Random Rants: Homura Akemi’s Tragic Delusion

This week’s random rant has two purposes. First, I’ll explain exactly what I think happened at the end of the third Madoka Movie, Rebellion. By this time, explanations can be found anywhere on the web, but when it first came out, a lot of people had no idea what the hell actually happened. (My explanation may differ a bit from others, but the gist of it is the same. Besides, much is up to viewer interpretation, so my explanation is no more or less correct than others you might find.) Second, I want to explain why Homura’s actions and the results matter– in terms of important themes in the story, and also, implications for the character of Homura.

homura madoka magica rebellion ending

(Warning: after this point, there are spoilers for Madoka Magica Rebellion Story.)

What Happened?

Homura awoke from the world in her soul gem and found Madoka as the Law of the Cycle descending toward her. “We’ll be together always,” the goddess says. “Yes, we will,” replies Homura. But she doesn’t let herself be spirited away. She grabs hold of the goddess’ wrists, and her transformation begins. Homura realizes what Kyubey calls the final form of the magical girl, a monstrously powerful being with black wings. Homura calls herself a demon. She says her transformation is driven by passionate love for Madoka.

homura madoka magica rebellion ending demon homura

A series of colorful, trippy, and confusing visuals begin. It’s unclear, but it seems that Homura broke her soul gem, spread her dark power over the entire cosmos, and received a new magical item in place of a soul gem. In the next scene, the world has been rewritten, and the other main characters like Sayaka and Kyoko have been dragged into it. It’s a happy world, but it’s making everyone forget their true memories, and it’s keeping Madoka from joining with her true self, the Law of the Cycle, (AKA god). The real world is now much like the dream world from inside Homura’s darkened soul gem.

Homura essentially stole Madoka and made the world into a paradise for them to live in together– albeit a paradise that everyone was forced into. When Sayaka says that Homura interfered with the Law of the Cycle, the “demon” states she only took a small piece of it. This is key to my explanation. Homura didn’t kill god or anything like that. She only stole a tiny piece of god, and set up a world to live in with that piece. It’s the piece that she believes is the human girl Madoka, carrying the memories of the original, human Madoka.

The Law of the Cycle exists in all universes in all timelines, so it’s still functioning in all other world lines as the savior of magical girls. As for the world that Homura rewrote, there is no need for a savior for magical girls, because no new magical girls are being created. That’s because Demon Homura enslaved the Kyubey race to help her defeat the Wraiths that appear in every world. Kyubey is unable to make more magical girls. Kyoko and Sayaka live together and get along. Mami is able to live again and have a normal school life. Madoka is allowed to exist as a humble, timid girl, but is prevented from becoming one with god, her true self.

homura madoka magica rebellion ending

Why Does It Matter For Storytelling Quality?

Homura’s transformation and rewrite of the world serve to highlight three similar and powerful themes. The first is selfishness. Homura can’t be called a good person, perhaps, because she forced Madoka into her paradise world against her will. What Madoka really wants is to connect to her true self. By that line of thought, she is evil.

However, the second theme is “love is stronger than rules.” Even though Homura’s actions aren’t praiseworthy, they were motivated by her powerful love, which is literally stronger than god and all rules of the universe. The final form of magical girls, the demon, can only come about because of the deepest love. Since Sayaka, Kyoko, and Mami get to live happy lives now, you can say great good came of Homura’s love.

A related theme is “willfulness over acceptance.” Homura could not accept that the “real” Madoka became the Law of the Cycle and erased her original existence from all worlds. She could not accept that Madoka left her to become the savior of all magical girls. Homura was driven mad after 8-12 years of repeating the same month in different worlds, each time trying to save Madoka from becoming a magical girl. Rather than accept Madoka’s decision, Homura forced her own will on Madoka, even interfering with the goddess of magical girls.

homura madoka magica rebellion ending

Why Does It Matter for Homura Akemi?

Here’s the key point. This is a tragic ending. Homura has lost her mind, and the proof is something not immediately obvious to all audiences. She believes that the Madoka who came to her dream world was the “real” or original Madoka. In all likelihood, that isn’t the case. The real Madoka has already long since ceased to be. Her existence was erased the moment the original Madoka wished to become god. At least, that’s my interpretation.

The Madoka who came to the dream world was simply a tool of the Law of the Cycle, which developed some individuality from living in the dream world for a month or more, forgetting her true self, and having her memories tampered with. The Madoka that Homura stole is simply a copy of Madoka molded to be as much like the original as possible by the settings in the dream world. So, Homura isn’t living with the “real” Madoka. She deluded herself into thinking she is, and doesn’t realize the truth.

homura madoka magica rebellion ending

The ending of Rebellion Story is a mix of dark and light, happiness and tragedy. “Madoka” gets to live a peaceful life with her friends and family without ever having to fight. But she’s denied from joining with the Law of the Cycle. Kyoko and Sayaka can both be alive and happy together, but Sayaka’s true memories were erased. Homura is the one who suffers most. She must now defeat all wraiths herself, control the Kyubey race, and keep Madoka from remembering her true self. Worst of all, Homura’s belief that she is living with the “real” Madoka is a delusion.

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4 thoughts on “Random Rants: Homura Akemi’s Tragic Delusion

  1. From Homura’s point of view, there is zero sense in making a distinction between “real Madoka” and “preset” of Madoka that she pulled out of the law of cycles. Because there is no “real” Madoka anywhere. What Homura has at the end of Rebellion as well as what she had in her dream is the same Madoka she met in the first timeline.
    If we say that she is not, we might as well say that the only “true” Madoka is the one which died in the first timeline. Thus whole Homura’s struggle becomes pointless.
    Like, what exactly is the difference between going back in time yourself and meeting Madoka once again and pulling Madoka from that time to your own time and meeting her once again that way?
    Homura is in love with any Madoka to ever exist and not exist. And that is the only way it could be.
    Here one of my favorite moments in the series. Stunning moment. Genious.
    That is when Madoka and Homura are defeated by Walpurgisnacht and lying down in ruins on the brink of becoming witches. And Madoka. Holy Jesus Christ Madoka who is going to sacrifice herself, to die for all magical girls’ sins (aka their wishes and despair) and going to save their souls from eternal suffering at the greatest cost for herself in the last timeline. That same Saint Madoka is asking Homura to go back in time once again, to go through all that suffering again and save her from her own foolishness of becoming MG, which also implies that Homura is also supposed to defeat Walpurgisnacht without Madoka and there is no way for Homura to save herself from all MG’s fate even if she were to succeed. That tells how different even a saint person could act depending on circumstances.
    And Homura loves that Madoka the same way she loves one which became god.
    Thus I don’t see any insanity here. It is true that any Madoka is not happy being separated from her family and friends. Sayaka’s case had a clear message that saving others provides great satisfaction but it can’t become a substitute for fulfilling your own desires. You still will yearn for their fulfillment and if you can’t fulfill them that will make you miserable.
    Homura got it right and acted accordingly.

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    1. Wow, you left me an essay! Thanks for taking the time and effort to write so much, and thanks for sharing your opinions here on my blog.

      You made a good point and it’s a well-thought-out, worthwhile argument. I think it’s perfectly fine to interpret things your way. If you’re interested in discussion, I can tell you more about what I meant by “real” Madoka, and why it matters to Homura.

      Another thing came to mind when I was reading your comment. Please don’t make the mistake of believing I dislike Homura or that I personally judge her for her actions. As I said in the post, “stealing” a piece of Madoka was selfish and not praiseworthy, but it was also the proof of her love, and I would most likely do the same in her position.

      On a related note, I don’t consider it demeaning or insulting to say someone has a delusion. Everybody operates on delusions now and then. As someone neurally atypical myself, I don’t mind characters with delusions and mental or psychological issues. I’m not insulting Homura. She’s my second favorite character under Sayaka. I couldn’t dislike her if I tried. I hope that makes sense. 🙂

      “Sayaka’s case had a clear message that saving others provides great satisfaction but it can’t become a substitute for fulfilling your own desires. You still will yearn for their fulfillment and if you can’t fulfill them that will make you miserable. Homura got it right and acted accordingly.”

      It’s clear you’re quite passionate about your final assertions here. I feel compelled to say that other interpretations and viewpoints besides yours also exist and are valid. . If you’re interested, I can tell you what I personally took away from the cases of Sayaka and Homura. But I don’t want to change your mind or make your interpretation more like mine or anyone else’s. I only want people to bear in mind that many views and interpretations exist for any good story. Thanks!

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      1. Sure. I want to read about it. Though I’m perfectly fine with changing my mind. If anything I love being proved wrong since it usually goes with some kind of small revelation for myself.
        My comment sounded a bit too protective I guess, but I haven’t actually intended to portray Homura in a purely positive light nor misunderstood your paragraph for scolding her. The single point I was trying to make was that she didn’t make a mistake, assuming her priority list goes Madoka>Herself>Anything else, which is how it is I believe.
        Also, I’m sorry for going personal, but I have to clear it up to know what I’m doing. You call these things “rants” but at the same time you state that all opinions and interpretations are perfectly equally valid and you aren’t intending on changing anyone’s opinion. My question is: do you welcome an actual exchange of arguments here in order to come up with the better, most thought-out interpretation or people are supposed to just lay their opinions out here without questioning others? And if it is the latter then why call them rants?
        P.S. I’m here from reddit Sayaka analysis post.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. “P.S. I’m here from reddit Sayaka analysis post”

        I thought that might be you, lol! I’m glad you’re up for discussion. Let’s see. I’ll answer the last question first, about why this is anime “rants” and what I hope to see in discussion. Then I’ll tell you what I meant about a real Madoka and why I view the situation as kind of tragic. Finally, I’ll describe the opinion I took away from the stories of Sayaka and Homura.

        — About Rants and Discussions here —

        To rant is to speak or shout at length in a passionate way. I use the word with the further implied meaning of not necessarily being on topic all the time. The blog is called Anime Rants for three reasons. 1) I often use casual, informal writing and strong personal voice, rather than always correct or technical language; In other words, I’m free to speak in an impassioned way. 2) My posts are sometimes too long for most people to want to read; I am free to speak “at length.” 3) Though I try, my rants do not always stay on topic; I’m free to go on tangents now and then.

        “do you welcome an actual exchange of arguments here in order to come up with the better, most thought-out interpretation or people are supposed to just lay their opinions out here without questioning others?”

        Both, neither, or whatever, really. People in the comments are free to question and argue with the opinions expressed by others or by me, as long as it stays civil. It’s also fine to just leave an opinion or a little piece of feedback and not discuss anything at all afterward. I let individuals decide whether they want to be persuaded to change their mind or stick to their guns, so to speak. As for me, I believe good stories, and in particular, good anime, are full of room for individual interpretation. Even if I do think privately that some are more “correct” than others, I make it a point to welcome everyone’s interpretations.

        — explanation of “real” madoka —

        Homura is a bit preoccupied in the Rebellion movie with the impossibility of Madoka being there. She says she can’t think of anything but that she’s a copy, fake, or illusion. At the same time, Homura insists that she can tell it *is* the real Madoka. But in truth, that Madoka is basically a copy/piece/pawn sent by the Law of the Cycle, which is a force/god with no individuality or set sense of identity.

        In the end, what Homura took from the Law of the Cycle was a Madoka she wanted: a blank slate who could be instilled with memories and personality shaped by the new universe/labyrinth she created. Homura is set in her belief that what she took is the “real” Madoka, but at this point the only “real” Madoka is the Law of the Cycle and not an individual girl. That’s what I meant by the “real” Madoka ceasing to exist once she became a god.

        The tragic/sad part of it is that Homura can’t accept this. She can’t except the Law of the Cycle. She only wants a girl named Madoka with a blank mind she can fill with a kind and timid personality and memories within a false world. 😦 Those are my thoughts. I hope they make some sense.

        — Messages from Sayaka’s and Homura’s stories —

        Each person has their own sense of values and how they view morals. As for me, Sayaka did some things I consider right and some I consider wrong. Same for Homura in her story. Both were trying their best and even when they did great wrong, I can hardly blame them, knowing that I might act similarly in their shoes.

        The message I took from Sayaka’s story is that idealism, naivety, and refusal to adapt are damaging if used the wrong way, or if never questioned. The message I took from Homura’s story is that selfishness, obsession, and refusal to accept can also be taken too far and become damaging to self or others.

        The overall message that Madoka makes me think of is that one needs to find a balance: between selflessness and selfishness, between hope and despair, between love and obsession, etc. Life, and the systems in which we function, will be cruel, and hope and despair will be there in equal parts. We must also be in equal parts altruistic and self-interested. Neither Madoka nor Homura “got it right” overall. It’s not a show about characters getting it all wrong or all right.

        And that’s the end of this rant.

        Like

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