That episode seemed to pass by really quickly — I was honestly caught by surprise when the ED started playing. I think that means it’s a good one. I really enjoyed this episode, although some people might find it boring. A fair bit of exposition, and not that much action. But I am the type who really enjoys watching character interaction.
And in a show with this many questions, any exposition is going to be welcome.
Digressing a little…it’s probably just me, but I tend to confuse given names with family names and vice versa. Kaname Madoka (FamilyName GivenName) is easy enough, but with Miki Sayaka (I thought it was Sayaka Miki for the past four episodes), Tomoe Mami, Akemi Homura (or is it Homura Akemi?)…both their family and given names sound like they could be given names, from what familiarity I have with Japanese names.
Oh, never mind.
First off, we get a little flashback of the moment Sayaka made her wish and sealed the contract with Kyubey. The Soul Gem is basically pulled out from within her (duh, Soul Gem, should have seen that coming…) The process looks a little painful. And freaky.
After the OP, it’s school time, and we learn from Hitomi that her incident in the last episode has been chalked up as a “mass hallucination”. She doesn’t seem too bothered by what happened, though…Sayaka does a good job of playing dumb, while Madoka is still pretty subdued.
After school, Sayaka and Madoka have a little talk by the river about the former’s status as a mahou shoujo. While admitting to being a little afraid, Sayaka seems content (excited, even) with her decision, and tries to reassure a worried Madoka.
Naturally, the topic of Mami comes up — Sayaka regrets not taking the contract sooner and thus couldn’t help Mami when she needed it. But she makes sure to reassure Madoka that there’s no reason for her to feel pressured to do the same thing.
Madoka doesn’t mention what Homura told her — I’m guessing she’s concluding that it wouldn’t help Sayaka now.
Next, we see Sayaka visiting Kamijo Kyosuke, who’s hand seems to have healed completely. She takes him to the hospital’s roof, where his family and the hospital staff are waiting to present him with his violin. He gives a little performance, and as she she sees how happy he is to be playing again, Sayaka decides that her decision was very much worth it. I really hope so…
But oh, someone’s been watching:
Kyoko, (accompanied by Kyubey and a snack) doesn’t seem impressed by her competition. Kyubey’s only reaction to Kyoko’s violent intentions towards Sayaka is to warn her that Homura could complicate her plans. Kyoko isn’t too bothered though.
What’s particularly interesting is Kyubey’s apparent ignorance regarding Homura — he says he doesn’t know her, doesn’t seem to be sure whether he made a contract with her or not, and calls her an ‘irregular’. More questions.
Speaking of Homura:
Madoka tries to persuade Homura to work together with Sayaka. But to Homura, Sayaka was doomed to the moment she took the contract, and her traits (stubborn, never-say-die, well-meaning etc) will just contribute to an untimely death. Harsh.
And SHAFT attempts to show that Homura can make something as mundane as opening the cover of a cup of coffee look cool…
Homura seems nicely complex. She’s apparently altruistic enough to want to save others from the contract and expresses regret that she failed with Sayaka. But her fatalistic attitude towards those who have already become mahou shoujo is chilling. She probably has good reason though…
There’s a short scene where Sayaka, accompanied by Kyubey, tries to psych herself up for the witch hunt. Kyubey naturally doesn’t mention Kyoko. As Sayaka’s leaving she encounters Madoka, who asks to come along. Sounds like a bad idea to me. But Sayaka, who despite her gung-ho demeanor is actually pretty nervous (quite realistically so) is happy. Having Madoka would be a confidence boost as well as make her more cautious, as she has someone she needs to protect. Hope it doesn’t backfire…
As they go on their patrol, Kyubey takes the opportunity to telepathically remind Madoka that the offer’s still open. Smooth move, critter.
So, they walk and walk and walk…and walk into a barrier. Cue transformation sequence.
It’s not a witch’s barrier, but a familiar’s. Sayaka proceeds to get rid of it. If you want an analysis of Sayaka’s battle techniques you’ll have to get it from someone who cares about these technicalities (I’m really more of a plot-and-character-development kind of fan). I’ll leave my reaction at “Oooh, swords.”
Not that there’s much to analyze. The familiar gets away, thanks to an interruption by — guess who…
Kyoko admonishes Sayaka for attacking a familiar — they should be left to grow into witches, because only then will they drop Grief Seeds. Sayaka, being Sayaka, is incensed at the idea of leaving witches to harm people and by Kyoko’s survival-of-the-fittest mentality. Kyoko quickly tires of talking.
The two mahou shoujo begin to duke out, and Sayaka is sent flying while Kyoko doesn’t even breaks a sweat. But she’s surprised when Sayaka quickly rises again, against her expectations. Kyubey reveals that because Sayaka wished for someone else’s recovery, she’s been granted superhuman regenerative abilities. So the nature of the wish affects a mahou shoujo’s powers? *strokes chin* Vairy vairy interesting…
Kyoko decides that she’s really pissed by Sayaka’s continued defiance, and gets serious. But Sayaka’s more ready this time round.
Is it just me, or do they look ridiculously cartoony at times? That worked when they were within barriers, since everything else was so bizarre anyway, but in the normal world setting…Admittedly, I might not have noticed when if I wasn’t taking screenshots.
I did catch what looked like reused footage. I think I’m a little disappointed with this fight scene. It was still pretty exciting, but I’m worried that the quality of the animation, which has been impressive so far, may begin to dwindle
Anyway, despite Sayaka’s efforts, she’s clearly outmatched.
All this while, Kyubey’s been making sure to let an increasingly horrified Madoka know that Sayaka doesn’t stand a chance, and that surely Madoka would be able to help if she was a mahou shoujo. Madoka still can’t do it it, but when Kyoko goes in for the kill, her mouth opens…Is this it? Will the show finally live up to its title? This seems strangely anti-climatic —
Wait! Look who’s fashionably late again!
And the episode thus ends. Homura gets a Big Damn Heroes moment, Kyoko gets a shock, Sayaka gets to live a little longer, and Madoka gets off the hook. But for how long?