Gen Urobuchi has recently given an interview to Asahi Shimbun (Japan’s second most circulated newspaper), where he talks about Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica in context of recent real-world happenings, making some daring statements in the process.
The following extract was copied directly from the Anime News Network site:
Asahi: Madoka Magica is an original story. Where did the idea come from?
Urobuchi: I received a request to write a bloody story where magical girls appear, and then drop out one by one. I paid attention to the aspects that are troubling or overlooked in the traditional magical girl genre. I’ve been thinking that magical girls who have acquired superhuman abilities will find themselves removed from the world, which would cause contradictions and reactions.
Asahi: Magical girls, who are full of hope and who strive to save the people, soon suffer from hatred and jealousy, which turn them into the enemy witches. The change from good to evil left an emotional impact.
Urobuchi: For example, Al-Qaeda brought down the Twin Towers due to their self-righteousness. Justice for some people is an evil for others. Good intentions, kindness, and hope will not necessarily make people happy.
The following is my translation of the remaining part of the interview.
Asahi: In the climax of the series, witches bring a disaster upon the city. Isn’t it that in modern society, people’s negative emotions are what destroys the world?
Urobuchi: One curse brings about another, creating a cycle of hatred. That’s what I find the most terrifying. Positive words like happiness, victory and glory are only spoken after being thrown into the same trash can with their opposites. Even if it starts smelling or maggots get out, we pretend not to notice and paint the world in bright colors. America, for example, could be seen as having gained and maintained its prosperity by forcing its own negatives on Third World countries.
Asahi: In the face of the disaster, one of the characters repeats the same time period in a loop several times. Her struggle to stop the event fills the viewer with pity. The usage of such loop has become a common form of expression since the last decade.
Urobuchi: I think it’s a useful way of conveying the feeling of entrapment. The panic of 1999 didn’t bring the end of the world. In the 80’s and 90’s there was a lot of shouting and worrying that the end might come, and many images of the apocalypse, like the nuclear war fallout, were created in the public mind.
Asahi: The end didn’t come, but it’s not like the situation has improved. Is seems those troubled days will never end.
Urobuchi: There is no absolute justice and no absolute conclusion. In the anime series, there is a scene where one magical girl argues that “By trusting in hope, you only bring about equally strong despair. The world is made to keep its final balance at zero.” Even if we chase after hope, despair is sure to follow. We must be willing to accept this from the beginning. To make some tempura, we have to throw out the oil used. It is impossible to create something beautiful without producing waste matter in the process.
Asahi: The nuclear reactors which were supposed to bring us abundant life now spread radioactive material. “Desires which go against logic bring about distortions”, this anime line sounds like a fitting aphorism for this situation.
Urobuchi: Now everyone goes on and on about saving electricity, but we should have thought about a world which doesn’t require such dangerous things to be built in the first place. I thought we were aware of the risk of radioactive pollution when we wished for the brilliant Christmas illuminations.
Asahi: But isn’t it that humans cannot live without desiring something?
Urobuchi: Getting back to Al-Qaeda, the desire to lead the world in the right direction is not wrong in itself. The decision Madoka, the main character, makes at the end of the series is the result of her not wanting to deny the fact that the magical girls held hope.