Fine-Tuned: Shot Breakdown of the Madoka Magica 3 Bus Scene

This moment really deserves a full in-depth look besides the stuff mentioned in my review. This aims to look at the color and composition of every shot and what went through my mind during each shot, or when looking back on it.

The scene occurs after the talk in Kyouko’s Glass Dome.The shots can be broken down as such

(Music 1-38: Ambient transcendental)
(Music 39-67 :Carnival)
(Music 68-79 : Violin)

1. Yellow Bridge. Bus comes in view
2. Focus on Bus, dimmed by glare
3. Focus on heads on bus
4. Bridge Stacking while bus moves down bridge
5. Kyouko sitting with bridge stacking effect
6. Homura sitting with bridge stacking effect
7. Criss-cross bridge stacking
8. Underneath bridge pan (camera non-static)
9. Criss-cross bridge stacking
10. Bridge stacking effect, kyouko sitting, far away viewpoint
11. Bridge stacking effect, homura sitting, far away viewpoint
12. Bus front viewpoint, 3 bridge stacking, drives towards camera
13. When hits camera switches to back viewpoint, seamless transition
14. Red birds
15. Expressionist red bird landscape with turbines, bus drives into view
16. Augmented technology: Bus location reader – Veni Vidi Mitakihara
17. Another shot of Expressionist red landscape, front view of bus
18. Blur face passenger leaves, red landscape
19. Top of bus shot /w two main characters, red expressionist
20. Full view front of bus, smoke leaving
21. Top of bus shot /w two main characters, dialogue, bus begins to move
22. Full view expressionist red background, bus pulling away
23. One of the main characters presses stop button on bus, augmented technology
24. Full expressionist red background /w turbines, mechanized pipes structure comes in view. Shot from back of bus.
25. Shot of Kyouko. Realizes something wrong.
26. Top of bus, Kyouko & Homura gets up in shock
27. Swift pan from Kyouko’s face to back view of bus, glass floor, red expressionist sky, closer to mechanical structure.
28. Swift pan from Kyouko’s face away, camera follows side view of bus, goes through mechanical structure
29. Bus pulls away from mechanical structure, red expressionist background
30. Augmented technology, indication of location – Mitakihara, background back to normal reddish white sky, smoke
31. Bus sign, Mitakihara loop line, normal reddish white sky
32. Empty bus stop, augmented design, bus leaves Kyouko and Homura
33. Shot of Kyouko and Sakura front at bus-stop, Homura runs
34. Shot of Kyouko and Sakura side silhouette running. Red ‘normal’ sky, strange industrial construction and wires in the background
35. Bus stop, long line of people, top view through white bars
36. Augmented technology, view Kyouko and Homura from behind grilles
37. Focus on Homura’s hands holding bag
38. Back view of characters, bus stop, strange green white wall in front
39. High smoke, bus lights in view
40. Homura & Kyouko notice, background purplish pink wall structure
41. Full view of long winding road and bridge, dark purple colors, characters small under bus stop, dark trees, light bursts and bus comes into view
42. Dark purple fog road with turbines and bus coming into view.
43. Bus Sign
44. Homura’s face unease
45. Back view of characters, bus stop, bus pulls in
46. Bus entrance, front view of characters, smoke
47. Far view of bus in bus stop. Still dark purplish atmosphere
48. Smoke from bus engine
49. Bus pulls away from stop, front view
50. Headlights on ground, swift moving blur, road blur
51. Top view of bus, main characters on top, background unknown blur of dark and fog
52. Front view of Kyouko sitting
53. Presses stop button
54. Shot of empty bus
55. Characters realize something wrong, background changes to pure dark purple expressionist, both get up. Mechanical structure comes in view.
56. Back view of bus driving past structure
57. Side view of bus driving past structure, pans across Kyouko’s face, back shot of bus driving away
58. Front shot of bus with looming huge mechanical structure behind it, turbines and glowing street lamps and augmented gate in view, heavy smoke aura surrounding structure
59. Top view of bus, Kyouko jumps in front of conductor
60. Conductor view, Kyouko threatens conductor
61. Conductor front view, faceless, Kyouko seen in mirror
62. Kyouko front with road blur, Homura jumps in front
63. Conductor front view, both in mirror
64. Deep purple night sky with turbines and soft orange lights (opposite of red sky), bus pulls in, drops characters off and leaves, smoke
65. Focus on characters top from bus stop
66. Back of bus, Bus sign seen as it pulls away
67. Far away back of bus, bus slowing pulling away, characters viewing from bus stop
68. Strange mix of colors, bright yellow, purple orb, and white, indicating them going down road on foot
69. Dark lonely augmented road. No normal lights. Magical yellow orbs and Purple orbs for ground.
70. White distorted walls and yellow orbs indicating road, camera from bottom to sky
71. Pure black background, mirror of huge moon on ground, turbines, reflected line feels ethereal
72. Walking past dark bus stop, silhouette of characters
73. Character’s foot walking on road
74. Pure black with glimpses of purple aura, huge moon in sky, small glowing lamps with long winding white road.
75. Walking on pure black, characters white, lamps seem hanging in mid air.
76. Quick pan past floating lamps and yellow small orbs
77. Normal night sky, back on Mitakihara bridge, close up of surprised Kyouko
78. Huge view of city, Mitakihara bridge, behind huge moon
79. Two characters with huge moon looming behind.

The structure of the backgrounds is this
A. Yellow bridges (1-13)
B. Red expressionist sky (14-29)
C. Normal sunset orange white pink bluish sky (30-38)
D. Dark reddish purple night (39-54)
E. Purple expressionist sky (55 – 67)
F. Dark expressionist sky (68 – 76) (More dark instead of purplish)
G. Normal starry night sky (77 – 79)


A – The bridge crossing effect reminds me of the opening to the Utena Movie when it pans straight through the whole school to the duel on top. It also reminds me of the Utena stairways. Bridges of all kind seem to appear here. Yellow begins the transition from day to night.
B – I want to know how he achieves the constantly moving background of birds. The turbines here are still turning. The red is brilliant deep with splotches of white, a high contrast. When you look closer at the mechanical structure its either composed of pipes or of many empty picture frames stacked onto one another. The ground is a mirror to the sky. Somehow many beautiful shots in other works also have beautiful mirrored shots like this. For example the rose dance scene in Utena and the shot of the reflected silhouetted burning field in True Detective.
C – That strange industrial thing in the background appears to be an amalgamation of many cranes, wires and electric poles. The return to normal sky here with its proper mixes of colors is a breath of fresh air from the purity of the red background.
D – Dark strangling miasma permeates. This atmosphere is like poison. A comparable scene is the nauseating dark red in Evangelion episode 4 when Shinji runs away. The difference is that this atmosphere is supernatural rather than existential. Premonition of later parts. The carnival tune begins and gives it that slight darkly playful tint.
E – This is just an augmented expressionist version of the previous darkness, the red is now pure purple, more darkness seeps through. The lamps are now turned on and hang like wisps in the air. There’s also more smoke and fog.
F – This is about when the violin begins and it begins with a distorted road. Rather than have a straightforward path the road that the two characters walk on has devolved into something that’s barely even a road. When it opens into the full night with the moon it is very beautiful. The full force of the reflected ground comes now when the characters seem to be walking on a thin glowing ethereal line, like a ghost bridge, rather than normal ground. The lamps are fully ghost-like now.
G. Return to normal night, the moon is oppressively large.

This is the scene where color becomes a character of its own. The evolution of color itself across the whole 79 shots marks the transition to the darker side of the plot. The color also diminishes the size of the main characters and seems to envelop them, especially in those later backgrounds. The bus itself is a strange mix of ornamentation and ‘frills’ with holographic technology. Urbanity is warped beyond recognition. If the whole idea of construction in the Modern world is streamlined functional structures then the fact that these structures are being used for ornamentation in Madoka is probably symbolic of the eternal magic of human imagination to twist everything into interesting and beautiful but functionally useless shapes. The moon itself has a magical value rather than its natural state. This is the moon that is tied to Gothic conceptions of Werewolves and night Sabbaths, not the normal moon that illuminates the night. The perfect example of a dreamy Urban Gothic scene.