The Makings of a Hero

I think the true hero of this show is starting to be taken lightly.

In fiction, heroes are usually allies of Justice, Love and Friendship or some other idealist notions of goodness in society. In superhero media, includes your comic book heroes and your Mahou Shoujo, the  superhero is often presented with conflicts and problems which can be solved using their almighty powers or sheer disregard for ther own lives giving them the ability to stand up to situations which are unfavorable to them and then turn the tables to their favor. Whether they die or not, is purely up to the writers, but usually, the hero succeeds in attaining his goal or at least getting his/her message across. This is why most adventure/superhero comics tend to appeal to the moral obligations of people when writing their stories. Those who do dare to contest these notions have their works appreciated mostly by the literature niche.

Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica to say is one of the works that succeeded in taking all of these notions of goodness in society and destroy them all, while ironically maintaining the kind of kindness that most of us take for granted. It probes into the weakness of peoples’ hearts and exploits them to make a huge bomb that hits you where it hurts.

Take the system of making Magical Girl contracts. As opposed to the most famous line from Spiderman, “With great power comes great responsibility,” in Madoka Magica, you get: “Throw away your life and accept the power and danger that comes as a price for your greatest/most selfish desire.” You don’t get the ‘you must use those powers you got for Great Justice’ here. There is no moral obligation to fight grotesque monstrosities all your life to stop people from falling into the depths of despair and killing themselves. Rather, the obligation to preserve one’s life by feeding off enemies is the focus.

Another thing to note is how people take for granted the unnatural benevolence of some characters, which in this case, is Kyuubee. The reason why most people, including myself for some time, clearly expressed their annoyance and anger towards the innocent creature. Kyuubee, like the mahou shoujo themselves, are driven by self-centered desires or duties that have to be accomplished even if they have to step on others. It can be argued, however, that Kyuubee lacks understanding, much like a pre-programmed machine that will pop out an error if given a situation that it doesn’t know. He is just doing his job, and he’s doing it wonderfully.

It should also be said that an act of selfish kindness is not necessarily a good thing. Just look at Sayaka. Heroes are still human beings. Human beings are driven more by emotions than by reason, that is an unsaid fact. Humans won’t just grin and bear it when they see that their efforts to satisfy themselves, even if they think they’re doing it for others, go to naught. Well, sure, we can take unrequited efforts to a certain degree, but being as we are, we want our own personal happiness, our goal in life and we want it so bad that we can find it in ourselves to compromise others’ happiness for our own. However, Sayaka, foolhardy as she is, tries to contain her feelings. Look at what that has done to her…

Kyouko’s case is a classic ‘misunderstood villain’ character. She has a very selfish personality, a trait usually deemed in fiction to be a trait of someone needs to have it removed or someone who will get a bad end, at most it is used as a weakness in characters. However, here in Madoka Magica, it can be seen as an unusual source of strength and reason. Kyouko’s past experiences and ordeals molded her to be a person who disregards the common human values despite being really kind at heart. She is genuinely concerned about Sayaka almost as much as she looks out for herself. It just happens that Kyouko’s sense of what’s right and wrong contests that of most people and she god the premature ‘villain’ label attached to her.

Homura is an enigma which can be best described as a very neutral character, and to quote her words, “…an ally of the prudent and an enemy of the naive.” She’s a stereotypical ‘silent hero’ who does her work quietly and effectively but does not reveal her true intentions. It could be that she has given up on a world approaching its imminent destruction, or she is hiding something from the rest. In any case, Homura should not be labeled as another selfless character. Her sheer dedication to not letting Madoka be a Magical Girl while letting others be  is quite suspicious, but I won’t be doing any speculating here.

Now, let’s move on to the focus of this post, yes, it’s Madoka. Madoka might just be the true hero of this series, just as it says on the title. Now, you’re probably asking why a character who hasn’t even formed a contract yet even though it’s more than halfway through the series is to be considered a hero without doing anything yet. As a matter of fact, Madoka has already saved one person. Who? I’ll have to say that it was Mami. Even though Mami’s loss in the witch battle can be traced back to Madoka, I believe that Mami was finally put to rest, cured of all her wounds. Madoka along with Sayaka provided Mami with what she didn’t have: friends, hopes, dreams and happiness and she was saved in a rather twisted way. Ironic, isn’t it?

Madoka, being pure as she is, has this naive kindness that is often taken for granted by people. It’s kind of funny how some of most powerful beings, magical girls, can find refuge in someone as plain as her, but that is what makes Madoka amazing.

Maybe Madoka wasn’t intended to be a Mahou Shoujo as we know, but she is already magical enough as she is now, as she was able to be the crying shoulder of the magical girls who threw away their lives. I believe that she will continue to be the greatest hero of the show, befitting someone someone as pure as her. Puella Magi Madoka Magica’s true magic may just lie in an ordinary girl’s hands.

    • avalee
    • February 19th, 2011

    This is very good post. I agree with your point of view, especially about Madoka.
    I think some people in the web are too harsh for madoka, that’s too bad.
    I’m not good at writing English, so I can’t make any comment in details.
    It’s so sad for me

    • No, your English is still quite understandable, don’t worry. ^_^

      I just hope that this post may widen the views of people watching the show and appreciate the main character, however non-magical she is as of now.

  1. Basically my comment in short. To prove that, check this out:

    “Through all of this, through ALL the things that have happened so far, I may be bold by saying this but there is one who has proven time and time again why she is the strongest of all despite all the trials she’s continuously facing each day: That person is the strongest super heroine of all.” The person I talked about in this sentence is Madoka.

    Be strong Madoka, you must show the others what a true hero is like. She’s showing us that not all heroes need to have superpowers or tragic pasts to become one. Kyouko is in short: an anti-hero. That’s what she’s been since her debut.

    • It just goes to show how a normal person can be stronger than anyone, even the supposedly invincible magical girls.

      • For the time being that seems to be her purpose. She’s like an animated version of a CNN hero. You know, all those people who are praised for their small, et very powerful contribution to the world. Madoka is like that in my eyes. It’s a shame that some people can’t see that yet. This is why you need patience. After all, no person could survive the beginning episodes of Bakemonogatari without patience. I can because I’m a huge Shaft fan and can understand their kind of humor. I enjoy watching shows where you have to use your brainpower in order to get the joke. Shaft specializes in that kind of stuff. Oops, I went a bit off topic there.

      • But now, the more I know about the system, the more that I don’t want Madoka to end up as a Mahou Shoujo… well, okay, part of me wants her to, IF they plan on making a tragic story. But if they’re planning on a happier ending, I wouldn’t want her to become one because it’s just gonna go downhill for Madoka from there, or maybe she would get past that… I don’t know anymore.

  2. That’s why it helps to not speculate too much dood, you’ll write yourself into a corner and cradle yourself into a weeping position. Look at me, I’m ignoring a majority of forums that discuss this show with numerous theories and stuff. Like I said before, I want every week to be a surprise and 7 weeks in a row I’ve been surprised, I don’t want forums ruining it for me so I stay away.

    • Well, mostly, I look up stuff about this for the occasional eye-openers, a bit of laughs and perhaps because I want to know more about a series that I like.

      Finding yuri pairings in image sites is always nice, though! 😀

  3. The only one that continues to shine is MadoMura, though I also hope for some MadoYaka.

    • MadoMura is the best thing yet to be thought up this year. I love the idea!

      • Episode 8: Might as well do this my way since spoiling too early isn’t my style.
        -Anywho, Sayaka is slowly opening her heart to the darkness. You know, for some reason this show reminds me a little bit of Red Garden, not 100% but I sense minor similarities.
        -OOOOOH, Homura’s badassery continues to flow as her yuriness SOMEWHAT increased. Oh yes, Homura’s a badass.
        -Hmm, time to add old school masculine supremacy to the mix of dark themes in the show.
        -OHHHH, Kingdom Hearts reference!
        -Mephisto Plushie is the same as usual.
        -SHE DID IT AGAIN! Twice in a row, Homura strikes with massive awesomeness!
        -Oh dear lord. No…oh dear lord no. That was so wrong. So very wrong.
        -OOOOOOH! Major bombshell dropped after the WTF moment! WOOOOW!

        Oh boy, I haven’t felt this much joygasm over a show since Saki. I need a 20 minute break from all the epicness this week. See you next time.

      • And for that reason, I’m now going to stop speculating about Madoka until it ends (save the next post). Honestly, I haven’t felt this self hatred for a while now. I think I’ve learned my lesson the hard way.

        That being said, I am now hoping for more MadokaXHomura and the now possibly unattainable KyoukoXSayaka. Fanfics?

        By the way, being a tragedy lover, this episode was supposed to make me happy, however, by the end of the episode, I felt very depressed for some reason…

    • Yi
    • February 25th, 2011

    With the exception of Homura whose intentions are unknown, Madoka has shown the most selfless kindness out of all the characters. Perhaps that’s partly because she has very little desires. It’s interesting to note that she could not think of a miracle she wants to happen, and that might be the thing that sets her apart from the mahou shoujos.

    • >”It’s interesting to note that she could not think of a miracle she wants to happen, and that might be the thing that sets her apart from the mahou shoujos.”

      Knowing how Urobuchi does his work, she’ll probably have one by the end of the show.

  4. Sorry I just read your blog after I catches up to Madoka. ;p
    I like this post, especially your analysis on Sayaka, Madoka and Kyouko.
    The first time I watch Kyouko first appearance, I think she might be not as selfish as what she appears.
    I am glad I’m not really mistaken.

    • No problem. ^^ And I’m glad that you liked my post, though I think of it more as random ramblings trying to reach into the deeper parts of my reasoning.

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