Puella Magi Madoka Magica 08: Incubator

Once again spoilers abound, please don’t ruin a good show for yourself by reading ahead before you see it!

I noticed the similarities in the words from episode one, even with my very rudimentary knowledge of Japanese. ‘Mahou shoujo’ is the standard term for ‘magical girl’, and it’s used here intentionally with all the baggage of happy, optimistic girls past. ‘Majou’ is the word used for ‘witch’, and it sounds almost like an abbreviation of ‘mahou shoujo’ rather than a seperate word. Witches are made out to be ‘magical women’, essentially – and if there’s anything Madoka Magica has taught us, it’s that growing up is hard.

So, this episode finally confirms what many of us have suspected and feared. When Homura told Madoka she should give up on Sayaka as she is already lost, she must have known this was inevitable. Sayaka’s downward spiral happens swiftly and illustrates the process. It makes you wonder, what did ‘Charlotte’ wish for? Was she still aware of herself in any way when she bit poor Mami’s head clean off?

How aware of herself was Sayaka, or was she too deep in despair to think clearly?

And now we know some of Kyubey’s purpose, though not his reasons: Homura calls him Incubator. It seems that his reason for creating magical girls is to create witches. No wonder he made no effort to stop the girls working against each other, fighting, or hurting each other; the more hurt the better. He lets their wishes work against them to drive them to despair. But why make witches? Does he need grief seeds, and farm them like Kyouko was accused of doing? Or does he absorb the grief seeds in order to make new soul gems for new girls? Sayaka’s transformation shows that grief seeds are just corrupted soul gems (corrupted souls), which explains to process of purification. At any rate, Kyubey’s purpose is to turn young girls into witches, and that’s evil enough for me.

We’d need to know why he does this to understand why he wants Madoka. Evidently it’s not because she can stop the conflict, save the world. Perhaps Sayaka’s right, and a wish for happiness and hope will create an equivalent sorrow – Madoka’s potential may be to be a world-ending witch. Is this why Homura doesn’t want her to make a contract? Will she be fighting her, in the end? It doesn’t seem likely to me, and it wouldn’t fit the dream scene from the beginning, but I am entirely open to this show surprising me.

Homura's theme was clear from here, even before time powers were mentioned.

Homura herself pulled perhaps the most surprising twist in this episode, breaking down emotionally in front of Madoka. Her emotionless state must be a facade rather than a symptom of her life as a magical girl. This episode lends weight to theories of Homura as a time traveller who either knows something about Madoka or has a connection with her outside the current time. Hitomi may have unknowingly guessed it when she said Madoka might have met Homura before (or she was going to meet her) and simply couldn’t remember it. Although she shows an emotional side and a little of her real desperation to stop Madoka and this Wulpurgistnacht event, we still don’t know that much about her. Her taking out of Kyubey was extremely satisfying, if only for a moment.

Once again, Madoka Magica makes revelations and opens new questions. The story is coming together, but there are five more episodes left and so far every single one has added depth and complexity to the story. I eagerly await the next installment.

Sayonara, Sayaka-chan...

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