Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica – 8

Never a dull moment with this one, Boy – either on-screen or with the fans. Tempers are running high in both places – mostly as it surrounds the little parasite Kyuubey. Or should I say, Incubator? And guess what – it’s evil! Who could have guessed?

There weren’t too many surprises in this fantastically powerful episode. The revelation that Incubator is evil could hardly have as a surprise to anyone but the hard-headed few who were defending it – and even they, I suspect, were mostly doing it for the purpose of being annoying. Neither could the end of Sayaka – that may in fact be the most foreshadowed demise/transformation in any anime for years. But like a Greek tragedy, the drama came not from suspense but from the powerlessness of knowing it was coming and being unable to stop it.

What did come as something of a twist was Homura’s emotional breakdown. It was really the first crack in her facade for a full eight episodes, which gave it a pretty powerful dramatic effect. The hints that she was from the future were running pretty strong, but Incubator more or less confirmed it this episode. She knows way too much about Madoka’s future for that not to be the case, though she hasn’t parceled out all her secrets to the audience yet. What finally drove her over the edge was Madoka’s relentless lack of self-worth – not so much her flirtation with becoming a Puella Magica (that generates mostly anger) but the reasons behind it.

So now we know, officially, that Incubator is evil – its game is to turn girls into Mahou Shoujo so they’ll turn into witches. We don’t know why, yet – that tidbit of information is still to come, though Walpurgisnacht will surely shed some light on it. We also know that its furry body is nothing but an avatar – the real being (and its real form) hidden somewhere. So when that body is killed by Homura (for the second time, apparently) it represents nothing more than an inconvenience to it – it simply reappears and devours its old body.

In the end, here’s where things stand – Incubator’s true nature is revealed, if not its motivation. Sayaka is apparently dead or transformed into a witch, a victim of her own consuming despair, though Kyoko says in the preview that she plans to try and save her. Walpurgisnacht is coming, and Madoka’s fate is apparently a grim one unless Homura can find some way to change it – and she doesn’t seem too optimistic about making that happen. As dark as this one has been all along I guess it should come as no surprise that it’s pulling no punches now – but for all that the major events of this week were well foreshadowed, I sense the potential for some major surprises lurking under the surface.

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