Do you wanna make a contract? /人◕ ‿‿ ◕人\

"Beginning with a wish, and ending with a curse."

Welcome to Messenger of Magic a one page tribute dedicated to the deceptively cute Kyubey from Puella Magi Madoka Magica! This site was made in August 2015 for Amassment's annual One Page, One Month challenge. Please be aware that this site contains spoilers for the entire series right from the start.

Puella Magi Madoka Magica (Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica) is an anime series that was created by Shaft and Aniplex and originally aired in 2011. It is the first title in the Puella Magi series which includes various films, games, a novel and manga. This site primarily focuses on the original 12 episode anime, mostly because I'm not as familiar with the extended series. There's a good chance it may be expanded to include them in the future, because working on this site got me back into the series in a big way.

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Puella Magi Madoka Magica

Puella Magi Madoka Magica starts off like any other magical girl anime. Madoka is our heroine - a sweet, kindhearted girl with pink hair and typical teenage girl insecurities. Madoka hits us right in the moe feels. Her best friend is Sayaka, who is in love with a boy called Kyosuke. One day, they get a new exchange student in their class - a mysterious girl by the name of Homura. Homura is intense and appears to have some issue with Madoka, telling her that she shouldn't change her life, or she'll risk losing everything.

Homura isn't the only new weird thing in Madoka's life, however. While at a record store with Sayaka after school, she hears a voice calling out for help. She searches for this voice, and ends up finding a strange white and pink creature called Kyubey. Kyubey is being attacked by Homura, and it appears that Homura might even attack Madoka to get at Kyubey. However, yet another mysterious girl in a strange outfit appears and Homura takes her leave. This new girl, Mami, explains that she is a magical girl. Kyubey has sensed potential in Madoka, and wants her to form a contract with him - granting her one wish and transforming her into a powerful magical girl, complete with transformation scene and a cute costume.

Mami spends time with Madoka and Sayaka, explaining to them and showing them how being a magical girl works. Kyubey will grant one wish - whatever the girl may want - and they will become a magical girl. Upon becoming a magical girl they receive a Soul Gem which allows them to use their powers. With these abilities, they must fight witches - monsters that cause despair wherever they appear and driving people to suicide and increasing violent crimes. Only a magical girl can stop them, and while it's dangerous work, it does mean that the magical girl is protecting people and using their powers for good reasons. Plus, there is also that wish that Kyubey would have granted. It's dangerous work, sure, but it all seems above board and pretty standard magical girl anime stuff, right? These girls will overcome their challenges and so on, under the gentle guidance of Mami, senior magical girl.

Wait. Did they just kill off said senior magical girl suddenly and horribly at the end of episode three? You betcha.

It's here that PMMM starts to veer off from generic magical girl anime into darker territory, and begins to dismantle tropes inherent to the genre. It's a bit of a bait and switch. Despite the adorable mascot and cute costumes, this is not going to be rainbows and sunshine. At the centre of all this is Kyubey - the creature that seeks out these girls to make a contract and give them their power. He is what this site will be focusing on, but first, let's take a look at the magical girls.

Our Magical Girls

Kaname Madoka is a sweet and gentle fourteen year old girl, and the protagonist of our story. She sees herself as someone without any special talents, and aspires to be like Mami and become a magical girl. She becomes more uncertain of things as the series progresses and the true cost of being a magical girl is revealed. She has huge magical potential, and this is later revealed to be due to Homura constantly resetting the timeline to save Madoka's life. Kyubey is determined to have her become a magical girl because he knows he can gather a large amount of energy from her.

Miki Sayaka is Madoka's best friend. She wish upon forming a contract with Kyubey is to heal the hand of the boy she loves - Kyosuke - who is a violinist. Without her wish being granted, he would never play the violin again. While she maintains that her wish is selfless, the consequences soon become apparent. Sayaka gave up her humanity to save this boy in the hope that he would love her. Instead, another friend of hers confesses to Kyosuke. Sayaka does nothing to tell Kyosuke of her feelings. She's realised the true extent of what it means to be a magical girl, and feels like she's now a walking corpse with no right to anything. She spirals into despair, losing faith in humanity and justice, and eventually becomes a witch.

Tomoe Mami. The veteran magical girl who introduces Madoka and Sayaka to her world. She made a contract with Kyubey to save her life after she was in a car crash that killed her parents. She lives a lonely life, although she's outwardly cheerful and confident. Madoka offers to fight with her and it makes Mami incredibly happy to know that she'll no longer have to fight alone. However, she is killed in episode three by a witch.

Akemi Homura is a mysterious new student who transfers into Madoka's class the same day she meets Kyubey and Mami. Homura is another magical girl, and is distant and cold. This is due to the fact that she has been reliving the same month many times over. In her original timeline, she saw Mami and Madoka killed by Walpurgisnacht and made a contract. Her wish was to be the one to protect Madoka. Her power allows her to stop and rewind time. She at first appears to be an antagonist to Madoka and her friends, but her ultimate goal is actually to protect Madoka, who she considers her only friend.

Sakura Kyoko is another veteran magical girl who arrives after the death of Mami to take over hunting the witches in her area. Her father was part of a church and her wish is that people would listen to his preaching. She had ideals of them saving the world - her father with his words and her by hunting witches. However, when her father found out about her wish, he went mad and killed everyone in his family aside from Kyoko and then killed himself. Kyoko decided then to only use her magic to help herself. She is also antagonistic when she first appears, but after the truth about being a magical girl is revealed, she tries to help Sayaka. She is eventually killed when fighting witch Sayaka.

Kyubey? Kyubey? Who the hell is Kyubey?

Kyubey - or Kyuubee or Kyuubey, pronounced Que-Bae, the ultimate bae (except totally not your bae) - is a cute little white creature with pink ears that can communicate telepathically with people. Kyubey has no gender, but is referred to as a "he" in the series by the girls and generally by most people online, so that's how I will refer to him in this site. Interestingly, Homura gets across her dislike for Kyubey by referring to him as "it", likely to drive home the fact that he is not a creature that should be trusted. Kyubey is an alien creature from a species known as Incubators. More on that a little bit later.

At first Kyubey appears like an altruistic wish granting standard magical girl mascot. He will often appear to a potential magical girl when she's at her lowest moment - in Mami's case, she was about to die in a car crash and in Homura's case, she had just lost her only friend and would do anything to prevent that from happening. He grants their wishes and they are bestowed with a Soul Gem and the abilities of a magical girl and the duty to fight witches. At first, it all seems straightforward, although dangerous. But wishes are dangerous, and Kyubey has his own agenda and a tendency to withhold information.

However, our introduction to Kyubey is set up so that we trust him. In the opening seconds of the series he asks Madoka to make a contract with him in the midst of Homura fighting and losing to a very powerful witch. It later transpires this was the previous timeline that Homura lived through. Later on in the first episode, his real introduction is a sympathetic one as he is injured and on the run from Homura who's trying to kill him. This is where he meets Madoka, and this meeting immediately makes her and Sayaka wary of Homura and probably warm up to Kyubey quickly. Also he's cute and looks huggable. I'd want one.

Kyubey's body is strange. At one point Homura shoots him repeatedly and seemingly kills him. But it doesn't take long for another Kyubey to show up. He has multiple bodies, but requests that Homura doesn't make him waste any more of them. He then proceeds to eat his old body for reasons never stated. It might just be because it amps up Kyubey's creepy factor, but it also could be a way of Kyubey retaining energy gathered in the old body. What is clear is that it's not easy to get rid of Kyubey, and that he's powerful. His cute body belies this. Aside from the wish granting power and telepathy, Kyubey is also invisible to anyone not a magical girl, or a magical girl potential. He also appears to be able to teleport.

Kyubey is a play on the mentor mascot trope. Think about Kero from Cardcaptor Sakura or Luna and Artemis from Sailor Moon - some well known examples of this. Except that Kyubey is far less concerned with the emotional health and physical welfare of his magical girls. Oops you're dead? That's fine, lemme harvest your energy. It's after the death of Mami in episode three that we begin to learn that there is some serious fineprint to this contract.

Soul Gems, Grief Seeds and Witches - oh my!

Let's talk about the contract and what exactly is happening to these girls, along with Kyubey's reason for doing all this.

Firstly? The Soul Gem created when one becomes a magical girl is exactly what it sounds like - the girl's soul is separated from her body and placed into this gem. Their bodies are no longer their original ones. Kyubey calls these avatars "external hardware" and explains that their normal human bodies would not be able to fight witches - they're much too fragile. The seperation of soul and body means that the body can withstand more pain and punishment but so long as the Soul Gem is undamaged, the body - or external hardware - can heal and the magical girl will survive injuries that would kill the average person. In time, they can learn not to feel the pain at all. This is information Kyubey does not tell the girls before making a contract, and they're quite obviously upset. Sayaka refers to herself as a zombie, and it expedites her breakdown and eventual transformation into a witch. If the gem is too far away from the body, or if it is destroyed, the girl will die.

That's the second piece of information Kyubey does not share with the class - all magical girls eventually turn into witches. This happens most notably to Sayaka in the series. While allowing herself to fall into complete despair is partly the cause, Sayaka also refused to use Grief Seeds to purify her Soul Gem. A Grief Seed is sometimes dropped by a witch. Magical girls can transfer pollution from their Soul Gem to the Grief Seed. This allows them to continue to use their powers and stops them from becoming a witch. Once a Grief Seed has been filled with the pollution drawn from a Soul Gem, Kyubey will ingest it into his body.

Witches also have familiars, which are less strong than actual witches and who don't produce Grief Seeds when defeated. They can, however, turn into witches in their own right if left to their own devices, and of course their presences means nothing good for any person who is around them. The cost of allow a familiar to become a witch and to gain a Grief Seed and more power and magic is the lives of innocent people.

All of these factors can cause magical girls to be competitive with each other. Kyoko is the prime example of this - she's willing to let a familiar become a witch to get a Grief Seed, and she's also willing to kill Sayaka after Mami's death so that she can take over Mami's turf as senior magical girl in a prime area.

All of these factors do not make for magical girls being pleasant co-workers. Mami, however, wasn't like this - she was a lonely person and wanted Madoka and Sayaka to be her friends and become magical girls and fight with her. But in general, the situation does not make for amicable relations between magical girls.

Oh My God, Is He Talking Physics To Me?

But what does Kyubey get out of all this? It all just seems cruel and pointless. It takes a while for his true motivations to come out, but he does eventually explain to Madoka. As previously mentioned, Kyubey is an Incubator - an alien race with advanced technology. The suffering that he casually causes these girls isn't malicious on his part - in fact, he's doing it to extend the life of the universe. His advanced civilisation discovered that the amount of usable energy in the universe is decreasing, and is headed for entropy - or the heat death of the universe. The Incubators began searching for a form of energy that wasn't limited by the laws of thermodynamics. What they discovered was a technology that converts the emotions of a sentient lifeform into raw energy.

However, Kyubey and his species are incapable of experiencing emotions, and so they can't use the technology on themselves. They scoured the universe and discovered that basically human souls are the energy source that could counter entropy. The most effective energy is that of young teenage girls - their wishes are emotional and therefore more powerful, and when their Soul Gems become Grief Sees, a huge amount of energy is generated and Kyubey then collects that energy, thereby delay entropy and the heat death of the universe.

His motivations are not evil as such, but it is incredibly alien. What's interesting is that as far as Kyubey is concerned this is all extremely fair. After all, the girls willingly enter into a contract. They don't force them or use mind control, and to him this demonstrates that the Incubators have no ill will towards the girls. Also, with the large and ever growing population on Earth, why would anyone be upset over the loss of so few people, particularly when their sacrifice is for a greater reason?

Of course, that's even if Kyubey is telling Madoka the whole truth. The fact is, while Kyubey doesn't lie, he does omit a lot of detail that's probably important. We have no idea how imminent this heat death is, for example.

What particularly highlights Kyubey's complete alienness is that he explains all this to Madoka at a point when Mami, Sayaka and Kyoko have all been killed. Madoka is understandably upset with Kyubey, who can't fathom why. He leaves Madoka with these comforting words:

"So, if you ever feel like dying for the sake of the universe, call me! I'll be waiting."

That Kyubey, always got his eye on the prize.

A lying liar who Lies (or not)

And that's just it, isn't it? Kyubey is always focused on his mission and his inability to feel emotions means he can't understand the reactions the humans sometimes habe to him. Which, on the one hand, makes sense. But on the other...he tells Madoka that his people have been involved with humans since prehistory and have shaped the way humans have progressed. The Incubators have made contracts with countless girls over the course of history. Surely they've learned a bit about humans by now and why they react the way they do.

The fact is, is that Kyubey just does not care that the girls he makes a contract with will suffer and inevitably fall into despair as witches. It's not personal, it's just necessary to prevent the end of the universe. But it's clear that he does know how to manipulate the girls and situations to get an outcome he desires. What's interesting about it all is that he never actually seems to lie.

From the very start, Kyubey is upfront about wanting Madoka to form a contract with him and become a magical girl. He will certainly withhold information that one might find pertinent, but never outright lies. It obviously benefits him not to, as due to his comments about humans "always" blaming him for a decision they made themselves he knows the information will not be well received. In one of the timelines, when Mami finds out she breaks down and starts killing the other magical girls, thinking they need to be stopped before they become witches. Yeah, Kyubey has clearly learned how to work with his audience.

And when asked why he never told them the full truth, his reply is simple - "You never asked."

The Art of Manipulation

No, Kyubey doesn't lie outright. You can argue about the morals and ethics about what he's doing and how he goes about it. But he never tells the girls a lie. For Kyubey and his species, emotions are considered a mental disorder, and he's happy to manipulate them.

Right from the start, Kyubey engineers situations to give him the outcome he desires - for Madoka to become an incredibly powerful magical girl and eventually a witch. Something that will create a huge amount of energy in the universe, stalling it's heat death.

He takes advantage of Madoka's insecurities. He knows she is kind and compassionate, and becoming a magical girl would mean that she can help her friends and save people. When Madoka is at one of her lowest points - after Sayaka has deteriorated and yelled at Madoka for letting everyone else do the fighting. Kyubey tells Madoka that she has such potential that she could become a god and use her wish to save Sayaka. Just as she's about to say the words to bind the contract, Homura appears and shoots Kyubey.

He does the same, I feel, to Mami, and sets her up to die. Mami has created a lonely world for herself, dedicating herself to fighting witches. When Madoka and Sayaka come along, she has people who know the truth of her world. Her loneliness eases. Kyubey seems quite happy for Madoka and Sayaka to come along on witch hunts despite it being incredibly dangerous for them as regular humans. It seems clear to me that he wanted to put them in an impossible situation - either die or become a magical girl. And this almost happens when Mami is killed. Only Homura, again, stops that happening so soon.

Another insidious example happens when Sayaka has become a witch. Kyoko, angry and upset at Kyubey's deception and Sayaka's fate, wants to know if there's any chance of restoring Sayaka. Kyubey acknowledges that magical girls defy logic as it is, so it's possible that there's more to them than they currently know and that they're capable of other impossible things. It's a non answer - it's not a lie, but it's obviously no guarantee. But it's enough to send Kyoko after witch Sayaka with Madoka to try and save her.

This fails, of course. Kyoko dies and can't save Sayaka. Kyubey tells Homura that it would have been impossible to save Sayaka, but that getting Kyoko out of the way served an important purpose - at this point, Homura is the only magical girl left. An incredibly powerful witch called Walpurgisnacht will be arriving soon, and there's no way that Homura can defeat this witch on her own. Madoka will be left with no choice but to become a magical girl to protect the city. Otherwise, thousands will die.

His actions makes me think that he understands human emotions at least a little bit, even if he doesn't experience them himself. He knows how they work and how to push buttons and get the outcomes he desires, and he's not above letting humans or magical girls be killed to achieve them.

But why should he be? As far as he's concerned, humans are no more than cattle. He literally compares humans to livestock. Does Madoka feel bad for the animals she eats and how these animals become food? Humans chose livestock to become food. In exchange, these animals are fed, allowed to reproduce and are protected from predators. They flourish under the conditions humans allow them to, and survive at a higher rate than they did in the wild. It's a mutually beneficial relationship. And as far as Kyubey is concerned, the Incubators treat humans with far more respect than humans treat their livestock. They try to deal fairly with humans, understanding that they are sentient creatures. Offering them a choice and power. According to Kyubey, humans have only risen so high because of the Incubators - if not for their involvement, humans would still be naked and living in caves. When he shows Madoka images of the past, he tells her that magical girls have started revolutions that changed history, or others elevated humanity to new levels. They do all this for humans, while staving off the death of the universe, and Madoka has the nerve to complain?

True Neutral

So taking all of this into account, there's no doubt that Kyubey ends up as the antagonist of the series, but that does not necessarily mean he's evil - something I've seen a lot of people say about him. Personally, I don't believe he is, and because Dungeons & Dragons character alignment system is fun, I'm using that as my starting point. Kyubey is a True Neutral.

Oh, it's certainly easy to paint Kyubey as evil. He feels no empathy for the suffering he causes by arriving into these girls lives and offering them wishes and power. He actively manipulates them and withholds important information from them. He cares not if they live or die, just so long as they provide ample energy by becoming magical girls and witches. Why should he care? He can't care, considering he's a being that feels no emotions.

Kyubey's motivations aren't to cause suffering and pain. He's job is to create energy to stop the heat death of the universe, and the most efficient way to do that just happens to be a way that will cause a number of humans suffering. In the grand scheme of things, who's going to miss a few girls? Their sacrifice means the universe can go on. Their sacrifices have sometimes elevated humans. It's all for the greater good. (The greater good.)

Manipulative, yes. Evil, no. It's not even a case of the end justifying the means. The means just doesn't matter to him, it will get done be it pleasant or not. In the new world after Madoka's wish, the new status quo seems acceptable to him and he seems friendlier - energy is still being gathered by the most efficient means possible that he's aware of. He isn't looking to bring back the suffering of the magical girls. He only seems friendlier because the methods are friendlier. Ultimately, he's there to prolong the life of the universe, not to be a friend or a mentor to the magical girls.

The End

"I wish I had the power to erase witches before they're born. Every single witch, from the past, present and future. Everywhere."

Madoka's wish changes everything. Kyubey asks her if she is actually trying to become a god. But all Madoka wants is for the suffering of the magical girls to stop. And if her wish goes against the laws of the universe? She'll rewrite those laws. Even Walpurgisnacht, the powerful witch that couldn't be defeated alone, is saved by Madoka, who goes back before Walpurgisnacht became a witch and takes away her despair.

Madoka's wish is so powerful that it actually erases her from the world - she has no physical body anymore. She's basically become a concept. Only Homura (and for some reason, Madoka's younger brother) can remember her.

Homura tells Kyubey about the old world. But since she's the only one to remember how things used to be, Kyubey knows there's no way to prove it either way - if what Homura says is true or not. All they can do is get on with the world they do currently exist on. And that's a world without witches. Instead magical girls hunt wraiths, creatures which are not explained at all.

Kyubey admits that he finds the witch concept Homura presents him with very interesting, and it certainly appeals to him as a method of collecting the energy of human emotions. He knows that if that's how things were, his people would have come up with a completely different set of tactics. He also seems to think it would be easier to hunt witches than wraiths.

In this world, Kyubey seems more of a standard mentor mascot. Homura certainly seems more comfortable with him, and admits that their relationship with Kyubey in the old world was rocky.

Kyubey really will never understand human values. Kyubey hasn't changed at all in this new world. He's simply working under a different set of parametres.

/人◕ ‿‿ ◕人\

Messenger of Magic was hastily made in August 2015 for Amassment's One Page, One Month challenge. I'd wanted to make a site to Kyubey for ages - he's a devious and interesting character who is a large part of why I enjoyed PMMM so much, and the perfect character for a one page shrine. I didn't manage to get everything I'd wanted to do written up in time for the deadline, but I hope to expand on this site a bit in the future.

If you own a site related to Puella Magi Madoka Magica and would like to link exchange, please contact me!