Back in high school, the anime club screened a show three episodes at a time so my first viewing of Puella Magi Madoka Magica paused at the third episode and then resumed at the fourth the next meeting. I could just watch the show on my own to find out what happens next but where’s the fun in that? Needless to say, I was very eager to find out what happens next. After an episode such as the last one, who wouldn’t be?
After killing off one of its main characters, Madoka continues where it left off with Madoka and Sayaka mourning Mami’s death and once more deciding on their potential future as magical girls. In fact, those two are more or less the only ones in mourning. Mami had no close relations, be it friends or family, so there is no one to inform of her untimely passing. Homura later explains that should someone die in a witch’s domain, their body can’t be recovered once the pocket dimension fades away. At best, Mami’s “disappearance” will be reported and even then, it’ll end up as a cold case. Poor Mami getting the axe was alarming enough but the lack of mourning for her in the grand scheme of things hammers in just how thankless being a magical girl is. All that heroism and selflessness and barely anyone is aware of it. The person bearing those traits will soon fade further into obscurity.
I find Madoka’s reaction to Mami’s death the most interesting. Sayaka is able to keep the devastation private and keep up appearances. Homura appears desensitized to the whole manner, crediting that to having seen countless peers die time and time again (for the record, the exact wording she uses in the respective scene is something to keep in mind). Madoka however is clearly the most shaken up by the what’s happened recently. Right in front of her family, she breaks down and cries over Mami and just when she could use some emotional support from her family, she’s forced to cover up her outburst and lie to them. When Homura explains to Madoka about Mami’s legacy, or the lack thereof, Madoka grows even more disheartened.
More importantly, Madoka is left horribly unsure about becoming a magical girl. In a symbolic move, Madoka leaves her sketches behind at Mami’s place, effectively conveying that her dream died alongside Mami. After all, Madoka’s best motivation in becoming a magical girl was simply so that Mami wouldn’t have to walk her path alone. With Mami gone and now that she’s fully aware of the life or death stakes, what reason does Madoka still have in continuing through with her plans? Madoka feels bad that she’s backing out, calling herself a coward. I suppose that’s an apt term. The most noble thing would probably be becoming a magical girl in Mami’s memory. In her defense however, anyone in her shoes is bound to feel that way.
Besides, it’s not like she’d kept away from the world of magical girls and witches for very long anyway. Homura brings up a good point: Madoka is far too kind for her own good. Despite feeling disheartened that most magical girls go unnoticed, Madoka resolves to remember Mami and Homura so that their services won’t go completely forgotten. To do that however means to not forget the world that those two are apart. This is further compounded by the episode’s action scene, when Madoka notices Hitomi and other passersby have been marked by a Witch’s kiss. Right as the group attempts to commit suicide, Madoka risks her life and thwarts their plan (I won’t lie, the flashback where she learns how dangerous chemicals are is pretty dumb). For someone who wants to back out of becoming a magical girl, Madoka sure keeps herself involved in their business. And for someone who considers herself a coward, she sure takes action when need be. Madoka might say she wants out but her personality is denying herself that. That then begs the question of whether or not that’s a good thing.
Meanwhile, Sayaka bites the bullet by wishing for Kyosuke’s hand to be cured and becoming a magical girl in the process. Though certainly a selfless move on paper, one has to wonder what ramifications will arise from it. No doubt, Sayaka’s relationship with Kyosuke will change but would it be for better or for worse? I suppose if she spilled the beans to him, Kyosuke would be thankful and grow closer to her. Conversely however, you get the impression Kyosuke isn’t all that appreciate of Sayaka’s company. He’s so fixated on his injury and resents his friend for having him listen to music that he himself ultimately can’t play anymore. When you think about it, how much chemistry do these two really have with each other? Deep down, Sayaka knows that things between two of them could either way and yet, she still goes through with her wish. Perhaps she thinks just helping Kyosuke is enough to make her happy but that is quite a gamble to make.
There’s another consequence to consider. With Mami dead, that apparently leaves Mitakihara up for other magical girls to claim territory on. Kyubey ends up finding a replacement though things are now awkward with Sayaka around. That somewhat puzzles me as you technically still have Homura guarding Mitakihara. It’s not like there was a power vacuum left behind by Mami. Then again, I guess Homura has her own agenda and it’s not like she and Kyubey are on friendly terms. Regardless, we have another magical girl in town and she clearly doesn’t look keen on sharing spoils with Sayaka.
Thanks for reading!
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