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Anime Analysis

WTH is happening in Madoka★Magica?

Don't let this picture fool you of what this show truly is...

SHAFT, I remembered you saying you wanted to deconstruct the entire Mahou Shoujo genre. I applaud you because you have done it. Never before in my anime watching career have I watched a Mahou Shoujo so dark, sinister with a plot as deep and open for thoughts as this within the first hour of aired footage.

This post is a summary of my speculations of this amazing work at the time of episode 3. I may be completely wrong or maybe I’ll be dead right. Or maybe I’ll be somewhere in between, but I hope this can serve as an interesting read no matter when you, the reader may be reading this.

This post assumes that you have already watched episode 1~3. Spoilers below.

Puella Magi and Witches

First, let’s look at the two different magical entities that make up this story. It can be seen that the source of magical power for both the Puella Magi and the Witch come from some sort of gem. For the Puella Magi, it is referred to as the Soul Gem. A person becomes a Puella Magi exchanging it a wish for a Soul Gem. The amount of magical power granted also seems to be directly affected to the specific content of the wish. This was stated by Kyuubey during the second half of episode 3. Madoka’s ‘potential’ to become a powerful Puella Magi may be well related to her upcoming wish.

Kyuubei explains that the magical power level of the Puella Magi is determined by the wish.

For Witches on the other hand, their respective gem is referred to as the Grief Seed. It has been stated that the power of the witches (which we can link to the Grief Seed) directly comes from a curse. For the sake and convenience of my theory, I’m going to call it a negative wish. I don’t think that’s distorting the original meaning, right?

Mami holding a Grief Seed and a Soul Gem in her right and left hands respectively.

Things get more exciting from here. Mami states at the end of episode 2 that when a Puella Magi uses her magic, her Soul Gem starts to become ‘dirty’ and ‘muddied’. She use these words directly and gg translated this to a fairly accurate level. However, it can be seen that this ‘mud’ can be transferred to a Grief Seed, restoring the Soul Gem to its original state. Here is a very intriguing concept, which will lead into my first theory:

Grief Seeds are Soul Gems that have fully been muddied, so Witches are Puella Magi who have lost their powers.

To be honest, I’m pretty confident about this theory. The Grief Seed and the Soul Gem can synchronize, so they must be related in some way. This is the most logical conclusion when putting that into thought. Since magic can dirty the Soul Gem, the only way for a Puella Magi to remain as one and not fall into becoming a witch is to kill Witches and steal their seeds. This doesn’t sound like a very pleasant job, does it? This also fits in well with one of Mami’s last words.

If my theory is correct, then I fully agree with you, girl.

Of course, it also explains why there’s a fierce competition between Puella Magi to kill Witches. After all, no one wants to turn into a witch. Assuming that all this is correct, this will nicely flow into our second focusing point.

Kyuubei

As said, SHAFT wants to deconstruct the Mahou Shoujo genre. So how do you deconstruct the stereotypical cute animal companion of the protagonist?

Kyuubei is an antagonist.

Let us think back to the gruesome scene where Mami got devoured by the witch. What was his first reaction again? Come to think of it, what was his expression?

Mami just got her head bit off by the witch, so what's with that smirk on your face?

Throughout this entire series, Kyuubei has been super pushy to both the girls to make contracts with him. On the surface he seems like a typical Mahou Shoujo mascot, granting wishes and magical powers that can beat the evildoers to ordinary little girls. However, if we consider my first theory of Puella Magi eventually turning into witches, does this still seem like he’s doing something good? Consider this vicious cycle:

  1. Grant wishes, make contracts with girls to turn them into Puella Magi.
  2. Puella Magi must kill Witches to live on, as they must clean their Soul Gems.
  3. Puella Magi eventually become Witches either by using up all their magic, getting killed in battle or not killing enough Witches.
  4. Make more girls into Puella Magi to fight the Witches.
  5. Repeat back to Step 2.

It doesn’t really matter if Kyuubei is working to his own interest or whether he is working for a greater evil. Regardless of whether anyone has anything to gain from this cycle, it is undeniable that this will bring fourth the destruction of the Earth should it be repeated many times. This is what in my opinion the likely goal of the antagonist/s.

Of course, if we assume Kyuubei to be an antogonist, that will flow straight into my last point:

Homura Akemi

Why was she trying to kill Kyuubei at the start? Why does she know Madoka? What’s her motive? They’re all explained if you take my previous two theories into account. To be honest, even you yourself can probably figure it out at this point. Let’s recall their first encounter and conversation in episode 1.

Right after this, she starts to go after Kyuubei so that she could eliminate him before he can contact Madoka, whose potential has been stated to be so huge, it can pose to be a serious threat to the World’s balance according to my first two theories. In other words, according to my deductions, here is my third and final theory:

Homura is trying to stop Kyuubei from contracting Madoka. She is a ‘good guy’.

Conclusions

So...what the heck is happening here? Future? Past? Dream? I have no idea.

Of course, this article isn’t written with accuracy in mind, nor does it address every question posed at this time of 3 episodes being aired. I wouldn’t be surprised if my theories turn out completely wrong by next week. What is important is that they make sense to me right now. Just take everything you’ve read with a grain of salt. I hope this article also helped you formulate your own theories, which I’d love to hear. :D

The epicness of this anime is making me write the 1200 words. I haven’t been as pumped as this for a speculations writeup ever since Code Geass R2, and that’s amazing considering this is only the third episode. Don’t let me down now, SHAFT. This is a history defining moment here.

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About ImperialX

Anime fan and tech guru.

Discussion

10 thoughts on “WTH is happening in Madoka★Magica?

  1. that’s that I fought as well. Besides if Homura wouldn’t
    have appeared to kill witch, Madoka would’ve probably became puella
    magi. Also, I think that it might have been Kyubey’s intention from
    the start – to kill Mami and make Madoka use her wish to return
    Mami.

    Posted by PerlaNemesis | January 23, 2011, 12:26 AM
    • I don’t believe for a second Madoka wont become a Puella Magi at some point in this anime. I mean, look at the title! xD

      As for Mami’s death, I didn’t mention anything because there are just too many routes SHAFT can take from this stage, and all of them would be equally valid. I mean, she can come back as a Witch, or she may be revived in the end. She can even just stay dead. All these are valid options.

      As for whether it was planned…I think it was, but who knows?

      Posted by ImperialX | January 23, 2011, 12:31 AM
  2. I’ve been suspicious of Kyuubey for no particular ever
    since the first time I watched this show and got even more
    suspicious seeing him being so pushy in turning Madoka and Sayaka
    into Mahou Shoujo. I’ll be very surprised (and shocked) if he turns
    out to be on good side. Too impossible. About Mami, I dunno. To me,
    she seemed like she had hidden agenda and somehow evil, but that
    was before her past revealed and turned her into a pitiable
    character. I had some suspicion she would be brought as the
    villain. Anyway, I believe this is the first time I actually try to
    analyze an anime and create so many question just from watching it.
    Kinda like reading literature for me. Too great to miss.

    Posted by 黒い雪 | January 23, 2011, 3:26 AM
  3. I watched episode 3 just now, and I’m a little lost for words. I actually went back to the scene of Mami’s falling silhouette to check if she still had a head, and, well…

    I’d initially ignored Madoka Magica because of its nature as a mahou shoujo, but a little reading of comments on it and the appearance of this post spurred me to find out a little more. With that in mind, I grabbed the first three episodes.

    I do not look forward to my nightmares tonight. .______.

    As far as those theories go, they sound pretty solid. The relationship between the Soul Gems and Grief Seeds seem likely, and you can pretty much establish Kyubei as an antagonist through the consistent :3 face he has.

    To me, Kyubei really does seem like ‘last-boss’ material, but his conversations with Madoka seem to suggest otherwise, having mentioned that giving her ideas for her wish is ‘a breach of a rules’. There’s someone higher up than him, calling the shots, and I bet he isn’t nearly as cuddly as our sinister little mascot friend.

    The part where you mentioned the destruction of the world made me chuckle a bit, but then it got me thinking… Kyubei was terribly insistent on getting Madoka to make a contract, and even Akemi seems anxious of the eventuality. As episode 3 shows, witches vary in power even from ‘birth’, so I thought that maybe (building on your theory) the size of the Soul Gem from which the Grief Seed transformed would determine the power of the witch. Would Madoka’s apparently immense potential as a Puella Magi not then also translate to the risk of an incredibly destructive and powerful witch? Maybe that’s what they’re after.

    I’m really quite a bit more interested in the dream Madoka had, though. If that is indeed a vision of the future, then Sayaka’s blatant absence might be a bit of a foreshadowing of more mahou shoujo omnomnom to come. It would be terribly odd if it was, though, given Madoka still hadn’t struck up a contract yet in the dream; My gut feeling tells me Sayaka will do her contract before Madoka, but I’d be surprised if she dies before the main character makes herself useful.

    Then again… Poor, poor Mami.

    Posted by Midgemage | January 23, 2011, 7:09 PM
  4. Well…
    Now that episode 5 is out, I must say that I am loving this series more and more. The amount of Mahou Shoujo genre deconstruction that is going on is fascinating, and I love how well it’s being carried out. I’m not quite sure if reconstruction is going to occur (seeing as the anime is pretty damn cynical), but if it does, I look forward to it. The fact that Madoka is, in my opinion, one of the most intelligent characters in anime I’ve ever seen (she’s not willing to rush into what essentially equates to a contract that damns her to an eternity of violence and nightmare fuel) makes this one of my favourite anime I’ve ever watched.

    I think your hypothesis are pretty solid. There’s evidence to suggest what you’re saying, and not too much to say otherwise. And there are some pretty interesting speculations floating around about this series. I’m kind of curious to see if this one follows through: http://i54.tinypic.com/2wd2ijb.jpg

    Posted by Catcher | February 6, 2011, 8:43 AM
    • Well, after the shocking things in episode 8, I’d say that your cueball theory is actually turning out to be correct for now. If it actually turns out to be like that though, I’ll bash my head against the wall because that’s just incredible. xD

      I still don’t think Madoka will become a Mahou Shoujo any time soon, even after the revelation that she can be made god. As you said, she is very intelligent and doesn’t let her sense of ‘justice’ sway her. We still need to remember the title of this anime though, so I won’t drop this idea just yet.

      Posted by ImperialX | February 26, 2011, 2:07 PM
  5. I must say, after watching episode 8, I’m genuinely surprised at just how much of my theories turned out to be correct. I have a few more theories in my mind right now, but I don’t think I’ll be writing another post since I can’t put my foot on some of the points…I think I’m just going to relax and let the show of the season go at its own pace.

    Posted by ImperialX | February 26, 2011, 2:04 PM

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