Time to put on your tinfoil hats! Symbolism in Madoka episode 7

Since an essential and crucial part of being a blogger is the ability to over-speculate, here’s my thoughts on Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica episode 7. In a flimsy attempt to seem more educated and proficient in literature than I really am, I tried to pay more attention to the small little details in the episode this week, and here are my theories.

(Spoilers might be within this post.)

Don’t worry, there aren’t that many theories, only 3.

The Church: In this week’s episode, we get to know the reasons behind Kyoko becoming a magical girl. She confesses to Sayaka (guess what, they’re allies now...) about the church being her dad’s, whose method of thinking about the religion in a different light made his followers and the church start to shun him, with her wishing for more followers to listen to him in the hope that they would understand that what he was saying was right. Turns out happily ever after? BZZZZ. The father eventually finds out that magic, not reason, was the reason for this influx of followers, and as with all religious figures, he eventually gets drunk, goes mad, and murders everyone except Kyoko.

Note the structure of the church. The windows are shattered, the place covered in overgrown plants, and the sun is beginning to set, casting tinted sunlight onto that enormous staircase. Significance? Not much, to be frank. Here, I’d say that the state of the church could be a metaphor for the destruction and abandonment of human values. The church, after all, is a symbol for religion, and in some cases, morality. Burn down a church? You’re an immoral bastard. Simple. However, in this case it seems to be particularly significant given how this change of values is reflected throughout the episode several times. Kyoko, learning from what her wish did to her family, becomes selfish, allowing people to die for her to collect the grief seeds. Sayaka, while rejecting all of Kyoko’s notions at the church, following the sudden confession to Kamijou by her friend, Hitomi, she begins to wonder what would have happened if she had let her die, and despite all her resistance to Kyubey’s soul gem making, and all her resistance to Kyoko’s selfish thinking, she gives in.

Serpents and apples: I know, I’m starting to go off-tangent here, but anyone notice how many times the apples come up this episode? On the trees, in Kyoko’s mouth, on the eyes of the followers driven by magic. All of this is immediately followed by Sayaka’s fight with the witch, who kneels down in front of a monstrance, an object of Catholic worship. The witch summons serpent-like extensions to attack Sayaka, but Sayaka cuts them all and eventually, seemingly on the verge of insanity, takes Kyubey’s advice, feeling no pain at all and repeatedly slashing at the witch despite being strangled, something Madoka screams about.

I’m not very confident of my knowledge regarding the Bible as well as related books such as the Book of Genesis, but I recall that in Adam & Eve, it was a serpent which tempted Eve to eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge, commonly symbolized as a nice, shiny apple, promising it would make her become more like God himself. Isn’t that something like what happened this week? In their attempts to make miracles, to be like god, they fall for Kyubey’s temptation, sliest of creatures, and eventually get punished. When God punished Adam & Eve, Eve was given the curse of pain during childbirth. This week, Sayaka had the wonderful feeling of being stabbed in the lower part of her torso, courtesy of Kyubey.

Last, but not least:

Colours: I think some bloggers might have picked up on this way before I did, but every main character in this show is characterized by one colour. Usually by the colour of their hair. Madoka’s hair is pink. As such , most of her clothing, her room and its decoration are pink. Sayaka’s room has a healthy dose of blue as well. But what is more important here is that their hair colours and character colours seem to directly correspond to their personalities and stories.

In literature, colours have symbolism. They’re not chosen simply because the author really loves that colour ( I hope), but in most pieces of literature they carry about a hidden meaning.

Let’s start with Kyoko’s hair colour: Red. The colour red, in literature, symbolizes immorality. It symbolizes blood, danger, passion and emotion. Kyoko is considered to be immoral because she’d willingly let people die for the sake of getting Grief Seeds. But later on it’s revealed that her history was full of blood : her family died, due to her emotion and passion for her father’s teachings, and it wasn’t even her fault, no less.

Moving on, we have Yellow, for Mami. Yellow isn’t as pleasant a colour as it sounds. It usually denotes decay and violence, as well as the approach of death. Old age might be one of the things it denotes too. If you add the colour orange into her palette, you could also say that the orange symbolizes Mami’s balance of spirit. She becomes a mahou shoujo when the time calls for it, and always when someone is on the verge of death. Later on, she finds courage from Madoka’s promise to join her, only to find that Death came in the form of a gigantic head-chomping phallic snake.

Going down the colours of the rainbow, we have green. Well, this week, we have Hitomi, who confesses her love for Kamijou to Sayaka. The colour green denotes hope, and a new life. Hitomi finds the courage to tell Sayaka about her crush, but knows that Sayaka loves him too, and thus tells her in advance – a fork in the road to a new life.

Blue represents Sayaka. Well, here is where this theory seems to fall flat, since blue represents calmness and peace, things Sayaka just can’t handle. Or perhaps it was meant to be that way – perhaps it was supposed to be kind of ironic, since Sayaka’s colour denotes calmness, but her character hardly ever calm. Compare her to Madoka. Madoka’s colour is pink, which suggests femininity and innocence. These are the only two things Madoka has been able to achieve in the past 7 episodes.

Black represents Homura, suggesting passivity. Homura is decidedly passive about what happens to the other magical girls : she remains cold and emotionless in dealing with their matters, being rather direct in warning Madoka about the dangers of becoming a magical girl. She knows all of those facts, but she remains passive, never telling the rest until the situation calls for it.  Her costume also has a heavy dose of purple, suggesting clarity of mind – something she very clearly, possesses. The witches’ lair is also completely in black, with the girls being reduced to shadows. Black represents ignorance and evil as well, the second one something which Sayaka must have been able to comprehend when she started seeming more like a yandere than a magical girl.

White represents Kyubey. This could have been slightly ironic too, but white represents innocence , life and enlightenment. Kyubey is always thought of by bloggers as the devil, but Kyubey is genuinely innocent when it comes to human values. He simply cannot understand them. He can’t understand why they valued their souls, why thy were angry at all. He remains innocent, yet guilty of crimes he could never understand.

P.S. If it’s hinted that Kyoko might have used a grief seed to get that bag of apples she was holding at the church, how did she get her boxes of Pocky the previous episode?

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35 Responses to Time to put on your tinfoil hats! Symbolism in Madoka episode 7

  1. afkeroge says:

    I just dismiss the colors in this anime as an instrument to deliver mood and accentuate the characters’ personalities. I think Urobuchi or anyone in the staff won’t try to be too deep (I hope) and make their designs considering color because it will make the experience harder for viewers and it’s a lot of trouble to go into those very fine details in a 12 episode anime. What I think is that those colors, like what you said, may present their personalities but not as much as to call for color having story significance.

    There is the fact that Kyouko and probably Homura are Christians before they became magical girls. Both seemed to have thrown away almost all traces of Christian values. This can be something to note, right?

    Another thing to be aware of is the change of art style in the last few minutes of the episode: when Sayaka fights the serpentine witch. It gives us a feeling of something breaking or being lost, namely Sayaka or her sanity. The effects of this scene will probably experienced in full brunt in the next episode where we may see something that cannot be taken back. That being said, Sayaka had it coming.

    Also, Kyuubee is becoming less and less of a Mephistopheles and becoming something more of a Niccolo Machiavelli. He’s not evil, just practical. Or rather, he’s someone so dedicated to his job that he doesn’t care about or understand human morals or emotions.

    • afkeroge says:

      Wait, my first paragraph is a mess. Nevermind that…

    • Valence says:

      The state of that church could also reflect the death of Christian values, or of religion in general. Pick your poison.

      The entire scene where they fight the witch eerily reminds me of Bad Apple. Unrelated, sure, but true. The scene has everyone cloaked in darkness, which could also be a metaphor for madness and the emptiness of the human soul.

      Kyubey is practical, but his ways are considered evil, I suppose.

      • afkeroge says:

        It should also be noted in this episode that Madoka offers her kind words, no matter how small they seem to be to the now pitiful Sayaka.

        I wrote about Madoka’s small yet big acts of heroism along with another character analysis just a little while ago. If you have time, do check it out and I hope that it may widen our views.

        And an unrelated note: We’re in the same time zone! 😀

        • Valence says:

          Really? That means your country has no snow too! Sad lives we lead…

          I’ve read your article regarding Madoka’s small yet big acts of heroism, but what I feel is that Madoka is actually your average mahou shoujo heroine thrown into a completely different and darker scenario. Most of these heroines are also innocent and pure and preach on and on about the values of good and whatnot, which is exactly what Madoka does, but they actually fight too. Really depends on the definition of ‘hero’ you use IMO.

          • afkeroge says:

            Well, I think ‘hero’ in general means someone who saves people. Madoka is quite amazing for her to be able to ease the pains of the others albeit not having magical powers. True, she has the same personality as other Mahou Shoujo heroines, but in a world as messed up as the Madoka Magica world, she’s doing a pretty good job holding up and even becoming the source of emotional healing, or even just someone whom the other Magical Girls can pour their pains and anxiety. That is why I think Madoka is one of those amazing people in anime despite all the criticisms and the growing dislike for her in the net.

            • Valence says:

              Madoka is indeed amazing, but she’s getting a bit….cliche. I mean, we’ve had enough of people who do nothing but sit around and try to get people to stop. And she doesn’t exactly ease the pains of others often, although it was nice to see her comfort Sayaka..

  2. baka~ says:

    well, Sayaka was befitting of her color since she was originally calm and composed, a trait that’s rare with her stereotype (aggressive and a brute). As for Kyubey, devil or not, I have to admit that he is enlightened as well as innocent since only thoughtless pieces of shits can think of storing souls in portable flash drives and loading them to indestructible bodies which makes sense if you are up against powerful freaks of nature… he’s still annoying though X_X

    • Valence says:

      Originally yes, but soon she goes reckless huh? Kinda reminds me of Oedipus Rex…. her recklessness will be her downfall.

      To be honest, the whole soul gem business is actually a great idea, from an utilitarian perspective. I mean, the ability to fight on without injury, and to be able to save yourself, a la revival from death, is indeed pretty impressive. Too bad it breaks all of our human morals and beliefs.

  3. Azure Hoshizora says:

    This episode was, hermmm quite an eyeopener.
    It was ironic that Sayaka’s wish and her becoming a magical girl ultimately led to her losing her true wish to win Kamijou’s heart.

    I don’t have much to say about the church but the serpents and apples theory implies that Kyubey could be god… which doesn’t sound all that good. Sayaka going berserk isn’t really good either. Guess all the deductions that Sayaka will become a witch might come true after all, judging by how she’s tripping every single death trap available.

    How many more days till Walpurgis night?

    • Valence says:

      Approximately 70 days from now, if you take Walpurgis Night to be 1st May instead of April 30th.

      I think Kyubey’s wishes are all tricks. They always end up in some twisted, sad fate that has nothing to do with what the mahou shoujo wish for. Kyoko wishes to help her father, and see where’s that gotten her.

      Kyubey is godly. He can grant miracles, make wishes, make the mortals suffer in pain, but no-one said that he was a good, all-loving god. Sayaka’s winning the death flag race on the highway to hell. She’s triggering all the obvious death flags, and it’s soon that she will probably turn into a witch or something.

      • Azure Hoshizora says:

        Wishes is a LIE. Actually, the wishes DO come true, momentarily though; before it starts getting messed up. Would it actually make sense to wish for something like “eternal happiness”?

        So he’s the not-so-kind god. I’m getting bad vibes like “religion isn’t good” or “religion is a lie” from Kyubey already.

        Screw Gen Urobuchi.

        • Valence says:

          Screw Gen Urobuchi? He deserves it for coming up with such a good show. I believe the expression you were looking for was ‘TO HELL WITH HIM!”

          Kyubey won’t say things like ‘religion is a lie’, simply because they’ll offend viewers. He’ll probably say something evil anyway.

          And also, there’s no sense in eternal happiness. There will always be a drawback.

          • Azure Hoshizora says:

            ‘TO HELL WITH HIM!” it is.

            There’s always a catch to this sort of thing… D:
            I’m curious how Kyubey would screw up the wish for a cake, if Madoka wishes for it…

            • Valence says:

              Everything Madoka ate turned into cake. At first, little Madoka was pleased, as cakes of all flavours she so very craved appeared whenever she got hungry. Strawberry, chocolate, vanilla, all she could wish for. It was her little paradise. She would sit down in her room, lock the door, and wish up a whole bunch of little cakes, sampling each one with the same excitement as the first one.

              But soon, it was out of control. Everything she ate turned into cake. All the drinks, all the food all became cake. She slowly had to live on a diet of cake. Her weight increased at an alarming rate, and it was soon clear to Madoka that all she touched turned into cake as well. Sayaka, frozen in cherry frosting, was devoured in an instant. As Madoka slowly realized all that she had done , she started out into the fields of cake she made, waiting for death fueled by sugar to hit her.

              …or something ridiculous like that.

              • Azure Hoshizora says:

                Huuurrr, I don’t wanna see a cake for at least a month now; poor Madoka.

                I had this image of Madoka eating Mami cake floating in my head…

                It might actually be interesting if this actually gets animated…

    • Valence says:

      Just look for all those Hidamari Sketch pictures containing cake.

  4. I’m not bothering to try grasping onto the symbolism in this series. I’ve found that thinking about those things until after I’ve see the entirety of something just makes watching a bit harder. So I’ll give thought to the symbolism post-finale.

    For right now, I’m spending my time feeling a bit bad for the girls. All of them. They can’t really understand what they’re getting into when Kyubey isn’t thoroughly honest with them. Here’s the thing though–I understand that the creepy little critter doesn’t grasp human morals and values. But he DID say it’s just easier if the girls don’t know, which says he knows that he knows they’ll be upset if they know, which thus tells me that he ought to know he’s doing SOMETHING wrong whether he grasps the trouble or not.

    I dunno though. I guess I’ll just wait to see the truth about him. I’m only along for the ride on this one.

    • Valence says:

      I think and watch at the same time. Gives me material for the finale.

      I can relate. All of them are not even sure what they’re doing, except for maybe Homura who seems to be in total control of the situation. She seems to know everything. Kyuubee, of course, doesn’t grasp human morals and values, and thus he finds roundabout ways to get past the things he doesn’t comprehend, such as the value of the soul. I think he knows they’ll be upset, but he does not understand why.

  5. Janette says:

    I wouldn’t say the two are allies now. Kyouko tried to reach out to Sayaka and was shot down pretty hard. She keeps interfering with Sayaka, but Sayaka doesn’t want her as an ally.

    Anyway. Good post.

    • Valence says:

      Thanks =D

      I think that instead of an ally per se, they’re friendly with one another, i.e. won’t try and kill each other. We’ve already seen how Kyoko tries to save her this episode during the Witch fight. Kyoko seems like she wants to be her ally, but Sayaka just cannot come to terms with becoming friends with such a person. Kyoko needs some Starlight Breaker.

  6. ~xxx says:

    I can more say that it’s rather a teacher-bad student relationship…
    I was actually find disturbing especially the part where it’s bad to wish for others welfare…

    The color is simply represents the color of their will… a very Classical example of how people are different for they emit colors.

    I am now looking for the walpurgis night to where everything happens.

    • Valence says:

      Walpurgis Night sounds nice, sure, but inevitably someone will have to die.

      The colours idea I came up with on a whim,but on hindsight it actually fits the characters’ auras quite well, doesn’t it?

  7. Nopy says:

    I thought you would’ve mentioned that scene where it looked like there was an outline of a giant grief seed behind Kyoko. I can’t say I know what it means, but my guess is that it’s hinting Kyoko won’t survive her next witch hunt.

  8. Duqs says:

    The show has dozens of symbolisms that run around. The apples are kind of weird because Kyouko comes off as someone who really cares for Sayaka, because the latter is about to embark on the same mistake as the former.

    “The road to hell is paved with good intentions”

    It totally comes across in the entire church scene that Kyouko is the temptress, even that slight portion wherein their shadows are on the stained glass with the knight impaling Kyouko’s shadow looks like the painting of St.George and the Dragon

    • Valence says:

      Too many symbolisms..I guess maybe we are over-scrutinizing the show after all. Kyouko’s intentions are good, but they are morally wrong, aren’t they? But are they justified?

      • ArashiX says:

        In Kyouko’s case, guess if want to put it that way her intentions are good, but if you want at it from the biological perspective survival of fittest and craftiest, lol. Not sure about justifiable…

  9. ArashiX says:

    Lol, thought I was one over analyzing the symbols in Ep 7. Think you did good job and a plausible one for looking at most of them. I even think about the snakes in the last scene; however Kyoko’s whole apple and backstory got me going “ah..” lol.

    Speaking of which Kyoko is more likely a protective FOIL character for Sayaka, but can’t figure out why I think that….

  10. ArashiX says:

    *didn’t think about the snakes* Sorry typing too quick

  11. Pingback: The problem with over-speculating over Madoka Magica | Ambivalence , or is it ambiguity?

  12. LashLuck says:

    You know, blue actually also stands for purity. Kind of ironic isn’t it, since Sayaka’s pure intentions are totally destroyed.

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