Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica Episodes 7 and 8: Thanks for Playing Urobuchi

Game Over

Where have I been? Busy as hell. I more or less dropped out of the online world for the vast majority of the past week and a half. Real life. Sigh. Just as a quick announcement, I’m not going to blog KoreZombie anymore. First off I’m 3 episodes behind, but secondly there’s absolutely nothing redeeming about that show whatever, and I’m sick and tired of posturing like there might even be a shred of actually interesting crap in there. I can’t find the motivation to do it anymore. Anyway, onto Madoka.

So… that’s it. Episodes 7 and 8 basically flipped my opinion of Madoka backwards. Completely backwards. Episode 7 was okay, but episode 8 sealed it. Urobuchi tried to play the shock factor game. Very, very effective for the first half the series, but now… now it’s starting to wear off. Just like in Phantom, we’re getting to the part of the show where the weaknesses are getting to be rather apparent. But this time it’s not manifesting in the drab and languid pacing of the plot, but instead in this sort of mentality that if you show something shocking that pull people along, then eventually they’ll begin to look over the faults.

The best comparison? Think of Chinese foreign policy. Let’s stir up that nationalism to distract you guys from all the crap that’s going on in the country, eh? Essentially the same thing is happening here. There’s a great veneer plastered all over Madoka Magica. It gets the blood roiling, and the speculative juices flowing. Then you look past it and realize that something just isn’t quite right.

In particular, the characters seem to be… errr… strange. The only one who has had a logical development up until this point is Mami, and she’s, well… You know. But the characters in Madoka Magica seem to flip flop between these sort of different personality states, like they’re bipolar.

Kyouko demonstrated this flip perfectly between episode 6 and 7, where she somehow turned from a literally psycho bitch ready to tear someone’s arms and legs out into a character that really resembled Mami. Except for the food thing. Before, she wanted to essentially teach Sayaka the ins and outs of being a magical girl by beating her up. And now… I don’t even know what happened. Unless, of course…

Oh right.

Even still, it’s almost incredible just how much of an effect this revelation has on every character. It’s almost incredible to even believe that these were the same characters that we saw just a few episodes ago. I mean really, who can forgot Kyouko’s suggestion to chop off Kyousuke’s arms and legs so that he will completely become Sayaka’s, both in mind and body? For me at least, it’s hard to imagine her suddenly finding pity for Sayaka and not for someone like a quadruple amputated Kyousuke. She was absolutely willing to kill Sayaka back in episode 5.

Then where did this overwhelming sense of pity and empathy come from? Seeing Sayaka in the state that she’s in? Did she have a revelation about the way she acted before? I’m not really sure if she actually realized something different about herself, or if she’s just feeling pity for Sayaka. Where did this empathetic impulse come from? It’s never really explained. The best that we can say is that the revelation that her soul is in a separate place did something to Kyouko. What that is, we don’t know. I feel like Madoka Magica is falling into the same trap that Phantom ~ Requiem of the Phantom fell into. Not enough development and skipping development scenes on the side characters. It’s worse here because Madoka Magica has a grand total of… 4 fairly important characters compared to Phantom’s 2 main and large supporting cast. This strange development here is not only unfounded, but also just far too sudden. To see this “zombie” thing affect all of the characters to this extent… I don’t know.

Because apparently this revelation ranks far, far, far above Mami’s death in terms of the effect it has on both Sayaka and Kyouko. If you recall, Sayaka was the most level headed person in the aftermath of Mami’s death. She was the most controlled, and tried her best to not let her emotions overcome her. It’s incredible to think that she could be thrown so off balance once it comes to this point. Even before this scene, she begins jumping to radical conclusions, such as that one line in episode 6 where she declared that Homura essentially killed Mami for the Grief Seed. Ok, then the beginning of her descent into madness began earlier.

She was perfectly controlled for all of episode 4, despite her doubts, and for the vast majority of episode 5. She was happy, and, most importantly, got pleasure out of just watching Kyousuke. She was completely selfless.

What changed?

Then Kyouko came along.

And it seems like she changed after that. But even after she came along, her intentions were still pure when she stated that she honestly didn’t want to get Madoka involved in the conflict, which she completely turns around in episode 8. Furthermore, she consistently declared while talking to Kyouko that, and I’m quoting here: “I didn’t want this power just to fight witches. I wanted it to protect the ones I love” (Episode 6). Ok, so her change probably wasn’t caused by Kyouko.

Then what are we left with? Apparently the revelation that she has her soul planted somewhere else completely destroyed her personality, and replaced it with this selfish, brutish, and completely broken girl. Oh wait. That’s not even right, because there’s that great scene in the broken cathedral after this revelation where Sayaka makes a huge speech about how she doesn’t regret her decision, about how wonderful this power is, and just how she’s willing to fight for other people.

As you shouldn’t.

Ok, then we’re left with… Hitomi. Apparently all of Sayaka’s rhetoric, where she declares that she has absolutely no doubts, breaks once Hitomi enters the picture and challenges her for Kyousuke. Her world is shattered by this challenge, and she suddenly realizes that she really does want to have Kyousuke all to herself. No lead up. Not even once do we get an inkling of any doubt in her decision to save Kyousuke, and not once do we get any inkling that she’s really this selfish. Wait what? I’m sorry Shinbo/Urobuchi/whoever came up with this, but this isn’t the way to develop your characters, especially someone who has and will play a vital role in the series.

I truly find it hard to believe that Sayaka can even make this strange progression from rational to irrational. Her character was carefully constructed from the beginning, in that she served as a foil to Madoka. Her reason and maturity was balanced against Madoka’s naivety. She even declared that she herself was ignorant, but being smart enough to realize that is a feat in and of itself. Then where does this trait of hers go? Well it did kind of get lost somewhere, and there’s no real reason why it would get lost, and why she in particular can’t stand up to the mental assault that Kyouko, Homura, and Madoka all are getting through just fine. You may be able to speculate on a reason, but the problem here is that no reason is given, and no reason is developed. Sayaka somehow flipped from the most logically and wonderfully developed character to the worst.

But it’s not like the other characters have somehow been logically developed either. I don’t know what happened to Homura, but somehow she turned from this:

to this:

Of course, there’s always the possibility that we’ll actually get a reason later on for why she’s apparently such a weak-hearted character, but it was really a shock to me that she could show such weakness. Especially after every extremely harsh speech she’s given to Madoka, and this declaration in the previous episode:

Well you’re human enough to cry randomly…

Extremely cold whenever she addresses Madoka, yet strangely weak when she addresses Madoka in episode 8. Always speaking in riddles, never being truly honest… except in episode 8. The first time she’s cracked, and probably the first time that she’s revealed herself as human in front of Madoka, even when they’re alone. Maybe there are some extenuating circumstances, but it was so jarring to see Homura depicted as someone who can’t even get off the ground because she’s crying. Just watching her being so weak is both pitiful and confusing. It’s something that I would expect from Madoka, and not Homura.

This? Not really an illogical occurrence.

But speaking of Madoka, I never thought that she could be so cold. Apparently the only two people that she really cares about are Sayaka and Hitomi. I mean she completely brushes off a collapsed, crying Homura to run off to look for Sayaka. Not really what I’d expect from Madoka, nor is her real lack of reaction to Kyuubey’s apparent death something that I’d expect from her. In the end, I can really only describe her as a girl who lives for her friends, and no one else. But the point is that she hasn’t really changed since the beginning of the series. Like at all. In the end, she’s ending up as the weakest link of the show. Not even a half assed attempt at changing her character like with Homura or Kyouko. She just exists. And suddenly, with 4 episodes left in the series, we’re left with the realization that Madoka is the same old Madoka from episode 1. Mami’s death? Yeah didn’t really do anything. Revelation that magical girls don’t have their soul and body conjoined? Didn’t do anything.

The problem with Madoka is that she ends up doing nothing. Like literally nothing. This is different than something like Hamlet, where he actually debates doing something, and grapples with his obsession with morality and just desserts. The plot moves forward without Madoka. The story would be radically different without her, sure, but only to the extent that she’s apparently The One.

Now why does this matter? Why can’t we just accept that the characters are secondary to the plot, and move on? After all, that seems to be the stance that everyone is taking to the show. Well that would depend on what you’re looking to get out of the show. Madoka Magica is a show that you end up watching for the experience. It executes everything with pinpoint precision, but there’s nothing to it beyond that. You can’t conduct a character analysis if your characters don’t make sense. Originally I thought that Madoka Magica was a subversion of the mahou shoujo genre in that it was placing your standard mahou shoujo characters in a new and dark world, and see where they go. Obviously that can’t work if you make logical leaps in how characters are developed, and subvert their own personalities.

I’m pretty sure that this was meant to break the fourth wall.

Then can Madoka Magica truly be a subversion of the mahou shoujo genre? Probably not. Because as numerous people have pointed out, mahou shoujo genres exist as something like a bildungsroman. The Sakura that we meet in episode 1 of Cardcaptor Sakura is not the same one that we see at the end of episode 70, and it’s because of the adventures that she had with her powers. Is the Madoka now any different from the Madoka in episode 1? She knows about the magical world. Does she do anything about it? Or will the only reason that she changes be because Sayaka became a witch? If that’s the case, then there really is no need to make Madoka Magica a mahou shoujo anime. Maybe it’s only just a mahou shoujo series in name only. Whatever the case, I think that it’s clear now that the shininess of Madoka Magica has worn off. Kajiura Yuki’s music has gotten truly stale (I mean really, really stale. I’m sick and tired of hearing it.), Urobuchi has gone off the deep end, and only god knows what Shinbo is doing.

Maybe my sudden pessimism about Madoka Magica will change over the course of the final episodes. Maybe. I’m not putting my money on it. When you begin resorting to the cheesy dramatic reveals, then you know you’re running out of steam. Maybe Urobuchi needs to take a break as the sole scriptwriter and series composer. Because he definitely is beginning to flake out.

Urobuchi, you can do better than this.

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74 Comments

  1. Posted March 1, 2011 at 10:25 pm | Permalink

    I prefer to enjoy it for the dumb dark fantasy it is, and I think you might be overthinking it, but I appreciate that you keep fans like myself honest. Some of the stuff you hear said about this show… There are fans, and there are fanatics.

    • Posted March 2, 2011 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

      The main issue I have with the arguments in your post is that you seem to underestimate just how much of an effect that a revelation such as the one regarding soul gems at the end of episode 6 can have on a person. That is, the character developments of Sayaka and Kyoko since that point aren’t unrealistic or unbelievable at all. By painting it as such, that presumes an understanding of who these characters already were and what these characters are going through, which are impossible, given that the show hasn’t done a great job of setting up the characters to start with, and there is no analog in reality to the fantastical event of becoming a magical girl (if I may pimp my own blog, Nameless compared it to being a child abuse victim).

      However, this shouldn’t act as a blank check to hand to the show to do whatever it wants to with its characters. Far from it; it is absolutely the show’s responsibility to properly convey the characters’ emotions to you so that you can sympathize with them. Furthermore, it should have done a better job of conveying to you the horror of getting your soul ripped out of your body and put into a gem (personally, since there is no realistic analog, I felt that the show’s way of showing it to us was through the girls’ reactions. Clearly it didn’t work that way for you and rather saw it as a disconnect in the girls’ making a mountain out of a molehill). That you didn’t means that it’s a failure in the show. As you write, the reasons behind the character development is untold, hidden.

      Indeed, one of the criticisms levied against Magical Girl Madoka Magica that I agree with wholeheartedly is that its characters are not developed enough. This is a point you make in your post. Yet, at the same time, using the rather little bit of information about Sayaka’s character in the early episodes, you have formed a vision for her and what she should be like and how she should react, and have criticized that the show doesn’t follow that. Surely you should see the obvious fallacy here.

      I argue that, given the complexities of the human mind and its emotions, given that these are immature middle school girls, given that they’ve been subject to things that we have no honest way of understanding, and given the show’s rather poor job at letting us understand these characters, it doesn’t make sense to see the actions of Sayaka and Kyoko in the recent episodes as being discordant with who they are. It is the show’s failing that it hadn’t explained its characters enough to prevent you from arriving at the conclusion you did. And I think there’s some great criticism to be made along those lines. However, I perceive the criticisms that make up the heart of your post to be much ado about nothing.

      And again, perhaps a reaction like yours is good and valuable for a series such as this, which can get its fans frothing at the mouth about how it’s the best thing since sliced bread. Such an action deserves an equal and opposite reaction, after all.

      On a side note, posts such as this are what keep me reading anime blogs. I like being challenged regarding my views and the discourse that results from it. I think it is something of value to those on all sides of the argument.

      • Posted March 2, 2011 at 9:46 pm | Permalink

        I’m not sure if I’m seeing the show in a different light, but the reason why I can’t see why Sayaka reacts the way she does is because she’s the odd one out of the group. She’s the only one out of Madoka/Sayaka/Kyouko to react so violently to the soul gem separation thing. It might just be me, but there’s something strange when you have literally the girl with the purest soul in the world completely unconcerned about this body/soul problem, and Sayaka being so troubled over it. Why does she obsess over this issue? She got the lecture from Kyouko to basically accept it. Why doesn’t she? It’s a puzzle that is never really resolved, and it’s apparently just a fact that Sayaka is actually so insecure about this one issue.

        Then what I try to do in my post is rationalize exactly where Sayaka just collapses, and whether it’s a reasonable collapse. The problem that I find is that this picture that we get of Sayaka early on in the show just isn’t compatible with her descent into madness. She has this extraordinarily rapid progression starting straight from episode 6 into episode 8, where she has a total mental breakdown. There’s little to indicate any doubts in 5, and in fact the opposite is proven. She believes that she’s in the right. Then where does she begin to regret her decision? If she had any real doubts, the show never gave an inkling of them until episode 7 at the earliest. She has conviction and stubbornness all up until the end of episode 7. Where in the previous episodes did we get a sense of such a weak personality? I can’t find it.

        Of course, I can see where the latter part of your post is coming from. It probably is the show’s fault for not developing them properly, but I don’t think that my post is just my own vapid thoughts. There needs to be logical development of the characters. You can’t just evaporate 6 episodes of character development in the course of 2 episodes.

        • Fencedude
          Posted March 2, 2011 at 11:27 pm | Permalink

          The problem is that you are expecting her to react rationally, to coldly accept this. But people don’t react always rationally, especially not 14 year olds. She was, effectively, raped, and she feels dirtied, unworthy, NON HUMAN. This is not a rational reaction, but you can’t rationalize someone out of their irrational positions. It doesn’t work.

          The reason she showed no doubts in episode 5 was because she didn’t have any, the revelation about the Soul Gems, Kyouko’s warnings, Kyousuke’s snubbing, Hitomi’s declaration, they all piled in on her and she snapped.

          She was shown that her philosophy, the very core of what she was, was a lie. She sacrificed her humanity for nothing, and she can’t even take solace in that she’s saving other people, because even that is ultimately pointless.

          Homura was 100% correct, Sayaka is the absolute WORST person to become a Magical Girl. Her fall was inevitable from the moment she made the contract.

          • einnashe
            Posted March 3, 2011 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

            I think that, until the show has finished airing and we can take it as a whole, a better way of tackling character analysis is not to view things in terms of how a character changes, but how the interpretation of her character changes based on the shifting assumptions the show introduces. I’m not sure that Madoka Magica was ever intended to be a traditional coming of age story like other magical girl shows, but a strict analysis of how the characters react to their circumstances.

            Let’s start with Sayaka. We call her rational, but I’m not sure she ever is. Let’s look at the problems in her daily life: that is, her relationship with Kamijou. She has a crush. She loves him, genuinely. She visits him in the hospital every day and brings him gifts. And she’s so convinced that they’ll be happy together, no matter what, that she makes a completely selfless wish for him. But he never once reciprocates. He doesn’t even have the decency to tell his childhood friend when he’s released from the hospital, or say hello to her at school, or thank her for staying with him, and that’s all before Hitomi makes her move. It seems like, from the very beginning of the show, Sayaka’s only way of coping with adversity is denial–ignore the reality and substitute her own. But once she makes the contract, that doesn’t work. She can’t indulge in her fantasies of love and justice once harsh reality steps in to contradict them. She doesn’t stand a chance with the boy she likes. Magical girls aren’t about peace and friendship and cute dresses. And continuing to entertain them, now that she’s a magical girl, is fatal.

            One of the first things we learn about Witches is that they hide themselves in barriers, away from the world. Sayaka was always a ticking time bomb.

            Kyouko is a bit more difficult. I think it’s unfair to interpret her as a psychopath–the fact of the matter is that Sayaka strikes the first blow, Sayaka presses the attack when Kyouko prepares to leave, Sayaka answers Kyouko’s provocations. Rather, I think that Kyouko can’t bring herself to talk tough once she starts to see herself in Sayaka, especially after the shock of episode 6, even if she hid the impact well. I won’t go so far as to say that Kyouko is still a selfless little girl at heart, but what I can see is that Kyouko has an emotional investment in Sayaka, because saving Sayaka is synonymous with saving herself… as it turns out, literally.

            Homura we can’t really do much with right now, because as a confirmed time traveler, her true character and motivations aren’t apparent yet. Madoka, however, is showing some subtle development–she’s coming to distrust Kyubey. Her “will hating you return Sayaka to normal?” in episode 8 is telling–she’s already become disgusted with this magical girl business even without becoming one herself.

            I think the turning point of this show is going to be what finally pushes Madoka over the edge, bringing her godlike power to bear, and whether in the end it feels like a narrative asspull or not.

            Edit: I also wouldn’t fault Madoka for defaulting to her last known good configuration of “find Sayaka,” either. She had to choose between the shady, and now apparently mentally unstable, armed transfer student she’s known for less than a week, and the best friend she’s been with for years. I think most of us, if in the same situation as Madoka instead of genre-savvy observers, would do the same.

        • EvilDevil
          Posted March 3, 2011 at 12:38 am | Permalink

          I just would like to say something. First of all Kyouko is a veteran and a survivalist, she has that mentality to adapt to every situation and changes for survival, so she probably just accepted her situation and she tries to move on to what just happened to her, she has a lot of experience in the Puella Magi business not to mention alot of memories of many battles and deaths to produce a strong mind for her. Sayaka on the other hand is still a noob and naive.

          There is also the issue that if Madoka had no problem with having her soul rip from her body then she should have done her wish by now, unless her fear and hesitation is regarding to something else. Kyubei tried to deceive Madoka, that didnt work, then he tried guilt tripping her, that didnt work, then Kyubei tells Madoka that her powers are so strong and powerful that she could change the laws of the universe, almost as if saying once the becomes a Puella Magi she can change the rules and fix everything. Only with the promise that she can become a God to fix everything that went wrong Madoka decides to take the plunge only to be stopped by Homura.

          I think we need to see the process of Sayaka’s soul being rip apart as an invasion of her body. Imagine if someone cut your hand and replaced it with a cybernetic implant, even if the implant was technologically superior the loss of a body part is still traumatic, having the soul taken that way could be an equivalent. Also I like the way Fencedude puts it, that in a way Sayaka was raped by Kyubei with his deception by having her soul taken from her body. Sayaka gave consent but she didnt know what she was doing. I think Sayaka was not mentally prepared for the following trauma and adding up to the rest of the mess like losing her love, her best friend stealing her boyfriend, getting in a fight with Madoka, and having her beliefs crushed during that train scene, is almost to the point that she cant just take the mental stress so she crashes and burns. Maybe Sayaka never had what it takes to be a Puella Magi like Kyouko or Mami.

          • Fencedude
            Posted March 3, 2011 at 12:53 am | Permalink

            And even despite Kyouko’s well honed survival instincts, she was seriously shaken by the revelation about the Soul Gem. Look at what she tried to do for Sayaka!

            Kyouko poured her heart out to Sayaka, I’m willing to bet that Sayaka’s the only person who has ever heard Kyouko’s story. And despite the fact that Sayaka blew her off, with a less than subtle insult about how she manages to get by, Kyouko still came to save her from Homura, and is about to get herself killed trying to save her from herself.

            RED X BLUE FOREVER

            ;_;

        • Anchen
          Posted March 3, 2011 at 6:41 am | Permalink

          @Mystlord: I dunno if anyone else brought up this argument, I haven’t looked at every comment yet, but I think the fundamental issue you might be having is that you think Sayaka is/was “pure” and “good”. However I honestly think she never was. She had an arrogant typical mahou shojou good vs evil mentality. Do you remember what Mami told her in regards to her wanting a wish for someone else? I don’t remember it exactly but it was something along the lines of:

          “Think about what you really want from a wish like that. Are you genuinely hoping for that person’s happiness? Or are you hoping that they will like you because you helped them?”

          Do you remember that after that Sayaka hesitated and seemed to re-think for a moment about her wish? Because she knew it wasn’t completely pure. I think we can conclude at this point that Sayaka’s intentions were not genuinely pure, and that it was a dumb wish in the first place (in this universe). She WANTED the boy to like her because she helped him. She ASSUMED that because she did something good that she would be rewarded. That is how the world works right? Being a mahou shoujo like Mami is good right? Remember that Sayaka did not hear Mami’s loneliness confession. She did not hear all the warnings Madoka did about the downsides of being a puella magi.

          For episode 6, you have to realize a few things in regards to Homura and Sayaka’s interactions. For one thing, Sayaka did NOT know that Mami had bound Homura and prevented her from assisting. That’s why she still thinks that Homura was being greedy and that the grief seed was Mami’s. That Homura had essentially idled by and watched their mentor and friend die so that she could swoop in.

          You also say that Sayaka was “level-headed”. But she was the one who after witnessing Mami die, and with insufficient information decided she would instantly make her wish and become a mahou shojou in episode 4. Later, Sayaka was able to so boldly declare herself right and confident she had made the right decision because at the time everything was working out for her. She was clearly in the right and Homura and this Kyouko girl were “evil”. She had power. The boy liked her and she liked him. She could be with him and she was still a normal girl as well. Then one by one things turned against her. And we see that she was fragile, not all that pure, and got burned. Was there some shock factor involved? Probably. But I think the signs were there and you decided to ignore them.

        • Posted March 3, 2011 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

          I see it as pretty simple. Sayaka was someone who truly believed that she wanted justice. She believed that she’d be happy just to fix Kyosuke and to fight witches to save others. Due to this, she is and remains a foil for Madoka.

          But it was all denial. What she really wanted was Kyosuke. She was just another cynical, selfish human like the rest of us. Mami’s line about the difference between helping someone and being loved for helping someone was foreshadowing. Sayaka thought she was special and the former, but she was the latter, like everyone else.

          From end of episode 6 to near end of episode 7, she was hit with a couple big whammies. Obviously the soul gem issue was the 1st. Again, we have no honest way of knowing what it’s like to have your soul ripped out of the body, but it’s quite believable that it’s traumatic. Enough to make Kyoko rethink her generally confrontational attitude and enough to make Sayaka believe that she’s unworthy of being loved by anyone anymore. That took away Kyosuke from her possibility, but she remained stubborn while talking with Kyoko. But she couldn’t hold onto the denial any longer when the 2nd whammy hit, which was Hitomi’s confrontation. That’s when she broke down, finally acknowledging that everything she wanted was lost to her. At least, from her current distraught emotional position.

          This character archetype followed by Sayaka is as old as the hills. The wide eyed idealist who turns to cynicism and self destruction in the face of reality. Neither is the speed of her turn unusual. This was all by the book and – dare I say? – utterly predictable.

          It is entirely believable that someone in that situation would turn to self destructive tendencies, ones that were hurtful to others as well. And given that this is a middle schooler, rash, dumb choices based on unfiltered emotions aren’t just likely, they’re inevitable.

          Again, I think there is plenty to criticize in this show regarding its character presentation. But I think making your core criticism be of the believability of Sayaka’s downfall is misguided.

        • Joshua
          Posted March 3, 2011 at 6:18 pm | Permalink

          To give a reason for the collapse beyond old speculation, or what you might find to be a rationalization, I think what Mami said back in episode 3 has to have its implications explored. Mami says to Sayaka that she has to want the other persons happiness, instead of being the person to bring them happiness, in order for a wish for someone else to work. Sayaka flat out ignores this. If something didn’t happen, then Butch Gen just wrote empty dialogue, so it could be omitted. It would be Mami expressing her opinion and nothing more.

          I’m not seeing as many character related issues as you do either, but it could be because I am jaded towards finding any character as deep as a person in lots of media. They are developed for their roles. Homura is merely there to be a foil to Kyuubey’s plans to make Madoka a magical girl by any means necessary, Madoka is really just a personification of Sealed Evil (or at least in the sense that it would be bad if she got powers because she can do so much in the system), and Sayaka and the other magical girl exist so we understand what is so wrong with the system or Madoka being a magical girl. I don’t think we need to have deep characters to tell this story. Deep characters would probably only lead to not telling the story.

          I do think you have a legitimate gripe with Madoka not doing anything about the magical world. I could make excuses, but that is truly odd, to the point where she might not be needed as a character. But that’s it. As a world and a concept, Madoka Magica is solid, but Madoka isn’t the main character. The main characters are the magical girls, because they are actively dealing with the peril of saving the world (or someone) and giving up everything to do it. That’s where I think the story is.

          Am I tired of something awful happening to someone, or some revelation happening nearly every episode? Yes. Those moments aren’t as effective as they used to be, but I think that the story is in its closing stages anyway. With any amount of luck, what’s important to Butch Gen now is how the story closes in 10-12 and not how many more ways he can ruin the characters lives before he runs out of time.

        • Posted March 4, 2011 at 9:30 pm | Permalink

          I think that the problems that people have with my conclusion come down to 3 points: 1) Whether Sayaka was truly moral in the beginning, or whether she was selfish, 2) The irrational effects of the Soul Gem issue, and 3) Hitomi’s confession.

          The first problem that I see with Sayaka’s development is that she ultimately knew what she was sacrificing from the start. She saw Mami die, she believed back then that Homura was evil, she thinks by the end of episode 5 that Kyouko is evil, and thus she believes that she’s the only moral mahou shoujo out there. If she contracted with Kyuubey knowing that she could die, then the happiness of Kyousuke means far more to her than her own life. That’s affirmed up through episode 6. Then that completely flips in episode 7. Then the logical conclusion to draw here is that she was lying to herself the entire time.

          But then what happened to Mami’s death? What happened to never really furthering her relationship with Kyousuke? If she’s content to only sit with the guy for hours on end every day, then I don’t see why we can suddenly conclude that she’s lying to herself. Not only that, but she was willing to go home after searching for Kyousuke after searching for him all day in episode 6. If she’s placing her own happiness and his happiness on a scale, then clearly his happiness has won out. Every time. Furthermore, there was a huge introspection on the part of both Madoka and Sayaka after Mami’s death, where they completely flipped from wanting to be Mahou Shoujos to the opposite. It’s almost incredible how that was essentially factored out of the decision calculus when Sayaka contracted, but it was always prescient in Sayaka’s mind, as evident by episodes 5 and 6. Then where was her obsession with Kyousuke then? If she feared being dead, then where was the selfishness?

          It might just be the difference in the shock factor of Mami’s death versus the shock factor of the soul gem reveal that’s causing this disjoint for me. Mami’s death was this huge, gigantic event that really, really impacted how the story progressed. The soul gem thing, ok, sure, but I find it hard to believe that Sayaka obsesses more about that than Mami’s death.

          Touching on some other random things, Kyousuke never “snubbed” Sayaka, just returned to his violin and school. Madoka has only not contracted with Kyuubey because Homura has interrupted every time. And if the soul gem issue is really that important as apparently Kyouko and Sayaka’s development says it is, then clearly it doesn’t matter too much for her if she’s even considering being a mahou shoujo.

          And I realized that given the amount of work that I’m facing, I won’t be able to respond to all this comments individually, and I apologize for that. So let me just put up a few points:

          Several people have brought up that Kyouko never really was “evil” to begin with. I disagree. In the transcript of her conversation with Sayaka:

          K – Actually, you shouldn’t even be talking to me that way. I’ve been doing this far longer than you.
          S – Shut up!
          K – If you’re so dumb you don’t get it when I try to tell you… And you don’t get it when I beat you down… I’ll just have to kill you!

          And at the tail end of episode 4:
          Kyouko – But you know, I don’t think I want to give such a great spot to a rookie.
          Kyuubey – What are you planning, Kyouko?
          Kyouko – Isn’t it obvious? I just have to beat the crap out of her.

          And on a final note about Sayaka, one of the biggest problems I have is her sudden emo event with Madoka in the beginning of episode 8, despite having cried on Madoka’s shoulder at the tail end of episode 7, and the only event happening between these two events being the witch battle. Sayaka must be bipolar to a really large degree to literally refute what she said about not getting Madoka involved. It almost seemed like just something used to make Sayaka run away and thus have the encounter with the two men on the subway. But that’s just speculation on my part.

          Again, I’ll be probably making large swaths of responses to comments, but the conversation might spill over into the episode 9 post… Which I still have to write >.>

          • amado
            Posted March 5, 2011 at 3:58 am | Permalink

            while I do disagree that the girls are acting irregularly, I agree with what you said about sayaka.
            her wish was still effectively selfless even if she did want kyousuke to like her. if she really was selfish, she should have wished kyousuke to love her as well.

            the thing that made sayaka go like this right now is that her problems stacked too big and too fast for her to handle. while kyoko lost her family, she was eventually able cope by being selfish which made her able to handle the truth about her being not human anymore. sayaka though, found out that she wasnt human anymore, and unlike the other magical girls, she has a lot to lose now that she isnt human. kyoko already lost her family so it wasnt really pushing her to despair.
            then it was increased by the revelation that someone will take kyousuke, and its from a friend. while it still hurt her though, she did give him up since she isnt human now and hitomi would be better for him. the fear of being hated once he finds out about her is justified and proven by what happened when kyoko’s father found out about kyoko.

            and really, madoka would have made the contract and just end up in a similar situation with sayaka, possibly even worse since she is emotional, if homura didnt butt in. she should have really tried to include sayaka as well. sayaka was also right in the part where homura doesnt really care for her, thats another reason why she threw away the grief seed.

            if you guys looked more closely, sayaka was trying to die being a hero, saving people and not caring for her soul gem. she was expecting to die, not to become a witch.

          • amado
            Posted March 5, 2011 at 4:04 am | Permalink

            also sayaka was right that she was doing the right thing, its just that there is a consequence when doing it. kyoko and homura’s action in the end let people die so it is logical to assume they are evil or at least not good people.
            she cracked during the fight with elsa maria when she was finally starting to realize how much she really lost. besides, she does end up regretting what she said to madoka in the end. the final push was when she questioned if this world was really worth saving when she encountered those two guys at the train.

          • Scrooge McDuck
            Posted March 6, 2011 at 4:02 am | Permalink

            I am probably late to the party, but…

            I see it more like character revelations rather than character developments. You ask where did all Sayaka’s selflessness go. I say it was never there to begin with. And no, it’s not really lying.

            We can all agree that Sayaka is very idealistic . Episodes 5-6 told of this. She believed that a magical girl should be the paragon of morality and selflessness. She believed that she should be always helping people and needing nothing in return. She believed that she cured Kamijou solely for his sake; and if he’s happy, she’s happy.

            The problem is, she couldn’t live up to these expectations; nobody can. She realized that she actually needs Kamijou to appreciate her. She realized that she is selfish after all. I think her line in Episode 7 is very telling:

            “I thought, just for one second, about what would have happened if I didn’t save Hitomi. I’m a failure as a hero.”

            It’s a dissonance between her ideal and her desire. She wants to be a hero, but she’s only human.

          • OriMimi
            Posted March 9, 2011 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

            I really feel that you are overestimating Sayaka’s reasoning ability. You are comparing a pubescent girl caught in the middle of a successive downward spiral of traumatic events to a rational adult who is able to observe these events from the outside. It’s the forest for the trees analogy. Sayaka can only sees the trees ahead of her and on either side. And while I feel that there is a lapse on the writer’s part for not being able to convince you of the sudden shift, I also feel you are applying logic to her decisions that she herself is not, which is unfair on her character.

            1) That Sayaka was truly moral in the beginning. Where is she moral? Yes, she is able to recognize that she is ignorant, but her bravado is far more apparent. She is the one who first considers wasting her wish on an enormous banquet. She is the one, who, the same episode when she says that Mami taught them about the consequences, contracts as a Magical Girl because Kyousuke had a tantrum. Her decisions are made on a moment to moment basis with very little reflection, as befitting of her characterization as straight-forward, bold, and aggressive. Also proud, which will play into her descent later.

            Sayaka’s main method of coping is denial. Rather than cry, as Madoka does, at Mami’s death, she first blames Homura – which is, for her, logical. She is the one who ‘doesn’t want to talk about it’ at the beginning of the episode. She hides her feelings behind grand statements and smiles in order to pretend everything is fine, building up the pressure inside her that will, eventually, come out in destructive ways. Even after she cries on Madoka’s shoulder in episode 7 she passes it off with a smile afterwards.

            However, a series of events make it impossible for her to employ her coping method. First, I do not believe her love for Kyousuke is a pure ideal. She loves him, yes. But she is shy about that love, rather than selfless, clearly upset when he leaves without telling her, clearly wanting to intrude in his house but afraid that he will turn her away. She believes that once he was better he would continue to be hers without her having to expend the effort to keep him. It is not selflessness.

            Then, Kyubey compares her to Madoka, Kyouko, even Mami. She is told she is inferior to all of them. Her idea of herself as a protector of justice is damaged, as is the pride that goes along with her refusal to give up in the fight against Kyouko. Thus, she is saddle with an even greater inferiority complex than the one that merely prevented her from confessing, which she does fight against, only in the wrong way. She sacrifices safety and her health for the continued self-image of herself as ‘just’.

            2) The soul gem issue. You have just been told you are a zombie. You are no longer human. What even non-religious people consider to be the essence of themselves has been removed from your body without your knowledge – which would feel like a violation of both your rights and your body – and for a person who thinks more with your emotions and first instincts than your head, you wouldn’t bother to think about the logical aspects. You would assume you were subhuman, an abomination. Here the writer’s skill might have been lacking, asking more of you than you were willing to give in asking you to imagine yourself as a headstrong girl dealing with a revelation of this magnitude directly concerning yourself – as opposed to with Mami – but the fact stands that the rape analogy is a very apt way of putting it. You cannot expect her to act rationally in the aftermath.

            3) Thus, at episode 7, she feels like she has lost her love, she feels inferior to the other magical girls, and she has just found out that she is no longer human, in her perspective. And Kyubey does not allow her to deny these events, her only coping method. He shoves them in her face with a paw to the soul-gem-gut. Then Kyouko attempts to change her world view, which her personality will not permit. As others have said, at the time she had no regrets, because things, at the moment, still seemed to be going well. Her family was not dead. She was still a protector of justice, still pure in her eyes, she, in accordance with her personality, wasn’t thinking of what she’d already lost. So she rebels against Kyouko, reaffirming that self-image. Then she learns that she is capable of evil thoughts through Hitomi. It is not the fact that Hitomi loves Kyousuke. It is that fact that he will not be hers without effort and she no longer feels that she can give that effort. Naturally, humanly, she resents Hitomi. She thinks uncharitable thoughts, as everyone does. And thus she violates her self-image, which at this point is all that she has.

            Her supposed breakdown at the end of the episode is the feelings she bottled up with denial venting themselves. She is redeeming herself in her eyes, as she says, becoming strong enough to beat a witch on her own without help. The laughter is an unconscious breakdown of her mental faculties, as she attempts to deal with the strain of the situation and fails. She refuses the grief seed because to take it is an admission of weakness, and she wishes to throw it in Kyouko’s face. She refuses Homura’s grief seed because she doesn’t trust her, she doesn’t want to depend on anyone, and she doesn’t know the consequences. She shouts at Madoka because she probably had that resentment of her since Kyubey first told her about Madoka’s power but was just repressing it, and it only came out now because she is in an incredibly fragile state. Her soul gem is corrupting. She is going insane, essentially.

            As for Kyouko, as someone said previously, is it a stretch – but not that large of one – to assume that she has not violated her earlier character. She is attempting to help Sayaka because she associates Sayaka with her previous self. She wishes to undo her own fate through the proxy of another, which is again, a human action. Rather than deviating, it is actual development, revealing the personality behind the callous self-absorbed shell. Also, when people experience a joint tragedy, they will tend to band together regardless of previous differences. The soul gem is just such a tragedy, so her attitude can be further explained.

            I won’t go into Madoka’s development because it hasn’t finished yet, and I did realize as I was writing this that the fact that I had to write this means that Urobuchi did not do as good a job as he could have. But I also feel that you are applying the wrong part of your psyche to the problem; try thinking through her actions again with the emotional, instinctual part and they make more sense.

  2. Rackenspiekle
    Posted March 1, 2011 at 11:23 pm | Permalink

    About Kyouko’s change. I thought she saw herself in Sayaka and was lonely enough to want a friend.

    She just wanted a friend. ;_;

    • Posted March 2, 2011 at 9:47 pm | Permalink

      I don’t know… The face that she makes when Sayaka walks out on her…

      • EvilDevil
        Posted March 3, 2011 at 12:49 am | Permalink

        True, she was mad because Sayaka was looking down on her because she stole those apples to survive. She ate those apples almost as if saying “dammit I know it is wrong to steal, but I dont need you to tell me that. Who the hell do you think you are” kind of face… Yet she still came to her rescue when she was in trouble during that fight with the witch. Maybe she did it out of concern or maybe she had other reasons… but we shouldnt overlook the possibility that she was lonely, specially if she sees a little of herself in Sayaka and was trying to create a bond between them by trying to be her mentor.

  3. Posted March 1, 2011 at 11:58 pm | Permalink

    I suppose one could see the rather quick flip-flopping of the characters as a symptom of the 1 Cour Compression Syndrome, where the pace is dictated by the fact that a series has only been greenlit 12-13 episodes worth of airtime (remember how Kampher, The Demon Lord in the Back Row, and Angel Beats! turned out)

    A few people have pointed out, for example, that Kyoko’s change of heart or Sayaka’s fall from grace would have been more convincing spread out across four to five episodes, or a longer period of in-universe time (like a month, instead of what seems to be three days). Unfortunately, the series doesn’t have that luxury, which leads to extremely rushed developments like this.

    Personal problems aside, it’s REALLY unfair to Urobuchi to say that he’s flaked out though. The man knows what he’s doing, but perhaps, like Jun Maeda, the limited timeframe given for these kinds of series forces them into a pace that they’re not entirely used to (remember he’s a VN writer first).

    • Posted March 2, 2011 at 9:52 pm | Permalink

      It’s just as fair to put the blame on the script writer for not planning this out properly. Especially when said scriptwriter is also the series composer.

  4. Son Gohan
    Posted March 2, 2011 at 12:31 am | Permalink

    I see a lot of misconceptions in this article. Let me try to defend the characters to the best of my ability.

    Re Sayaka: The weight of the revelation about the Soul Gems is clearly spelled by Sayaka to Madoka in their heartfelt conversation in episode 7: “I can’t love Kyosuke with this body! I can’t hug him or kiss him! I am a zombie!”.
    While I think that her reasoning is foolish, since her body is functionally identical to that of a normal human, you can’t say that her descent to madness was unexpected. In fact many people correctly guessed that she will turn into a witch after being rejected or ignored by Kyosuke.
    In episode 8 she was clearly out of her mind when she blamed Madoka for not becoming a Mahou Shoujo and she immediately regretted her harsh words.
    Sure, she made some stupid decisions, like rejecting the Grief Seed that Homura offered, but there won’t be much of a story if the characters never made the wrong thing.

    Re Kyoko: You are making her more malicious than she actually is. At first she just wanted to knock out Sayaka, and only after witnessing her regenerative abilities she resorted to deadlier attacks. In episode 6 she was just provoking Sayaka into battle; I don’t think she would go as far as dismembering Kyosuke.
    It’s true that her change of mind in episode 7 was a bit sudden but it was explained by Kyoko as she sees a bit of herself in Sayaka. I think that she reassessed her priorities after feeling betrayed by QB.

    Re Homura: It was evident since the beginning that she was just putting on a facade of indifference while deeply caring about Madoka. She warned her many times not to get involved with the magical world. At the same time, she tried mantaining her distance for some reason still unexplained (I speculate that it has something to do with a previous iteration of this time cycle, since it has been determined that she is a time traveller).

    Re Madoka; What could the poor girl do in this situation? She tried to support emotionally her friend, because the only alternative is to sign a contract with the Devil and ruin her life. You can’t really blame her for wavering after seeing what happened to Mami. Not everybody can be a hero of justice.
    She didn’t console a crying Homura because she was still shocked that Homura killed QB in front of her eyes. I think that the worth of Madoka will be shown in the final episodes, when she will be faced with a tough decision.

    • Posted March 2, 2011 at 12:57 am | Permalink

      This. I was about to write a nearly identical post. Sayaka in particular: as I see it, everything she’s done throughout the series except hitting Homura with the fire extinguisher in episode 1 has revolved around Kyosuke. Sayaka began to unravel as it became apparent that when not bedbound, Kyousuke had no time or attention for her – not even a minimal friendship, she was just empty space as far as he was concerned; mindful of Mami’s asking why she wanted to help Kyousuke, she tried to put a brave face on things and pretend to herself and those around her that she was fine as she was; that her intentions were pure and always had been, that she could cope with everything as it was, take it all on the chin and keep going; but the progression of events and revelations – the souls, Hitomi, the collapse of the “magical girls as unambiguously moral crusaders” veneer following conversations with Kyoko and being tortured in her bedroom by QB – everything built up until eventually one straw or another broke the camel’s back, it is almost irrelevant which particular one.

      Far from being inconsistent or poorly developed, this is just how depression builds behind a facade and leads to self-harm in real life too :(

      • South
        Posted March 2, 2011 at 2:54 am | Permalink

        Yeah I agree with you two, basically said what I was thinking.

        About Sayaka, I am sure her actions were never that selfless. Mami pointed that out. She felt things would change to her favour with the guy once he became happy, he was treating her not the way she wanted and that’s when she makes the wish. Part of her was happy he returned to his true self, but as the revelations (Hitomi, zombie girls) hitted, wheter she was concious of her true motives or not all along, she started cracking up. It was bound to happen the moment Mami asked her reasons for wishing for someone else. Being the one who wished for it, or just wish for the sake of other? I don’t think Sayaka was ever strong enough for all that happened to her next, so in my personal view this was done in the best way possible.

        As for Madoka, having been weak all her life, it would be kind of out of nowhere if she pulled a hero time. I think it was brave enough for her personality to accompany Sayaka knowing she will be a bother and she might even die. And, I’m sure she is bound to do something later on.

        Homura, what they said. It’s too soon to talk about her, since we still need to know THE mystery.
        Kyouko felt a bit weak to me but I honestly didn’t mind. Never saw her as truly evil though.

        • EvilDevil
          Posted March 2, 2011 at 11:33 am | Permalink

          I have to agree to all this. Sayaka may talk about being a hero of Justice but it was all about Kyosuke, it was always about him. We also need to remember that Sayaka refused to use the grief seeds to purify her soul gem, so it makes you wonder how much of her mental breakdown was caused by the corruption of her soul gem. Also it was stated that emotional stress can also accelerate the corruption of the soul gem, so when Hitomi expressed her decision to confess it may have caused something to crack to an already stained soul gem in Sayaka. This could also explain why Homura is so cold, she is not cold she is actually trying to suppress her emotions. Someone in the boards that I frequent pointed that Homura actually has the weakest Soul Gem but the strongest magical power (word of mouth from Urobuchi dont know if true), and so she tries to be cold and collective to avoid unnecessary emotional stress on her soul gem.

          • Darkfireblade25
            Posted March 2, 2011 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

            u guys already beat to to the punch so bad it isn’t even funny :/ oh well better luck next time.

            what boards do you frequent? i am looking for some good boards to get some discussion.

      • Yamibakeru
        Posted March 2, 2011 at 4:50 am | Permalink

        These two posts. Mystlord, I felt your analysis of the character development in Madoka a bit flippant and rather simplifying, as if you skimmed a lot of the details. There’s good reason why each character becomes the way they do, and it’s rather lucidly laid out in the anime. I don’t know. Maybe you were watching it in a different mindset as I was, but I perfectly understand what’s going on.

      • Fencedude
        Posted March 2, 2011 at 4:53 am | Permalink

        Exactly what both of you said. What Mystlord seems to be missing is that with the possible exception of Madoka, none of these girls were really the face they presented to the world, they were lying, mostly to themselves, about what they really wanted. Sayaka’s the most obvious one, of course. Her descent was sharp and brutal, but completely follows once you realize that her selflessness was a mask for her own insecurities. And while from our objective perspective her angst over the “Zombie” issue is silly, her perspective is different, and people don’t always react rationally.

        As for Kyouko…Kyouko’s a good girl. She always has been. Her backstory nearly hammers this home, and its an utter miracle that what happened to her family didn’t snap her right then and there and turn her into a witch. The only reason it didn’t is because she made a complete 180 in her outward personality, and went from selflessness to espousing a philosophy of selfishness, because thats the only way she could find to survive. But deep inside, there’s a horribly wounded girl who never got the help she needed.

        Note that while Kyouko did disrupt Sayaka’s fight against the familiar, Sayaka attacked first, and she’s the one who escalated the battle, Kyouko mostly wanted to scare Sayaka away, so she could have the hunting grounds. But now, interacting with other Magical Girls, with other people, on a face to face level for maybe the first time in years, seeing Sayaka descent, she can’t help herself, and the real Kyouko’s breaking free. You can really see it at the end of the scene in the chapel, when Kyouko offers Sayaka an Apple, and Sayaka rejects her with the snide comment about her stealing them. Look at Kyouko’s face. She hates what she does to survive. She hates herself for what she’s become just as much as Sayaka does.

        So now we are down to Sayaka, who in her “selflessness”, her desire to never use magic for herself, she set off on a road to suicide, and has now become a witch, while Kyouko, who espoused total selfishiness, is about to risk her life to do something she knows is impossible, simply because she feels its the right thing to do.

        Their character arcs are brilliant, and the fact that all of this was done in five episodes is a work of genius.

        And then Homura. Homura…only cares about one thing. Madoka. But she can’t get through to her. Judging by what happened when Madoka almost remembered her, something might be messing with Madoka’s memory. But Homura’s reactions to Madoka’s rejection, not to mention her expressions in previous scenes (see episode 1, “Akemi-san”), shows that in whatever time Homura originated from, Madoka was an incredibly important person to her. Every interaction with Madoka must be like a raw, open wound, boring away at her soul.

        • EvilDevil
          Posted March 2, 2011 at 11:42 am | Permalink

          It is incredible to see Sayaka and Kyouko clash, these two characters are wearing masks to hide their pain. Kyouko expresses a selfish personality to survive yet the truth is that one time she was like Sayaka, the daughter of a preacher who fought witches for the greater good. Kyouko believes she can use magic selflessly (without using grief seeds which is dangerous, who knows how much of her crazy personality change was influenced by a corrupted soul gem) to do justice but in truth she is still in pain to the fact that she lost Kyosuke. They both hate who they have become but they tried to move on, but one of them fails.

          Kyouko hates herself but she allows herself the option to be selfish and move on as a matter of survival; it is incredible after losing her family and her sister she was able to move on. Sayaka on the other hand cold never recover because all of her emotions were invested on one guy who probably doesnt even think of Sayaka that way.

    • Aikun2012
      Posted March 2, 2011 at 5:11 am | Permalink

      Me 2…

      I was about to reply and give out the same exact post….

      Sayaka’s Mind mainly consists of two things: Kyousuke and moral ethics. Second to these are Madoka and her other friend, Hitomi. Sayaka cracked because her two main reasons for living were basically obliterated into tiny little fragments of glass.

      She feels like she cannot truly love Kyousuke as “a shell of a person” (possibly an over-exaggeration on her part but at least it makes a bit of sense). Adding to this is that her good friend Hitomi is taking Kyousuke away and she believes that Hitomi would work better with Kyousuke than Sayaka herself.

      Second, her moral obligations toward society and people was completely destroyed within the scene right before she turned into a witch. She had this powerful philosophy of believing that people were inherently good and that fighting for them is worth the risk (as shown when she fights familiars rather than wait to fight witches). But as she cares for other people, she starts to see their flaws and finds that her philosophy is in question. When she finds people playing with love on the train, she cracks and becomes a “you know what”. Her ideas, her morals, and her loves are destroyed… If you put it this way, then it makes sense that she turns AT LEAST a bit insane.

      • EvilDevil
        Posted March 2, 2011 at 11:47 am | Permalink

        I believe that train scene pretty much would shatter any ideals of justice and sacrifice. Sayaka literally sold her soul to the devil for the one she loves and to protect the innocent. Well her love was taken away but at least she got her ethical belief in justice. Kyouko tried to explain to Sayaka that she was going to a dangerous path with that kind of mind set but Sayaka didnt listen. Once we arrive to the train scene and we listen to these scumbags about how the use women for their selfish needs (seriously, I cannot be the only one that sees a pattern here) she loses it, her mind cracks. I dont know how much of her descend to madness is caused by grief, loss, or the corruption in her soul gem for refusing to use grief seeds, but clearly there was a pattern that demonstrated her descend into despair…

  5. anonymous
    Posted March 2, 2011 at 2:18 am | Permalink

    Sayaka never was so selfish and righteous she wanted to believe. She had really high ideals, and in the end she didn’t have strengt to uphold them. They were too unrealistic anyway. She was really young girl in love, and was jealous, normal girl, not perfect hero. That realization destroyed her, she could not let go of them, because then she would regretted.
    And she started to regret long time ago, she just couldn’t confess to it even to herself. She never was that strong. She tried not to change and hold on to her beliefs. But instead she become brittle, and broke.

    Kyoko never was killer, she just put thought front because her past trauma. She tried not to care, but when she saw herself in Sayaka she tried to help her not to do same mistake.

  6. zomglazerpewpewpew
    Posted March 2, 2011 at 3:41 am | Permalink

    Your ability to analyze seems to be affected by your pessimism XD

  7. Posted March 2, 2011 at 4:18 am | Permalink

    I see PMMM doing less character development and more character exploration. Sayaka has strong morals, that’s why she reacts like that in this situation. She has no mechanism to cope with this situation. Kyouko developed her darwinistic outlook to cope with her situation, but now that she sees similar things happening to Sayaka, that doesn’t work anymore. Homura might have made the same time loop many times and developed her cold exterior because she had to experience bad stuff over and over again. Madoka was an idealistic child at the beginning, so she has to learn how to react to the things that are happening right now. I guess she’s the only one who really can develop. I hope that happens in the last episodes.

  8. Lewin
    Posted March 2, 2011 at 5:00 am | Permalink

    Maybe I’m wrong but I would say that Kyouko was simply taunting Sayaka by suggesting to dismember Kyousuke. And we can’t judge if she would really tear someone’s arms and legs off if it was taunting.
    And Sayaka was mature? If we believe Kyouko’s comment she followed Kyousuke around the whole day and didn’t even dare to ring when she was standing in front off his house.
    I think you took the facades the characters presented too serious.
    But the character did change a bit too fast for my taste. And I never understood why separating the soul from the body is such a big deal.

    I could comment on the other things I disagree or agree with, but I’m sure someone will say everything I would say in better english, so why bother.^^

    • EvilDevil
      Posted March 2, 2011 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

      not everyone thinks separating the soul from the body is no big deal. That’s like saying having sex with a corpse is no big deal (which would be in Sayaka’s case the truth if Kyosuke ever had sex with her). You may not think it that way, but for some people the idea of soul separation disgusts them, and I think there are some religious beliefs that find the whole thing repugnant.

    • South
      Posted March 2, 2011 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

      Isn’t it because the body won’t grow in the end? Like, they will stay young forever or something?

  9. Mentar
    Posted March 2, 2011 at 5:02 am | Permalink

    I don’t know exactly where your problems come from – maybe you simply watched the episodes once and obliviously, and it’s also quite possible that you were watching the wrong subs (Nutbladder had some serious mistranslations, and gg has been shockingly bad – the reliable version out there is from MahouShoujo-yesy), but the so-called “lack of development” in characters is something I don’t see at all.

    Take Kyoko, for example. She was ready to take out Sayaka when she knew she had the advantage and everything under control. She already reasonably backed off when Homura interfered (who she couldn’t assess). And when she learned the truth behind the soul gem due to Madoka’s interference, she was clearly enraged. Under these circumstances, it’s perfectly logical to take a step back and mend fences. What remains is that she’s been in a comparable situation to Sayaka, but she drew consequences in a way which allowed her to live on. Sayaka on the other hand is on her way to self-destruction, as she can see, so she’s trying to be the senpai and help her through the worst. All this has been explained with high credibility and in amazing depth for the short timeframe.

    And your analysis of Sayaka’s development was downright terrible. Completely wrong. Let’s go through the worst part of it bit by bit.

    > Apparently all of Sayaka’s rhetoric, where she declares that she has absolutely no doubts,
    > breaks once Hitomi enters the picture and challenges her for Kyousuke.

    Wrong, of course. There were early signs of angry righteousness when Sayaka scolded Madoka and cursed Homura after her first clash with Kyoko – she’s losing her balance. We see her disappointment in Kyousuke’s lack of consideration to tell her he’s out of the hospital, and how quickly she succumbed to Kyoko’s taunts. After the soul gem shock, we first see her yell at QB, and then we see her curled up in a fetal position in bed over it. She feels like a zombie, not a human anymore. And then, she sees Hitomi take away the guy she loves and sacrificed everything for. It was a long, gradual development. Not a single sudden development.

    > Her world is shattered by this challenge, and she suddenly realizes that
    > she really does want to have Kyousuke all to herself. No lead up.

    Nonsense. Before she contracted, she was contemplating how Kyousuke would react if she used a wish to heal him. “Would he just thank me? Or maybe something more? … I’m such a terrible person”. And the issue “don’t wish for someone else, or it can backfire” was addressed MULTIPLE times, beginning with Mami.

    > Not even once do we get an inkling of any doubt in her decision to save Kyousuke,
    > and not once do we get any inkling that she’s really this selfish. Wait what?

    Several times, actually. And it had a clear development: First, it was “This is the happiest moment in my life. I’ll never have regrets”, which then went to “It’s okay that I wished for him (even if it doesn’t benefit me). I have no regrets”, which then turned to “Hitomi is taking him away, and there is nothing I can do”, which then turned to “I’m such an idiot”.

    Since you really managed to overlook all that (how???), I suggest you rewatch the entire show at least once, before dissing Urobuchi. So far, his scriptwriting has been exceptionally well.

    • EvilDevil
      Posted March 2, 2011 at 11:50 am | Permalink

      I agree with this. I think one need to watch this show multiple times to digest the story, there is so much going on, one can miss a few things now and then. Which is why I go to the chat boards to see if I missed something. I think we will be discussing Madoka for many years to come.

  10. Posted March 2, 2011 at 5:03 am | Permalink

    Rather than poor character portrayal/poor writing, I’d consider this character development. Obviously Kyouko’s gonna treat Sayaka differently rather than that cold-hearted bitch from the first time we met her. It’s because they are trying to construct her real identity. Obviously someone who you see in first glance isn’t gonna be the same person once you have many encounters with the person. Same with Sayaka who’s character is being tormented as she started being a Mahou Shoujo. Homura on the other is putting of an uncaring personality but her guard is suddenly turned off as she sees Madoka. She puts it back again when QB ressurects.

    I highly disagree that the writing on the characters is shaky.

    For revelations and plot twists, I would say its starting to ramp up. I hardly think they are losing out ideas when the story is getting more and more interesting. I mean last time speculation went so high in an anime before Madoka was Code Geass and that was 3 years ago. So if we ARE talking about plot twists and revelations and guessings, people have a lot to say in Madoka. I’d say that’s a good thing. Rarelt hese days does an anime make people keep on guessing and guessing.

    • Fencedude
      Posted March 2, 2011 at 5:07 am | Permalink

      On a related note, I’ve seen complaints that most of this episode was “Predicted”, well, so? While SHOCKING TWISTS are great and all, if you are going to lay down forshadowing and have a well constructed plot, you are eventually going to have to deliver on it, and they did, in a monumental fashion.

      But of course, this episode covered basically ever bit of non-batshit insane speculation…so now what?

      • EvilDevil
        Posted March 3, 2011 at 12:51 am | Permalink

        I dont care too much about the complains. If they have a problem let them be, and let them be part of the discussion so we can all partake on the experience…

      • bear
        Posted March 3, 2011 at 7:22 pm | Permalink

        Sometime the most emotional scenes are where you see what’s coming and you know it can’t be stopped. Having been in a car crash where I saw what was going to happen and I knew there was no way out gave me the same feeling as this episode.

  11. Merq
    Posted March 2, 2011 at 5:32 am | Permalink

    While I do agree that this whole “surprise” and “big reveal” thing is getting played and old, I would have to disagree on the characters. I think that they are following a logical path, which is refreshing because I think a lot of times characters don’t.

    As for Sayaka, I’ve seen mad people go crazy because of love. It is rare that love is completely selfless. I made a point before that I think Kyuubey targets children because of their naivete. She gave up everything for her love, which lots of people do. However, when you’ve gotten your heart broken a couple times you start to realize that becoming the martyr is NOT the business and you begin to take more calculated risks. You don’t necessarily do that when you are young. After becoming a Mahou Shoujo, she had to grow up and she discovered that she was actually more selfish than she thought she was. The one person she was willing to give up her life for doesn’t even have the decency to call her. Then, on top of that, he might hook up with her BEST FRIEND. Had he dated any other person, it might have been better. However, I can’t imagine my BEST FRIEND dating the man I love. That is hurt. And I’ve had the displeasure of being the “best friend” who unknowingly “stole” the man a friend loved. I’ve seen the damage it can do to someone. So, on top of that heart break, she learns the real truth behind the sacrifice she made. Not only does her love interest begin to lose interest in her, but her soul has been ripped out. These are the type of experiences that can drastically change a person or bring out feelings that they never knew they had. In my mind, Sayaka has always had the capacity to be selfish, but she just never had to face her own demons before now. This is part of growing up.

    Kyouko was about to kill Sayaka, understood. However, I think her motivation for killing her was for her own greed. She didn’t particularly HATE Sayaka as a person; but rather she didn’t CARE for her so she was disposable. On top of that, the perceived disrespect and lack of common ground between them fueled that rivalry. It was easier to dispose of Sayaka because she knew nothing about her, she was in the way, weak, and annoying. However, the shock that both of them had the realization that they are “zombies” created a common link between them. They were duped. Now, all of a sudden Sayaka doesn’t seem so different or disposable. Kyouko has the feeling of being betrayed and now sees a common link between her and Sayaka. At this point, their similarities outweigh their differences. Plus, Kyouko knows that she has the experience and the maturity to try to help Sayaka past this obstacle.

    As for Homura, I don’t have an opinion, yet.

    • EvilDevil
      Posted March 2, 2011 at 11:55 am | Permalink

      I believe Kyouko sees a little bit of herself in Sayaka after she learns what was Sayaka’s wish. Before she only saw her as another rivals for the grief seeds but now she sees something in her that she wishes to help before she makes the same mistake that she did. I think one time Kyouko believed she was fighting witches for justice and good… until that nasty business with her father that even opened her eyes to the real world and she took a path of survival and selfishness, I dont know if there was a struggle during that difficult time for her (considering she lost her whole family, including her little sister) but clearly she did not want to see Sayaka to make the same mistake.

  12. Posted March 2, 2011 at 7:20 am | Permalink

    It seems that the trend of Madoka is pretty true to the extent of Angel Beats, but not nearly as a gigantic mess as the latter. The problem I see is the lack of character development of the supporting characters, something that is very apparent in Angel Beats with majority of the cast left unknown. I see this as more of a time constraint more than anything. If they have like 24 episodes to work with, they could of develop the characters a bit more and make the story flow more… Then again, I see this as a weakness of over speculation, it kind of spoils our future expectations.

    Now to Sayaka and the way she handled the situation could be prevented. The problem I see is that she just whining about how she can’t love Kyousuke since she isn’t human… She did not take any action. If love was that powerful, not being a human wouldn’t have mattered. It’s always better to try instead of being so emotional since if he accepts her confession or not, she wouldn’t feel horrible as she did by not trying. This is primarily the reason why I don’t have much sympathy towards Sayaka not only because she didn’t try, but in a sense, pride has got in the way that she is unwilling to resolve her angst and instead hurt the people around her. So basically, Sayaka is a tragedy waiting to happen.

    As for Homura, I feel that she is wishy-washy. She is so cold towards Madoka, but it feels like the emotions of sadness transfers from Madoka to Homura at that moment. This moment to me feels a bit unclear and hopefully episode 9 will give some more information about it… but yeah, Homura is still surrounded in so much mystery considering how much stuff is unknown about her.

    • Posted March 2, 2011 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

      I think comparing Magical Girl Madoka Magica to the absolute trainwreck that was Angel Beats! is unwarranted. Where Madoka suffers from a dearth of character development, Angel Beats! suffers from trying too hard at it and ending up revealing to us the exact strings it was trying to pull with it, thus causing them to lose their effect. Plus, there’s the fact that one is tied together by a very tight and cohesive narrative while the other hopped around episode to episode, never letting anything grow.

      And on that note, I don’t think the length has been an issue for Madoka at all. Of course, it’s impossible to tell until it’s all over. But given the pacing of the narrative – it’s calm and self assured, not rushed – I don’t see how padding out the show with more episodes would have helped anything. Wah made a post on Analog Housou suggesting that some set up episodes showing the characters in their element would have helped, but I see that as misguided. The characters are slaves to the narrative, not the other way around. It’s much better to start the story right along and let us learn about the characters as the story happens around them, using the story to teach us about them, instead of separating it out into “character development,” then “narrative.”

      • EvilDevil
        Posted March 3, 2011 at 1:04 am | Permalink

        There are some stories that end too soon and some stories that just drag for too long. I think the story of Puella Magi is that sometimes less is more, rather than add more chapters to drag the narrative, we have to consider the issue that we are overlooking pieces of the narrative because the story hasnt been told completely. You are right, only when we see the whole thing then we can know for sure. I think it is still too early to judge until we can finally see the entire picture, and even then we may still continue to overlook or miss some pieces that we may overlook. I like the story so far and once we reach the ending we will know for sure if it was a great success or a failure…

        Its like when people only watched one or two episodes of the show and decided to drop it because they already made up on their minds what the show was all about, they fell for the trap and they didnt give enough time to digest the whole story. We are only within eight episodes and the mystery curtain is still unveiled. We think we know what it is all about, but we wont know until we reach our destination.

        • Darkfireblade25
          Posted March 3, 2011 at 7:21 am | Permalink

          I think maybe the author of the show purposely made the characters this way to screw with us. You have to look back and think about all the controversy that have been sparked about various topics that popped up that the show created. Maybe the minimal yet full presentation of characters is to make us quibble amongst ourselves. There is so much little detail scattered throughout that there just has to be some differences. With the current staff, i’m pretty sure they very well can do even a 4 cour show given their reputation and skill but they decided to do an intricate 13 ep show. Just a theory of course.

      • Posted March 3, 2011 at 7:23 am | Permalink

        I probably did not make it clear enough. I was referring to the character development since the characters are underdeveloped and suddenly something happens to them that changes the whole perspective. Stuff like the sudden change in personality of Kyoko and Sayaka kind of surprising. I still think the character development is only a small flaw in the picture considering how interesting the story is that we overlook the inconsistencies in the characters.

        Definitely, Madoka Magica is better than Angel Beats since the plot is at least consistent. The same is not true with Angel Beats since you have comedy, drama and action scenes mixed depending on the episode with the last few episodes being rushed. Even though I like what Key makes, Angel Beats is my least favorite production compared to the anime adaptations Kyoani made.

  13. Xi
    Posted March 2, 2011 at 10:09 am | Permalink

    Well, I was about to take a long break from watching anime and this anime saved it. Not because of what you said but because of its entertainment value. Why do viewers need to dig deeper from a show that isn’t meant to be paused every 5 seconds?

    Generic is the general word that I can think of when thinking about anime in the last 2 or 3 years. This is different. That is why its popular, even if there is no themes of sex, harem or any of the most generic animes today have. Basically, I don’t know what your ranting about :P Just enjoy it as it is.

    I respect your opinion though. As everyone cannot be impressed by any kind of work.

  14. Posted March 2, 2011 at 10:42 am | Permalink

    Regarding Madoka, I feel like her complete lack of character development is a bit of a subversion in and of itself. First it was, “What if we make a magical girl series where the heroine has a choice?” Now it has become, “What if we make a magical girl series where the heroine, though immensely powerful, chooses to do nothing because she’s too afraid.”

    The answer, thus far, has been that everything turns to shit. For the foreseeable future, it will continue to turn to shit. This is where I feel that Madoka has actually been very successful in its writing. People may complain that it should have been a two cour series, but I absolutely love the amount of succinct emotional impact that it seemingly will have in just one cour.

    • EvilDevil
      Posted March 2, 2011 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

      true she is afraid, but every time it looks like she is going to make a choice Homura gets in the way. I think the moment Madoka becomes a magical girl it is the end of the series, something tells me not only is Madoka too powerful but she is the cause for the end of the world. The series at first looked like it was going to be the adventures of Madoka becoming a magical girl and now it has turned into a series about Homura’s mission to stop Madoka from ever making that wish…

      • Posted March 2, 2011 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

        I agree. I think it’s perfectly logical to assert that the “big bad” seen in Madoka’s dream was actually Madoka *herself*, after she would have “matured” into a witch. It would also explain Homura’s strong response to seeing the “original” Madoka within the dream which, from her point of view, would have been an impossibility.

      • Darkfireblade25
        Posted March 2, 2011 at 4:20 pm | Permalink

        unless that wish is to stop all magical girls from becoming witches or something of that extent. i feel like that is the wish to end the series as the developers can’t possibly not turn her into a magical girl after all that hype (no matter how troll the op and commercials are).

        • EvilDevil
          Posted March 2, 2011 at 4:59 pm | Permalink

          regarding my chatting places:

          The usual places. /a/ would have something smart to say from time to time (shocking), there is also the wiki (wiki.puella-magi.net) where they have an speculation section and also facts. Also you can go to the irc (#madoka @ irc.rizon.net). There is also the forums in tvtropes.

  15. Posted March 2, 2011 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

    I think that one topic that hasn’t been stressed enough yet is that almost all of the principal characters are only in their early teens. When somebody is only 14 or 15, they don’t really even know who they *are* yet, let alone would they be mature enough to deal with the incredibly harsh revelations that have been forced upon them during the course of PMMM so far.

    I’ve also noticed that there hasn’t been much defending of Homura on this thread yet, so I’d like to take the opportunity to do so. Did you all notice the brief little pained looks on her face that snuck out from time to time when she was talking to Madoka? I think these were quite telling and also indicative of her *real* feelings. Remember, none of us know what sort of relationship Homura had with the Madoka of *her* timeline. They could have been *extremely* close, maybe even *more* than friends. The fact that Homura’s stoic, uncaring facade finally shattered during episode 8 is no surprise IMO. A bigger surprise for me was that she was able to maintain it so well for so long. Also, we really don’t know how *many* times Homura the time traveler has seen the same tragedies play out, over and over again. I think that her stoicism is simply a defense mechanism to keep herself both sane and, in an even darker sense, to prevent herself from falling into the same, self-destructive spiral that Sayaka ended up falling into.

    • EvilDevil
      Posted March 2, 2011 at 5:10 pm | Permalink

      I dont think Homura is evil. If anything there is still a sort of a good person inside of her (if twisted). Homura replied that it was because of Sayaka that Madoka became a Puella Magi (one possible event). If true she could have just gone ahead and killed her, but instead she gave Sayaka a chance to slow down the transformation process (there is a lot of criticism that it is Sayaka’s fault that she became a witch but I think that is too harsh) because Homura didnt want to cause more pain and suffering to Madoka, to her Madoka is everything. To Homura, Sayaka was already dead but for Madoka’s sake she still showed some mercy even if it was wasted.

      And I wonder regarding Homura’s stoic nature:
      A. to slow down the corrupting process to avoid mental stress that could accelerate the transformation process
      B. relieved too many failed time lines that it has become too painful
      C. an attempt to hide her pain and suffering in front of Madoka because it is just too much for her so she is suppressing all emotions so she can accomplish her mission rather than be distracted.
      D. all of the above.

  16. Posted March 2, 2011 at 5:23 pm | Permalink

    I had been thinking since Sayaka made her wish that her repeated insistence that she regretted nothing, and she was totally happy to risk her life for Kyousuke’s happiness alone, sounded like her trying to convince herself. She evidently did have doubts (she knew what wish she would make long ago and agonised over whether she should do it) but she has to appear strong, for her sake and Madoka’s. When she went to hunt her first witches, she was still acting strong and telling herself this was worth it.

    The soul gem revelation changed the balance of her decision, or more accurately, it revealed that she’d paid a different cost to what she signed up for. Kyousuke ignoring her hurt; the conclusion that she has ruined rather than helped her chances with him hurt worse. Basically she sacrificed more than she knew and now the decision she was trying to believe was the right one, doesn’t look like it anymore.

    That’s my take; I do tend to get wrapped up in stories first time around and not be very critical, so I found your criticisms really interesting to think about!

  17. qwerty
    Posted March 2, 2011 at 5:48 pm | Permalink

    They’re teenage girls. I don’t think the suggestion they’re a bit bipolar is too far off.

  18. Marigold Ran
    Posted March 2, 2011 at 11:40 pm | Permalink

    1. They need more episodes for more detailed character development. Honey & Clover, for example, had two seasons to develop its characters. Granted, H&C had more characters than Madoka, but I think Madoka’s done a good job given its time limitation.

    2. It’s called repression. Other commentators have already discussed it, though they didn’t use the word. Pretty much every major character in the show is repressed in one way or another. Including Kyuubey.

    3. Oh right. Yeah. They are also teenage girls. That would explain a bit.

    • Fencedude
      Posted March 3, 2011 at 12:28 am | Permalink

      While its certainly limited by its episode count, what it manages to do with its time is amazing. Not one moment of this show is wasted. Everything that happens happens for a reason.

      Kyouko’s character arc, for example, is amazing. I’ve seen shows who couldn’t pull off a transition like that in 13 episodes, much less four.

  19. Cypriss
    Posted March 3, 2011 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

    I agree wholeheartedly with the reviewer. this show started strong but it drug the premise too far and now it’s a slow, muddled, mess of a show and it just doesn’t seem like there’s a point.

    We all knew kyubei was evil from episode 1, why is this still the core focus of the show? Why EIGHT EPISODES IN of a TWELVE EPISODE SHOW are we still focused on this..

    yeah. No thanks.

    • South
      Posted March 4, 2011 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

      You better watch 9 and might be surprised with Kyubei being evil or not…

  20. bear
    Posted March 3, 2011 at 7:27 pm | Permalink

    There’s a saying that a cynic is an optimist who’s been mugged. Kyouko was definitely mugged by Kyuubee. Underneath was a girl who loved her family, had a strong belief in good, and had suffered terribly. Her attitude was perfectly understandable from her backstory. It was also obvious that it was a facade to protect herself. Her ending was a major tragedy in the story.

    • Merq
      Posted March 3, 2011 at 8:57 pm | Permalink

      You probably should have made it clear that your post contains a spoiler, as some people probably haven’t watched the latest episode, yet.

  21. Pocky
    Posted March 4, 2011 at 1:01 am | Permalink

    Aw, I don’t think you should give up on KoreZombie. Episode 6 was epic!

    An interesting post as always.

  22. InstantNoodles
    Posted March 4, 2011 at 6:31 pm | Permalink

    I actually find Sayaka’s progression (or is it regression) of character quite logical. Right from the start she is prideful, defensive, and unyielding in her views. She obviously had extra motives in helping her boy, but tried to justify to herself that she is doing a selfless thing. I am not surprised how such a girl could end up becoming both self-righteous and world-doubting, finally taking the plunge into that other world.

    Kyouko on the other hand I felt could have been handled better. Sure the raised by a cult leader and left alone an orphaned wild child could have skewed her personality to something quite abnormal, but the change of heart felt forced to me. The narrative did try to give her a sympathetic background and reason for her behaviours, but I don’t buy it.

    Also I was totally watching this show for the witches. More witches with trippy backgrounds please!

  23. waterfall
    Posted March 5, 2011 at 9:13 pm | Permalink

    I’m somewhat surprised you are so skeptical about the character interactions. I think that your initial interpretation of the characters was off, which is why their subsequent actions seem so illogical. I’ll roll through characters.

    Kyoko: The thing with Kyoko is the whole “psyco-cold-individualist” attitude is a front, and always has been. She acts in such a way to prevent herself from being hurt. Sayaka reminds her of her previous, idealistic self. As the episodes progress, she becomes less cold, because she decides that retaining her personality and humanity is more important than submerging those aspects of herself in order to survive. Ep 9 makes this pretty damn obvious when she basically monologues about it. Did Kyoko’s personality change? It’s more like you’re seeing her how she really is.

    Homura: I think it’s fair to say that Homura is similar to Kyoko in that she maintains a facade of coldness. She’s just better at it than Kyoko, and we only see the facade drop once. In ep 9, she chides Kyoko for letting her facade drop. There is no way for someone to be crying and stop as fast as Homura did unless someone is very good at controlling their emotions and just lost it for a moment.

    Sayaka: I have no idea why you thought Sayaka was rational, ever. What’s her wish? To make some guy, that clearly does not care about her, better. Kamijo’s incredibly cold reaction to her shows that he does not care about her at all, and the only way she could think otherwise was if she’s deluding herself. Sayaka’s also pretty pissed at Homura from the beginning.

    Ok, so what’s with Sayaka’s proclamation that she’s going to be a different kind of magical girl, a totally moral one? One has to wonder who she’s trying to convince with the speech. I would say the person she is most trying to convince is herself. Sayaka wants to live up to her idealization of Mami, and thinks the way to do so is to be selfless and heroic. One of the reasons Kyoko infuriates her is that in Kyoko she sees elements of her nature that are self-serving and immoral, though she tries to cover these up under the idea that she’s helping others.

    Take her wish for example. She wants to help Kamijo, which she likely justifies as nobly helping another person. She tells Madoka she is confident because Kamijo is worth fighting for. But it’s pretty obvious she isn’t helping him out of the pure altruism she wants to convince herself that she is. She’s helping because she wants him to lover her (the wish comes right after she realizes he can’t love her if he is crippled). She starts realizing this when she questions if she wants Hitomi to live. Of course she lets her friend live, but is horrified at her own darker impulses.

    So why does Sayaka turn dark? She becomes disgusted with people, but the person she is most disgusted with is herself. The experience of her being a magical girl was her own test to see if she could act unselfishly for love. She failed, and that cheapens her feelings for Kamijo (mere lust, not unselfish pure love), it cheapens her relationship to Mami, who she still reveres and can’t live up to, and most of all it hurts her relationship to Madoka. Madoka is still pure and trying selflessly to help others. Sayaka can’t stand her own inadequacy by comparison, which is partly why she lashes out.

    Wrapping up with Madoka, the only really weird scene with her is her interaction with Homura. Homura is sobbing, and Madoka just leaves – what’s up with that? I don’t know, but I can think of 2 possible explanations:

    1. Madoka really cares about Sayaka, and feels like she doesn’t have time for this. Homura is trying to stop Madoka from helping Sayaka which means that her feelings are being ignored for the moment while Madoka tries to help her friend.
    2. There’s something deeper going on with the weird static flash we saw. Maybe Madoka saw a glimpse of the past, and that affected her actions? Who knows. That scene was for me, the only time in the show where character actions seemed really off, and I guess this explanation boils down to “wait and see if this scene is better explained later”.

    Moving on to a more meta-comment on this blog post, I’m pretty disappointed. You have been writing really interesting posts on Madoka, and this just… wasn’t very interesting. It read as if you didn’t understand a part of the show, and instead of trying to understand it just attacked the show. You seem to have taken a list of everything the characters have said, noted that the stuff said in the past few episodes totally contradicts the earlier stuff, and concluded that the show is self-contradictory or inconsistent. What I am trying to argue in this post is that these contradictions can be resolved (man, this sounds so Hegelian), and understanding the resolution of the conflicts is much more interesting than throwing one’s hands in the air and giving up. A post analyzing, say, the heavy use of characters denying their own personality would be fascinating, and I’m sure you would have something interesting to say about it. This post is a pretty unconvincing argument that the show doesn’t make sense, and imo, a waste of your writing and analytical talent.

    Bluuuurgh that came out longer than I expected.

    Edit — ok, now reading the comments it turns out a lot of people had this exact interpretation lol. And I don’t think your responses to them are convincing at all.

    For example, what do you mean Kamijo never snubbed Sayaka? He leaves the hospital without telling her? Without even texting her or anything? And who’s to say that A. Sayaka doesn’t treat the whole Mahou Shoujo thing as a joke (Kyoko certainly thinks she does) or that Kamijo benefiting from her wish is incompatible with Sayaka’s selfishness. Sayaka can pat herself on the back at night, feeling that she helped Kamijo and that she’s such a hero for helping people, while burying her true emotions. I don’t want to do some point-by-point rebuttal here, but I just don’t find arguments like those convincing.

    • demonicslayer
      Posted March 10, 2011 at 6:31 am | Permalink

      I guess I am already too late to note this. But I would like to give my humble opinion and advice. I would apologize first if anything I made might hurt anyone. Ok, here I go… a long one…

      Personally, everyone must understand a lot of things that an adult, a youngster or a child might think. Everyone has a very different maturity, understanding and way they perceive things. Therefore you should not personally put a view from your perception, rather you should have a bird eye view. View the whole thing from almost every angle.

      Sayaka-chan is 14 years old. She is a girl who has strong feeling for justice and she look up to Mami-san. When she see Kamijo was such heart broken about being unable to play music anymore, she who loves him makes a wish and put her life as a mahou shoujo. An act perhaps that she hopes will give hope to Kamijo. For a young girl, this kind of love maybe a puppy love. She loves Kamijo a lot that perhaps the advice given by Mami and Homura was not taken into consideration. She thinks that she is putting her life to protect the people she cares and trying to avoid Madoka who is not courageous enough from being one. An act of a sister and friend. But remember the time is short for her to be able to handle all the problems, the stress and the “truth”. Just barely 2-3 weeks, she became mahou shoujo. All the harsh truth fell onto her. Her soul is no longer with her ( I think she was able to accept it a bit later), there is someone trying to take Kamijo, she was not capable living up to Mami ideal, she is unable to be with Kamijo because of who she is (a walking shell), her strong sense of justice falter, she tries to escape from Madoka which she regret hurting Madoka, and realizing that her wish to help other only makes her see the “truth” of this world. From many people’s point of view, she should not have fall into such darkness, but please remember, everyone has their own pillar which supports them. When this pillars crumbles, they will fall into despair, break down and go crazy. (Some turn crazy just because of love or losing their love ones, and some died) .That is what happened to Sayaka, she was not able to handle so much things and the pillar crumbles. She gave up because she no longer knows what she was fighting for and this grief corrupted her and destroyed her.

      For Kyoko, she is already perhaps few hundreds years in age. She might have matured more and hide her feeling to avoid herself falling apart. Even she was taken aback when she found that their souls were trapped in soul gems. She sees Sayaka as her old self who gave her wish for someone they cared and the thing backfired on them. Her sense of justice crumbled and family gone. To avoid despair, she fight for her personal gain in hope she might not be hurt. Later, she start to look after Sayaka, perhaps hoping to write of her mistake in being selfish or perhaps she hopes Sayaka will succeed where she failed or perhaps other reasons that u think are true. There is no one-sided opinion, each feeling and thoughts will work together to form one new emotions, just that we seldom analyze it until that deep. Lastly, she sacrifices herself to defeat witch Sayaka. I can only guess that she 1)wanted to be free from the fate of Mahou Shoujo, 2) unable to face Madoka , 3) found her true self or 4) she feared that she might turn into witch because she starting to think like Sayaka. Other reasons are suppose to be acceptable.

      Personally, I see this anime as a story about girls fighting for their dreams, emotions, philosophy and personal agenda. It incorporated the elements of what human might go through in real life and what might happen when thing does not go according to what they wished. So, watch with open heart and understand what they might go through. Put yourself in their age and their mentality, you might be able to see what they might go through. Consider your own personality at that age, you might see how naive you might be and how much you changed only in a short few years time. Perhaps if all of the girls have opened their heart and try hard to reach each other (not just one they wanted to protect), they would have prevented each other wheel of fate. Homura should be friendly to other and perhaps explained QB intention which will let the girls see the truth. Sayaka should not have blame Homura for Mami’s death and hurt Madoka, if she has been truthful she might just make it. Madoka perhaps should explain to Sayaka when the blame was made and made known her feeling through actions (a punch may do?). Well, that is my thought only, perhaps I just pity the fate that befall these girls.

  24. Emperor
    Posted March 7, 2011 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

    seriously this anime is getting too much into people’s minds

  25. katiamon
    Posted March 7, 2011 at 7:39 pm | Permalink

    well, this is such a serious debate. personally, i think sayaka’s brakedown was because of her immaturity. she never though about mami’s words about her wish and did it thinking she was helping others. but inmediately she had a reality check: people moved on with their lives and she was tricked into a disloyal contract where she sold her soul.
    sad for sayaka, but i think a person would react this way in such conditions.
    and about kyouko, she learned the truth and discovered she was tricked too. maybe, she changed her behavior toward sayaka because she saw herself in her (believing she was doing her job for the right reasons and then proved wrong). someone said she started trying to help sayaka in order to help herself, i believe this too but …. i guess u have to watch episode 9.
    this series is really making me think a lot, i do like it a lot and i think u were really hard on it.
    anyway, thank u for ur perspective…. what a way to create controversy.

  26. Posted March 12, 2011 at 12:12 am | Permalink

    I don’t think the inconsistency in the character’s development is too surprising. Assuming Kyubey specifically targets those with high emotional ups and downs and near bipolar personalities for contracts, it makes a bit of sense that these girls are a little more weird than your average angsty teenage girl.

    I kind of hate how Madoka is totally useless too. She’s clearly much more of a plot device than a character. It’s kind of unfortunate.

    I’m not as pessimistic about the series as you are. I think there’s still some good stuff. At the very least, it’s quite emotionally engaging and thought provoking.

  27. lol
    Posted March 13, 2011 at 9:54 am | Permalink

    Episode 10.

    • Darkfireblade25
      Posted March 16, 2011 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

      enough said. enough said… *shivers*

2 Trackbacks

  • By Madoka 9 « Traveler on Revenge on March 4, 2011 at 8:01 pm

    [...] There is this post in THAT which surprised me because its either you love Madoka or you don’t watch. I do not like his [...]

  • [...] Mystlord at THAT Anime Blog has expressed his dissatisfaction with the sudden turns and shifts in character that he sees as happening without development, but I think that deception – most of all decieving oneself – is significant for all the characters in Madoka Magica. Sayaka tried to convince herself she was acting selflessly and didn’t care about her own desires, but her insecurities came out in the end. Kyouko’s tough girl shell was a defense mechanism in someone who has been alone a long time. Homura’s cold, emotionless manner broke down in front of Madoka; even Madoka, the innocent heart of the show, is torn between the brave heroine she wants to be and her paralyzing fear (cowardice, even). In the short time we knew her, Mami showed a confident and friendly exterior that masked her intense loneliness and detachment from the world. [...]

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