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Old 2011-05-17, 11:52   Link #105
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Originally Posted by Kazu-kun View Post
No. In the end, it seems you were right about Madoka wanting to be somewhat extraordinary. But that's goal, not a motivation. It's the motivations/drive/reason behind that goal what's nowhere to be seen.
Some people want power simply for the sake of having power. They don't have anything particular in mind that they need the power for, they just find the concept of wielding power enticing in and of itself. I know of politicians like that. So, for them, the acquisition of power is a goal as well as a motivation.

Likewise, some people want to help others just for the sake of helping others. There's nothing in particular that they hope to gain from that, other than, perhaps, the satisfaction of knowing that they helped other people. Madoka is such a person, I think.

But if you really need a reason for why Madoka wants to help others, I would say it's partly because she feels uniquely fortunate to have the family and friends and life that she has, and hence feels that to be deserving of such a charmed existence she needs to give back to the world around her. The irony here is that by acting on this motivation, the nature of Madoka's own existence is changed irrevocably.

Sayaka, I think, was motivated in a similar way (Sayaka implied that herself with her own words), except that romantic longing caused her feelings to focus much more on one particular person: Kamijou.

but there's no way I can understand Sayaka (why so self-righteous?)
Why is Sayaka "self-righteous" in your opinion?

Sayaka is actually pretty normal, in my view. Especially for a teenage girl. She has a fairly typical streak of youthful idealism, hardly anything out of the ordinary.

I think where some viewers misjudge Sayaka is in evaluating her actions through the prism of our 3rd person omniscient perspective, along with us being fairly genre savvy and knowing who the writer of Madoka Magica is.

But Sayaka has none of that of course. To properly evaluate Sayaka and her actions, you have to keep in mind how other characters and plot events come across to her, and of the limitations in knowledge that she has to work with.

So when a new transfer student shows up at Madoka's school, puts up an impeccable cold front, and asks Madoka some rather "out there" questions about whether or not Madoka loves the people she cares about, Sayaka naturally is quite disturbed by this when she sees it and/or hears about it.

Wouldn't you be disturbed and weirded out if your best friend was approached by a complete stranger asking her if she cares about her loved ones or not?

While Homura's actions are quite understandable given her situation, it's also quite understandable how and why Sayaka could develop a generally negative view of Homura.

Then, later on, Homura tries to kill a strange and seemingly defenseless/harmless creature (Kyubey). Homura then later refuses Mami's olive branch offering of a grief seed gift, free of charge. In both of these cases, I can see why Homura made the decisions that she did, but that doesn't impact on how Sayaka views it.

Sayaka naturally comes to view Homura as a weird, powerful, and dangerous delinquent. Sayaka is incorrect in that assessment, of course, but can you really blame her for thinking that? I certainly can't.

On the other end of things, Sayaka and Madoka are rescued by the gallant, stylish, and charming Mami. Oh, and the cool, calm, and collected Mami too (going by outward appearances). Why wouldn't Sayaka take a strong liking towards Mami? Why wouldn't Madoka, for that matter?

Then Sayaka and Madoka find out that these bizarre super-powered beings called "witches" are causing serious problems, up to and including causing people to attempt suicide. Well, I can certainly understand a person wanting to shy away from these dangerous opponents, but at the same time it's not hard to see why somebody would want to put a stop to them either. If nothing else, Sayaka and Madoka would understandably want to ensure that their families and friends can't be victimized by these witches.

Through all of this, Mami seems trustworthy enough, and Kyubey isn't doing or saying much to give away his true motivations. Oh, sure, we viewers have reason to suspect Kyubey because we know this is a Gen Urobuchi-wrote story, but Sayaka and Madoka don't know that. Putting aside cynicism (which, it's important to remember, tends to come with age), there's not much reason for Sayaka or Madoka to think that Mami and Kyubey are anything but on "the up and up". And heck, they were right about Mami at least.

Later on Sayaka runs into Kyouko, and Kyouko rather forcefully states that familiars should be allowed to roam free to become witches. Well, such an approach will lead to more innocent people being victimized, at least in the short term. Sayaka is quite correct in bringing that up.

Is it really that hard to see why Sayaka wouldn't want to let innocent people be victimized when a few sword slashes on her part can prevent it? I don't think you need to be "self-righteous" to feel that way, or to take exception to a person arguing that it's Ok to just throw innocent lives away for pragmatic purposes. I mean, weren't most people here arguing against such "ends justify the means" logic when arguing at length against Kyubey, even before the "magical girls become witches" reveal was made?

Now that's not to say that Kyouko's cynicism wasn't understandable given what we later find out about her background, but nor is Sayaka's idealism something that should be hard to understand and find reasonable given the circumstances.

Not in every conflict is one person "right" and the other person "wrong". In many conflicts, both sides have understandable reasons for taking the position that they're taking, and it's simply a matter of different backgrounds and/or different degrees of knowledge helping to shape different perspectives.

In fact, one of the understated strengths of Madoka Magica is how raw, real, and ambiguous many of its moral and philosophical conflicts are. The disagreements between Sayaka and Homura, Sayaka and Kyouko, and Sayaka and Madoka, all seem reasonable and even realistic to me. In all cases, I see where both sides are coming from, and I see where both sides have good arguments that can be made.

Sayaka is simply a pretty normal girl with fairly conventional moral values (thrown into a world that's anything but conventional, unfortunately for her ).

Did she make many mistakes? Sure, but a lot of that has to do with Sayaka not having all the facts to work with, or even knowing where to go to find those facts.
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