Mark Watches ‘Puella Magi Madoka Magica’: Can You Face Your True Feelings?

In the seventh episode of Puella Magi Madoka Magica, Sayaka resents what Kyubey has done to her, but soon learns from Kyoko that there are other ways of coping with her new life. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Madoka Magica.

It is heartbreaking and disturbing to watch Sayaka give up on herself. As much as Homura insists that Madoka must write her best friend off as a lost cause, it’s Sayaka who lets herself go first. “Can You Face Your True Feelings?” really does feel like a exploration of what it means to be human, especially given the huge reveal at the end of “This Just Can’t Be Right.” This episode opens on a furious Sayaka, upset that Kyubey neglected to tell her that becoming a magical girl meant that she’d be giving up her human body permanently. The shell that she lives in – that’s controlled by the Soul Gem – feels foreign to her. It’s in this moment of rage that Kyubey just comes right out and says that he didn’t even think it was necessary to share this bit of information with any of the magical girls he’s contracted. THEN HE INSULTS SAYAKA FOR BEING MAD AT HIM. Oh my god, I am done with Kyubey. He’s horrific. He has no idea what the human experience is like, and so he RUINS THESE GIRLS’ LIVES TO GET WHAT HE WANTS. Even worse, then he manipulates Sayaka further by pointing out that her new “shell” can withstand more pain than a normal body. By “pointing out,” I mean HE PURPOSELY INFLICTS HER WITH AN UNGODLY AMOUNT OF PAIN. Done. Done. That creepy little shit is completely the worst. I’m glad the show has made it clear that he’s one of the main antagonistic forces. Honestly, though, it’s goddamn brilliant. When do we see this sort of story being told? Generally, the mentor/bring of magic is a nice, benevolent force. Kyubey is manipulative, presumptive, and a goddamn liar.

I HATE HIM.

I believe that Sayaka is so willing to go talk with Kyoko specifically because she’s in such a vulnerable state after learning what she is. What has she got to lose at this point? Here, the writers take Kyoko, who was fairly unsympathetic at this point, and give her a BONE-CRUSHINGLY DEPRESSING backstory to explain why she’s become so detached and unemotional about her life. It’s fascinating to me that this show totally follows the Be Careful What You Wish For trope when it subverts so many other ones. Here, though, there are multiple unintended consequences of the wish-making. The wish rarely turns out as one wants it, they must live a life constantly full of danger, and they lose their physical body. In the case of Kyoko, how could you blame her for putting up defensive walls around herself? Her wish destroyed her family, leaving her without anyone in her life to turn to. It imparts a crucial message on Sayaka: you cannot wish things for other people without finding out what they really want.

And what Kamijo wants might not be what Sayaka wants from him. I have stated in past reviews that it was obvious that Kamijo wouldn’t develop reciprocal feelings for Sayaka. I never expected that Hitomi would fall for Kamijo. The show doesn’t portray Hitomi negatively, but instead chooses to show how this moment affects Sayaka. Knowing that Kamijo hasn’t actively kept her in his life, Sayaka believes that she has no chance with the boy she loves. She compounds that with her anxiety and fears over being a magical girl, and comes to the conclusion that Kamijo will never love someone with her body. Her breakdown in front of Madoka is just way too fucking much to deal with. It evokes feelings I’ve had over my own body, which I’ve struggled with for years. I think folks who aren’t able-bodied or conventionally attractive to most of society might be able to understand the despair she feels.

This show has broken my heart so many times that I feel like I’m going to have to take Kyoko’s advice and just turn it off. EXCEPT NO, NO I’M NOT GOING TO DO THAT. Madoka Magica takes this idea – of a warrior or superhero becoming emotionally detached to fight evil – and shows us the horrifying consequences of it. Sayaka gives herself over to the pain she experiences at the hands of a witch, allowing herself to be beat mercilessly. As blood sprays everywhere in the labyrinth, Kyoko and Madoka watch in horror as Sayaka begins to laugh. It’s funny to her. She’s given up her humanity, and at best, it’s now a joke.

This show is so fucked up.

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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