an ending is supposed to be.
I’m not quite sure what it is, but the closest idea I can get to it is that I don’t like portraying myself in absolutes. For one, I’ll be completely honest and say that I didn’t fully understand everything I saw plot-wise in Madoka Magica. Because there were a lot of little visual cues I probably missed while reading subtitles. (In my original review- I said half-jokingly that there was a lot more going on in Madoka that I didn’t understand than I did.) More important than that, though, throughout those sections of the story I least liked, I still felt a very strong empathetic connection to what was happening to the main characters. Especially Madoka and Homura, and particularly in the story’s two endings provided in Eternal and Rebellion, respectively. That is the primary reason why I had such major gripes with those endings: because I had such a great attachment to the series’ two main protagonists Homura and Madoka. Go ahead, roll your eyes at how ridiculous it is that this online stranger felt such a strong connection to two fictional characters that he can accuse the storywriters of unfair treatment as to make some kind of creative statement, but that’s precisely how this reviewer felt. To this reviewer, the original series and first two films specifically set themselves for an ending where Homura/Madoka either accomplish the impossible or simply accept that they’ll die in the process of trying. What the series and Eternal ultimately goes with, however, is loophole surrounding the revelation that Kyubei, the series’ adorable cat, is the true antagonist of the entire story. Turns out- he tricks little girls into becoming magical girls knowing that the universe will turn against them to compensate for the miracles and power he grants, and then harnesses their energy once they inevitably despair. The series resolves this external conflict with Kyubei (now called an “Incubator”) by using Madoka’s wish (all magical girls are granted a wish, and Madoka’s is foreshadowed to be abnormally powerful) to “rewrite” the laws of the universe that witches can even exist, and the series accomplishes this by turning Madoka into an omnipotent “Godoka” capable of taking any and all despair from witches throughout time. Madoka ceases to exist as a person for everyone except Homura, who courtesy of her time travel capabilities will always have to just take comfort in the fact that Madoka will “always be with her” in a spiritual sense. Everyone else simply forgets she existed altogether.
That’s the gist of how the original series and second movie ended.
Even given the choice to change this explanation, I will make note of two things. First and foremost, that the storywriters end up making excellent use of logical issues with the original ending for Rebellion. As it would turn out, Homura really does fall to despair (which was a very big internal conflict for Homura that was conveniently “resolved” by the end of the movie Eternal and TV series) over having been unable to stop Madoka from becoming a magical girl and, in addition, being unable to provide for Madoka a normal life. She becomes a witch in all but her mind, and the incubators are able to stop Godoka’s interference by using some sort of one-way dimensional barrier. The spirits of Madoka and company enter the barrier to save Homura, but all become trapped there and forget their goal as they all enjoy the happy ending that never was as a group of middle school girls who happen to also fight evil in their free time. Knowing the practical implications of the Incubators finding a way to manipulate Godoka and re-introducing witches into the universe, Homura makes the fateful decision to complete her transformation into a witch, which shatters her soul gem before she can be saved by Madoka, in a desperate attempt to erase her own existence from the universe.
This time there’s a positive plot twist: the souls of Sayaka and Charlette, two souls that Madoka saves from despair, had entered into the barrier along with Madoka with the explicit purpose of shattering it at the appropriate time so that Homura could be rescued by Godoka. They succeed in breaking the barrier, but rather than embrace Godoka’s offer to live out the rest of space time together in her omnipresent company, the show makes the bold decision to introduce yet another mind-screw: Homura—who we aren’t quite sure has become evil or not— tears Madoka’s soul out of Godoka and steals her power, becomes what I like to refer as “Dehomura”, [Demon] and a fellow omnipotent entity. And to what end? Dehomura’s big purpose is to stop anything that would interfere with Madoka having a normal life, and uses her newfound power to create a universe-encompassing labyrinth to do just that. In the final scenes of the series, the ravaged body of Kyubei is depicted and Homura is shown wiping Sayaka’s memories when she tries to confront Homura over the terrible implications of ripping the soul of Godoka apart. In the series’ final scene containing dialogue between Homura and Madoka, Madoka starts to remember her true purpose as Godoka…to which Homura laments that they’ll inevitably have to fight before she embraces her.
Such a plot twist is an obvious bid for our continued attention; one that shamelessly plays off our empathy knowing how attached audiences are to Homura and Madoka. While it works to a certain extent in engrossing and shocking the audience, once they really start putting the twist under scrutiny they start to realize that twist provided an ending that simply doesn’t make logical sense given the context of the series and events of the movie up until that point. At best, you can see Homura’s decision to become Dehomura one necessary to prevent the Incubators from being able to “trap” or endanger Madoka ever again, and her evil characteristics could be interpreted as Homura having a psychological breakdown at being forced to betray her best friend. However, at worst—Homura becomes a yandere. Even the above explanation doesn’t really account for certain actions that were depicted: Homura’s sly evil smile before the act of it…The transformation into a self-proclaimed demon…The logical question here is at what point in the movie or series has Homura ever acted like a Yandere? For a story that seemed to highlight a systemic and expert use of literary devices: (including Time travel) abiding by its own rules and following a strict formula that granted magical girls incredible power as well as limited their capacity to effectively use them…I found both endings to be unsatisfactory. It literally blew my mind when the series/Eternal went with the original ending that it did, and one can imagine my immense satisfaction—a miracle, creatively—that the writers and directors of the series were able to “pull through” that ending and create a logical sequel from the smoldering ashes of it…only to turn around and make the exact same ending for the film Rebellion. But backwards…or something. I think the creators realized this too, and head writer Gen Urobuchi has gone on record saying he was against Rebellion’s ending—but was pressured into it by head producer and original director Akiyuki Shinbo as to set up for a sequel. The monetization incentive is certainly there, but I highly doubt we’ll see any sort of sequel by the original staff anytime soon—at least, not one that lives up to the quality of its preceding material and/or is one where the original story/script writers are at the helm. And the longer a sequel isn’t made the higher expectations become. I’m fairly certain that they’ve written themselves into a corner with the ending of Rebellion, and won’t go near it until a logical continuation can be figured out. The liability is simply too great to go down as part of the staff that “ruined” Madoka Magica. The truth, however, is that there is very little that could extend the story in an organic way after the ending of Rebellion. I’d recommend that the storywriters refer to other Science Fantasy fiction for inspiration…Maybe a Jack Vance Dying Earth route is in order.
However, I think the basic assumption here is that Homura and Madoka would never fight to the death; such an assumption defies Madoka Magica’s very own logic. They could go with that course regardless, but by doing so they’d have to irrevocably turn Homura into a villan—and keep her as one. If not that, they’d have to explore alternative means of continuing the story. From my experience reading fantasy—that could constitute anything from refocusing on another character’s perspective…Kyouko or Mami, maybe…to starting from a “clean slate” by introducing a new main character, or introducing a new external conflict or plot device that believably fits into the context of the story, (perhaps some kind of secondary effect? Refer to the Stiens Gate film for a case-in-point example) or just rebooting it. Such heavy-handed plot twists usually have to be designed from the story’s beginning lest consequences like this happen. But frankly, making great sequels is an extremely hard thing to do in general. The fact Rebellion is this great is something of a miracle. In some respects, making a quality sequel is even harder than just going ahead and making something new. James Cameron did it in the live action world with Terminator and Aliens, and J.R.R. Tolkien did it in the literary world with The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings—but very seldom do accomplishments like that happen more than twice. Let’s also not forget that it took Tolkien and Cameron seventeen and seven years to come up with the sequels that they did, respectively.
Least to say- it’s an emotional affair. With the rest of the series’ issues fixed for the films- the endings are perhaps the last major issues with the series. Sometimes ending a series on a profound question can be a good thing. Case in point is Cowboy Bebop. Is Spike dead? Is he not dead? Does he reunite with his crew? Will there ever be a sequel? Don’t misread me here; ambiguous endings can work if they’re properly foreshadowed. In Bebop’s case, Spike’s reliability as a charismatic character that has pulled through some fairly horrific ordeals is juxtaposed with the foreshadowed and defining past he has always been running away from. But while it’s an important ideological question to ponder—whether Spike is dead or not doesn’t have any bearing on whether the series’ main conflicts are resolved. Because they are. Spike is finally able put an end to Vicious’ rampage. The worst crime any story can ever make is introducing a conflict/question but not answering it. That’s the crime of Madoka Magica. First when it abandons the internal conflict of the co-protagonist Homura with the ending of Eternal, and then again when it introduces a new conflict just as it resolves the old one with the ending of Rebellion.
It’s not really fair that I spent some twenty thousand characters focusing on one issue, because I’d love to use the same amount of space praising Madoka Magica’s incredible accomplishments. In particular, the writing behind the characters Madoka and Homura, as well as Madoka Magica’s use of time travel as a plot device to tie together the events of the entire series…Combined with the spectacular production values. Frankly, it’s bloody brilliant, and is one of the very few cases of time travel being employed to create an endearing and believable tale. I also would have loved to delve into how Madoka Magica makes great use of literary inspirations like Alice in Wonderland to create a modern “nonsense” adventure story with dark twists that can truly horrify an unexpecting viewer. Alas, I’ve run out of my twenty-thousand character space. Take my word for it though- Madoka Magica is among the best, and will hit home for any fan of modern action anime. It will subvert your expectations of what an action hero can be in the most wonderful of ways, and depict the nature of friendship and chivalry in the most endearing possible fashion. Toss the TV series and watch the trilogy and enjoy one of the most unique experiences out there.
This movie... I loved the first two-thirds, but I HATE the last third.
The first two-thirds was a really interesting idea, and while it was very confusing at first, I liked being in the same shoes as Homura with her not really knowing what was going on either. I was trying to solve the mystery of the setting with her.
Also, can I just say how much I LOVED how the Magical Girls fought in this movie? It was so creative and quite beautiful to watch. Once the mystery of the setting was cleared up, it made sense why their powers were more elaborate, and that just made it all the better, that there was an explanation for it, rather than the producers randomly changing things.
Then there's Kyubey... This movie made me HATE him all the more. I just... How could he want to do such things? How could he do such things to Homura? I hate him so much.
Then there's the last third of the movie... It ruins Homura for me. I can see where people can argue it's something she would do, but it felt like such odds with the first two-thirds of the movie. Also, you know there's something wrong when the last third of the movie can cause me to hate my favorite character of the series. But I'll leave the rest of this discussion for the spoiler section.
So, I loved the first two-thirds of the movie. It was a great setup, the fight scenes were amazing, it was great seeing all of the characters together and I loved their relationships with one another, and when the truth of everything is revealed, it really raises the stakes and feels like a natural progression to the anime. Then, with the last third, I just felt extremely confused and betrayed and I'm just going to pretend that it didn't happen.
The ending to the anime itself was extremely bittersweet (more bitter than sweet), and it makes sense why Homura would want to change Madoka's fate. HOWEVER, in this movie, when Madoka comes to save Homura from turning into a witch, it's easy to see that Madoka is quite happy with her current role in life. Also, she is not alone, but has two companions, one of which is Sayaka, who also appears happy. Seeing Madoka happy and not alone in her role as a god/Hope made me feel okay with the anime's ending. Also, it showed that the only person suffering because of Madoka's decision is Homura.
Now, I know Homura has spent every day since Madoka's choice dwelling on what has happened and all of the things Madoka has missed out on and how nobody even realizes she's there. Homura has a lot of bitter feelings about this, and everything she's done in her life has been to protect Madoka. I get that, I really do.
When I saw how happy Madoka was, I thought about how Homura's already outside the normal universe because of her time powers, and I was thinking the actual end to the movie (after dealing with Kyubey's decision to undo everything) would be Homura stepping into a role similar to Sayaka's, so that she could be with Madoka again through the rest of time, and she would be able to share in Madoka's happiness at saving others.
What happened, however, was Homura seizing onto the power to change the universe, and changing things so that Madoka was human again. I get that it's within Homura's character, to make a selfish decision like that to "save" Madoka, but it felt very OOC to me.
Homura spent the first two-thirds of the movie fighting again a false reality. Then, in the last third, she creates a false reality.
Okay, I know that reality at the end isn't actual false, but it felt falser than the false reality at the beginning. I know it's just as valid as when Madoka first changed the universe, but it felt too different to be reality (I know that's just me, but it just felt really off for Madoka to be the transfer student). However, it's more than that.
The biggest thing that made this new reality feel false was how fast Madoka was to start to awaken. Her first real meeting with Homura involves her almost remembering she's a god. This then goes to show that Homura's remaking of the universe didn't cancel out Madoka's earlier remaking. As soon as Madoka awakens to her god-self, Homura's reality will disappear. This detail just causes Homura's reality to feel false, and so it ends up feeling like she fought a false reality just to make another false reality.
So, the last third of the movie was ruined for me by Homura choosing the selfish course even when she could see how happy Madoka was in her god role, and by her reality feeling falser than the one she had just been fighting against. Homura just felt so OOC during the last third, and while it was the more unpredictable direction for the movie, I would have been much happier if the enemy had remained Kyubey, rather than it becoming Homura. I don't understand how she thought her becoming evil would help her to be happy with Madoka, as it just pits them against each other.
But I've rambled on enough. I have heard rumors there is another Madoka installment coming, but I haven't looked it up yet. If there is more, I will probably watch it just because the ending of this movie felt unfinished, with it being clear Madoka will reawaken at some point, but as for now, I'm pretending the last third didn't happen. Instead of Homura turning evil, Kyubey tried to undo Madoka's wish, the Magical Girls fought against him and won, and Homura ended up at Madoka's side as a secretary or in some other such role.