Is Madoka Magica a Satire of Capitalism?
There are a surprising number of similarities between the anime universe of Madoka Magica and our current economic system. I didn't just make this up, I've been thinking about it for a few months now. After sufficient time, I have made this completely up and even wrote a log line and story beats in case any aspiring script writers are interested in making an adaptation based on the idea. Here goes the theory…
First, the pun between a soul gem bearing magical girl and a singularly owned sole-proprietorship seems overly obvious, but it's just the tip of the iceberg for everything about the show being analogous to some economic feature or system. There is the feeding cycle between pedestrian consumers, witch corporations, and a magical girl sole-proprietorship; where people feed witches their money, defeated witches rejuvenate magical girls' spent assets, and occasionally a magical girl that loses faith in her cause becomes corrupted and incorporates into a publicly traded C-Corp… I mean, she transforms into a soulless witch.
Let's delve deeper into the contracts formed between incubators (QBs) and the magical girls (private, entrepreneurial citizens). There is nothing in a contract that obligates a magical girl to become a witch, it's simply the logical outcome of an indefinite period where specific circumstances will cause her to transform. This is similarly not a guaranteed requirement in the real world either. Indeed, Homura not only survived an indefinite number of iterations of her one month with Madoka and the others, she even proves that one need not ever transform based on her staying a magical girl past the end of the show (until the QBs forced her into a hopeless prison for the movie). The show had some natural deux ex machina law that required magical girls to transform, and reality could go in that direction too with specific circumstances. Let's say that a small business is failing and has a lot of debtors. Courts can seize the company (the owner's assets) and distribute either assets or revenues to debtors to settle the debt. If there is a single debtor, such as a bank, or is a single debtor with enough capital to buy out the others in exchange for exclusive control, such as a bank, then that debtor has total control to how the company ends its existence; which could include being sold to a venture capitalist, being incorporated and being sold via stock offering, or simply being liquidated for cash. Most banks will liquidate assets and hope to cover losses, but a savvy bank might invest in a freshly failed venture just to sell it on the stock market as a publicly traded corporation. Example: Warren Buffet's first business acquisition was an insurance company, and he bought it specifically because it had a high asset to debt ratio that he could leverage for other investments without breaking any laws. Any bank with a similar strategy might even write specific clauses to trigger this situation into their loan agreements; say for a certain asset to debt ratio or requiring minimum valuation to retain autonomy. The suspension in disbelief for this theory to work is that some bank out there would actually adopt the policy of investing in failure for hopes of a successful IPO. Failing that suspension of disbelief, we can still acknowledge that this could happen, even if we doubt that it would happen.
The fights between witches and magical girls is beautifully illustrated on screen, but all that magical flash could also just be an abstraction for the negotiations between businesses during a merger. This is especially relevant for a hostile take over. Let's say that a magical girl's sole-proprietorship wants to eliminate a witch's corporation from her city. The girl might try to buy out the corporation's stock or all the local franchises if she has a large enough magical bankroll to finance such an attack. She may also sabotage relations with vendors that the witch needs to operate by buying all the local stock or negotiating prices with those vendors to make corporate activities unfeasible. Introducing a competing product is an obvious strategy too, as would introducing an alternative product that obviates the corporate product line entirely. All of those activities are going to be expensive, and both magical girls and small businesses have a limited reserve for waging such a battle. But if she wins against the witch, and merges the ownership/market to exclusively herself, then the corporation's assets can be utilized or liquidated to replace the resources spent. When Homura defeated Charlotte after Mami's failure, she refused to give the witch seed to Sayaka and Madoka; which makes perfect sense if you envision an equivalent scenario where a purchased corporation is being asked to be given to lay persons that have no demonstrated business skills themselves.
Finally I draw attention to the heat death of the universe. The ticking clock that spells eventual doom for some later generation in the future. To say it slightly differently, let me introduce you to the national debt, a ticking clock that spells eventual ruin for some generation in the future. QB openly benefits from the energy released when a regular girl becomes a magical girl and whenever a witch is defeated then fed to him; but he also benefits from the much more profitable scenario of a magical girl transforming into a witch. Banks benefit when you park a large volume of cash into their reserves for regular business activities, for reasons that aren't relevant to this theory. But it very relevantly benefits from your regular payments on any loans you've drawn, loans which will be especially high if you're in the business of putting other businesses out of business. However, a bank could make the ultimate profit if it takes a nearly default company and sells it at an Initial Public Offering (IPO). This is where we get the best parallel between fictional story and real world events. Not only is that the transformation between both magical girls and witches, but also between singularly owned businesses and publicly traded corporations. Furthermore, Because all banks with US dollars purchase their dollars from the Federal Reserve (name is a misnomer, it is not a government entity), they directly owe the debt to the FedRes. So for as much as it is in the public interest to lower the national debt, it is a much greater prerogative for banks to control the expansion and possible contraction of the national debt.
QB sees that Madoka has potential to be a successful business owner. But he sees even greater potential from an IPO that will necessarily happen sooner or later.
What do you think? Have I been studying for my economics finals too long and I need to watch more anime instead; or am I an idiot for taking both Micro and Macro at the same time because "elective credits are always easy classes"? -OR- Is this an amazing theory that warrants re-watching the classic anime from a fresh perspective, because I'm so on point with my analysis?