Home > Episode Reviews, Puella Magi Madoka Magica > Puella Magi Madoka Magica Episodes 5 and 6 – 2 Rights Make 1 Wrong

Puella Magi Madoka Magica Episodes 5 and 6 – 2 Rights Make 1 Wrong

Last episode ended with a new magical girl coming to town. Kyouko Sakura fights with a segmented spear, likes sweet things, and is utterly amoral.

She believes that magi are a step up from witches on the food chain, and two steps up from normal humans. She fights for grief seeds, the magic power-boosting artifacts destroyed witches leave behind, and nothing else, indifferent to who gets in the way.

As you can imagine, this gets Sayaka’s hackles up, heir to Mami’s ideals of fighting for justice and the good of the people. So they get into a massive, life or death battle for most of the fifth episode.

Yep, this show is still gorgeous

This does reveal some more interesting tidbits about the Madoka Magica universe. Most magi fight for themselves, rather than out of a desire to protect people. This makes sense: after all, the show has gone to great lengths to show that in order to want to spend your life fighting witches, you have to be selfish, desperate or very, very naïve.

There’s also some more details about the grief seeds that magi earn by defeating witches. They function as a sort of power source for a magi’s magical power, removing the taint that builds up on the magi’s soul gem—the source of her power—when she uses magic. Using a grief seed, then, is kind of like an oil change for the soul.

Even though we know sinister motives lurk under the surface, there’s still plenty of shots of Kyubey being cute

I find it interesting that, rather than simply powering the soul gem, they remove the taint that comes from using magic. That a magi’s main power source is, in some way, corrupting their soul just provides more evidence that being a magi isn’t the noble and pure thing Sayaka thinks it is.

In addition, we get some insight into Homura’s motives. Madoka pleads with her to protect Sayaka. Homura does her best to convince Madoka to give up on Sayaka, that she’s as good as dead now that she’s dedicated her life to fighting evil.

Kyousuke also starts playing the violin again, and gets discharged from the hospital

Homura realizes that a life of unending battle is the result of a magi’s selfish decision to have her wish granted. “I won’t say that I’m paying for my sin,” she says, “I have to keep fighting no matter how much since I have”.

She doesn’t consider Sayaka, in her naiveté, powerful enough to protect the city from witches, so she agrees to cede control of the city to Kyouko after someone she calls Walpurgis Night visits the town in two weeks. After Homura defeats her, Kyouko is free to do whatever she wants, provided she leaves Sayaka alone.

Homura is clearly frustrated at having to play peacemaker to Sayaka and Kyouko

Kyouko isn’t interested in waiting that long, though. She tracks Sayaka down and goads her into another fight. Madoka, acting on her mother’s advice to “do something wrong” in order to subvert Sayaka’s destructive zealotry, seizes Sayaka’s soul gem and throws it onto a passing truck, instantly incapacitating Sayaka.

The souls of Magi, it turns out, no longer inhabit their physical body. They are extracted from their body and placed in the soul gem, in order to be able to use their magical power, and harden them from attacks. But beyond a 100 meter radius, they are incapable of controlling their body.

Without her soul gem nearby, Sayaka is basically dead

This revelation enrages Kyouko, who grabs Kyubei, demanding an explanation. He explains that he doesn’t normally tell magi because humans are strangely attached to their bodies, and that since a soul gem rarely leaves a magi’s body, this hardly ever happens.

It’s been pretty clear for a few episodes now that there’s something to being a mage that Kyubei isn’t sharing, and in these episodes, the evidence continues to mount. This revelation is only the beginning.

Eating grief seeds is just one of Kyubey’s many strange functions

For example, these episodes also see him turn on the hard sell, trying to get Madoka to become a mage. He rejoices in Madoka’s decision to follow Sayaka on patrol, seeing it as a sign that she has all but accepted her inevitable destiny as a mage. And every time she or Sayaka is in danger, he tells her that all she has to do is make a contract, and everything will go away.

But what reason does he have for wanting to create magi? What’s in it for him? It might be related to the spent grief seed of Sayaka’s that he eats, or it might be something else entirely. Whatever it is, every episode brings with it more hints than something is awry here.

Part of this conversation – Madoka: ‘I can’t wait until I’m old enough to drink alcohol with you, mom.’ Madoka’s mother: ‘Better grow up faster, then!’

But let’s back up to that part about Madoka’s mother telling her to do something wrong, because it’s one of the most interesting parts of these two episodes.

Madoka, upset at Sayaka’s fanaticism towards magi who don’t share her view of fighting witches to help people, asks her mother what to do. Both she and Sayaka want to do the right thing, but it’s only bringing pain for both of them.

Kyouko’s method of getting boys: break their arms and legs to make them utterly dependent on you

So, Madoka’s mother, somewhat strangely, tells her that she needs to do something wrong. If doing the right thing isn’t working, then she needs to try doing something wrong. It won’t be perfect, and it may take a while, but it’s the only way to do it.

She tells Madoka that she’s a perfect child, always doing what’s right, but that she needs to learn what to do when the right thing doesn’t work. She needs to learn to try things, even if they may not work. She needs to be willing to make mistakes.

Kyouko is playing a dancey, instrumental version of the show’s opening theme on this DDR knock-off

There’s a bitter wisdom in the Madoka’s mother’s words. A person’s life is full of mistakes, so, she reasons, it’s best to learn how to make mistakes and recover from them early in life, while the consequences are still small.

Little does she know, however, that the consequences of the decisions Madoka is making are a matter of life and death.

This conflict between the youthful idealism of Sayaka and Madoka and the world-weary wisdom of Homura and Madoka’s mother seems to be a major theme of the show. It’s one of the main ways it subverts traditional magical girl shows, which are usually about the power of hope and love overcoming the forces of evil.

Pocky is the snack food of choice for otaku on both sides of the Pacific. I have no idea why: it tastes awful

They take place in a world where being good is easy, and always wins the day. If things weren’t so Manichean, its heroines wouldn’t be able to fight evil and still remain wholesome and cute enough for its audience of young girls (and horny men).

The world of Madoka isn’t nearly so simple. It’s a place driven mostly by selfishness and greed, where the consequences of a life of selflessly doing good are harsh enough to outweigh the benefits.

A world very much like our own, in other words. And it’s that connection that makes Madoka so worth watching. You can do so here and here.

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