By TheBigN (Yarr spoilers yarr)
So I’ve been thoroughly enjoying Puella Magi Madoka Magica so far. As others who watch know, it’s been a little crazy ride so far, and it casts some nice new looks at the general concept of a “magical girl”, or at least brings up viewpoints that probably haven’t been really stressed in a while. I like the final product of a sort of “dream team” in my eyes (Shinbou, Kajiura and Ume) as it’s been so far. And I very much enjoy how the show just keeps us guessing as to what happens next, with the fact that I don’t mind at all if I’m completely wrong about what I think some of the main concepts are of the show (granted, I doubt it’s productive to do that in the first place).
Of course, with a show with this much notoriety, there’s a lot of comments that are all over the place in terms of praises and complaints about how things are. Some of them come off to me as asinine, like “Madoka should stop being so emo (she’s be pretty damn crazy if she was able to shake off traumatic stuff days after like it was nothing)”, and others are entirely justified, like animosity towards that poker-faced mascot, Kyubey (or Kyuubee, or QB, whatever floats your boat), based on his actions with our “magical girls”. At the same time though, Kyubey’s induces much more laughter than hate from my mind, and he’s (she’s? it’s?) definitely one of my favorite characters in the show. It’s hard not to admire how he tries so hard to get his contracts down.
As others have already said, it’s hard for many to take Kyubey at his word. Every episode has him saying some statement at hand that’s never tells the whole story, and those always makes me laugh, since the impression is that we as the viewer get that he’s essentially double speaking about the majority of things, while the characters appear to always take his words at face value (that given the show’s record with the audience’s expectations, I wouldn’t be surprised if this concept was turned on its head, and we were being trolled all along there). With this double talk, the words seem crafted in a way that’s always focused at trying to form some more delicious magical girls.
And it’s in what’s not being said where we get the problems that we do, such as what apparently is the true nature of Soul Gems in episode 6 (although I have to wonder what’s the true nature of Grief Seeds, if you go in that direction). But in regards to that, Kyubey comes off as the kind of character who would tell you the truth if you directly asked him the question in the right way, and maybe that’s only because I really enjoy his actions. “It’s your fault if you don’t ask” seems to be his mo regarding questions about the contract. At the same time though, we get the impression that Kyubey was a lot more forthcoming with information in the past, with his “this always happens every time I reveal this fact” statement at the end of episode 6. That’s why you always read the fine print, lest you too end up not being happy with your end of the bargain. Dude’s just doing his job with giving you information on a “need to know” basis, though his “need” (to contract magical girls for an heretofore unknown purpose) is obviously different from ours/Madoka and co. Calling him just a “manipulative bastard”, while that’s true, is selling him short. :P
Tied to that idea is how exactly Madoka has become our mascot’s top priority. In every episode, there’s been at least one specific moment where Kyubey tries to either entice Madoka to make a wish that’s not thought out at all in order to become a magical girl to stop “something”, or indirectly influence another character to do this task for him. From trying to get her to acquiesce while in shock and from seeing Mami permanently incapacitated, to the impression that Kyouko rails on Sayaka as a trap to lure Madoka into saving her friend, to attempting to persuade Sayaka that having Madoka on her side as a magical girl will tip the scale in her favor, we get the idea that out title character is pretty damn important in Kyubey’s eyes. And like with his double speak, each of these moments make me grin and laugh at his efforts since he’s trying so hard. It’s getting to the point where there are whiffs of desperation in his pleas, and even more drastic methods seem to be in the cards to force Madoka’s hand. Especially since at this point, it would pretty much take an act of god to get Madoka to actually agree to become a magical girl. Of course, as the setting is what it is, and Gen Urobuchi being who he is, we might see that sooner rather than later.
The interesting thing is we don’t get any sort of clue as to why Madoka seems to be Kyubey’s number one choice. We can philosophize all we want about Kyubey’s motives, and be creeped out by his constant :3 and random actions regarding the world he leads our magical girls into, but there’s no really hard evidence. We never really get a bead on what he’s thinking, and it doesn’t help that for the vast majority of the show, he doesn’t give us anything to go on besides his “poker face”, and saying things that still don’t give us an idea of where he’s actually coming from. He ends up being a blank wall for us to throw our own impressions on, and more often than not, that ends up being a target of our hatred for all the bad stuff happening in the show, or as a target for all that weirdness that comes with the territory (being an unfeeling automaton, an alien, etc., probably more because of :3 more than anything else). To me, that’s a little clever idea from the creators (though I could be pretty wrong here as well), since it’s a way for us as the viewers to hold our own stake in the show and remain interested in what’s going on, despite what other characters might do to piss us off.
And for me to go off on my own wild mass guessing tangent, I feel like one interpretation of Kyubey’s focus on Madoka is just to repay her for saving his life way back in episode one. If a girl just randomly save some”thing” that she’s never seen before, compared to others, she just might be someone more special than others. And if she’s special and kind enough in going the extra mile for a stranger and strange “thing”, she’d just be as especially powerful as a magical girl, right? That’s just the way he’s showing his love, right? That being said, it’s not as if we saw Kyubey randomly calling out to any girl for help, right? And so the guessing goes on.
Kyubey is a bag of enigmas, and because of the vantage point we’re given, he comes off as key to everything else going on in the world of Puella Magi Madoka Magica. To be honest, I’m sort of expecting another bombshell regarding where our mascot really stands, and how that affects how we see magical girls in this world (again!) as a result. But right now for me, it’s hard not to enjoy trying to get a grasp on what he’s really down for. I suppose that makes it harder for me to really get into the show if I get enjoyment at what Kyubey does, but makeshift “villainous” characters need love too.