Maho Shojo Madoka Magica Max Heart StrikerSMay 11, 2011
SPOILERS FOR MAHO SHOJO MADOKA MAGICA
Narutaki and I watched the last two episodes of Maho Shojo Madoka Magica together and we had very different but equally mixed feelings as we discussed the show afterwards. That Sunday we met again and discussed the show after we had some time to digest our feelings. A topic of conversation that came up was Narutaki saw several people online who thought that Madoka should be an ongoing franchise with sequels and spin offs and she was firmly convinced this was a horrible idea. I disagreed. I thought there was equally potential for successes with a franchise as there were ways to drop the ball.
The easiest way to ruin the show is to try to make a sequel that tries to blows the first one out of the water. If you try do the original you will almost certainly fall flat. Madoka Magica worked because it was a unexpectedly dark take on the magical girl genre even if other shows had used certain twists in the show beforehand. But trying the same thing again but bigger would almost surely just pale in comparison to the original. On the the other hand there is some distinct potential in Maho Shojo Homura Magica. What I mean by Maho Shojo Homura Magica is a show that explores this new dark world of magical girls fighting demons but quietly exploring the deconstruction of the genre in-depth as opposed to trying for some GaoGaiGar Final approach that takes everything to 11. The problem with that is it would also require a deeper examinations of the characters to be satisfying and the main compliant about the original Madoka is that the characters are paper-thin. So you either have to build on the existing characters or introduce new characters. Both plans are easy paths to failure if done without careful planning.
In my opinion the best way to expand Madoka into a franchise is to take a page from the most successful anime franchises like Gundam and Precure. Use each season to create a new world that can explore new themes and use different narrative techniques while sticking to an overall pedigree that people enjoy. Gundam carved out a niche as a distinct brand of real robot shows while Precure is known for being the magical girl show with the martial arts influenced fights scenes. I would be interested to see a gritty urban fantasy magical girl franchise with new characters in a new world each time. You basically sell the show on the mood the original had but use it to tell mature stories with the bishoujo character designs that the otaku love. I also think urban fantasy is popular enough to cater to an under-served market while having potential to tell stories with substance. Each season would probably be a bit hit or miss but that is the nature of any long running franchise.
Then again maybe it is just best to leave Madoka as it is. It somehow succeeded despite a healthy amount of warranted skepticism. Anything more than the initial 12 episodes might be one insistence that warrants the old chestnut, “You should really watch the original and then pretend any of the subsequent material never existed.” I mean they could always to that Madoka Magica plus K-On! style slice of life show they have threatened us with and no one wants that.