Puella Magi Madoka Magica – 04 (Retro Review)

Originally posted 29 Jan 2011 – Booyah! This was, in our opinion, the most powerful episode of the Winter 2011 season so far. The fact that Mami “bit it” but no one in the normal world knows, and she didn’t leave a corpse, really puts into perspective just how harsh and merciless it is to be a maho shojo. The dark undertone of this series so far is exactly what we was hoping for; the girls can’t just automatically contract with Kyubei; there has to be a deep, heartfelt reason to do so.

Sayaka finds it, as she can no longer live with the injustice of her friend – a violin prodigy – losing the ability to move his hands after an accident. His life of music was taken away, and there’s nothing a normal Sayaka can do about it, which crushes her. However, magic and miracles, she has learned, do in fact exist, and she decides to make that contract, in exchange for her friend recovering his gift and hence, his life.

Equally moving is how she realizes that she isn’t just doing this for him; there is a part of her she detests that wants to be the one to save him, and for him to fall for her in return. This personal stake makes the situation a selfish fairy tale in her mind, but it also happens to be perfectly doable. Considering the good her wish will do, though, we think she made the right choice.

We also like how we don’t actually witness Sayaka’s contracting and transformation; but she shows up in the nick of time to save Madoka, who is still too scared and indecisive to contract, and trapped in the middle of a group of people (including a classmate) charmed by a witch into poisoning themselves in a warehouse, possibly for nothing other than the witch’s amusement. This is dark stuff, and the suspense around Madoka’s peril is very well presented.

We’re really enjoying how witches and the creepy, crazy, messed-up way they futz with reality and perception. They’re so far removed from conventional reality, and yet know exactly how to manipulate humans, including Madoka, into wishing they had never been born, or to kill themselves at the drop of a hat, or whatever. To anyone who thought Sayaka’s decision was rash: Madoka and those innocent people would be dead if she hadn’t made it.

Anyway, Sayaka is now a maho shojo. Will Madoka follow suit? Obviously; I’m really looking forward to how. I’m guessing for now that Sayaka will start facing challenges from rival shojos wanting a piece of Mami’s former territory; and the rookie Sayaka unable to hold them back without Madoka’s or Homura’s help. But even though our main character isn’t a maho shojo yet, this episode rocked.


Rating: 9 (Superior)

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