Saturday, April 29, 2017

Madoka Magica was not Mean Spirited

I did my post about responding to the Madoka Backlash, I'd been wanting to make that for awhile, then once I did I felt I hadn't properly gotten to the heart of the matter.

So I was listening to this commentary on the show.  (At the time I made this post it had covered the first three episodes).  And they kept calling it "mean spirited", seeing it as being made specifically to attack the Magical Girl genre.

Madoka Magica is NOT a Deconstruction.  Even if it were that's not necessarily an attack on the genre, Alan Moore is a fan of Superhero comics and doesn't even like how his influence has made the genre darker.  And Anno is a fan of the Mecha genre.  And Madoka was directed by Shinbo who previously did Nanoha, he has no problem with the genre.

So they think a lot of people liked it because it was a "take that" to Magical Girls.  I have never encountered such people, I suppose when the show was new they existed, and so some Magical Girl fans have judged the show off them.  I'm a guy who liked Sailor Moon back when the DiC dub was fresh, but it wasn't something I admitted publicly due to social norms, but I grew out of that before I discovered Madoka Magica. Madoka appealed to me as a fan of the genre, not as an outsider.

There is talk as if making more adult oriented Magical Girl shows is somehow taking toys away from children.  Well I still remember how more adult Superhero stories were once viewed the same way, and thus parents got in an uproar over Batman Returns.  Magical Girls are just one of many trends of the 90s getting their grittier more adult revivals today, we see it with Pokemon and other video game characters, and now Power Rangers.  Sometimes they work, and sometimes they don't.

But it's hard for me to think of Madoka as even being that dark in the grand scheme of things.  In the context of Anime you have Fate/Zero which is the darkest one I've completed so far (I've watched some of Gilgamesh and am unsure how much I wanna continue).  In the context of Magical Girl shows it's hard for me to accuse either Madoka or Yuki Yuna of running on shock value now that I've seen Raising Project (Mami's death was totally predicable to anyone who knows writing conventions, Raising Project was for all it's problems much more legitimately unpredictable, Mami is basically Obi-Won Ned Star Kenobi).  Frankly I don't think Madoka is even as dark as Empire Strikes Back, a movie I've had a long history of saying isn't nearly as dark as people make it out to me.

But being Dark to some degree was not unheard of in the Magical Girl genre, Sailor Moon and Cardcaptor Sakura both got dark at times, Nanoha also did. Kamikaze Jeanne predates Madoka in having a really dark twist to it.  And the original Kaitou Twin Angel OVA is a two part story where the bad guy totally wins at the end of part one, it's much closer to what a Deconstruction would look like.  Then there is Cutey Honey's debated relationship to the genre.  It's actually PreCure that is the stand out for having no darkness. 

Part of the Feminist objection to Madoka is talking about it "Punishing girls for wanting things".  The message of the show is that it's a screwed up system which our Heroine fixes.  Saying the show condones that would be like saying 1984 condones totalitarian governments.

You can cynically accuse many fans of watching it because they enjoy that.  Same can said about many things, it's not uncommon to say you like Batman for the villains, and some fans cheered Vader at the end of Rogue One.  But most of us Madoka fans liked the show because we cared about the characters and rooted for the eventual happy ending.  Because as I said in The Night is Darkest just before The Dawn, a happy ending is more rewarding when it's a struggle to get there.

It is a theme of the show that none of the girls (but Madoka) wished for what they actually wanted.  That doesn't mean it's viewed as a Sin and that they deserved the tragedies that befell them.  It's a simple human flaw that Kyubey was exploiting.

Carlos and Dave think Madoak wants us to view Kyubey as neutral, I don't get how they think that at all.  Kyubey officially qualifies as a Mustache twirling villain by episode 11, there is no room for ambiguity about him being evil.

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