These are what we call the 'YMMV items.' Things that some people find in this work. We call them 'your mileage might vary' because not everyone sees these things in the same way. This starts discussions in the trope lists, a thing we don't want. Please use the discussion page if you'd like to discuss any of these items.
YMMV: Puella Magi Madoka Magica
Alternate Aesop Interpretation: The series is supposed to be about hope ultimately triumphing over despair, and the need to hold onto hope, even if it's after a long,longroad. The characters turn into witches when they give up hope, and in the end, Madoka becomes hope itself. However, it could also be interpreted as "think before you act, and trust reason over emotion — or for best results combine both, using logic and reason to accomplish a morally sound goal".
Most of the series sees immature and irrational characters getting screwed over by an emotionless Manipulative Bastard because they don't think things through. Meanwhile, he's winning - he is accomplishing his goals.
Mami Tomoe, who usually fights in a calm, measured manner, dies when she starts fighting more aggressively and recklessly, allowing her emotions to get the better of her and focusing on winning the battle quickly for her friend (and arguably putting on a show for said friend) rather than winning safely.
The ultimate triumph of Madoka becoming the living embodiment of hope happened because Madoka Kaname took the time to gather all the information she could, get the full picture, and then use that information to make a well-reasoned wish to solve as many of the problems as she could.
Kyosuke Kamijou: Is he a stuck-up, painfully Oblivious to Love jerk who is too wrapped up in the loss of his musical ability to appreciate his friends' well meaning gestures, or similar to Sayaka, a Broken Bird who's been denied his life's dream and sees himself as useless (especially since Japan has less societal tolerance for the disabled), or a little of both?
Similar to Hitomi, his actions in the PSP game have exacerbated this debate; after he finds out what the MG process did to Sayaka, and calls her a "disgusting monster" to her face... on the other hand, the Bonus Route goes the opposite end, with him approving of Sayaka being a Magical Girl.
A Different Story shows that had Sayaka waited just a few more days, Kyosuke would have thanked her for all the time she had spent taking care of him at the hospital and admitting that he should've done it sooner.
There is a hefty fandom subset that believes Kyubey planned out the ending despite the fact that it goes against his character of being canonically emotionless and thus having no sympathy at all for the magical girls that are turned into witches. He even mentions that witches would be a more convenient way for him to collect energy.
Kyubey isn't the devil. Kyubey is the society we live in, which takes up and preys on young girls at vulnerable times in their lives, and asks them to be perfect. Society asks girls to fight against evil, the icky, awful, and impure, and it keeps asking until we say yes. Yes to being beautiful, and perfect, and good, and pure, and sweet, yes to being a nice young lady, yes to fighting everything that is bad and evil and dangerous - to fighting the things that threaten us and our friends.
Except there's a catch. We're fighting ourselves. What they don't tell you, society, or Kyubey in this metaphor, is that there is no way to prevent yourself from becoming what you started out fighting. You lose, in this scenario, every time. At some point, a young, "emotionally volatile" girl grows up and becomes a woman. One day, you hit puberty, or maybe you haven't yet, and someone leers at you, or looks at you wrong, or calls after you and you are suddenly made aware of the fact that being a woman is dangerous. Growing up means something incredibly different for girls than it does boys.
Furthermore, was her wish to redo time to protect Madoka out of a genunine desire to save her best friend or simply to validate her own existence? This can also generally apply to all her actions afterwards.
And was Homura really doing a good thing by wishing to redo time to save Madoka, especially since that Madoka had already accepted that she would die defeating Walpurgisnacht?
Kyoko's behavior and her motivation for following Sayaka around surprisingly makes a lot of sense if you imagine that she has a one-sided crush on Sayaka.
More on Kyoko: when she sacrificed her Soul Gem to die alongside Sayaka, was it also because she wanted to die on her own terms instead of becoming a witch?
Is Hitomi a bitch who directly caused Sayaka's death? A generally decent person who made an insensitive remark at exactly the wrong time? Was she really in love with Kyousuke, or was she just trying to help her friend confess? On a less serious note, many wonder if she's actually in the Transparent Closet.
Madoka herself, for not accomplishing much for most of the series despite being the main character, although Episode 10 and onwards justify the entire matter, and show that she was an active, asskicking protagonist in previous timelines before Homura determined it was too dangerous for her. However, she redeemed herself to a portion of the fanbase for ending the magical girl-witch cycle, but the ending itself is an entirely different matter.
There are also those who believe Madoka to be a Mary Sue due to the implications that she is the most powerful character in the series, again, despite not doing anything. However, just like many other tropes in the series, this is deconstructed, explained and justified to hell and back; again, Homura is the one to make Madoka more powerful with every timeline, and it therefore becomes even more crucial for Homura to prevent her best friend from becoming a magical girl. Or so it seems.
The characters involved in the Sayaka-Kyosuke-HitomiLove Triangle are controversial as people have different opinions on who was to blame for the tragic results.
The ending made some people thrilled for being the most perfect ending that absolutely fits the themes and tones of the series, and left others wanting to kill Shaft for making a non Grim Dark cop-out ending and Madoka a Jesus figure and making them wait weeks for it.
Sayaka: with her water motif, headstrong nature, and her calling herself a bakain a crucial part of the story, it's inevitable that she would be compared to Cirno, the boastful yet childishice fairy of Touhou.
Mami/Charlotte is a little too popular. Even Ume Aoki seems to ship it!
Mami/Kyoko used to be considered crack, because they never met during the story proper. Then the 3rd Drama CD revealed Kyoko and Mami used to be very close friends before Kyoko's family died. Later the manga The Different Story expanded upon their relationship. Now they're one of the more popular pairings.
Mami/Homura, despite the fact that both girls have little in common. Homura and Mami were on friendly terms... until Mami snapped and tried to kill Homura, followed by Homura's Break the Cutie moment.
The process of becoming a magical girl is much like the fates of the girls in Red Garden: the girls inhabit lifeless bodies and must fight monsters when summoned as the result of a curse.
Sayaka's dealings with Kyubey can bring to mind Anakin Skywalker's dealings with Darth Sidious, seeing how they both end up becoming deluded fanatics who do what they do for the people they love and fall to the Dark Side, becoming hideous monsters in the process. Luckily, like Vader becoming Anakin in the afterlife, the same thing happens to Sayaka when Madoka takes her away.
The concept of being a Magical Girl is quite similar to the life of a geohound in Grandia II. They are both thankless, dead-end jobs which involve killing monsters with some kind of weapon or another. Both are taken up due to terrible circumstances surrounding the person accepting it. (Ryudo in his own story also says at one point, that he works best alone even if he's up against a ton of monsters; so do most Magical Girls.)
Some comparisons with Kamen Rider Ryuki given that Madoka's plot is arguably a giant love letter to it.
The concept of Witches could very easily be compared to the entire plot of The Halloween Hack. Both have Eldritch Abominations born from despair, psychedelic worlds that envelop them and represent everything that led to their downfall, monsters let loose into the real world as a result, and a "hero" whose job is to kill the one(s) behind said monsters roaming around.
Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy: Between the characters' unwillingness to listen to each other and the overall hopelessness, some viewers wonder why they should care. See the variant mentioned on the main page and this trope's page.
Die for Our Ship: A portion of the fanbase now despises Hitomi for confessing to Kyosuke and, unbeknownst to her, breaking Sayaka mentally and emotionally which turned her into a witch and thus killing her and the person who Mercy Killed her. It's full of Moral Myopia because the major part of her haters insist on how Hitomi's worth and goodness as a person relies solely on renouncing her own happiness, when Sayaka has the exact some flaw on her end—in fact one of the lessons of her arc is that renouncing your own happiness leads to bad things.
Kyoko is a cynical, antisocial Social Darwinist prone to Ax-Crazy moments and allows familiars to kill people so they can become Witches that produce Grief Seeds. She mocks Sayaka's wish and goads her into fighting. (She starts to show a softer side after learning the Awful Truth and then trying to speak to Sayaka)... but the fandom adores her. This was from before her genuinely Dark and Troubled Past was revealed.
Some of the actual witches; it's understandable given The Reveal about witches being fallen magical girls, but the fans were Moe-ifying Charlotte (i.e., the witch who ate Mami alive) long before any of that.
Mami and Kyoko - the two least important Magical Girls to the overall plot (and the only ones not to qualify, or pretend to qualify, as The Hero), but the second- and third- most popular characters in many circles, behind the inevitable Homura. This may be why both of them got A Day in the Limelight in the Puella Magi Oriko Magica spinoff.
Out of all the witches, Charlotte has a respectable amount of fanart despite appearing for all of two minutes. Even though she's an Eldritch Abomination, many fans find her adorable; having a face that wouldn't look out of place next to Hello Kitty helps with that. The biggest reason for her popularity is likely her status as the Knight of Cerebus — most of the artwork of her is with Mami, albeit usually under a more benign setting. Also, with the revelation that witches are corrupted magical girls, there's now fanart popping up depicting what Charlotte might have looked like as a human.
A nameless, faceless classmate was the subject of an image macro, captioned "Poorfag is poor", because she was the only student who had no laptop. When the Blu-rays were released and the fans got a better look of "Poorfag", her popularity soared.
Another background character, a boy nicknamed "Failurefag", also became memetic, sitting behind Madoka while slumping in apparent frustration.
Everyone Is Jesus in Purgatory: Madoka sacrifices herself for humanity in the final episode and becomes a goddess. The episode first aired on Good Friday.note This is because the final two episodes were delayed in release in respect of the tsunami that left some of Japan looking rather like some of the endings of timelines in episode 10; that episode airing the same day.
When Madoka gets worried about Sayaka's well-being due to the latter's strong sense of justice, Madoka's mother tells her to do something wrong to balance it out. While the qualifier she adds makes it valid advice (that it's easier to recover from mistakes while you're still young, and learning to pick yourself up will be a valuable skill as an adult), this advice might be what possessed Madoka to snatch Sayaka's Soul Jar and throw it off a bridge above a freeway.
Fanfic Fuel: The premise and setting gives a lot of fuel.
Magical girl OCs as Kyubey made contracts with a lot of girls before the main narrative.
There's plenty of stories on the magical girl forums of the canon witches.
Homura's constant timeline jumping also leaves people to wonder what she did in offscreen timelines.
The finale provides fanfics with a post-Madoka world and how people deal with it, and the vague nature of the demons that replaced the witches. Some fans also ignore that Madoka's little brother Tatsuya eventually forgets about her in some fanfics.
Rewatching early episodes is kind of uncomfortable in light of certain events.
Kazuko's wacky ramblings about her failed relationships. In the first episode she warns the girls about men who judge women by the eggs they can prepare. Incubator turns out to be exactly that kind of guy. In Episode 4 she goes off on a tangent about biological eligibility having nothing to do with finding or pursuing love. Unfortunately Sayaka is in no state to listen and only gets worse. It's also possible that, in light of what happens to Sayaka, her frustration, instead of something to be taken lightly, might be a symptom of deep depression.
In Episode 2, the line "Don't worry, I won't lose my head in front of my future juniors" is said. Just guess who said that and why it was a very wrong thing to say.
Faux Symbolism: There is no way that Homura could be Faust, Madoka couldn't possibly be Gretchen, and Kyubey representing Mephistopheles/Satan? Patently absurd. There are outright quotes, and symbols referencing Faust.
Gateway Series: Along with Attack on Titan, this show has become one of the biggest introductions to anime for many newcomers to the medium in recent years.
Genius Bonus: This show is crammed full of it, from the Shout Outs to obscure 19th century literature and musicians, mythological references, Faust quotes, and coded runic fonts. Sometimes you have to pause and zoom in on a tiny portion of a frame to find some of them.
Physicists will laugh when they realize that Kyubey is Maxwell's Demon.
The outside of Homura's house is reminiscent of a locale in the video game Shadow Of Destiny. Some of the possible titles used before they settled on the final one were The Day and Night of Walpurgisnacht, Days of Walpurgis, and Time Adventure. Sounds like a regular Shout-Out, no? The game is about a man who travels back in time to prevent his death multiple times, which it turns out is very similar to what Homura is trying to do with Madoka.
The witch Oktavia von Seckendorff who was once Sayaka. Her name comes from Karl Siegmund von Seckendorff, who composed for "Der König in Thule", the poem that appears in Goethe's Faust, as well as wrote a book called "Das Rad des Schicksals" (The Wheel of Fate). Oktavia fights by throwing wheels, and the word "Schicksal" appears in her labyrinth. Also, the Wheel of Fate (or Fortune) is a tarot card which symbolizes "possibilities, opportunities, new developments, sudden changes"; a rather apt description of Sayaka's life after meeting Kyubey.
Germans Love David Hasselhoff: One of the only magical girl series that has a decent sized fandom in America. On a character level, Homura is really well received in the US (and for Higurashi fans).
Americans Hate Sayaka: On the contrary, most US fans don't like Sayaka for being too angsty and un-heroic.
Glurge: Some people think that Episode 12's ending message falls under this.
It's unfortunate that Mami just so happened to wear her Soul Gem as a hair dec, since she loses it along with her head.
Mami tying up Homura in Episode 3. In the third timeline, after finding out that Magical Girls become witches from Sayaka turning into Octavia, Mami attempted to Mercy Kill the rest of the group to prevent the same fate from happening to them, by shooting Kyoko and tying Homura up, leaving her powerless to do anything and only being saved by Madoka killing Mami.
Madoka talking to Homura, Episode 4: "I get the feeling you're a veteran at this too...and I guess you've seen lots of people die horribly, haven't you?" Yes, Madoka, she has. Including you. This entire conversation is awful. It ends with Madoka promising to never forget Homura. Not only has she repeatedly "forgotten" her in multiple timelines, but everyone (except Homura) will also forget Madoka once she becomes God.
In Episode 2, Madoka asks Homura what she wished for when she became a magical girl. It's a perfectly innocent question that becomes horrible if you've seen the show to the end. In fact if you watch the show twice, the first few episodes just seem like an exercise in how much Homura can be utterly tormented by otherwise innocuous comments.
Look at these◊ adorable pictures from Madoka's childhood after finishing the show.
In Episode 10, the Sayaka in a previous timeline asks if Homura can use any weapons other than bombs because she thinks she might get caught up in one of the explosions. Later in that timeline, guess how Witch!Sayaka is defeated?
In a more Meta example, Episode 10 featured the image of a destroyed and flooded Japanese city. Shortly after it aired, Japan got hit with a massive earthquake and tsunami.
Over late October and early November 2012, history repeats itself, as the International release of the Madoka compilation movies sees the US hit by Hurricane Sandy. Ouch.
Rebellion comes out, and a few weeks later the Philippines gets hit by a typhoon.
There is a doujin involving Mami saved from her gruesome death by Guts (it's in the Fan Fic Recommendations page). Cue the English dub cast, it's announced that Mami will be voiced by Carrie Keranen, Casca's voice actress.
April 21, 2011: Episode 11 airs. Homura, having previously stolen a few truckloads of Type 88 antiship missiles from the JGSDF, fires them off at Walpurgisnacht. April 21, 2011: In Real Life, the JGSDF's 6th Surface-to-Ship Missile Regiment, which uses Type 88 missiles, is disbanded.
Knowing that the show is going to be a tragedy series can easily put people off, and if you aren't a fan of those kinds of stories, you aren't going to like this series as much as it fans will.
Hearing all the hype about this series as a Deconstruction of magical girls can be annoying to people that have already watched series that have done that (particularly since a noticeable portion of Madoka's fanbase has Small Reference Pools regarding the genre), on top of people who find deconstruction very irritating in the first place.
Idiot Plot: So much grief could have been avoided if the girls were more willing to talk things out with each other, and above all, ask questions. This is justified as the characters are mainly young girls who are barely teenage and selected by Kyubey for the wide range between hope and despair.
The debates over whether the proper term is "magical girl", "puella magi", or "mahou shojo" will go on forever.
Mentioning this series on /m/ will get... interesting reactions from toku fans who note similarities with Kamen Rider Ryuki.
Calling Puella Magi Madoka Magica a "feminist" series will cause lots of fights on Tumblr. Particularly, people will argue about Values Dissonance regarding Japanese vs. white feminism, Death of the Author, and the validity of Gen Urobochi's comments when he compares magical girls to Al-Qaeda.
Even people who haven't watched the show at all know that Charlotte dropped a bridge on Mami.
An interesting case with Kyubey. If you've heard anything at all about this show, the first thing you're likely to have heard is that Kyubey is the ultimate evil of everything that exists and should die in a fire. Ironically, it's not as simpleas it sounds.
Kyoko. Her father founded a new church, but the general public dismissed his teachings as heretical, so Kyoko used her wish to brainwash the crowd into believing in her father's religion. After he found out about this, he became crazyand killed the whole family. Probably the only reason Kyoko survived was because she was a lich by that time. Yep, she had to live through a lot of crap in her life... but it still doesn't justify how much of an ass she was at the beginning and neither does it excuse how she's used to bash Madoka.
Sayaka is also a hopeless girl who becomes a magical girl out of eagerness for Kyosuke's love. Though despite the fact that the aforementioned decision ends up being her own fault, at the end of the day, she's just a teenage girl who didn't deserve everything that happens to her.
LGBT Fanbase: While PMMM is popular with yuri fans of all genders and sexualities, it seems to have picked up an unusually large fandom of lesbian and bi/pansexual women. This may be because the relationships between the heroines are treated seriously, with Les Yay used for drama and plot advancement much more than it's used as fanservice.
Love to Hate: Kyubey. Most of the fans would love to see him die horribly, yet he's also a Fountain of Memes and the source of much humor and entertainment in the fandom.
Sayaka's interest in Kyosuke is oddly similar to that of the "nice guy" archetype, expecting Kyosuke to love her in return for doing something for him. It's seen as romantic rather than the proper Deconstruction it is.
The fandom is divided on when he becomes an Acceptable Target (the infamous 'Everybody hates Kyubey' pool in Danbooru (NSFW) stands as eternal proof of this), but the most commonly believed Moral Event Horizon crossings are either when he mislead Kyoko into believing that Sayaka could be saved after turning into a witch which leads to her Heroic Sacrifice and leaving Homura as the only Puella Magi to fight Walpurgisnacht - all in hopes that Madoka would contract with him, or his casually delivered line asking Madoka to give his kind a call when she'd be ready to die for the universe.
Kyoko's father killing his entire family after finding out that his older daughter's wish was the only reason for his popularity, and then killing himself too. Kyoko survived but ended up bitter and amoral.
The signature head-tilt can turn a serious and dramatic moment narmy given how unnatural it looks.
Homura breaking down and crying in the last episode as Madoka is about to fade away. The last few times Homura cried during the series, it was genuinely heartbreaking, and a real indicator of just how pear-shaped things had gotten. The last one, however, came out as a kind of "Eeee...EEEEHUEEEEEEeeeeEEEEeeeeEEEE". It was...well, just a touch goofy.
In Episode 10, during the scene where Madoka asks Homura to Mercy Kill her, Homura does a quick transformation... making a cutsey "Poing!" noise in the process. Only the fact that this is by far the most heart-wrenching scene in the whole series keeps it from being regular old Narm.
If all the fanart and official merchandise showing them together is any indication, Charlotte will be remembered for one thing and one thing only — killing Mami, and, to a slightly lesser extent, Mami will be remembered only for being killed by Charlotte. See the Memetic Sex God entry above for the other reason.
Paranoia Fuel: Witches are everywhere and they are responsible for suicides. What's worse, they are invisible to normal humans until you wander into their lair, wherein you will be killed in a horrific way. That friend of yours online that just killed herself? Could have been because of a witch. Wanna take that shortcut through the alleyway? Could walk in right into a witches' lair. You are never safe.
Replacement Scrappy: As any fic writer will tell you, compared to the witches, the wraiths are just kind of bland. Before the release of the movie Rebellion, it was expected that the wraiths would get more attention and exposition on in the movie, due to a lack of such from the end of anime; however, they do not make a single appearance in the movie, aside from mere mentions. Because of this, some have come to view wraiths as a pointless, filler enemy that really just ends up being there, because something had to take over the witches after they all were erased at the end of the anime.
Sayaka. In an /a/ poll she was the least popular of the five main characters as of Episode 10, but the hatred for her seems to have cooled since the show ended. This is likely due to her accepting her fate as a magical girl in the last episode.
Hitomi gets a lot of flak from the fanbase because she told Sayaka that she has 24 hours to tell Kyosuke her feelings, or else she will confess, and this causes trouble with Sayaka (who feels she can't confess because of what she has become as a Magical Girl), or simply they think Sayaka would be better with him.
Strawman Has a Point: As cruel as Kyoko's Social Darwinist outlook may seem, her belief that helping others would only lead to trouble is accurate in light of the series' universe. Both Kyoko and Sayaka's contracts came back to bite them horribly, Madoka's attempt to cheer Mami up by promising to fight alongside her distracted the latter in a fight, leading to her death, and finally the whole dark series began from Homura making a wish to prevent Madoka's death resulting in a progressively worse Ground Hog Day Loop.
Arguably, this even extends to Madoka's wish, considering the events of Rebellion.
Mami's Soul Gem now has little flowers fluttering around it. These flowers also appear during her transformation and general use of her powers. It's both Narmy and unusual considering no one else's Soul Gems do anything similar.
Mami's apartment has been changed from having the most basic pieces of furniture and a blank hardwood floor to being decked out with pastel upholstery and stuffed animals everywhere. Detractors argue that the minimalistic version did a good job of highlighting Mami's depression due to complete lack of friends and family.
Among various architectural edits to the town, the school rooftop's chainlink fence was replaced with a very ornate white one. There would be no problem if they had re-drawn Sayaka's hand as she clutches the fence; the orientation of her fingers makes no sense with the new fence.
The Sayaka/Kyoko fight gets better shading, but in every other aspect the new artwork arguably looks worse than the originals.
Some of the changes in the movies are not well received, such the removal of certain scenes and changing of music (for example, "Nux Walpurgis" in Eternal Story being changed to a second playing of "Surgam Identidem", arguably diminishing the emotion impact of the scene). Some of the arguments are rather ridiculous, though; apparently the focus of a broken pipe in an alley dripping water is much more important to the series than Mami's back-story.
Poor Mami. She's a Cool Big Sis and Lady of War who can summon a sky full of muskets. She dies in the third episode.
Just as she starts to get over her Jerkass tendencies, Kyoko dies.
True Art Is Angsty: Not the case here. Despite all the trauma and hardship, there's an uplifting and positive ending.
Uncanny Valley: Kyubey's blank and never-changing expression makes looking at it's face, particularly when it is "talking" unnerving.
Unintentionally Unsympathetic: Kyosuke, noted under The Scrappy, even people that don't hate usually don't think he comes off as sympathetic since a decent chunk of his screen time consists of him being a Jerkass out of frustration of his injury. Realistic, yes, but people usually don't sympathize with somebody they don't see being anything likable.
Vanilla Protagonist: This is a Invoked Trope. Madoka Kaname believes there's nothing special about herself and this feeling is highlighted by the four other members of the main cast becoming Magical Girls, and beating the crap out of witches and each other. As the story goes on, we find out that this is justified, as mahou shoujo in the series are doomed to become the very witches they fight, and Homura has been keeping Madoka in this role to protect her. In the end Madoka becomes an ultimate savior.
The Woobie: Everyone in the whole series (aside from Kyubey) makes the viewers want to give them a big hug and tell them that all will end well.
Sayaka due to her heartbreaking breakdown, but also because Word Of God has declared that she can't be saved in any timeline. Poor girl.
Kyoko's backstory implies she's an Iron Woobie herself. It's impressive she didn't immediately turn into a witch after her family was murdered by her freaking out father.
The witches themselves count as a Woobie Species because they're fallen magical girls.
Woolseyism: At the end of the series, in the original Japanese the new monsters that replace witches are called "majuu", which literally means "magical beast". The fansubs for the anime simply translated the world as "demon", but the official subtitles use "wraith" instead. Not only does the latter better fit their appearance, it also preserves an additional meaning in the original Japanese: the word "majuu" is very similar to "majo", the Japanese word for witch, reflecting the idea that the former are a replacement for the latter. In English "wraith" and "witch" also possess some of this similarity; they both start with "w", end in "h", and have an "it" in the middle.
What Do You Mean, It's Not For Little Girls?: Hey, look at this show where the cast are all cute little girls who wear cute dresses and can do magic — did that girl's head just get eaten by that clown-caterpillar creature?! It gets worse from there.