「さらば鴨川」 (Saraba Kamogawa)
There is reason to Asteria’s rhyme after all. Rather than being frightened of what might happen if Madoka were to pilot, she is trying teach the Jersey Club leader a lesson: that she must confront her fear of losing someone close. I must admit, I did not see this coming. Shame on me for underestimating Rinne no Lagrange (when will I learn?), but I was expecting it to follow the standard route…Lan and Muginami go off to fight alone, get their butts whooped, and when things are looking bleak Tadokoro and the others call in Madoka to save the day.
But no, Asteria was playing the long game, and it showed an interesting facet to Madoka’s character: before Lan and Muginami, Madoka had no close friends. She had friends to be sure, but because she spent all of her time helping people out, she never had a chance to get close to anybody. She treated everyone equally, which sounds great until you realize that she it means she wasn’t holding anybody close. Though surrounded by people, Madoka was alone, unwilling to let anyone get truly close to her again, lest she lose them as well.
So why must Madoka confront this fear before she can pilot Vox Aura again? The way I see it, what triggered the blossoming of Rin-Ne back in episode 6 was Madoka’s anger; that is so say, her intense emotion. Therefore, is stands to reason that anything that might make her feel such intense emotions again – the loss of a friend in battle, for instance – would risk triggering a full-blown blossoming of Rin-Ne, with assumedly catastrophic consequences. So, like a Jedi master trying to calm her hot-headed apprentice, Asteria is trying to teach Madoka a lesson so that she will not automatically go berserk if Lan or Muginami are killed. That she will probably become a happier and more well-rounded person as a result is just a nice side benefit.
Then again, maybe not. As mentioned before, I’ve been wrong about where this show is heading before, so perhaps I’m underestimating it again. Fortunately, I’m usually wrong for the better! I have to say though…despite the crying Lan, movie poster Madoka, and the licking loli, I found this episode to be a bit…off. I can’t quite say it’s in a bad way, though. Perhaps it is, but it feels like the episode brought us to the same place as Madoka. Her feelings came across well, with her uncomfortable lesson translating into an uncomfortable feeling on the screen. I can’t say I enjoyed this episode in a visceral or comedic sense, but my writer’s soul smiles at feelings so deftly conveyed.
So what’s next? From the looks of it, action, and plenty of it. There’s no sign of Vox Aura though. Perhaps that’s because Madoka hasn’t yet truly learned the lesson Asteria set out to teach her. It feels like she is still charging after Lan and Muginami because she doesn’t want to lose them. But then again, maybe not. Maybe she’ll realize that you really are what you put inside your body, and if she puts herself inside Vox Aura while she is full of turmoil, the body will suffer – and the world with it. For now, all I know is that when Vox Aura powered up on its own? Chills. This season is almost over, folks. Let’s see where it takes us!