Introduction [spoilers ahead]
Puella Magi Modoka
When Puella Magi Madoka Magica first hit the air in January of 2011, and most of us were ready for a lovely magical girl show filled with giggles, cute sidekicks and sparkles. We got something that turned the magical girl genre on its head. A story of pure young girls filled with virtue fighting evil witches morphed into something far more complex and dark.
The hero, Madoka Kaname, and her friends Sayaka and Homura are approached by an apparently harmless cat-looking creature named Kyuubey. Kyuubey offers them the chance to become magical girls. Homura covertly and overtly does everything she can to prevent Modoka from accepting the offer. Homura, already a magical girl, knows the dark secret behind a contract with Kyuubey and wants to protect her dear friend from making such a tragic choice.
We find because of the drama, high stakes, and willingness to sacrifice their lives for one another that their relationship may run a little deeper than just friends, at least in our own minds. We give you the most yuri moments between Homura and Madoka.
5. Episode 10
When we look back into the first timeline, Homura, was/is a transfer student at Madoka’s school. Homura also has health problems and spent much of her life in the hospital, falling desperately behind in her studies, and with her weak constitution she even failed at gym. Because of her life of constant hospitalization, she feels like a burden to others and has very low self-esteem. Madoka is the first person to really accept her as a friend and the two grow closer. The short walk they have from the classroom to the nurse’s office and the words of encouragement Madoka has for her, telling her that Homura was a “cool name” despite Homura thinking otherwise, and taking Homura under her wing were all elements in winning the sad friendless girl’s devotion. Madoka, already a magical girl in this timeline, rescues her from a witch who came to prey on Homura due to her feelings of worthlessness. Homura’s feelings of admiration explode when Madoka sacrifices herself to save her from the witch, the Walpurigs Night. We see this as the key event that transforms Homura, the timid, weak and lovesick girl, into magical girl. Despite all the dangers she has to find a way to save Madoka. We often find love gives us strength.
4. Episode 10
The Madoka timelines can be confusing, and we really don’t understand why until we realize Homura is a time traveler trying to change history. We see several timelines in Episode 10. The 4th timeline revealed in this episode shows Homura awaking in a hospital room and beginning her journey to save Madoka once again. She also, once again, fails to intervene and prevent her dear Madoka from her fate. The sweet Madoka defeats the witch Walpurgis Night and in a cruel twist of fate quickly becomes a witch herself.
Homura refuses to battle Madoka, despite the turned evil magical girl having enough power to destroy the world, saying it wasn’t her fight anymore. We are led to believe that Homura was willing to become a witch if it meant she’d able to be with Madoka. Those of us who have found our soulmates recognize this dedication as love, a very deep-seated love, an almost passionate obsession, because she would rather let the world burn than be without Madoka. Homura’s closing line in episode 10 is “if it’s for you, I have no problem being trapped eternally in this maze (time loop).” We don’t know what love is if it isn’t serving in hell for someone else.
3. Episode 12
Madoka is a magical girl with immense power and she’s decided to change the rules of the universe and the fate of the magical girls. She sacrifices her corporal form, breaking vicious cycles of magical girls aging, losing hope and becoming witches that a new generation of magical girls have to fight. Madoka, the cute and kind girl with the bushy twin tales, becomes the savior and goddess of the newly reformed universe. She uses her power to pull one person out of time to witness her remake of creation. Not her brother or her mother, both whom she’s very close to, but Homura. As Madoka begins to ascend to a higher plain (and in doing so have her memory wiped from existence), she leaves the ribbons that used to bind her hair in Homura’s hands. It’s a sweet moment in their lives filed with turmoil.
Homura’s feelings are so deep that even as the memory of this sweet young idealist named Madoka is being wiped from existence, she holds on to the memory of her dearest friend. A friend she had tried desperately to save again and again. You are convinced the no matter what happens there is no way the memory of Madoka could be pulled form her heart. Homura, still a magical girl, dedicates herself to protecting the city and people Madoka loved, wearing Madoka’s pink ribbon in her hair. Love is dedicating ourselves to our loved ones’ causes.
2. Puella Magi Madoka Magica Part III Rebellion
The movie Rebellion may be called Magi Madoka but Homura is the star of this film. We really get a sense of the devotion she has to Madoka and the great personal sacrifices she makes to protect her. It’s as if she is letting pieces of her own soul be eaten away to accomplish her goal and return her Madoka to earth. Some have said Homura becomes the equivalent of the devil; the trauma and moral sacrifices stain her soul making her something greater than a witch. Madoka is the yin to Homura’s yang, balancing the universe of good and evil, and in a way intertwining their souls so they’ll never be apart again.
We once again see Homura’s willingness to sacrifice herself, body and literally soul, for Madoka. Homura proves the point, saying “It is the pinnacle of all human emotion. More passionate than hope, far deeper than despair. Love.” The key visual does the rest, Homura lies on a cold slab dying and beginning to transform into this devil and the goddess Madoka descends filled with light to embrace her love.
1. Episode 11
We like to call this moment Homura’s confession. As we know, a confession in anime isn’t the same as on a cop drama, which usually leads to someone going away for a long, long time. These confessions are almost always those of love. Near the tail end of the first series we find Homura standing before Madoka explaining that “There is no way I can tell you how I really feel,” and that “I’m sure you’re put off (uncomfortable) by all of this.” Homura explains how she’s been repeating time again and again, all to protect Madoka and failing each time. It is so very sad to hear her explain “Each time I repeat all of this, the time you and I lived grows further apart, our feelings grow further apart, and my words stop reaching you.” The viewer can feel the heartbreak of someone who has lost the person they love the most, even as they are standing next to them. We feel this confession is one of love, romantic or even deeper, and we have no choice but to acknowledge that this is the most tender yuri moment in the whole series.
We don’t know what is in the author’s head as a world is created. We do know that one of the things that amazes creators most is when a world or character grows beyond what we had originally penned. The yuri concept in Puella Madoka Magi is probably one of them, and for the fans of the show that is the fun part. We have expanded the motivations and personalities beyond their flickering two-dimensional forms and read into the bonds they share, seeing them as something more than comradery and friendship. We interpret these actions between Madoka and Humora as love, on a deep, romantic and passionate level. What could motivate Humora to endure such pain to change the fate of her friend unless she viewed her as more than a friend? We love the yuri themes in Madoka, real or imagined, because the idea of sacrificing yourself for someone you love is a motivation most, if not all of us, understand.