Creative Intentions

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This section may contain major spoilers!

Please refrain from reading if you are not yet familiar with all the latest media released.
Photoshop interview with madoka and homura.jpg

This article contains fan speculation and analysis based on information from or about the creative staff. It serves as a speculation and observation section for Translated Official Documents, Translated Official Documents Miscellaneous, and Tweets, as well as a place for analysis of story elements and the show's design based on the creative staff's intentions, methods, and history.

Thou Shalt Not Kill

Megami Magazine From an animation point of view, were there specific instructions from Shinbo or Inu Curry?
Yukihiro Miyamoto
Series Director
Shinbo would say something on the drawings on the layout and the situation design, like "I want here to be like this". But he did not say much about the personality of the characters. He only said "A character that killed other people cannot get a happy end".
Sayaka in the train scene.
Akiyuki Shinbo In the anime, Sayaka didn't kill the two hosts. [Referring to the men she encountered on the train in Episode 8]
Gen Urobuchi It can be interpreted as both ways in the scenario, so Hanokage-san interpreted it as if they're killed in her manga version.

Madoka's world bears a strong sense of karma with regard to murder. The creators ensure that it does not go unpunished. Sayaka, who killed the two men on the train, could not escape her fate. Although the anime and manga disagree on whether she did so, under the "Schroedinger's Sayaka" principle, she must be treated as if she did in order to keep both interpretations viable.

Gen Urobuchi
On Ep 12
My intention when I wrote the screenplay was: The location is not Japan and Homura's fight just goes on. But I think it is fine for all the fans to come up with their own interpretation. There is even conjecture that "this is without doubt the world after humanity was annihilated." It is still a valid interpretation.

Urobuchi often leaves details intentionally undefined when they are tangential to the story and would give viewers food for thought, so the staff must pay careful attention to these ambiguous situations, especially when writing additional material such as spinoff manga (which sometimes deviated from the original scenario as shown in Manga differences) and drama CDs.

Gen Urobuchi ...producer and Shinbo-san got attached to Sayaka and I got the request that “could something be done in the final episode to bring her back to life?”. For me, it was “That's enough.” (lol) In “Madoka” Sayaka is a character who would be a problem [to the story] if she was brought back to life

Sayaka must meet her tragic fate to preserve the sense of a world with consequences: one in which magic cannot solve everything.

Ironically, the only magical girls who did not kill another magical girl were Kyouko and Sayaka, even though Kyouko and Sayaka attacked each other with intent to kill.

Since the other girls received relatively happy endings, there must be an exception applying in their cases. It may be that magical girls, being liches bound to soul gems, are already effectively dead and destroying them does not count as "killing other people." It is also possible that the rule is not absolute, and those who kill for the sake of protecting others are exempt from the consequences. Mami killed Kyouko to save her from becoming a witch, Homura killed Madoka for the same reason at Madoka's request, and Madoka killed Mami both to put Mami out of her misery and to save Homura's life. Another possible explanation is that this karma only applies to the same timeline the killing happened in.

Chidamari Sketch

Hidamari Magi shock.png
Gen Urobuchi It's disappointing that my new anime is called 'Chidamari (blood puddle) Sketch'."

"I want to make the audience happy by the anime.
Gen Urobuchi So here are my defendant's claims…

Regarding the question "what's with that wholesome scenario writer?", in actuality, we had this idea of hiding the scenario writer's name until the broadcast started, but the plan failed since the staff list was leaked back in the early spring. But the director still wanted to surprise the viewers...

So I thought it would be bad if everyone could guess how the series will be because of me. As a troubleshooter, I tried to mislead everyone. But as you can see, it's ineffective.

Okay, that took a big load off my mind. Thank you everyone who kept up until today! I'm going back to the normal Urobuchi from now on!
Gen Urobuchi If the “expectation” has a sense of direction, this is almost the same as “prediction”. And that is what I would like to disappoint if possible. The feeling for “I want to surprise them” is strong inside me.
The official site's original look

The production team conspired to hide the true nature of the work from fans and present it as a cute, happy mahou shoujo anime. They attempted to conceal Gen Urobuchi's involvement. The Teasers and Commercials advertizing the show, as well as the original website, were misleading.

Dedicated fans still uncovered the truth when the staff list was leaked in 2ch on April 1, 2010, and Urobuchi was identified as the writer. Viewers familiar with his visual novels wisely nicknamed the show "Chidamari Sketch" (Pool of Blood Sketch), suggesting that it would be a twisted and gory version of character designer Ume Aoki's Hidamari Sketch.

Urobuchi denied this and attempted to salvage the plan. When Episode 3 aired and Mami demonstrated that the show was headed into dark territory, Urobuchi admitted the truth and apologized for the deception. Some fans welcomed the new development, but others were still shocked like the production team had hoped.

In one notorious case, an Amazon user review gave the show a 1 star rating: "I recommended this to my niece over New Year's because of the cute character designs. Today I got an angry phone call from my sister and mother saying that she was frightened and depressed after watching the latest episode. I'm now banned from my parents' place. My niece won't speak to me. Everyone, be careful of the cute designs!" 97 out of 480 users found this review helpful, and there has been some debate over whether it was serious.

Madoka saving a magical girl's soul

Healing-type Writing

Gen Urobuchi It's time to recognize me as a healing-type writer.

Before Episode 3 aired, Urobuchi claimed on twitter that he had become a healing-type writer (iyashikei). This turned out to be rather misleading, and he later apologized for deceiving fans.

Upon reading the Fate/Zero Volume 1 Postface, "healing" takes on a new meaning. The postface indicates that one of Urobuchi's goals in writing Madoka was to explore how to write a happy ending within the confines of the logic and ruleset of a dark, unforgiving world. He took up the following challenge:

Gen Urobuchi
in Fate/zero
vol. 1 postface
Therefore, in order to write a perfect ending for a story you have to twist the laws of cause and effect, reverse black and white, and even possess a power to move in the opposite direction from the rule of the universe. Only a heavenly and chaste soul that can sing carols of praise towards humanity can save the story. To write a story with a perfect ending is a double challenge to the author's body and soul.

Gen Urobuchi had lost that power. It still hasn't recovered. The 'tragedy syndrome' is still continuing within me. Is this a terminal disease? Should I give up on the pure 'warrior of love' that I've longed for?

That turned out to be an exact blueprint for Madoka's ending. Madoka appears to be an attempt to overcome that "tragedy syndrome" by proving to himself that it's possible to have a self-consistent and natural happy ending to an Urobuchi story cruel enough to deserve the title "Chidamari Sketch" (Pool of Blood Sketch). In other words, this might be, in a way, a "healing" story, but from the author's perspective rather than the audience's.

Which Truth?

Gen Urobuchi To tell the truth, the production of the Madoka anime was temporary stopped once the scenario was finished, however Hanokage's manga still continued. So the rough sketch of the manga was done before the storyboard. It's amusing if you compare the manga and anime, as they're divergences from a single scenario
Gen Urobuchi Main element of the story is how everyone from a different standpoint understands each other.
Akiyuki Shinbo I did not want to show cruel scenes; I wanted to show the feeling of those people who had to face those situations.
The preacher's daughter: good girl or bad girl?

The story focuses on exploring how characters psychologically react to their circumstances, are shaped by their experiences, and come to understand one another (or fail to do so). The multiple timelines and storytelling techniques used show characters and events from several different perspectives and allow for various interpretations. As a result, the truth is sometimes ambiguous and dependent on one's point of view.

Much like how the anime allows both interpretations of "Schroedinger's Sayaka", it must perform a juggling act with the effort to characterize the girls consistently across widely varying timelines. For example, Mami's behavior when dealing with Homura in the early episodes had to be written with her violent breakdown in Timeline 3 in mind. When she tried to intimidate Homura, was Mami on the verge of attempting murder, or was she just bluffing? Which did Homura believe? Which would the viewer believe on the first viewing, or upon rewatching after seeing Episode 10?

The dialogue and events of the first nine episodes appear very different when viewed through the lens of Homura's past. Lines that once seemed innocent turn into cruel mockery. By experiencing the same events from different points of view, the audience is better able to understand the characters' feelings and motivations.

Gen Urobuchi
On Kyoko
When she first appeared, she was supposed to be a heel [e.g. villain] character, but before you know it she became the only conscience. (LOL)

Kyoko is initially presented as a villain who exemplifies the cutthroat nature of the world of magical girls. However, as the audience learns more about her, she turns out to be in some ways a very kind and reliable character. Kyoko deals with several serious moral dilemmas, and ironically does the most harm when she's attempting to be helpful.

Working to save the universe, or humanity's evil enemy?

Her moral philosophies are abandoned and rediscovered as she evolves from the inexperienced magical girl of the first scenes in drama CD 3 into a hardened veteran, but she always tries to do what's best for those she cares about. Her insincere villainous persona was an attempt to use a coldly calculating, utilitarian approach to avoid repeating the costly mistakes she made when trying to be a savior. However, she took it too far and that backfired, leading to a destructive conflict between her and Sayaka. Much like Kyubey's, her story presents an unresolved comparison between different ethical philosophies rather than ending with a clear moral.

Rather than simply writing characters off as "bad guys," viewers are forced to question their own assumptions about what they believe to be "the truth" when characters fight amongst themselves and behave badly for good reasons. The black-and-white worldview that divides most children's shows about magical heroes into good guys and bad guys is attacked both within and outside of the story. Sayaka attempts to follow that philosophy but fails miserably, and members of the audience who try to do the same will fare no better.

Design Check

Ume Aoki
on Mami
Her twisty, curly hair and floral hairpin make her seem like a big sister. Also, I gave her pretty big boobs.

Mami’s design was definiely centered around her image as a gunner. The second thing that stands out are her breasts.
Ume Aoki as apricot+
By the way, Homura-chan's normal clothes are the ones you see on the color page. I couldn't think of what she'd wear so I just let my lust guide me on that one.
We suspect this is an accurate depiction

In order to maximize the contrast between the dark storyline and the bright, cute facade, even some of the show's staff were mislead into thinking they would be working on a normal mahou shoujo anime.

Ume Aoki, the artist famous for the heartwarming and happy Hidamari Sketch, was hired as the character designer. To ensure a convincing positive image, the true nature of the story was hidden from her until after the initial character designs had been completed. This unconventional tactic succeeded: Ume poured her heart into the design of her favorite Madoka character, Mami Tomoe, only to discover later that this masterpiece would be killed off in the third episode. Mami became exceptionally popular with fans.

Emiri Katou
Kyubey's Voice Actress
I'd be happy if everyone stopped bullying Kyubey so much *tear*, okay?

The voice actresses were also deceived. Kyubey's VA, Emiri Katou, believed she would be voicing a traditional, friendly, helpful magical mascot and attempted to present Kyubey in a sympathetic light until the bitter end.

Yuupon's Nitro+ blog sketch of Kyouko and Sayaka

Although Ume's work is usually thought of as pure and wholesome, the artist herself isn't quite so innocent. Several quotes reveal a fixation on Mami's boobs, and her Madoka doujin RKGKMDK features yuri shipping of her own characters and a revelation that lust served as inspiration. Perhaps this perspective allows her work to appeal to fans in certain ways without resorting to the out-of-character fanservice or undue pandering that is common in the anime industry.

Madoka has become very popular among yuri fans. See the Yuri undertones article for further details.

Considering various staff members' histories and unofficial artwork, there's little question that the story was designed to allow fans of yuri to enjoy such an interpretation. However, it has not been made explicitly canon, so the issue was most likely purposefully left open-ended, much like the question of whether Sayaka killed the men on the train. Those who wish to interpret the girls' relationships as simple friendships are able to do so.

Gen Urobuchi For me, perhaps there is part in my thought that said whatever relationship that could exist between male and female it should also exist between couples of same sex.

However, Urobuchi made it clear in a Black Past interview that he draws no fundamental distinction between homosexual and heterosexual relationships. Relationships between the characters were written in such a way that they would remain unchanged if either character were genderswapped. Many fans would view Madoka and Homura's relationship differently if Homura were male. Common audience preconceptions about sex are invalid, and character interactions can only be judged fairly by thinking about how they would look from a gender-neutral point of view.

Fate/Zero Volume 1 Postface

A translation of the postface by Gen Urobuchi is available here. In it, he discusses his history as a writer and his thoughts on writing endings.

Urobuchi commented on the relationship between his thoughts while writing Fate/Zero and Madoka in a Black Past interview.

Uno (interviewer) Among your works, even if we put side the issue of sexuality, it seems “Fate/Zero” is a turning point. Of the works before it, “Saya no Uta” is a good representative, where we can see a composition in which catharsis is obtained by means by giving priority to personal emotion over social mores when both are present. On the other hand, after “Fate/Zero”, the style is shifted to a direction in which the strength of the story was pulled up and tension was raised by continuously taking in concepts of morals and social responsibilities. The depiction of Kiritsugu Emiya in “Fate/Zero” is typical of this.
Gen Urobuchi I wrote it in the afterword of “Fate/Zero” too. It was the time when I got so troubled by the fact that as much as I wanted to write a heartwarming story, somewhere in me just could not believe in legitimate happiness but I had to move the work to a happy end, and I almost wanted to hang up my pen. From very beginning, to opt for the individual instead of the world, to affirm his own desire and ambition is to me an absoulte bad-end. If the world should be destroyed then there was no salvation whatsoever left. I think in the past I just picked the escape route by landing the story in way that is a bad-end in a macro perspective but a happy-end from the individual's point of view. However, “Fate/Zero” is a story that had the individuals fallen into misfortune but got the world saved. Perhaps this became the turning point like you said and finally I could write my happy-end. After that, be it “Eisen Fluegel” or “Madoka”, I approached to write works in which the protagonist may face ruin and destruction but to the world it holds a good ending.