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Humanities 2016, 5(2), 20; doi:10.3390/h5020020

Becoming the Labyrinth: Negotiating Magical Space and Identity in Puella Magi Madoka Magica

Department of English, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH 43210, USA
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Academic Editor: Claudia Schwabe
Received: 2 March 2016 / Revised: 30 March 2016 / Accepted: 30 March 2016 / Published: 6 April 2016
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Fairy Tale and its Uses in Contemporary New Media and Popular Culture)
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Abstract

In the magical girl anime series Puella Magi Madoka Magica, middle-school girls receive the power and responsibility to fight witches in exchange for making a wish. The series has connections to many different genres and narrative traditions within the realm of folkloristics. However, the folkloric genre most relevant to the ethos and aesthetics of Madoka is that of the fairy tale. Drawing on Bill Ellis’s concept of “fairy-telling” and scholarship on new media composition, in this paper we seek to investigate labyrinths as acts of embodied composing—not lairs of evil or destruction but rather creative material memory work that negotiates grief and despair. Many of the series’ action sequences unfold in “labyrinths,” the magical spaces controlled by witches. By composing a labyrinth, witches can simultaneously reshape their environment and create a powerful statement about identity through personalized performance in narrative spaces that they control. In particular, we argue that both the frameworks of “fairy tale” and “new media” give us useful analytical resources for beginning to make sense of the intricately complex phenomenon of Madoka’s labyrinths. View Full-Text
Keywords: fairy tale; new media; anime; magical girl; labyrinth; Madoka fairy tale; new media; anime; magical girl; labyrinth; Madoka
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Cleto, S.; Bahl, E.K. Becoming the Labyrinth: Negotiating Magical Space and Identity in Puella Magi Madoka Magica. Humanities 2016, 5, 20.

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