What interests me the most about Puella Magi Madoka Magica is just how far this series goes in the different spectrum of styles. In the beginning, show us cute magical girls, fairly normal (if not futuristic) town, school life, a family, and then introduce the supernatural, the reason for their existence, with a character that acts as a friendly guide, explaining everything as they go. Then she inexplicably dies leaving our main characters with a car salesman who wants to give them the keys to eternal happiness in exchange for hunting witches, and a girl who appears to know all the answers, but prefers to distance herself emotionally, possibly to reduce the pain of losing others she knows.
This. Is. Madoka.
Spoils and “Speculah” Ahead.
In Madoka 06 we, the viewer, are quite startled to learn that the Soul Gem actually contains the person’s soul, as well as their powers and abilities. Madoka learns in the worst way that should this gem move past 100 meters of the body, the body cannot be controlled and goes comatose. It was implied early on that they might be dead, but after Homura successfully retrives the gem and brings it back, Sayaka comes back to.
A lot of heavy discussion is going on in /a/ about Madoka and how under her mother’s advice, tried to intervene and nearly killed her friend. The amusing part is even Pocky had no knowledge of this 100 meter rule and held Kyubey up over his deceit. Being the troll he is he merely quipped why humans get so wound up over where their soul resides and that this sort of thing always happens when they know the truth of their contract. It’s implied Homura knew this as she went after the gem immediately after Madoka threw it. Either Homura found out somehow the hard way, or it reinforces some of the theories many have speculated on /a/ and the Madoka Wiki about time-travel. Kyubey of course feels no remorse and many have coined him “Lawful Evil” in the respect that he knows what is going on, knows that he is using these girls and throwing them to their deaths for the purpose of fighting the witches, but he seems to be respecting their decision to say no. However, that doesn’t mean he is not emotionally manipulating them towards his goal, to make them contract with him. He is pretty much like a car salesman, even like the one I encountered last night when helping my girlfriend pick up a rental while hers was being worked on. The first thing he thought as we walked up was that we’re there to buy a car, and when we said we’re just going over to service, he was leading us to there and asking her how she liked her Versa, and if she wanted to trade it in for something newer (she bought the car 6 months ago). It amused me because that’s how Kyubey comes across to me in this series, he asks you how satisfied you think your life is, and tells you that you can “trade up” to a fantastic one with any wish you ever wanted, with the small price of fighting witches, possibly dying, fighting other magical girls, and apparently ripping your soul out of your body and encasing it in a gem. Shit, now I know how it felt to sign those student loans. =/
As for Madoka, I feel so-so about six episodes in and nothing for her yet. On one hand, I think it is normal for someone to be told they can make a wish but have it come at a costly price, especially after seeing someone you met die (maybe) in front of you, another who just arrived but is giving you the cold shoulder, and another you’ve known forever and suddenly she contracts just to save the arm of a boy she likes, but he won’t reciprocate that love back the way she wants it. Internal and external strife clouds her judgment and caused her to do something totally irrational and stupid and learn a fatal mistake. Going forward, she may not even want to contract, and if Sayaka learns what happened, it’s likely she will not forgive Madoka for it, further alienating her from what she knew. On the other hand, /a/ compares this to that of Shinji. It took him less time to board the Eva given his daddy issues and being mentally fucked up. By now, Madoka has seen what this war is doing, to witches, to magical girls, and even to people. She knows that it won’t matter if she contracts or not, either way things will happen around her and it’s come down to her desire to control these events, try to push them in her favor. Many heroes think they will always win, but many heroes also acknowledge that they will lose, maybe even fatally, yet that does not change their resolve because they are fighting for something greater than themselves. Shinji never took hold of this at any point in Evangelion, even when he was ego-boosting for a few episodes, because he could never convince himself that he was there for himself and not his father, Rei, Asuka, or anyone else. By the time he realized this and realized he had some interest in Asuka, the world ended and he was left with only himself and her alone, and really, that was probably all he ever wanted in the end. Madoka will probably be no different, as the first episode scene may alude to, is that it may come down to being just her and Homura stuck in a witch fight, and if Homura loses, Madoka is alone. Her wish very well could be to eliminate everything and start all over again as a happy school days running out the door with toast in her mouth.
I don’t like to use the word DEEP because it’s often misused in anime, but this series does provoke a lot of deep meaning in its story and characters, contrary to some people’s beliefs. It’s not perfect, because some generics still exist, but SHAFT has taken fairly abnormal measures to ensure we are seeing something different from your run-of-the-mill supernatural OR magical girl series, and they’re doing a damn good job of manipulating the story essentially through Madoka and Kyubey.
I’ll have a short review on the other series this week tomorrow. Yumekui Merry was badass again this week, and IS and Zombie were also excellent this week.