In the fourth episode of Puella Magi Madoka Magica, Sayaka and Madoka struggle with the events of the previous day, but choose to cope in wildly different ways. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Madoka Magica.
My god, y’all were right, I am so severely unprepared for this show, and I’m just barely a third of the way through it. This is not what I expected. “Miracles and Magic Are Real” gives us a bleak, emotional story about grief and the possible dangers that the world of magical girls can manifest in these girls’ lives.
Basically, this show is fucked up. In fact, that’s pretty much a common theme in my commentary in today’s Mark Watches video for this episode. It seemed like every five minutes, the show punched me in the feels with some new development or twist. This episode opens with Sayaka’s concern over Kamijo’s growing nihilism and Madoka’s inability to make it through breakfast without sobbing. Both girls do gain a newfound appreciation of life, but this episode shows us how the two take that appreciation in entirely different ways.
Initially, though, they share a common conclusion: they sure as fuck don’t want to become magical girls. Hell, I was surprised with that. I assumed the story would take them right into their contracts somehow, but both girls are incredibly weary about joining a world where their heads can be eaten off by a caterpillar witch thing. Still, this is the fourth episode. That can’t be the end of the magical girl story! So I was even more impressed that the writers continued to have Madoka express her distaste for becoming a magical girl. Her conversation with Homura cemented that while giving me more information on the kind of life that magical girls live. Yeah, no wonder Mami felt so lonely. She died without anyone even knowing who or what she was, she won’t be missed, and she’ll disappear into obscurity. WHAT THE FUCK. WHAT THE HELL. I mean, this show applies a heavy dose of logistical realism into its fantasy, and I kind of love that? It openly discusses what it would be like to give yourself over to a magical power like this. You’d lose friends. You’d lose your family. You’d be alone. You’d have to fend off evil witches and the violent competition of other magical girls who want your assigned area. And then, when you do die (and there’s no question about it: you’re going to die), you will be forgotten.
This feels like such a deliberate attempt to subvert the very notion of fantasy stories, especially those that center on superheroes or super powers. Often, this sort of reality is never addressed at all. Again, I can’t help but think about how this relates to Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It’s on my mind! I can’t help it! I mean, I’m coming upon my very last week of writing posts about that show. Ever. (Shhhh, if I don’t think about it, I don’t get sad.) But there is a very prevalent trope in science fiction and fantasy where the protagonist finds out they’re ~special~ and then they get introduced to a ~special world~ and then ~oh my god some conflict~ and then ~yay we are all okay evil was defeated~.
Madoka Magica seems to be laughing in the face of that. Constantly.
So while Madoka is learning just how horrible it is to be a magical girl, Sayaka’s unrequited love of Kamijo becomes the focus of her grief. While she’s just as horrified by Mami’s death, she channels that anger and frustration through Kamijo, who is struggling with his physical condition. It’s important to note that Sayaka’s journey to becoming a magical girl involves her making Kamijo’s very real struggle about her. She essentially ignores Mami’s advice – to make sure that her wish is not given to Kamijo out of a desire for reciprocation – and becomes a magical girl anyway. LIKE, THERE IS NO WAY THIS IS NOT GOING TO END IN DISASTER. Kamijo can now use his hands, and I’ll bet that Sayaka will expect gratitude and attention in return, at least subconsciously. Plus, how can she even explain to him how the miracle was possible? Who would believe that???
Oh god, this is only going to get worse, isn’t it?
YES. OF COURSE. WHAT AM I SAYING? Just when Madoka has resolved to swear off the chance at being a magical girl, she runs into Hitomi, who has A WITCH’S KISS ON HER NECK. Fuck! Fuck! You’re kidding me, right??? Oh god, she’s going to agree to a contract to save her friend, isn’t she? BUT SHE JUST REALIZED SHE DIDN’T WANT TO DO THIS. What’s fantastic about this is that Madoka chooses to fight against the witch without using any magic or agreeing to a contract. She does what she can as a regular old human to stop these people from being coerced into suicide. You are wonderful, Madoka.
And then I got a serious zombie vibe from the mindless people who advanced on Madoka, and then she’s stuck in a room with that witch, and then the witch TORMENTS HER WITH MAMI’S DEATH. WHAT THE FUCK, IT’S BEEN LIKE 24 HOURS WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON. No, seriously, this show is a thousand times more brutal than I ever expected. HELP ME. WHAT THE FUCK. Witches are fucking evil, y’all.
And then Sayaka comes to save the day, and never has saving the day been so wrought with complication. It’s great that Madoka isn’t lost forever in that labyrinth, but SAYAKA IS NOW A MAGICAL GIRL WITHOUT HER BEST FRIENDS. We have no idea what the ramifications are of her wish, and then, in the final scene, it’s revealed that Kyubey is basically setting up Sayaka for a battle with another magical girl, Kyoko. LIKE WHO THE FUCK IS KYUBEY AND WHERE DID HE COME FROM AND WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH HIM.
this goddamn show. what the fuck.
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