With no Hourou Musuko or Fractale – curse you Noitamina and your short, odd-numbered episode counts – Thursday is a little leaner than usual this week. But at least we have another depressing episode of Madoka Magica to keep us company.
I’m not going to waste a lot of energy on the whole “Is Kyuube evil” argument, because after this week it’s pretty obvious that some people are going to go down with the ship rather than admit they whiffed on this one. When you have people defending the character after it admits to sucking out little girls’ souls and turning them to stone – without telling them it was doing it as part of its “contract” – it seems pretty unlikely there’s anything that could turn their opinions around. From the preposterous notion that it’s doing it for noble reasons (the end justifying the means being a tenuous argument even at its best, which it isn’t here) to the apologist argument that it’s “amoral” rather than downright evil, these defenses of Kyuube just don’t hold water. It doesn’t have the slightest remorse for what it’s done – just contempt at the girls for having the temerity to be horrified. Kyuube makes Faust look like Mohandas K. Gandhi.
The revelation that the contract turns the MGs into lich/zombies certainly adds an even grimmer note to this already grim story. Sayaka is indeed already dead – where it appeared Homura was being figurative, she was being quite literal. It’s too late for her, not just because Mami’s fate finding her seems inevitable – which it does – but because she’s already dead. This certainly begs the question of whether Homura is dead, too – and if not, just what is she? Does she indeed have two soul gems, as it appears from the animation of her atop the truck? Is she from the future? She certainly seems to have knowledge of events that have not yet occurred. She also appears to have the ability to teleport, which is what allowed her to catch up to the truck and retrieve that which was Sayaka and return to animate her corpse.
As for Magical Kyoko, turns out that for all her bluster she was basically a tool for Kyuube just as much as the rest of the girls. She had no idea about her soul having been sucked into the gem and was thoroughly incensed when she found out. For all her love of sweets and proficiency at “Dance Dance Revolution” (or whatever the kids in Japan are playing now) she’s no better than Sayaka – just a walking shell of flesh, undead. For what it’s worth I suppose she’s an ally now against Kyuube – not that she or any of the girls have much of a choice about things. They exist to fetch grief seeds to keep Kyuube alive – though there may be a deeper purpose to that which we don’t yet know about – and their free will is only an illusion.
Of course one girl still does have free will, and that’s Madoka. She’s the one everybody is interested in – Sayaka was only of interest to Kyuube (and to be fair, is probably only of interest to Homura) as a tool to keep Madoka from falling into the opponent’s clutches. It’s not yet 100% clear why Kyuube is so obsessed with Madoka, though it has made it clear it believes she can be the most powerful MG around and maybe that’s reason enough. Nor is it 100% clear why Homura is so obsessed with stopping those two from getting together – though she hates Kyuube, and maybe that’s reason enough. Or it may have something to do with her foreknowledge of events and the potential role Madoka could play in them, starting with this “Walpurgisnacht” she says is coming in a week.
This series has never been less than fascinating, but only now is it really starting to grab me on a visceral level. Mostly it’s just a loathing of Kyuube – I want it to lose the battle for Madoka not so much for her benefit as for the satisfaction of seeing it defeated. But whatever the cause I’m starting to be emotionally involved at last. I have to admire the fearless way in which Urobuchi and Shinbo are totally subverting the Mahou Shoujou genre – leaving nothing sacred, exposing all the darkness and ugliness you could ever have imagined was lurking just under the surface. There’s a sense of raw danger to watching this show because you know by now that there are no limits – no corners too dark and despair too deep to expose. That’s exhilarating viewing because you can never get comfortable, never have a feeling that you know what might be coming. It’s not an easy show to watch but this series is turning out to be one of the best we’ve seen for a while.