While most remember the nightmare fuel from Episode 3 onwards, the Nightmare Fuel was there as early as episode one, with the Anthonies. See how freaky those things are?◊ Now look at them in action—the animation for them is deliberately jittery, and their babble translates to planning to cut Sayaka and Madoka up and present them to Gertrud.
The first two episodes interlaced the credits with the action. The third had a ending theme song and a video. Just in case you weren't paying attention during Episode 3... lets just say it would probably fit in with the Higurashi crowd. (High note: Madoka, floating in a fetal position... which is revealed after the camera zooms out to be taking place inside the eye socket of the Mephisto mask from a Nazi-era stage production of Faust.)
It took me a while to notice this : Mami ties Homura with yellow ribbons. Later we see Homura tied with red ribbons, which then leak through her fingers...
Episode 4 feature Madoka being drawn into a witch's barrier... by being torn apart and drawn into the barrier piece by piece through several monitors before being reconstituted within. If that wasn't enough, the witch/familiar preys on Madoka by playing on her grief, replaying Mami's death over and over to convince her to give up as she's nearly stretched and torn apart for good. Lovely little Body Horror there. Although, for a change, all of these horrors are strangely absent from the manga.
And just before that, the huge group of people being driven to commit mass suicide, who all turn on Madoka once she wrecks their plan.
Episode 6 proves itself as a Wham Episode by turning the whole premise into Nightmare Fuel: The Soul Gems are the literal crystallization of the soul. As in, the Soul Gem is the True Magical Girl, and the body is simply a puppet. And if the hints weren't already there, the revelation turns Kyubey into this personified.
To clarify and emphasize, Kyubey sees absolutely nothing wrong with this, because as he puts it, this way their bodies can't die so long as their Soul Gem remains intact. It's currently unclear whether or not this affects aging as well. In summary, Magical Girl is a fancy term for Lich. Considering what Magical Girls go through, he's probably right. Whether that makes it more or less horrifying a subjective issue.
In another moment in the episode, Sayaka has discovered that Kyousuke was discharged early from the hospital and neglected to tell her. While she is standing heartbroken outside his house, Kyouko shows up and taunts Sayaka, saying that if she really wants Kyousuke to be hers, then she's got an idea for her...
Kyouko:"If you're so caught up on making him yours, I've got an even better idea. Take the magic you just got and march in there, smash up his hands and his legs until he can never use them again. Make him completely helpless. Then he'll wholly be yours...his heart and his body. If you're too shy to do it, I'd be happy to take your place. Just as a favor to my new colleague. It'd be so easy..."
At the beginning of the episode, Kyubey was torturing Sayaka and then pushing her towards the berserker rage she uses to attack Elsa Maria. That much cruelty to someone who's that vulnerable is unbelievably repulsive. This is even worse when you remember that she is only 14 years old. We are talking a fourteen year old being subjected to the pain of impalement. Some would still get shivers watching the scene where Sayaka crumbles down to the floor gasping for breath while Kyubey sits there smiling as though the whole thing was no big deal.
There's also Kyoko's backstory which was drawn up as a puppet show. The stick figures added to some really creepy imagery especially the burning scene which was accompanied by a scene of her father hanging herself.
In General: Episode 8. Dear god, Episode 8.
After Homura guns Kyubey down, a second Kyubey appears and devours the corpse of the first one. If that didn't frighten you, then Kyubey's last line of the episode should.
Kyubey: "So this country calls maturing women 'girls', right? Well, for you all that are on the way to become witches, shouldn't you be called 'Magical Girls'?"
Sayaka's transformation into Oktavia Von Seckendorff. Absolutely terrifying. It also borders on Tear Jerker because of the events leading up to it.
Kyubey's line to Madoka. "When you're ready to die for the universe, call me. I'll be waiting." also counts.
Only that? The whole speech about using humans as a energy source (with a cheerful voice and innocent smile on his face) was terrifying, just to mention the "There are 6 bilions people in the world, why you are bothered by death of one or maybe two?". And bluntly stating that it is desirable that the girls change into witches as soon a possible, for the sake of the universe!
Madoka's transformation into a Witch in the previous timelines.Guh.
To elaborate: Madoka, now Kriemhild Gretchen, is not simply a witch; and Walpurgisnacht (easily the most powerful witch in the Madoka universe up to this point) is merely a blip compared to her. She's become something that Big Mommy would envy and that Remina would fear. To make things even worse, take a look at her Witch's Card. That thing? That giant, mountainous thing? That's the Witch of MERCY.
Homura's fate is also worth some mention. Specifically, she constantly going back in time to prevent Madoka's death/corruption. She has to watch the suffering of Madoka and the other Magical Girls over and over again, and the outcomes only seem to be getting crueler with every timeline. At one point, she was forced to shoot Madoka's Soul Gem to prevent her transformation into Gretchen. And it was at Madoka's own request.
Kyubey talks with Madoka about the relationship between incubators and mankind through history. Its Eyes. ITS FUCKING EYES. When asked about why he has no feelings to the girls' tortures...
And Madoka's body during the last part of it, dear Lord. She goes into the freaking fetal position while begging Kyubey to stop talking. By the end she moves out of the fetal position, places her head back and her body goes limp. Made worse for this troper who watched an AMV where that part is used for the end credits. The creator presumably made it border Uncanny Valley on purpose.
"You don't feel sorry for cows, do you?" Then they show quick shots of farm animals in pens, done in that creepy "stained glass" art style.
Episode 12 was mostly just awesome. However, that universe ending witch Madoka was unbelievably unsettling. Just...that enormous Eldritch Abomination with two halves of a face? Completely engulfing the earth? Dear Christ.◊. OH MY LORD!!! Yes, that thingis Kriemhild Gretchen, the witch form of our adorable protagonist.Every new timeline sees her absorb all the magical energy of the previous universes that Homura has went through, meaning that each time, Kriemhild Gretchen is bigger and stronger—way beyond Walpurgisnacht could ever hope to be. And there have been at least 10 timelines, although only 2 versions of Kriemhild Gretchen were seen prior to this. And the wish that created that... thing was infinitely stronger than any other wish, powered by 10+ universes worth of magical potential. There's a reason that version of Kriemhild Gretchen is using celestial objects for eyes.
Sayaka's conspicuous absence from the scene with Madoka talking with Kyoko and Mami. There's so much focus on the suffering and deaths of the magical girls that what actually happens to the Grief Seeds tends to get overlooked. She's not there because she's not dead. She's been annihilated. The others were killed because their Soul Gems were broken, but Sayaka became a Witch and was defeated. The Magical Girls don't just lose their souls; their souls are destroyed.
This and Fridge Horror, the last scene in the series showing a desert and Homura on her own implies that in Madoka's new timeline, the magical girls still lose against the demons and the Earth is left as their personal playground to do with as they please.
Madoka in the middle of her transformation into Kriemhild Gretchen in the PSP version is certainly creepy, if not terrifying. Just from the way it looks like the grief seed is splitting Madoka's body in half, and the silhouette of what used to be Madoka... -shudder-
Also in the PSP game, there's an event that happens if Charlotte eats Sayaka's Soul Gem and Madoka and Homura, being inexperienced, can't find Charlotte's barrier. We learned in Episode 6 that Soul Gems are Soul Jars, and the body is useless without it. Add that to the fact that Magical Girls die when they lose contact with their Soul Gems for 2 days, and that's pretty creepy on it's own. But, no, they had to make it even creepier by adding that when a Magical Girl loses contact with her soul gem, she starts to decompose.Luckily, Kyouko kills Charlotte before Sayaka dies. Happy ending right? Wrong. Sayaka's body had already started decomposing, before her Soul Gem came back. So she wakes up, unaware of what she looks like, and just happens to meet Kyousuke. Who FREAKS. OUT.You can guess what happens next.
The Witches and their Familiars, of course. It would be easy to just say "all of them", but since this is the NF page, we might as well describe in detail how they're scary, just like we described how the characters are Woobies in The Woobie page. The fact that many of them are animated in Uncanny Valley-riffic cut-and-paste animation courtesy of Gekidan Inu Curry (the graphic studio that animated Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei's trippiersequences have helped earn this anime a seat in Japan's Nightmare Fuel Hall of Fame.
The Anthonies are pictured above and described under the entry for Episode 1. Their mistress Gertrud is not much better, looking like a butterfly with a cut-and-paste rosebush for a head (which almost looks more like a glob of snot). Also, after they've sucked the life out of their human victims, they use their bodies to fertilize Gertrud's precious rose garden (a theme we shall be revisiting).
Albertine (seen only in the video game) resembles a Creepy Doll. Her familiar Anja is a living childish scribble (also animated in a flighty Uncanny Valley style, with a Creepy Laugh provided by none other than Madoka's seiyuu Aoi Yuuki), who turns her human victims into balls that bounce for each lie they've ever told.
Patricia (the "Class Representative Witch") not only has multiple limbs but also no head, and shoots spiderwebs from between her legs.
If you've read this far, you probably know that the Witches were corrupted magical girls, and you might've expected to have become numb to that concept by now. Rereading (and describing) their Eldritch Abomination appearances, vicious abilities, and To Serve Man status brings the horror back in full force.
Hey, you know how Kyubey's Frozen Face freaks us out? Well guess what? Kyubey does show different expressions in the manga! Expressions just like these!◊
What's scarier? A Kyubey that can't feel emotion with an unchanging face, letting you know that something's off with him, or a Kyubey that can't feel emotion, but knows how to fake it?
From Chapter 9 on, his eyes maintain the frightening tone except from the flashback chapter before returning in the same chapter and onward.
Emiri Katou, who played Kyubey, was supposedly brought into a Heroic BSOD by the character according to the Trivia section. Same with her co-star Aoi Yuki.
Some people saw these "Nightmare Faces" more as Narm than as horror. Just because he can feign emotions doesn't mean the faces he uses to do so can't be seen as way too overdone than truly scary sometimes.
Made even better/worse/whatever by how from then on, Kyubey has Blackeyes Of Evil. It's so stupidly and ridiculously Anvilicious that it seems he's constantly tripping balls, or that the manga author thinks the readers are complete idiots who need to be constantly told how eeeeeeevil he's supposed to be.
It's even creepier when you pay closer attention to the center panel. There are blood stains trailing behind her sword. Yeah...
Also a remainder to those who think of Magical Girls as cute and pretty, being warriors their magic is aimed at KILLING, not just being flash and entertainment... also the target doesn't necessarily have to be other magical beings...
While Madoka's witch form, Kriemhild Gretchen never shows up in the anime, what few things we see of her are◊ freaking◊ terrifying◊
It can't be just me who thinks the whole concept of Kyubey the stuff nightmares are made of. Appearing in a form that is psychologically appealing to young girls for the 'cutesy' element and playing on the natural inferiorities the girls possess into manipulating them into making a contract that ultimately results in their death for the good of the universe. There's a particular reason he doesn't seem to chose current world victims that are old enough to understand the concept of trust... /shudder
It's not just you. Kyubey is fricken terrifying. However, what makes him even worse is that his utilitarian philosophy is no different from that of several leaders throughout history. In other words, we are more alike to him than previously though. That alone makes for serious Fridge Horror.