Puella Magi Madoka Magica is many parts tearjerking and horrific, but awesome moments are luckily one of them as well.
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Episode 1 - As If I Met Her in My Dream...
- First scene of the series; Madoka watches another girl fight a collosal monster on her own. When Kyubey tells her she has the ability to help, she shows little hesitation in doing just that. We learn later that this is truly a scene for Homura. Fighting a witch that she's witnessed kill many other magical girls takes guts.
- Mami's first battle scene in Episode 1. With the familiars closing in and Madoka and Sayaka trapped, a burst of light appears and Mami transforms for the first time... her theme starts playing as she raises into the air and summons dozens if not hundreds of floating magic muskets, all with a gentle smile on her face. Even with knowledge of everything that happens afterward, this scene never fails to be awe-inspiring. This is pictured above.
Episode 2 - That Would Be Truly Wonderful
- Mami's fight against Gertrud is pretty cool and especially when she whips out Tiro Finale.
Episode 3 - I'm Not Afraid of Anything Anymore
- Mami casually dual-wields the Tiro Finale, incapacitating Homura, and then creating a field of rifles so she could casually wield the rifles both as rifles, and as bats for close-quarters combat, smoothly transitioning from firing away to swinging away.
Episode 4 - Miracles and Magic Are Real
- Madoka's first act of heroism in the current timeline, that is. Here she saves Hitomi and several others from Psychic-Assisted Suicide when they were under the influence of a witch. Sure, she was understandably scared, but she was willing to face her fears in order to prevent people from dying, and that is what defines courage.
Episode 5 - There's No Way I'll Ever Regret It
- Kyoko's introduction to Madoka and Sayaka was this for her, especially for those who enjoy her more sinister side. She displays the skills of a veteran Puella Magi, and what a set of skills it is. She beats Sayaka around with her superior strength, speed and skill, all while using her sectioned spear to trounce her rival in the restricted alley way and giving a big "The Reason You Suck" Speech guided by her twisted, terrifying (by Madoka and Sayaka's standards) set of morals. And munching on a taiyaki the whole time.
- Even though Kyoko severely outclassed her, even though she needed Homura to save her, Sayaka held her own. Kyoko had extra seeds to keep her powered, along with years worth of experience and skill, and Sayake held her own in what they admit was a fight TO THE DEATH. She blocks the tip of Kyoko's spear, with the tip of her sword!
- The way Homura uses Time Stands Still to break up the fight (literally) in the blink of an eye. The fact that it comes with a slow-mo Oh, Crap! look from Kyoko and a Hair Flip with the battle music playing just screams badass.
Episode 6 - This Just Can't Be Right
Episode 7 - Can You Face Your True Feelings?
- Sayaka rejects Kyoko's ideals while still understanding her. Despite her trauma and feeling like shit she reaffirms her status as The Cape. The Crowning Music of Awesome definitely helped.
Sayaka: I had the wrong idea about you from the beginning. I'm sorry about that, so forgive me. But still, I don't have any regrets about using my wish for someone else and I've decided that from now on, I'm never gonna regret anything ever again.
- The ending.
- Sayaka: I can do this on my own. Get out of my way.
- As utterly tragic and horrifying as Kyoko's backstory is, one thing about it stands out upon rewatching the show. One of the things that causes Magical Girls to turn into Witches is reaching the absolute lowest point in their lives, giving up on all hope and any sense of self-preservation. Kyoko went through something as horrible as her father killing himself and her entire family because of her actions, and despite it ruining her world view and tramatizing her, she still didn't witch-out and lived long enough to eventually die peacefully on her own terms. That's a huge indicator of how tough she is.
Episode 8 - I Was Stupid, So Stupid
- Kyoko figures out that if she holds onto Homura then she can't use her powers to escape. She figures this out from a surprise attack. You know this girl's a veteran when she invokes It Only Works Once.
- How does Homura break her grip? She pulls out a flash grenade.
- Homura used Time Stop magic to riddle Kyubey with a clip full of bullets instantaneously, just before Madoka can seal a Deal with the Devil. That scene is pure fanservice for people who hate Kyubey.
- Major props to the animators at the end of Episode 8. Even if you already knew magical girls became witches, the pure impact drawn when you see Sayaka's Soul Gem explode into a Grief Seed and the world reformat before your very eyes is still massive. Would anyone have imagined that becoming a witch would look like that?
Episode 10 - I Won't Rely on Anyone Anymore
- When Homura Akemi is revealed to be an ex-Shrinking Violet that Took a Level in Badass. In particular, when she starts mowing down witches with a M249 SAW.
- After watching Madoka putter around and cry for nine episodes, the tenth treats us to the Madoka of the original timeline, who makes a stand alone against Walpurgisnacht despite Homura's pleading for the two to flee together. She apparently succeeds off-screen, only to die in the fight.
- Madoka scores one of these in each alternate timeline. Sure, they go from being beautiful to being tragic, and climaxing with when she one-shots Walpurgis Night seconds before becoming Kriemhild Gretchen, but they always inspire awe.
- Also keep in mind that Walpurgisnacht is the most powerful witch in existence at least before Madoka becomes a witch herself. Madoka being able to succeed in killing it during the first timeline, albeit at the cost of her own life, will always remain an awesome feat. Not even Homura's multiple fights with it, even resorting to stealing an entire country's arsenal, could replicate Madoka's accomplishment.
- The triumphant (sort of) return of Mami, fighting alongside a magical girl Madoka in the first timeline, and saving Homura Just in Time. This is made all the more majestic by Mami's theme playing during the scene.
- The fact that Homura always managed to survive. Across at least a hundred timelines, fighting countless witches, and carrying who knows how much psychological trauma, she's always managed to survive whatever the universe throws at her. All through her sheer determination to save her best friend.
Episode 11 - The Only Thing I Have Left to Guide Me
- Madoka gets one by calmly, clearly and rationally talking her mom into leaving her shelter and going out into the storm created by Walpurgisnacht - and her mother Junko gets hers by understanding that Madoka is mature enough to take such a dangerous decision and live with the consequences. That scene was probably the most understated awesome moment in the entire series in being one that could apply to a mother and daughter in the real world (as opposed to all the magical combat elsewhere in this list) and it shows just how much trust both mother and daughter have in each other and how both have the courage to stand up to a life-threatening situation.
- Homura's fight against Walpurgisnacht with her shooting it with a few hundred RPG-7s, AT-4s, and M224 mortars, hitting it with a semi truck (which exploded), and summoning a battery of Type-88 Surface to Ship Missiles to catch her fall into the ocean and blast away at the witch. Who then lands in a stadium filled with a few hundred landmines. In short, Homura stole the entire fucking military!
- Walpurgisnacht gets a CMOA herself for having the kind of presence that makes Homura's plans above seem justified instead of overkill. Especially when they don't work.
- The final scene transitions into and completely contextualizes the show's second end credits sequence, Magia, which is revealed as a foreshadow of the finale the entire time. The first silhouette shows Madoka, facing her destiny so she can stop Walpurgisnacht and save everyone. The silhouettes she passes of Sayaka, Kyoko, and Mami, are all motionless, because they are all dead now. Only Homura's silhouette reacts, reaching for Madoka, trying to stop her from going through with it.
Episode 12 - My Very Best Friend
- The way the showrunners used the opening song, "Connect", qualifies. It is a normal bouncy magical girl opening, which seems to become Soundtrack Dissonance as the series gets darker. In Episode 10, the viewer gets the impression that Homura is singing it, which makes it a tearjerker, since it emphasizes her despair. Then this is turned on its head in Episode 12, when it seems as if Madoka and/or Homura is singing it as an affirmation that they will never give up, and the new universe will never fall into despair (Madoka), and/or the people of that universe will be protected (Homura). The lyrics make sense no matter which way you're looking at them.
- The Madoka of the current timeline shows that she's going to protect everyone with one last heroic speech right before she makes her wish.
Madoka: I wish... [takes a deep breath] I wish I had the power to erase witches before they're born. Every single witch from the past, present, and future everywhere.
Kyubey: That wish! Once it's granted, it will unravel the fabric of time itself! It violates the laws of karmic destiny! Are you trying to become a god!?
Madoka: I don't care what I become. All the Magical Girls who believed in hope and fought witches, I don't want them to suffer or cry anymore. I want them to be at peace, and if that goes against the laws of the universe then I'll just rewrite those laws. That's the only thing I want. It's what I wish for. Now grant my wish, Incubator!
- This is the first time we hear Madoka speak with authority, no hesitation whatsoever. She KNOWS what she's doing and she KNOWS Kyubey has no choice but to help.
- Kyuubey shows Homura how Madoka will meet her end. From her comet-like Soul Gem, an enormous shadowy form engulfs the Earth and begins to destroy it. In bringing enough hope to create a new universe, in the end, she will release enough despair to destroy the universe. Then Madoka reappears as a goddess, takes aim at even that shadow of despair, and utterly destroys it.
Madoka: I wished for the power to erase all witches. And if what I wished for really did come true, then even I don't have a thing to worry about. Ever!
- The fact that Madoka never lost hope for a happy ending. Even when Homura was giving in and even when audience already had. (Gen Urobuchi isn't known for his happy endings).
- The Stinger. Homura racing towards six towering wraiths, carried on vast wings made of a witch's barrier; the eternal champion of humanity.