Puella Magi Madoka Magica 6

The more we learn about the world of Maho Shojo, the more twisted and messed-up it gets. While Sayaka didn’t think about it at the time, she’s come to the realization that most Maho Shojo aren’t like the kind, gentle Mami, but more like Homura and Sakura – in it for personal gain and for self-ingratiation. Mami was the exception, not the rule. Maho Shojo aren’t good people.

Still, strong in will and ideals, Sayaka refuses to back down. She’ll fight whoever threatens what she holds dear even if they aren’t witches, but other Maho Shojo. The only problem is, living a good pure life means living as a weak Maho Shojo; grief seeds must be collected to gain the power Sayaka desires. It’s a vicious cycle, and the weight on her slight shoulders is palpable when Sakura corners her outside her boyfriends house. Sakura isn’t weak or inexperienced. If they fought seriously, Sayaka would be toast.

Meanwhile, the more Kyubey says to Madoka, the more her reservations mount about becoming a Maho Shojo. She wants instead to be the angel on Sayaka’s shoulder that will tell her not to fight. But this insistence on peace leads Madoka to carelessly toss Sayaka’s soul gem over a bridge. Sayaka, in turn, goes unconscious and limp, as if dead, revealing one more tidbit: A Maho Shojo’s soul resides not in the body, but in their soul gem.

This is something even Sakura didn’t know, and when she learns of it, she’s devastated, putting her petty fight with Sayaka on hold.  I swear this Kyubey is quite a trickster; stirring up trouble in everyone’s life he enters, and putting them on paths he sets up. I wonder if there are other Kyubeys out there, and if they’re such cold, calculating bastards as this one is. There have also been numerous situations in which Madoka could have contracted and saved the day, but this has yet to happen. Kyubey has to be growing impatient with her at this point. Rating: 4

Bakuman 19

I kinda had a feeling this would happen. The dilemma that caused the rift between Mashiro and Takagi – a mere misunderstanding – wasn’t going to be enough to keep a writer and an artist who need each other apart. Hattori meets both separately and can’t believe what’s happening, but rather than get the two back together at once, he tries to manipulate both into doing the words and art separately – at the pace he’d prefer.

The problem with that is, Miho has made it clear to Mashiro that they have no future unless he gets serialized. True, she has her end of the bargain to maintain as well, but there it is. They made a promise to each other, and it won’t change. Mashiro briefly considers doing the art for the second-ranked Story King, but when his good times with Takagi flash back in his head, he just can’t do it. Similarly, Takagi refuses to let Hattori stal Mashiro’s progress while he carefully crafts a name – doing so would torpedo Mashiro and Miho’s dream.

So just as we knew last week that they had zeroed in on the same new idea – a mystery manga – we knew that this week that if the group fractured, all it would take would be a couple steps back and some explanations to bring the group back together. It would have been awfully cheap for a group that’s been through so much to remain split up over nothing, especially when they’re both on to something but can’t do anything without the other’s skills. Rating: 3.5

Star Driver 18

Madoka was defeated last week, so she now has to sit in the corner, right? Wrong. I expected her partner Kou to have a go at Tauburn, but instead, Madoka tries again, this time with her first phase. This phases is much like Kaname Tosen’s or Grampa Nurarihyon’s ability: all dull or confuse the senses in one way or another.

This time Takuto’s wild slashings are all for naught; he’s slashing at shadows. Sugata, who apparently has no patience whatsoever, decides to toss out his trump card to quickly end the fight, putting himself in another deep slumber and nearly burning Madoka (and bystander Takuto) to a crisp. Speaking of burning, a utterly stupid and ridiculous fireworks battle ends in Takuto’s dorm going up in flames, yet not one eye falls victim to the veritable hail of bottle rockets, sparklers, and roman candles. Lucky peeps, these.

Anyway, to get back to Keito, while she no longer hangs with fellow maiden Wako and maintains a stoic, aloof exterior, the fact remains she loves to sing and pretend to be an idol. This results in perhaps the best comedic moment of the episode: when Takuto, just hired by Keito’s mom, busts in on Keito right in the middle of a big karaoke finale. This is just another step  to humanize characters and keep things light and breezy, so when things go awry, we actually care who’s affected. Rating: 3.5