Friday, 25 February 2011

Puella Magi Madoka Magica - Episode 8

Is it a big deal to have your soul detached from your body and stored within a handy trinket?  Not if your name is Kyubey, but for Sayaka this separation of body and soul means something very different.

As per her brutal, care-free assault on a witch at the end of the last instalment, Sayaka's disinterest in her own well-being becomes readily apparent as we rejoin that scene at the beginning of this - sure, she won her battle, but without any thought or consideration for her own injuries in the knowledge that they'd heal soon enough.  Such is Sayaka's recklessness that she doesn't even accept her hard-won Grief Seed from her victory, instead giving it to Kyoko as "payment" despite her obvious physical weakness in her normal form.  It isn't just her physical self which is suffering however, as her mental fragility also shows through as she snaps at Madoka, suggesting that the only way her friend can understand her pain is to become a magical girl herself before telling Madoka to leave her alone.

Such is Sayaka's state that even Homura's previous concerns regarding the forthcoming Walpurgis Night have almost been superseded by the feeling that Sayaka could prove to be a more immediate problem, although it seems that Kyubey can't even stay out of her discussions without throwing his thoughts into proceedings.  Nevertheless, Homura confronts Sayaka as she moves closer to the brink as her final link to humanity in Kyousuke fades from view, offering to help but admitting that in reality she has an ulterior motive for her offer.  Indeed, as Madoka meets with Kyubey once again and seemingly reaches the brink of signing a contract with him under the premise of receiving God-like powers that could "save" Sayaka, we see just how desperate Homura is in both actions and emotions; actions which unveil some surprising revelations about just who Homura is, or rather more importantly where she's come from.  Regardless, it seems as though it's all too late for Sayaka...

As is my Friday evening ritual at the moment, this is the time of the week where I lavish an unholy amount of praise upon Puella Magi Madoka Magica for everything it does, and once again its hard to find fault with this week's outing as it drops us another level into Hellish darkness by unravelling one of its major characters before our eyes before delivering a handful of big shock moments that blow open a whole universe of new possibilities for the remainder of the series.  My one concern with this is that, whether it comes from Homura or Madoka, these revelations could make for a far too convenient finale to the show given the powers they both either possess or have the potential to - I really hope that the series doesn't go down that route, as to seek a "happy ever after" ending in the face of the balance of hope and despair (to use Sayaka's words), Puella Magi Madoka Magica's "equivalent exchange" if you like, offered by this series has a very real risk of diminishing everything that's gone before.

That doesn't stop this eighth episode, and the series thus far, from being an absolutely stunning piece of story-telling, but having been burned by bad endings so often before it is worth making that cautionary note if only in the hope that it turns out to be a needless worry.

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