Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica 4 and 5 – Separation of Self

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?

Necessity.

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38 Comments

  1. Fencedude
    Posted February 4, 2011 at 12:18 am | Permalink

    Brilliant encapsulation of how this show has twisted our expectations of what being a Mahou Shoujo means.

    Plenty of times a show is touted as “revolutionizing” or “deconstructing” a concept, but very few truly live up to that hype. Evangelion (for all its flaws, and all the ink and packets of data that have been spilled over it) was one of them. I really wish I could have been an anime fan back in the mid 90s, and seen my every expectation for what a mecha series was, what it was supposed to stand for, what the most basic requirements of being a “Mecha Series” were, be utterly destroyed.

    Madoka Magica did that to me in episode 3 for magical girl shows. Sure, I expected it to be dark, I expected Madoka and the others to face hard choices, and maybe even, possibly, one of them would give their life in the end, but the show completely blindsided me with what it did. I feel like I should have known, that I should have been genre savvy enough to see it, but I didn’t. And thats the point.

    With these episodes, we see the final tearing down of the illusion, the ideal of what we believe Magical Girls are for. They are the hope of the world, fighting evil, large and small, while learning about themselves and growing into better people for it. The recently finished Heartcatch Precure! maybe one of the most perfect examples of this in action, watching its final episodes, shortly after episode 3 of Madoka Magica…I still greatly enjoyed them, but somewhere in the back of my mind, I was thinking “This is what Madoka wants, and its what she can never have“.

    As I type this post, Secret Ambition from Nanoha StrikerS is playing in iTunes. Nanoha is another show that transformed the Magical Girl genre, but it wasn’t like this. It certainly took the concept into new directions, and did some truly surprising things, but in the end, it was really a fusion of Magical Girl with the modern concept of a Mecha Series. It showed that Magical Girl shows are truly viable when aimed at the older male audience, that we aren’t just a periphery demographic for little girl’s shows (see the aforementioned Precure series, which started this movement, entirely accidentally), and ultimately made Madoka possible.

    What will Magical Girl shows look like after Madoka Magica? Will there be the barrage of clones, attempts to capture the magic again, like there were with Evangelion? What will it feel like, being in a “Post-Madoka” anime world? Will it have the lasting impact that Evangelion had? Will its influence seep back into the source, Magical Girl shows aimed at young girls? The male equivalent of those shows, the true Super Robot show, has almost completely died out post Evangelion, will the same thing happen to Magical Girl shows?

    We may be witnessing a moment that literally only happens once every few decades. The last moment like this was 15 years ago. Is it truly happening again?

    • Posted February 4, 2011 at 8:29 pm | Permalink

      Ha a very bold predictive claim. I don’t think that Madoka will ultimately end up changing the current trend of mahou shoujo shows. It’s given us the “oomph” value with episode 3, but the single “oomph” isn’t what ultimately determines a show’s impact. It’s all a matter of fanbase, and from what I’ve seen, Madoka doesn’t have that fanbase. Furthermore, mahou shoujo animes are still a popular genre among young girls, and that’s not likely to go away any time soon.

      Madoka Magica is just a different take on the mahou shoujo genre. I can’t really say that it’s aiming to supplant it.

  2. Posted February 4, 2011 at 8:44 am | Permalink

    Aaaand there goes the theory that only people with pure hearts can become mahou shoujos. Or maybe Kyuubey made a contract with Kyoko when she was innocent and she changed later, but I’m not putting my money on that. I was partially betting on Kyoko killing Sayaka, and I really wonder how they’re going to use her. Will they do a typical heel-face-turn (Kyoko about to die, the others save her, she has a change of heart etc.), or will they kill/disable her so she can’t interfere anymore (now THAT would be interesting).

    I wonder if Sayaka truly realizes how much of her life she just sacrificed. There’s also that scene at the end of ep4 where Kamijo realized that his hand was healed, and the atmosphere was really dark. The music was practically screaming “SHIT’S GONNA HAPPEN” – at least it sounded like that to me.

    Going back to the scene in the first ep, I wonder if that’s really going to happen? Homura seemed to cry out when she saw Madoka, that another mahou shoujo is being born. Maybe that dream is part of the future. Maybe the apocalypse will come when there are too many witches or they gathered too much power (or when we run out of IPv4 addresses).

    • Posted February 4, 2011 at 8:38 pm | Permalink

      Kyouko obviously has to escape for now. I mean if she’s only around for ONE episode, I’d be pretty irked about that. We need more character development for her!

      Interestingly, even after the rather ominous music and camera angles, everything worked out just fine in this episode. I was expecting his hand to like explode or something during the episode, but that never happened. If there are dark consequences, they’ll have to come later.

      I can’t imagine that that scene at the beginning was introduced just for the sake of it. Also in context of the scene, it seemed more like a cry for help or sadness as opposed to anything else. It might just be a foreboding message… Maybe.

      • Posted February 4, 2011 at 10:09 pm | Permalink

        I didn’t mean kill her right away, but later on. That would be interesting. Kyoko screws up and gets killed by witch = lame. Kyoko does a heel-face-turn = lamer. Kyoko gets killed by Sayaka or Homura = WOW O_O. The typical good guys usually say “you shouldn’t kill”. It’ll be interesting to see that change. As for Kyoko-killing-Sayaka, if that happens I think it’ll show that in the magical world altruists die and the apathetic survive.

        Yeah I was all tensed up when he was playing the violin and when he was talking about his hand healing all of a sudden. I thought something would go wrong, a witch would appear, or he would throw another bitchfit (unlikely since he’s obviously happy he could play again, but I was expecting something bad).

        I think it could be foreshadowing or a scene from the future itself, except that it looked like Homura’s eyes saw Madoka before crying out. May just be me, but no matter how many times I rewatched it that’s always the way I see it.

        • NitroX72
          Posted February 5, 2011 at 7:30 pm | Permalink

          I think the ominous atmosphere in the scene of Kamijo discovering his hand was healed was more meant to emphasise the gravity of the situation Sayaka is now in. That for just his hand, she has now thrown away so much of her life.

        • Posted February 8, 2011 at 5:28 pm | Permalink

          Well a lot of good guys DO kill. You’re just talking about the paragons of good, who do appear to some extent in mahou shoujo genres, but not always.

          Well even if Homura did see Madoka before crying out, that doesn’t invalidate the idea that she could be just crying out for help.

  3. Posted February 4, 2011 at 6:39 pm | Permalink

    I don’t even think this can be called a mahou shoujo anime anymore, it has evolved into something almost entirely different. The more I try to compare the two, the less alike they seem. I had always appreciated the dark angle that was taken to show the real sacrifices of being a magical girl, but never thought about it to this extent.

    Being a magical girl isn’t about saving the world in sparkly pink uniform, it’s about getting your wish granted. And staying alive. Being a magical girl isn’t glorified as being a hero for the greater good because half of the time it’s not…it’s for a wish. And even though Sayaka wished for someone else, there’s still that blurry line of “did she do it so he’d like her?”

    Morals aside, there are obviously a lot more downsides to being a magical girl…When Sayaka accepted the contract, it looked like a death scene. It’s almost like Kyubei took out her soul, which makes me see him more like a devil each week. I swear he will go down as the most horrific mascot in history. The devil is a creepy, 4-eared ferret…<_<

    • Posted February 4, 2011 at 8:50 pm | Permalink

      Even if it isn’t a traditional mahou shoujo anime anymore, it’s still borrowing elements from the genre and doing something different with them. In that sense then, it’s a commentary or parody or something about the mahou shoujo genre. Thus we should still be making comparisons between Madoka Magica and mahou shoujo shows.

      And I would disagree that mahou shoujo shows are about getting your wish granted. Some shows take that angle, others don’t. For example, Shugo Chara could certainly be considered a wish fulfillment anime, Cardcaptor Sakura? Not so much. Some Pretty Cure series? Ok sure. Others? Yeah not really. Plot wise, not all mahou shoujo shows share similar goals. But in terms of how much the protagonist develops, all mahou shoujo shows are consistent in focusing in on that issue. What I think that Madoka Magica might be criticizing here is the mere possibility of that sort of development taking place.

      And about the contract scene, I thought it looked far more like a ritual than a death scene, but there are similarities between the two for sure.

      • Posted February 4, 2011 at 10:10 pm | Permalink

        I thought the contract scene was a ritual, too. Though I did for a few seconds think OMG DID THAT FURBALL JUST GROPE HER?

      • Posted February 5, 2011 at 10:00 am | Permalink

        It’s ancestor is certainly the mahou shoujo genre. It just feels like such a diversion from the norm that maybe a new subgenre for mahou shoujo is needed. This is groundbreaking stuff here…at least to me. But yes, it makes sense to compare it to mahou shoujo if you’re gonna do comparisons.

        Oh, I meant that Madoka Magica specifically was more about getting your wish granted…Being a magical girl takes on a more selfish angle in Madoka than in the magical girl shows I’m used to where being a magical girl is all sunshine and rainbows with just a minor amount of danger. So yes, other magical girl shows do have that wish aspect, but it’s not shown to be only pure wishes in Madoka.

        • Posted February 8, 2011 at 5:26 pm | Permalink

          Haha a new mahou shoujo subgenre for one show. Let’s just classify it under “mahou shoujo” and something along the lines of “mindf***” or something like that :P

          And oops I misinterepreted that second paragraph :P. In any case, I don’t think that it’s about wish fulfillment. The fact that you risk your life suggests that the real tension lies somewhere on the other side of the wish itself. What are you willing to risk your life for? What is compelling enough for you to risk your life for? Are you throwing away your happiness for this one wish? and so on and so forth.

          Also, there is danger in other mahou shoujo anime, but audience expectations blow it away. We know that nothing bad is going to happen. Although that vision has been frayed somewhat since the more “moe” mahou shoujo series of the mid 2000s. I don’t want to name series just because of spoiler, but… there’s quite a bit of danger in quite a few mahou shoujo series.

  4. EvilDevil
    Posted February 4, 2011 at 6:53 pm | Permalink

    While Kyouko’s statement about her views about magical girls are horrifying, at the end they are more practical and safe. I mean think about it, if you are chasing and killing familiars all day you will run out of magic very soon, leaving you vulnerable to enemy attacks. Like it or not common sense dictates that a few familiars must be left alone so they becomes witches so you can replenish your magic. She is about right when she says that it is a food chain: familiars kill weak humans, familiar becomes a witch, witch creates more familiars, then magical girl kills witch for the magic. But there is something that is bothering me, what happens to the magic collected so far from magical girls when killed? Can a witch when it kills a magical girl absorb their magic? We know that the soul gem was destroyed when Mami died, but what about the magic inside the soul gem?…

    • Posted February 4, 2011 at 8:55 pm | Permalink

      Practical and safe… But is it right? I mean this is a fundamental question that’s always a constant tug of war between two factions. Hypothetically speaking, the most practical and safest society is that which is ruled by a single ruler, and where everyone obeys him unconditionally. But that doesn’t make it right. You can live on your own and be a hermit. That’s practical. But that doesn’t make it right.

      To put it on a more provocative level, we’re putting “practical and safe” on one side of the scales and human morality on the other, and trying to find the balancing point. Kyouko thinks that the balancing point is where the practical and safe side is far better than the human morality side. Madoka and Sayaka think the opposite. Where will this battle of ideals end up going? Who knows.

      • EvilDevil
        Posted February 4, 2011 at 10:27 pm | Permalink

        A good argument. But dont forget that on the balance of practical and safe the survival rates are much more higher for a magical girl. Siding with Madoka and Sayaka means that your survival rates as a noble magical girl are much much lower. While it is good and noble to side with morality, some people would resist the idea if the price for it could cost your life, making it a very hard decision for many people…

        I feel sorry for Madoka, if she ever becomes a magical girl, the harsh reality of survival and competition could crush her idealistic vision of what a magical girl of justice is. At the moment it is easy for her to say what is right and wrong, but once she is a magical girl and gets to experience that kind of life, once her life is on the line and she experiences daily constant danger, then we will know for sure where Madoka will make her stand when it comes to issue of morality. It makes you wonder if she will be able to survive the new dangers while retaining that noble spirit. Will she be able to adapt to the new changes and her new reality? Will this new life force her to change her views and force her to make concessions? Will the realities of life, death, and survival force her to redraw the moral line…? Or will she able to rise up beyond her limitations and be able to live up to her ideals that will get her killed. (and if she does get killed, I hope not but you never know, will she ever regret her decisions or die with no regrets knowing she died doing what was right?)…

        I cant wait to see what happens next. Very few animes had made me this exciting, specially when they bring issues like this. I think being a magical girl will either make or break Sayaka, lets see how far can Sayaka live up to Madoka’s expectations…

        • Posted February 8, 2011 at 5:20 pm | Permalink

          And? That’s like saying that the Americans shouldn’t have started the American Revolution because they would have lost no lives had they just accepted British rule and taxation. Sometimes there are things worth fighting for that transcend our basic instinct to survive. Freedom, justice, the lives of others, etc. These are all things that many people have found passion to fight for throughout the course of history, despite the risk to their own lives. Survival isn’t everything.

          And that second paragraph is the encapsulation of why Madoka Magica is so great to watch right now, though there’s this voice in the back of my head that screams that the traditional mahou shoujo mentality and deus ex machina is still a possibility.

          • EvilDevil
            Posted February 9, 2011 at 3:45 pm | Permalink

            Hey, I think doing the noble thing is ok and good, the problem is that so far this show seems to suggest that the majority of the Magical girls do not subscribe to this idea. Even QB declared that Mami was a rare breed because she was the only one that would hunt Familiars before they hurt anyone.

            Maybe is just Cynicism but in past ep. QB seems to suggest that the majority of girls are very competitive and un-cooperative of each other, suggesting they are driven by selfish behavior. They are children after all, so it makes sense they wold act and behave childish and selfishly. Maybe Madoka is suppose to change all that, but that is just guessing.

  5. dthiswhtuseek
    Posted February 5, 2011 at 12:39 am | Permalink

    There’s another thing that should probably be mentioned, which is the possible revival of Mami, and thus the implications it will have on the series. It’s a thought that came to me when Kyubei said that Sayaka gained superhuman regeneration because she wished for someone to be healed. As we all know Mami’s wish was to live. But that would be entirely dependent on whether Sayaka gained her ability because she wished for SOMEONE ELSE. I’ll watch it again when I have time to make sure.

    • Posted February 8, 2011 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

      Oh wow now that’s an interesting thought. I don’t really expect powers to extend beyond death though haha >.>

    • EvilDevil
      Posted February 9, 2011 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

      She is dead, period. Remember when she made the wish she was dying, so she was only healed, she wasnt resurrected per se. Also if I am not mistaken during the conversation between Homura and Madoka in ep. 5, Homura suggested that you cannot bring people back from the dead; the conversation was about how Homura could not help Sayaka because she was already dead the moment she became a magical girl. Of course this is being taken out of context, but I believe Homura knows enough to know that once you become a magical girl and die, there is no coming back from that… I could be wrong…

  6. Posted February 5, 2011 at 9:06 am | Permalink

    Not trying to sound professional as above comments seem to be because I’m not.

    The post on Sayaka was spot on!
    …But as Kyoko and messed the image I was so close to forming, I’m back on square one. /rage

  7. Kit-A-Ron-Ron-Kat
    Posted February 5, 2011 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

    Kyuubei is not only evil-made-furball but he is also a patented salesman ! While the girls were reminiscing Mami in episode 4, he was silently sitting quite far away from them, and even left willingly. He had already planted the seeds, especially in Sayaka. If his goal is to get Madoka to agree to the contract, he has to bet on someone else to drag her in it as she doesn’t have (yet) a wish of her own. Mami died, Homura is fighting for exactly the opposite result (when not actively going for a white furcoat), so he could only bet on Sayaka. I can only imagine what went in his mind whe she agreed to the contract (“YEEESSSSS JUST AS PLANNED, MUHAHAHAH” or something along those lines).

    Kyoko on the other hand is a real problem. She doesn’t appear to have any issue killing another Mahou Shoujo, she has made her motivations really clear, and I can’t see Sayaka/Madoka and her reaching a compromise. So unless she slaughters everyone – incidentally terminating the show at his 6th episode ! – she has to either have her Mahou Shoujo contract rendered void somehow (is that even possible ?) or just die. If the later, I could see it done by a witch, with Sayaka having a chance at stepping in and saving her but hesitating or even choosing not to do so…

    Also looking at it there is some serious domino effect at work here: Mami death brought Kyoko here (thanks to furball.net I’m sure) which makes her fight Sayaka which nealry gets Madoka to contract which gets Homura to step in that fight ! Whatever happens I’m rooting for Sayaka, she is doing her best as a normal person in a completely abnormal situation.

    • Posted February 8, 2011 at 7:22 pm | Permalink

      Heh well Kyouko will either get killed or converted. I’m curious to see where she ends up… I wouldn’t put anything past Urobuchi haha.

      • Posted February 9, 2011 at 6:37 pm | Permalink

        Korosukorosukorosukorosukorosukorosukorosukorosukorosukorosukorosukorosukorosukorosukorosukorosukorosukorosukorosukorosukorosukorosukorosukorosukorosukorosukorosukorosukorosukorosukorosukorosukorosukorosukorosukorosukorosukorosukorosu

        (imagine Shizu-chan bouncing up and down on Celty’s bike)

  8. Posted February 5, 2011 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

    Damn you Mystlord, every post you write makes me feel dummer. Why are you so smart?

    At the beginning of episode 5, I realized something, something which made me quite angry at Sayaka.

    Remember how Mami said that you should be selfish with your wishes, and use them for yourself and not for someone else?
    Sayaka could easily have been selfish, and still cured her little man. She should have wished to gain the ability to heal any injury/ailment. After having said wish granted, she could have cured her boy love (during his sleep, should she wished for it), and then started charging the rich millions to cure their incurable diseases.

    1)-Make wish to be super healer, heal crush.
    2)-Heal the dying rich.
    3)-????????
    4)-Profit!

    I am really enjoying this show, but for a show about magic, these wishes are too realistic.

    -Make all the witches go away.
    -Make me king/queen of all humans.
    -Give me the power to control time.
    -Make me immortal.
    -Teach me how to understand the female heart.
    -Magically enhanced boobs.

    Those are all things I would wish for, well maybe not the magically enhanced boobs, though it would be nice if I could launch heat tracking rockets from my chest.

    • Kit-A-Ron-Ron-Kat
      Posted February 5, 2011 at 5:10 pm | Permalink

      Would that really work out so well ? Let us assume for a second that a “magical healer” appears somewhere, I am willing to bet various armies/countries/organisations would have immediate and conflicting interests in that person. What would happen next is better left to the imagination…

      Also on the whole wish deal there may be some kind of automatic hidden balance. Sayaka made a wish for someone else and gained an additional ability for herself. What if the reverse is true ? What if wishing for oneself involves a price to pay by someone else ? What if when Mami wished to live, Kyuubei in exchange killed her parents ?

      … Tell you what this is way too depressing for me to contemplate right now. I would rather imagine Madoka wishing she got Mami’s breasts, only for Kyuubei to answer that he can do anything BUT that :)

      • Posted February 6, 2011 at 9:01 am | Permalink

        Hmm, I don’t think that wishes are necessarily limited in that sense. I mean, the whole point of the anime is that, no wish, no matter how great is enough to justify going through the pain of being a magic girl.

        As for the whole, being targeted and sought after by organisations and governments, she is a magical girl, a couple of nukes can’t stop her… I think. It would probably be best if she disguised herself, and only healed power under the full cover of anonymity, and when things seem off, she should scram using her magical powers.

        And, lol, I bet getting Mami’s breats has been Madoka’s desire all along, but it would be funny if Kyuubei took it literally and gave her zombie boobs.

        • Posted February 8, 2011 at 7:58 pm | Permalink

          Well you can look at this in several ways. I for one believe that wishes are far more suited as a thematic device more than a plot device. There’s no need to consider alternatives because that’s not the point of the story. You can also call it pure naivety on the part of the characters, but honestly, I’m pretty sure that the point is not to dismiss the characters as idealistic morons who can’t look beyond 2 feet in front of them.

          If you do want to view witches as more of a plot construct, that’s fine as well, but I feel that you just get yourself wrapped up in circles that way, and that just sucks all the joy out of watching the show.

  9. Dawnstorm
    Posted February 6, 2011 at 3:04 am | Permalink

    The core of magic in Madoka, I think, is that it clashes with reality. You get locked-off “spaces” that seep into the world (sort of like the Persona games, if you’ve ever played them). Thus giving in to becoming a magical girl is turning away from reality. Kyubei, to me, seems like a wish-elemental: he can grant the wish. I suspect that the power, though, comes for your own emotions, not from Kyubei or an external source. I suspect Kyubei can’t suggest wishes, because they have to be heartfelt to work.

    What you give up is important in Madoka, but I don’t think it’s a trade-off; instead it’s in the “nature of the show”. That is: at the time you’ve decided to become a magical girl, you’ve already turned away from reality.

    Basically, when you’re unhappy with reality, you have three options: (a) despair, (b) hoping/praying, (c) facing it head on and work through the troubles. Add magic, and (a) gives you witches, while (b) gives you wishes. (c) keeps you in the real world, and we have no plot.

    Take Sayaka. Most speculation goes along the line of Sayaka’s discussion with Mami: is it his recovery or his gratitude you want? And certainly Sayaka still hopes for his gratitude (and more). But, she’s also conflicted on that. She thinks she should do it for his sake, rather than hers. She’s completely blindsided by Kamijo’s sudden outburst (“Are you mocking me?”), and from the resulting conversation she thinks the problem is his accident. But there are signs (I think) in Kamijo’s body language that suggest that there’s a deeper problem hidden beneath. (This is just an example: Maybe a conflict between loving to play music and to be successful performer?) Maybe Kamijo’s surprise at seeing his not-destroyed violin was only a temporary “oh shit, I’m out of practice!” But maybe… There is one thing that Sayaka is not prepared for: what if her wish escalates a problem she doesn’t know about? Just imagine Sayaka finding out about something like this while fighting a violin-themed witch…

    “Magic” doesn’t solve the problem if you don’t know what the problem is, and may make things worse if you absolutely misunderstand the problem. How do you deal with unintended consequences?

    Sayaka (and Mami) had event-based wishes. But now look at Madoka. She’s got a pretty broad, general wish: she wants to be “useful”. (And constantly apologises about how useless she is.) I can see how such a constellation could lead to immense power: total denial. Not one aspect, not one thing gone wrong, but something about the core of her personality.

    Most of the time I see Madoka’s family discussed, it’s in terms of what she would lose. It’s a loving family, a good home. But I think the show’s pulling the carpet from under that: (1) Madoka’s reaction to Mom coming home drunk late at night (again), and then (2) when she bursts into tears at the table the parents just stare until her baby brother (of all people) breaks the awkward silence and asks what’s wrong. Her father asks whether she doesn’t like her food (he’s not that stupid; he just doesn’t know how to deal with the situation). What we have here is not so much a good home as a conflict free home.

    There’s an incredibly sad irony in that Madoka thinks she’s useless, but she’s pretty much keeping the family together on her own. Look back to the very first episode: the epic drawing of the curtains (while Daddy is outside letting the kids wake her), helping her Dad put Mom to bed. (I bet she’d do it alone, if she were strong enough, physically.) We haven’t seen the parents talk to each other, really (or am I missing scenes?); but Madoka talks to both. What does she get in return? A father, mild-mannered and good-hearted (she’s got his temperament), but ineffectual in emotional things. A career Mom with a mean streak, who gives Madoka advice that would make her into a person she’s not. (I think, Mami would have profited much more from Madoka’s Mom, incidently – which might say interesting things about Madoka’s relationship to her, seeing herself as the “sidekick”…). Madoka looks up to her mother and sees her as a rolemodel, and that’s probably the source of her feelings of inadequacy. She’s not useless at all; in fact, she’s vital to her family, and pretty responsible about that. But she can’t face that. If she did, she might get angry at her parents. And can you imagine an angry Madoka?

    Now view Homura’s repeated “you’re kindness will lead to catastrophy” remarks in that light. Madoka lives in denial. She doesn’t see her strengths. When Homura asked her about whether her life was “precious”, she answered in the obvious way, but I don’t think she allowed herself to actually understand the question.

    If I were to speculate (more wildly than I already have), I’d assume that at some point we’re going to raise the question whether there is a non-magical way to fight witches. Instead of responding to despair with unrealistic hope, you face reality and salvage what you can, and we get a happy ending of sorts – as happy as the real world, and the tragedy that comes before [as foreshadowed by the dream in ep1], allows.

    Sorry for that lengthy and highly speculative post from a stranger. But it’s been brewing in me for quite some while and I had to get it out of my system.

    • Posted February 6, 2011 at 9:09 am | Permalink

      You bring up some interesting points, unfortunately I lack the goatee needed to ponder over everything you said.
      But, I do think , you are of on one small thing. Magic does not clash with reality, it might be clashing with the viewer’s perception of reality, but magic is simply part of the reality of this show.
      I think the message this show is trying to get across is: Even if you try and escape your current reality, you will always be trapped and confined by some form of reality, and that more often than not, reality is a bitch.

    • Posted February 8, 2011 at 5:08 pm | Permalink

      Well how you respond to the “magic clashing with reality” thing depends on how you end up defining “reality”. I get lazy in my posts and just use that term as a blanket statement for basically the secular world, though I should probably kick the habit of doing that…

      And that’s some pretty far off speculation there about finding a non-magical way to beat witches. I mean you can’t have it both ways, where you’ve (I’ll be quoting from your comment) “turned away from reality” and essentially rejected it, yet also being able to save reality by utilizing the reality that you’ve already rejected. It seems like a very paradoxical situation just thinking about it.

      Aside from that, it just doesn’t go with the flow of how mahou shoujo shows work. The point is that your personality channels into your magical powers, and that a growth in magical powers coincides with character growth (roughly). To think of Madoka Magica setting that up with the tantalizing statement of Madoka’s potential, then throwing it all away at the end… That would be the biggest troll ever, and would go against the 5 episodes of set up that we’ve seen so far. That’s just my opinion though.

      Aside from that, you also raised the point of Madoka being the “glue” that keeps the family together, and I’m not sure that that’s necessarily true. The family construct as we know it can’t exist without any of the four members. There’s still love between the Dad and Mom. That doesn’t change without Madoka. Usually when I think of someone being the “glue” of the family, it’s in relation to there being some rift between two members of the family, emotionally, physically, and pretty much in every possible way, and the only reason that these two members don’t separate is because of this one person (for whatever reason). I mean being “useful” in terms of family and friends just isn’t being “useful” in any real sense. In that case, we’re all “useful”. But this is reality. We can’t stay in that egg forever.

      • Dawnstorm
        Posted February 9, 2011 at 12:21 am | Permalink

        @ Reiseng, Mystlord: I typed up two different replies, but I really should think things through more before I post anything. I’ve re-read my original post, too, and I think I should have been more careful with that. One example: “Modaka = the glue that keeps family together” is an overstatement. What I said was, basically, that without Madoka the family would fall apart. That’s not what I meant to say at all. Rather, I meant to say, I think, that Madoka’s role in the family is supportive/connective, which clashes with the “carreer woman” role of her mom (whom she sees a role model). Madoka’s mother, I think it’s safe to say, depends on Madoka more than other mothers depend on their kids; at the same time she gives her a clear image of what it means to be successful. Remember the talk Madoka had with her Dad about whether her mom is living her dream? Her Dad basically said Mom likes to set goals and accomplish them. Madoka’s not like that. She’s more social minded (e.g. the way she reacts to Homura; will be interesting to see how she reacts to Kyoko). Her mom’s an “achiever”, but she herself is not. That’s, I think, the source of Madoka’s feelings of uselessness. What Madoka’s ignoring is that her mom can only be an achiever because she’s got the support of non-achievers (or, to put it positively, upkeepers/guardians), like her father or herself.

        Also note how Madoka’s beating herself up over being afraid. I mean she’s following her friend even though she’s afraid. Then she faces all the people’s anger and grabs the bucket and practically saves all their lives, even though she knows what she’s up against. To those people, although she was entirely useless against the witch, she wasn’t useless. See where I’m going with this? She’s only acknowledging magical space, even though in 3D-space she’s saved quite a few people from toxic fumes. It’s as if that doesn’t matter, as if that’s only a minor penance to her greater fault. Oh, she’s so useless. She really needs a more balanced view of herself. But she’ll become a magical girl instead. The question is, then, how this will play out.

        Not sure if this makes more sense.

  10. ~xxx
    Posted February 6, 2011 at 9:44 pm | Permalink

    It even sounded like Sayaka wants to be Kamijo’s fiance…

    Well, I guess Kyoko wants to make Sayaka wake up in the reality that no matter how good our intentions are, our emotions sometimes clouded it.

    Overall, it’s destructuring the whole genre itself and making Madoka caught up in the world she never imagined before.

    It’s quite interesting that Kyubey allows that to happen and in the end he takes it all.

    • Posted February 6, 2011 at 11:48 pm | Permalink

      I don’t think Kyoko is trying to wake her up, I think she really is a calculating moral-less person. Which is a good thing, for the show I mean. Makes it a lot more interesting and realistic.

    • Posted February 8, 2011 at 4:40 pm | Permalink

      I would agree with Anya that Kyouko really doesn’t care about Sayaka. In fact, I don’t know if she really cares about anyone. After all, she hears that Mami was killed and all she does is just scoot into a new hunting ground. No sorrow, no remorse. That’s just how she rolls.

      And I’m still uncertain as to what Kyuubey is actually taking. He doesn’t take the soul gems, he doesn’t take the grief seeds… So he’s not making any material gain. Then what’s he gaining? Pleasure from watching girls fight witches? Or maybe *gasp* he’s actually not a bad hearted thing after all?

      • EvilDevil
        Posted February 9, 2011 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

        Maybe… then again I am remember by the plot of Wishmaster, maybe he gets something out of granting wishes to girls that we do not know of. I will wait and see what happens. For all we know QB is just following orders and nothing more…

  11. Darklord
    Posted February 11, 2011 at 8:09 am | Permalink

    Well if think about Kyoko strategy there must be another reason for farming grief seeds. I want to know is there penalty for failing to gather enough. Remember in episode 2 where Mami used the grief seed on her soul gem. It pulled out the darkness literally. So what happens if your soul gem goes completely black? Do you lose your powers, or perhaps something worse occurs?

    I have a theory about where how witches are born that involves Kyuubey. We all know witches are born from curses or spawn from mature familiars. However we have no idea where curses come from from. I hypothesize that curses come from corrupted soul gems. Turning the once hopeful magical girl into a new witch.

  12. lol
    Posted February 11, 2011 at 8:41 am | Permalink

    I want your mindset, Mystlord.
    nao.

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