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Magical Girls and German Poets: Let's Watch Madoka Magica
Hylarn

[table of contents]
That Sounds Wonderful
Episode 2 - That Sounds Wonderful

We open on Mami's transformation sequence, followed by her introducing herself and some images from the previous episode

Psyche! It was a dream

Double Psyche! Kyuubey is sitting with Madoka's toys. Why he's hanging out with Madoka instead of Mami is never explained

After the opening, we move to another teeth-brushing discussion between Madoka and her mom. It establishes that Madoka and Sayaka went over to Mami's after the event of ep 1, and that normals can't see Kyuubey. Also a rare instance of Kyuubey without his normal expression

Then we flashback to Sayaka and Madoka talking with Mami. This episode does this a lot, which is good for pacing, but makes it kind of annoying to recap

Anyway, we see that Mami has a nice apartment, lives alone, and has a decent supply of tasty deserts on hand. It's likely that at least the first two are related to how she became a Magical Girl

Mami shows the other two her Soul Gem. They're created when a girl (and 'girl' is specified) contracts with Kyuubey (nothing about any similar beings), and act as the source of the magical powers. The girls ask about this contract business, which Kyuubey explains means they get one wish granted (with apparently no limit on the scale of the wish), but whoever holds a Soul Gem has to fight witches. Madoka asks about witches, but then we cut back to the teeth brushing

Madoka asks her mom what she'd wish for if she could wish for something. Her mother promptly answers that she'd remove the chief partners at her company. This leads to a bit of rambling about the problems at her company. Madoka suggests that Junko take over, a suggestion that she seems to take seriously

Back to the exposition. Kyuubey explains that magical girls are born from wishes, but witches are born from curses. While magical girls spread hope, witches spread despair. I'm not certain if this is literally true in the magical girls case, but it definitely is for witches. Witches are Invisible To Normals, like Kyuubey. They (also?) conceal themselves in a kekkai

Japanese lesson time! 'Kekkai' is normally translated as 'barrier'. The majority of the time this is a perfectly accurate translation, but this isn't one of those times. While 'kekkai' can refer to a barrier, it can also refer to the space within one. Which is how it's being used her, to refer to an area cut off from the regular world. I really have no idea what would be a good translation for it, but I felt it was worth bringing up

Anyway, the girls are discussing witches. Madoka and Sayaka aren't certain they want to risk their lives. Mami offers to let them come along on a witch hunt, to see what they'd be getting themselves into

Then we move to Madoka catching up to Sayaka and Hitomi on the walk to school. Madoka brought along Kyuubey. Sayaka kind of freaks out, especially when Madoka starts talking to her psychically. Though it's just Kyuubey passing messages (which raises the question of whether he can alter the messages or read minds). All of this causes Sayaka and Madoka to act weird, making Hitomi suspect they're lovers. Their attempts to explain it away only make things worse. She runs off, and everyone makes it to school on time

Homura being in the same class as Madoka doesn't put Kyuubey in danger, as Mami is withing Kyuubey's telepathy range. Homura comes in, and Sayaka continues to dislike her. Cut to the previous night's discussion

Homura is definitely a magical girl, and a fairly strong one. It's confirmed that Homura was after Kyuubey, not anyone else. Mami suspect that Homura didn't want any more magical girls, because they'd be competition. Apparently Mami has fought other magical girls before

Back to class. Madoka does some drawings of her Magical Girl outfit, then we move to the rooftop for lunch. Neither Sayaka nor Madoka can think of wish they'd risk their life for. Homura comes over. She has no more interest in Kyuubey now that she failed to kill him before he met Madoka (which suggests that she could become a Magical Girl without him around). Homura pretty much just tells Madoka to remember what she told her the day before, then leaves. Madoka asks what Homura's wish was, but doesn't get an answer

School ends, and Madoka and Sayaka meet up with Mami at the coffee shop. Sayaka brought a baseball bat. Madoka brought her sketches

We move to the area where they last met the witch. Mami absorbs a trace of the witch's power into her Soul Gem, and uses it to track her. Along the way, areas where witches often haunt are discussed. Basically, they like areas where people die a lot. They're curse id more effective if people are already likely to die, apparently. Then they eat the life force. Them haunting hospitals is noted as being especially awful, though this witch isn't doing so. She's hanging out at a deserted building, getting a woman to jump off it (note: As she's doing so there's a shadow without an owner). Mami saves her with threads of magic.

They discover that she has a mark on her neck, referred to a witch's kiss. The group moves into the building, as there's presumably not much they can do for the woman

The building has quotes from Faust in both runes and normal text. This isn't really important, but it acted as a Rosetta Stone for translating them

We get an Aspect Montage, then they find the entrance to the kekkai. It looks much like the kiss

Mami transforms Sayaka's bat into a much fancier bat that's presumably more effective against the minions. Evidence for the theory that the magical girls are low-level Reality Warpers

Inside the kekkai the girls are attacked by Anthonies and some new minions called Adelberts. The Adelberts look kind of like multi-eyed, butterfly-winged, rainbow ice-cream cones

Eventually they make their way to the witch. Her name is Gertrud, and she looks like... I'm going to say a naked chicken with butterfly wings and a melting rosebush for a head. She's in the same 2d effect as most things in the labyrinth

Before going off to kill Gertrud, Mami puts up some sort of barrier around the other two

The fight scene is quite awesome, and mostly pointless to recap. Mami wins by binding Gertrud with threads, then shooting her with a very large gun. Witch disintegrates, Grief Seed drops, Mami drinks tea, kekkai dissolves

Back to the regular world. Mami goes to pick up the Grief Seed. It looks like a Soul Gem, except black with a nasty spike on the bottom. She explains that it's the egg of a witch. They sometimes appear when witches are killed. According to Kyuubey, they're harmless like this, and even helpful. They can be used to recharge Soul Gems. The Gems get darker, but can be cleared up by moving the darkness to a Grief Seed

Note that for much of this conversation there is a butterfly caught in a spider web in the foreground. Mami just killed a butterfly witch with threads

So, after recharging her Soul Gem, Mami throws the Grief Seed into the darkness. It turns out that Homura was there. Homura doesn't want the Seed, though. She says that it belongs to Mami, who earned it. This seems to anger Mami

We cut to Mami helping the woman that jumped from the building. She does remember what happened, but doesn't understand why she did it

Ending narration from Madoka: She doesn't have a particular wish, but being helpful like Mami sounds wonderful. Or so she thought

Next: Episode 3 - I'm Not Afraid Anymore
26th Jan '11 10:08:29 PM flag for mods
comments
Never noticed the shadow without an owner before. Looks kind of like Kyuubey or another animal like that, doesn't it?
Clarste 27th Jan 11
^ Never noticed it either! So strange. Thanks for pointing it out.

All these subtle clues and hints give me chills. :D
dellyskoll 28th Jan 11
Wow. I totally missed the ownerless shadow.

A good translation for kekkai in this case might be "sealed space".
Anarchy 31st Jan 11
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