With the first episode of Puella Magi Madoka Magica serving to introduce the concept of magical girls in surprising and intriguing fashion, the following episode naturally gives us some much needed worldbuilding. Following the fight from the last episode, Mami and Kyubey explain to Madoka and Sayaka that the monster they encountered is called a Witch. Kyubey has the ability to grant wishes and those who make one become magical girls and hunt Witches in return. Another key detail is the Soul Gem, which Mami reveals is the source of any magical girl’s powers. To replenish the energy in a Soul Gem, one simply needs to use an item called a Grief Seed which are usually dropped by Witches upon their defeat.
Neither Madoka nor Sayaka immediately become magical girls here. They’re not against the idea per se. In Madoka’s case, she shows a budding interest as evidenced by the fact that she starts sketching possible outfits she might wear as a magical girl (how cute). But understandably, both girls are overwhelmed by this new information and the fact that they only get one wish granted by Kyubey entices them to first think carefully over what they want. Regardless, they are now part of this new world. Kyubey, who apparently cannot be seen by most people, allows Madoka and Sayaka to see him and he telepathically links the two of them to him and Mami so that they can all easily communicate with each other. In the hopes of recruiting them to their cause, Mami invites her potential underclassmen to accompany her on her next mission and observe the work of a longtime magical girl.
Goodness, I forgot how badass Mami is in this series. You absolutely buy into the fact that she’s been doing this magical girl business for quite some time. When she sees someone controlled by the Witch of the week, she quickly transforms and comes to the rescue. She lends some of her magic to augment the weapon Sayaka brings to protect herself and Madoka and is completely confident in her abilities that those two will be safe. She can conjure up a myriad of guns, including a giant canon as a finisher. This girl very much walks the walk here. Her fighting style is also downright dazzling. I love how casually and yet gracefully she conjures up her rifles and that moment where she feigns defeat to the Witch, just so that she can be playful. Every time Mami fights in this series, it’s a delight to watch.
While we’re learning more about magical girls, witches, and Kyubey, Homura still remains the one big question mark in the story. Despite hunting down Kyubey in the last episode, Homura doesn’t do anything when he accompanies Madoka to school. She explains that her intent was to just stop him from meeting Madoka and now that the two of them have met, she’ll let them be. The show provides some factors as to why she’s backing down. One, Mami is now around to keep an eye on her and Madoka. Two, magical girls often compete for Grief Seeds so Kyubey speculates that Homura didn’t want the competition to get stiffer.
It’s somewhat hard to believe any of this as, during the third act, Homura tails Mami’s mission, thereby contradicting her statement that she’ll let Madoka and Kyubey. Mami speculates that Homura is hoping to take the Grief Seed for herself (and as a friendly gesture, tries to offer it to her) and that is entirely possible. At the same time however, you get the impression that there’s more to it. For one, there’s still the fact that Madoka saw Homura in her dream and the implication that the two of them are somehow connected. Second, you have a scene in this episode where Homura explains that she didn’t want Madoka to meet Kyubey and warns her again about him. Keep in mind that wording of Homura’s dialogue when she says she doesn’t want Madoka to become a magical girl. This also leads to Madoka asking Homura what she wished for, to which Homura responds with silence. All things considered, it sounds like there’s more to Homura than a competitive streak.
Oh, how the strong the temptation to spoil away is right now. For now, I’ll stop myself here until the next review.
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Read my Puella Magi Madoka Magica reviews (page will be available soon)