I keep being struck by what a Procrustean language Japanese is, from the point of view of the pronunciation of loanwords. All languages adapt imported words to native habits of pronunciation to an extent, but Japanese doesn't even try to meet them halfway - it simply forces foreign words into its limited phonemic/syllabic range. Thus "hamburg steak" becomes "ハンバーグ", or "hanbaagu", because Japanese doesn't allow for "m" or "g" sounds that aren't followed by a vowel ("n" is the only consonant that doesn't need a following vowel, in fact). I'm guessing that the person who introduced the Hamburg steak to Japan didn't have a strong retroflex "r" in their accentual repertoire, or the Japanese might easily have been ""ハンバルグ" ("hanbarugu").
It's hard to see any pattern to the way that the names of European countries find their way into Japanese. In some cases they are approximations (with allowances for the Procrustean processes described above) to the native names: Germany is ドイツ (doitsu), Italy is イタリア (itaria). But in other cases the English word seems to have been used as the basis: スペイン (spein) is much closer to "Spain" than to "España", which would be more nearly rendered as エスパーニャ. As for Britain (イギリス - igirisu), it appears to be a bastardized version of the word "English", which is a little problematic... I imagine this piecemeal approach reflects the piecemeal nature of the cultural contacts between Japan and the various countries involved - but I don't know.
A new anime round-up will be making its appearance soon, I hope, but meanwhile here's a small Madoka speculation. Madoka has been compared to Bodhisatva figure Kannon, so important to Japanese Buddhism, and I can see why: though divine she is all merciful and stays in the human realm in order to help those struggling within the cycle of mortality. (Kannon is often depicted as female in Japan, by the way.)
So anyway, I couldn't help being struck by the "wish-granting jewel" that the Nyoirin Kannon holds. Doesn't it look awfully like the Soul Gem that the girls gain after making their own wishes? I wonder if that was an element in the SG design?
I'd like to think so, anyway.