「過去じゃないです」 (Kako ja nai desu)
“This Isn’t the Past”
「あなたが割って入る隙間なんてないんですよ？」 (Anata ga Wattehairu Sukima Nante Nain desu yo?)
“There’s No Place for You Here”
I’ve been having difficulty pulling together my thoughts around MagiReco, mostly because it seems to be going down the well-trodden path of Madoka. Magical Girl suffering is almost its own genre at this point, and yes – the animation is beautiful, the Witch Labyrinth and symbolism is surreal and gorgeous, but is it enough?
Episode 6 puts this puzzle together for me. In the flashback conversation between Mifuyu and Yachiyo, she says: “We can grow up to become adults!”
In that single moment, Mifuyu exposed the limitations of Madoka’s Wish.
Consider that mahou shojo are basically female child soldiers. Madoka’s Wish freed the girls from becoming the evil Witches they sought to destroy, but her wish — that no magical girl becomes a Witch, doesn’t grant them a full salvation. Kyuubey’s Faustian pact still remains, and a mahou shojo can never stop. They cannot stop being child soldiers. They cannot stop being magical girls. They cannot grow up.
Growing up in Madoka-verse is both psychological and physical. Magical Girls cannot grow up because the chances of them dying while fighting a witch is astronomically high — let’s say the compact with Kyuubey is made around 13-14, there’s 2 witches a week, 52 weeks a year ……… that’s 104 chances of dying a year, or 30%~ possible fatality fate. Even if you don’t die, there’s a good chance that your friends will die.
On top of that, magical girls have to juggle school (entrance exams! club activities!) while being low on sleep and physically exhausted. And you can’t call in sick, you don’t get paid, you can’t tell anyone else about it because everyone’s extremely territorial since Grief Seeds are necessary for cleansing Soul Gems.
Psychologically, being a mahou shojo is a job you can’t quit. It occurred to me on rewatch that you never see Yachiyo in a school uniform. The only time she’s in uniform is that brief flashback with Mamifyu. Maybe she’s not even a “girl” anymore, and the only thing holding her back is her contract with Kyuubey.
This is conjecture, but imagine this terrible situation: that by some miracle of luck and tenacity, you survive past girlhood and now you’re in your twenties. 6 years of traumatic non-stop fighting, some of your friends have died and new faces come and go. You’re not in school anymore, but an office cubicle or college class. You can’t have a boyfriend or any of the usual things young adults enjoy — karaoke, drinking with coworkers at izakaya, dating etc because you’re a magical girl.
Worst of all, you can’t even claim your body to be your own because it’s all on the Soul Gem. Every moment of transformation is a reversion. Forever stuck, never growing up.
Is it any wonder then why so many seek out Kamihama City in hopes of salvation? Even with Madoka’s Wish, it wouldn’t be enough because what they’re looking for isn’t Madoka’s merciful death — they’re looking to be saved from a life worse than death. And sure, Kamihama City is dangerous, but if being a magical girl means rest of your life then isn’t it better to just die?
I’m sorry if this sounds so terribly dark and depressing, I just can’t help but sympathize and I’m just so so sorry for them. When I first watched Madoka and the God-Madoka moment came it really felt spectacular — but this episode really drives home how terrible mahou shojo is. Even if Madoka’s Wish exists in this alternate timeline, it still doesn’t save them. It doesn’t affect this horrible truth at all.
This arc is particularly interesting because the rumour about Shrine has a hidden cost — all the lives sacrificed as payment. There’s one interpretation, which is the cost of bringing back the past. Mifuyu is not the real Mifuyu, just as Ui is not the real Ui. Paper windmills might symbolize changing fates in mythology, but there’s no changing the past, you can’t bring back what things used to be.
I think there’s a second way of interpreting the Shrine arc, which is the “hidden cost” in this case, it’s the cost of oneself. After Iroha speaks with the fake Ui (the supposed “resurrection”), her soul gem turns darker and darker until she transforms into a witch. Like holy %$#@%&!!! IROHA TURNS INTO A WITCH!!!!
It’s timely that Mami appears then to knock Witch-Iroha out, but not kill her. Mami is as headstrong as ever, it’s interesting to see that in each universe of Madoka her personality remains more or less the same. She’s still clashing with Yachiyo (our Homura stand-in). It’ll be interesting to see how she’ll react once she learns that mahou shojo turn into witches though. Let’s hope it isn’t going to be another group shooting.
PS. stay for the post ending song credits…… WTFFFFF IS GOING ON!!!!!! ANYWAY I can’t wait for next week, looks like a fright of witches will be coming upon us soon! (A fright of witches? A cabal of witches? A halloween of witches??)