[EPISODE RECAP] Puella Magi Madoka Magica Episode 3

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So I’ve gone on and on about Madoka, and I haven’t even gotten to the part where it really separates itself from others in its genre.

*cracks knuckles* Let’s rectify that.

Episode 3

We start off with Sayaka, visiting the guy she was thinking of when she and Madoka were talking about wishes (later identified as Kamijo). He’s in a ridiculously huge hospital room of his own, and he’s got bandages on one hand. It’s quite clear that she likes him (I’m going to conclude that those lesbian moments with Madoka are just an act). They listen to a violin piece, and she gets flashback of seeing the Kamijo playing the violin. Then we cut back to the dude’s bandaged hand, and Sayaka catches him crying. Aww…

It gets pretty good after the OP. Mami finishes off a witch, with Sayaka and Madoka tagging along. During the conversation they have as they’re leaving, the topic of Mami’s wish comes up…



It’s official, Kyube is sinister.

Guess there may be a good reason why Mami doesn’t seem to have parents…

We don’t know what exactly Mami asked for, but it certainly it involved her not dying. Having Mami sign a contract when her only alternative is death…I don’t think he did because he wanted to save her. So many disturbing implications about Kyube. How come Mami doesn’t see it that way? Or maybe she does, behind that Stepford Smile? At least she’s nice enough to tell the other two not to rush into making the contract. Unlike Kyube…

Sayaka also brings up the idea of wishing for someone else (with a “hypothetical situation” disclaimer that Kyube sees right through). Mami brings up the point that Sayaka should be careful about the distinction between wishing something for someone else and wanting to be the one to grant someone’s wish, and gets an ominous close-up.

This close-up is ominous

Hmm…more questions about Mami…

We then cut to Madoka on her bed, thinking aloud about what to wish for while Kyube listens. Apparently she thinks she’s a talentless hack and is convinced that it would be cool to be someone like Mami. But then Kyube reveals that if she becomes a mahou shoujo, she will be far more powerful than Mami, possibly the most powerful one ever.

This close-up is also ominous

The conversation is interrupted by Madoka having to help her dad put her drunk and outraged mother (someone hit on her) to bed. Her dad tells her, during their conversation later, that while her mom didn’t aim to be a salarywoman, just by living the way she wants, her mother is already fulfilling her dream. Something for Madoka to think about. Actually, I think I need to go make sense of that scene too.

I love Mami’s encounter with Homura.


Homura’s strongly against Mami trying to bring Madoka and Sayaka (especially Madoka) into the fold, while Mami thinks it’ll be fun. And it seems they both see what Kyube does — Madoka will be powerful as a mahou shoujo. But Homura definitely isn’t pleased when Mami suggests that she just doesn’t want to face anyone stronger than her.

They both agree on one other thing — that if they do meet again, there’ll be no more room for talking. It’s cool how this scenes just drips with badassery, even though no actual fighting occurs.

The episode really kicks into gear when Madoka and Sayaka find a witch’s Grief Seed near the hospital Kamijo’s staying at. Apparently both girls don’t have Mami’s phone number (seriously??) so Sayaka sends Madoka to fetch Mami while she and Kyube stay with the Grief Seed. As Sayaka and Kyube get deeper into the witch barrier Kyube offers to turn Sayaka into a mahou shoujo there and then (pushy much?) but Sayaka’s not rushing into it just yet.

Mami is fortunately at home, so soon after Madoka bursts in they head to the Grief Seed and oh look who came along:


Homura lays claim to the witch, and Mami’s not happy about that.


But then Homura yells that the witch they’re facing is different from the rest — she sincerely sounds worried now. And Mami doesn’t buy it. But..DUN DUN DUN FOREBODING.

As Mami and Madoka walk deeper into the barrier, Madoka expresses how she admires Mami, and the good she’s apparently doing as a mahou shoujo. And now she wants to become one herself, because that way a talentless hack like her can finally be of some use to others.

But this doesn’t seem to please Mami.


Suddenly Mami’s tune changes. Being a mahou shoujo isn’t fun, she explains. It’s dangerous, and you don’t have time for anything else. And Mami herself isn’t worth admiring — beneath the exterior, she’s just scared, and alone. It’s all said it a flat, emotionless voice that makes it more tragic. Is that why she hides behind the smile? Now I just want to hug her.

But Madoka isn’t about to be dissuaded. “You’re not alone anymore.”

And Mami pulls another 180. The way she grasps at the possibility of having a mahou shoujo ally, despite knowing the burden Madoka will have to shoulder, just seems desperate.


She must’ve have been really lonely…But Madoka’s declaration is enough to make Mami happy again. With the thought of having Madoka fighting by her side, Mami rushes into joyfully into battle.

Mami’s on fire. The witch gets kicked around. Mami gets in a point-blank headshot, then unleashes her hugeass gun attack, the Tiro Finale, to finish it off. That should be the end of it.

But no.

Oh, God, no.




That last image will stay with me for a long, long, time. Along with the chomping noises as the witch feasts on Mami.

If that wasn’t clear enough…you know that trope in fantasy shows and stories? If the evil magic person casts a spell or curse, it’s broken when the hero finally kills them?

We cut back to Homura…and her bindings are gone.

To her credit, Homura seems honestly distressed by this.

Madoka and Sayaka are quite naturally scared shitless. Kyube, quite predictably, takes the opportunity to talk them into becoming mahou shoujo to save themselves. But then Homura finally turns up, and the ease with witch she takes down the witch seems almost cruel in light of Mami’s fate. We don’t even see what she does, only a bunch of explosions in her wake.

It’s cruel, too, the way she points out all that’s left of Mami to Madoka and Sayaka. But it was probably necessary.

The ultimate fate of a mahou shoujo

Homura claims the Grief Seed. At Sayaka’s outrage, Homura coldly states that only mahou shoujo have a right to the Grief Seeds.

As Homura leaves, Madoka and Sayaka can only weep.

And just to hammer it in, the ED animation finally makes its debut.

Shown any earlier, it would have given the game away. But right after what happened to Mami, this was especially depressing. It’s a simple ED — but it manages to give a strong sense of foreboding, that Madoka is heading deeper and deeper into darkness.

So there you go, episode 3. I was expecting a slow descent into deconstruction territory. More vague hinting, and agonizing wait for answers…There are still questions, but now we know for sure — this isn’t your typical mahou shoujo anime. A point brutally made by Mami’s violent death.

Oh, Mami…

But I really can’t wait to see where this show is going.