LITERALLY *hearty laugh*
What happened to the episode 4 post? Well I was busy then homework interfered… But far more importantly, episode 4… really added little to the conversation. I found myself reaching for some crazy explanations of the witch’s existence, and precisely how it played into things. The imagery in the witch’s world were completely baffling as well, and I couldn’t figure out why it was constructed that way. So in short, I gave up. And thus I’m writing up a dual episode 4 + 5 post… But mostly an episode 5 post, because Kyouko made it so much more interesting.
But first episode 4. I don’t want to go back and add anything to it, so I’ll just post what I had written up before. I haven’t changed this one since I typed it out like 2 days after episode 4 came out, but I’ll post it here anyway so you can see my random ramblings. If you want to skip straight to my episode 5 part, just do a ctrl+F (or the Mac equivalent), for “Episode 5.” (without the quotes, and with the period).
With every passing episode, I’m finding it harder and harder to write about Madoka Magica. I think there’s just this inevitable wall so to speak that I’m running up against, where it seems like we’ve gotten this show more or less figured out for what information we have, thematically at least. Unfortunately it feels like each post I’m making consists of the same stuff rehashed in a different way, so I’m going to try to break out of that trend a bit and see if I can’t tackle this show from a new angle. Also, this will probably still keep this relevant and not completely invalidated (or something) past episode 5, considering how late I’m writing this.
So this past episode was completely centered around Sayaka. Or to be more precise, it’s centered around the question: Can you really separate the justification for an action from its ends? What that consists of in the context of this show is completely focused around Sayka’s feelings for Kamijo. We know that she loves him. There’s no doubt about that.
But here’s the tricky bit about love. It’s supposed to be a two way deal, but in Sayaka’s case, it works only in a single direction. Is she being selfish by trying to get Kamijo to love her? Or, rather, is she actually being generous by trying to cheer Kamijo up when he’s completely down? These two questions aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive either. The real answer could be a combination of the two.
What are you REALLY doing?
Sayaka is caught between these two questions, and she really has a hard time parsing her answer. She’s not sure where she lies, because she wants both to happen. And that’s not an uncommon thing in love, but the situation is amplified and complicated far more by the fact that she has the potential to truly change something.
But here’s the important part, which relates back to the question in my second paragraph. Can you really separate an action from its ends? Well looking at this example, probably not. Because the generous act and the love are part of the same package. If you alleviate his suffering, he’ll be happy, but at the same time he’ll also love you for it. But will you be happy because he’s happy? Or will you be happy because he’s loving you?
Maybe you’re happy because of… something else?
At this point, lines become blurred between the emotions and feelings of the two people. We have a rather romantic image of love nowadays, so perhaps the best way to describe love in this situation is a combination of two beings into one. Not physically (though that comes later to a certain extent *wink wink), but emotionally, though the transition period between the state being two people to the state of being one is tough. I don’t think trying to write it out in words would do it justice, so I’ll just point you to Neon Genesis Evangelion and get to other things.
Yet Sayaka takes an important first step when she wishes for Kamijo’s hand to get better. She takes the first step in internalizing his pain. It’s not a matter of pity. If it was only pity, then there’s no way that Sayaka would dare put her life at risk, considering all of the doubt she had before about actually becoming a mahou shoujo. Sayaka in this one scene has affirmed that she is truly in love with Kamijo, to the point where she would give up her life for him. Not necessarily because she wants him to love her, but because his pain is now her pain. And that single scene in the hospital made her realize that. It’s not a matter of being cliche, but a matter of this fundamental realization.
The moment when two hearts were torn…
But beyond everything I just said, lies the consequences of her actions. We’ve seen great development of Sayaka’s character up till this point, but will she come to regret what she started? That’s the question that remains, especially considering that at the start of the episode, she speaks in the past tense. From her words, it seems like she’s possibly regretting her decision. But will she regret it to the point that she essentially takes back her love for him? Oh we’ll see…
Back to maybe more relevant things for you guys, I’m going to skip basically everything related to Mami in this episode, because it hits hard and I really don’t want to talk about it. … … Ok maybe I do want to mention just one thing, which was basically how Mami disappeared from the world. Now that just makes her death much, much worse, but it was a wonderful contrast with Sayaka’s mindset. Because you see, what’s important about the fact that she disappeared is basically that no one cares. At all. No one cares that she’s dead, no one cares that she was risking her life to save them. Contrast that to Sayaka, in that she was thrown into doubt about her relationship with Kamijo because she was worried about how he would think. Sayaka’s crisis is built off of a reciprocal relationship, which brings out the tragedy of the loneliness of being a mahou shoujo.
A one person funeral.
But I think what was really unique in this week’s episode is the fourth witch. She’s just so radically different from the two others we’ve seen so far, which adds a new dimension to the world of the witches. Most important is just the people’s reactions to being kissed by the witch. Why is Hitomi the only one to actually be happy in the meeting? She seems like she’s in a cult. Everyone else seems like they’re in a suicide meet up. Two completely different mentalities, but no real explanation for the discrepancy. I’m really not sure what to make of this.
Furthermore, at this point it feels like there are differences between witches. Charlotte clearly enjoyed eating people. This witch just wanted people to die. Same deal with the first witch we saw. This really confuses the question of what the witches are after. It doesn’t seem like they need to kill people to survive, so they only kill people because of some instinct? So little information, so many questions…
And that’s all I got for episode 4. But onto juicier things…
So. Episode 5. I think that by now, we’ve had basically every important character introduced to us and fleshed out rather well, at least going by the OP. The most important question to ask here is what Kyouko brings to the table in terms of viewpoints. In terms of where her viewpoint stands in comparison to everyone else, she’s as far away from Madoka and Sayaka as possible, though not exactly close to Homura either.
Kyouko’s view is, well, extremely primitive. Basically she exists for herself. She’s a magical girl for her own entertainment, and she kills witches for the rewards, nothing else. The rest of society essentially doesn’t exist in her eyes. So much for mahou shoujos as a vehicle for change. With the introduction of Kyouko, just the mere idea of mahou shoujos as a force of “good” is destroyed. Even the idea of becoming a mahou shoujo as a sort of character development is destroyed. In all mahou shoujo anime to date, the focus is generally on one of these two elements. But not in this show.
In this show, mahou shoujos exist for eating things~
Now this is just a theory on my part, but going back somewhat to my first post, I think that the emphasis here is on the separation of the magical and real world. In most mahou shoujo animes to date, the development of the “magical” side of the girl has mirrored the actual development of the girl. In other words, she remains a part of both the magical and real world. But that’s not the case in Madoka Magica.
When you die, your body disappears. Being a mahou shoujo means patrolling around all the time to find witches. When you make your contract, it’s a sign that you’ve given up on the real world. After all, it’s a sign that you want or need something that can’t be obtained through ordinary means. If you’re desperate enough to make a contract, then you believe that there’s nothing left in the real world that can satisfy that want or need, so you resort to the magical.
Like when you’re about to die.
Essentially Madoka Magica looks like a story about how you can’t balance the two. You can’t maintain two different sides of your identity, because that’s just incompatible with living your life to begin with. Homura and Kyouko essentially live as mahou shoujos. The views that they have by being mahou shoujos have affected how they think about their actual lives. You can’t hope to bring your world view from your other life into the magical one, because it just doesn’t work. By being a mahou shoujo, you forfeit your life and your identity.
You’re doomed to this. Every day.
Perhaps the real tragedy of Sayaka’s wish is that she’ll never be able to spend enough time with Kyousuke ever again. After all, she’ll instead be patrolling the city in her search for witches when she’s not in school. Of course, there is a way to get around it. She can be a mahou shoujo and be with Kyousuke and attend classes.
Stop caring about other people. That’s basically the mindset that Kyouko brought to the table. You can enjoy yourself as a mahou shoujo and find time to do everything that you love if only you quench that altruism. If you care about every human life and try to patrol for witches in order to save every human life, you won’t have a life anymore. So you give up on trying to save every human life. You live for yourself, and only hunt witches for your own benefit. Why should you care about other people? They’re only preventing you from living your life properly.
Like these people. They’re only holding you back damn it!
Kill witches when they cross your path, let familiars grow into witches. Take their grief seeds. Profit. That’s all there is to life. Humans are below you. Why should you care about them at all? They’re only food to sustain your life source. There’s no incentive to save them. Just look at the terms of your contract. It only compels you to be a mahou shoujo, but not to do anything beyond that. That’s how you survive as a mahou shoujo and as a girl. That’s all there is to life.
Even still, is that life desirable? Yeah probably not. Then where does Madoka fit in on all of this? She’s the paragon of the mahou shoujo mentality. Her desire is to be useful. By being a mahou shoujo, she’s being useful. Her wish is self fulfilling. Of course, we all know what’s stopping her. Fear.
What can bring her to become a mahou shoujo? A necessity that’s beyond normal means, and beyond Homura’s means. What could that necessity be? Remember the first scene of this series?