After Mani’s death, in this episode the terror and fear just keep piling on as this show gets better and better! This is by far the best series Shaft has produced at least since the first season of Zetsubou Sensei. I was concerned that with this episode Madoka would try to emulate Mani and fulfill her duties after her death, or make a wish to revive her, and I’m really glad that the show hasn’t taken that route (at least not yet). There’s often a tendency to let a death float around for a while to let it sink in, but I think this tends to lessen the impact. Which if you want your characters to retain their sanity is probably a good thing, but who would want that?
The way this episode just kept building the tension up and up was just spectacular. It started off gradually with Sayaka’s visit to the hospital and discussion of her friend’s broken hand and lost ability to play the violin. Then Madoka completely breaks down at the breakfast table, and is put off by Sayaka on the way to school who is awkwardly faking a happy conversation. They cry together on the roof, and the creepiness goes up a notch with Kyubey’s comments all with his disturbing smile. Then Madoka has an emotional discussion with Homura as they walk. All of this time there’s an overriding sense of foreboding building up that something terrible is going to happen.
After the break all hell breaks loose as Sayaka’s friend mutilates himself. Kyubey of course appears at exactly the right moment. Seriously, he creeps me out. Then Madoka and Sayaka’s mutual friend joins in a group suicide with prompting from a witch, and Madoka follows him. This is where the atmosphere the creators developed really pays off, as Madoka attempts to prevent their suicide, is attacked by the suicide squad, and enters the witch’s world. She’s rescued, of course, but Sayaka’s timely arrival in a way makes the situation even more dark and dreadful. The way that this episode built up the sense of horror and fear throughout was nothing short of spectacular.
It really strikes me as odd that the girls have been running into witches so much now, even though they have never seen them before. I have my doubts that this is a coincidence. I wonder if Kyubey has some control over them and is sending them to convince Madoka to become a magical girl. Also, my impression is that Homura was not a magical girl chosen by Kyubey. They’ve never spoken, and Kyubey even called in another girl in spite of the fact that Homura is there. I wonder how Homura became a magical girl? And we still don’t even know why they want the grief seeds.