Apparently it’s a tradition among anime blogs to share your favorite moments from the past year’s anime over twelve days, from December 14th to December 25th. As everyone knows, I am a firm upholder of long-held, sacred traditions such as this. But I also believe in an even more ancient tradition, known as the “calendar.” So I’m going with a slightly different title than everyone else. But the spirit is the same. So let’s begin.
We’ll start with a rather obvious choice: Mami’s death from Madoka.
In a show full of twists and turns, it was hard to pick a single moment which was the most memorable. But this was the series’ turning point. It brought the budding, dark undercurrents onto the surface in plain view.
The setup was what allowed Mami’s death to be so powerful. The previous episodes had their darker moments, but all in all, it hadn’t sunk it yet how dangerous it was to be a magical girl. Recall that Madoka and Sayaka wanted to be magical girls at this point.
The start of episode three continues to make being a magical girl seem like a nice job. Mami finishes off a witch at the start of the episode. She makes it look easy, like a dance. She’s graceful and beautiful, which leads Madoka to look up to her upperclassman.
“I want to be a magical girl just like you, Mami!” she thinks.
They get married.
“I’ll protect you, Madoka!”
Mami pulverizes some more underlings. Hey, this is easy!
With the power of friendship, we can do anything!
See? That was easy! She killed the witch already!
Wait a second.
And in a span of a few seconds, Mami is dead. It took years and years for her to get where she is today. The audience and Madoka befriended her over the course of three episodes. And in a split second, she’s gone forever. No chance to say goodbye. No corpse to bury.
Usually in anime they draw deaths out. The wounded character sits around on his or her deathbed, giving farewells. Everyone cries. This tends to mitigate the emotional impact. But for magical girls, death can come at any time, when you least expect it. No one will mourn your death. No one will remember you.