In the third episode of Puella Magi Madoka Magica, yeah. what the FUCK. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Madoka Magica.
This show just told this person NO YOU ABSOLUTELY DO NOT WISH THIS.
There’s a deliciously meta reading to this episode. It exposes the reality of fantastical worlds as brutal and horrific. That certainly applies to Madoka and Sayaka, especially as Homura’s final words inside the labyrinth are a request to forever remember what it means to be a magical girl. Now, I’m not picking on this Twitter user in particular; they were just the first result I found on Google. But I remember when I was first reading Harry Potter years ago, someone commented that they wished they could have been at the Battle of Hogwarts. Um, no you don’t. And it struck me as such a strange concept because… well, why would you want to surround yourself with such terror and misery? The idea behind it is incredible and attractive, but what about the logistical reality?
Over the course of “I’m Not Afraid of Anything Anymore,” the layers surrounding the magical girl world are slowly pulled back. We learn that Mami was “chosen” by Kyubey AS SHE WAS FUCKING DYING, so her wish ostensibly involved her life being spared. My god, is Kyubey an ambulance chaser? What a horrifically manipulative thing to do to someone. But I’m starting to see a pattern here: Kyubey is the one who doesn’t care about the ramifications of what he does. I had started to foster this baby theory that Mami was purposely lying about being a magical girl in order to get Sayaka and Madoka to sign up, but that’s clearly impossible now. Mami was lonely. Which explains why she initially told Sayaka that her wish might be naive. Not only was she trying to get Sayaka to think hard about what she wanted, she knew that unless Kamijo was going to stay in Sayaka’s life, she would still end up alone.
HOW ARE THESE FEELINGS HAPPENING IN THE THIRD EPISODE?
I mean, then you’ve got the entire bit about Madoka’s mother, which inspires Madoka to come up with a very simple wish. I loved that Madoka’s father said he supported and respected his wife because she did what made her happy. It even looks like he’s a stay-at-home dad, so I already adore the gender role reversal here. Madoka hears this, and she realizes that she can be happy and feel special simply by doing good things for other people. I don’t think the show ever discourages this attitude, either. While Mami is glad that Madoka feels this way, all she does is suggest she get something for free anyway. And now I know why she suggested a feast with cake: because no matter what Madoka chose, SHE’D BE LONELY ANYWAY SO WHY DOES IT MATTER?
Nope, you are giving me too many feelings already.
But let’s just talk about the most horrific feels-supplier of this whole episode: the fucking title. “I’m Not Afraid of Anything Anymore.” Mimi is genuinely excited and thrilled that she’s going to have a companion. (And yes, I will read a queer subtext into this because I can.) Ever since becoming a magical girl, she’s been separated from her peers and her family because she can’t share her life with them. (I will also read a parallel to Buffy the Vampire Slayer into this solely because it’s such a familiar theme.) And now, here’s this young girl, full of hope, eager to fight alongside Mami, and it’s the thing she’s been looking for. It’s something to anchor her to the world, something to fight for, something to fight with, and she is suddenly unafraid. She approaches the witch in the center of this labyrinth with the same eagerness as she saw in Madoka.
And it rips her head off of her.
At the very moment when Mami feels like she has a true partner in the world, she’s killed. It’s like the show is telling us to take our hope, hide it away, and never take it out unless you want to see it brutally murdered in front of you. It is a reminder that the magical girls fight very real forms of evil, and these witches can and do kill you. Yes, there’s magic. There are wishes. And there’s a disturbingly smile-happy creature named Kyubey who says absolutely nothing to comfort the two distraught girls at the end of this episode.
This world is not what it seems. And by gods, this show is not what I thought it was. This episode brought about a severely delayed reaction from me. That final twist was so unexpected and shocking that I didn’t even know how to react. This is not what I thought it was going to be.
Good fucking lord, what have I signed up for?
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