For this episode, I watched this with other people (Roghek, Sorrow-kun, kadian1364 and others) and had a pretty interesting discussion with the episode. (Image Source)
Unlike the last two episodes, this episode gets a bit darker. In the beginning, Mami defeats a decoy the witch had. Afterwards, a flashback is shown to reveal how she became a magical girl. When she saw Kyubei when she reaches her arm from a flipped car, she is forced to become one. Later, the viewer is also reminded of her discontent seen in the flashback by saying that nothing good comes out of being a magical girl. Madoka eventually calms her down and say that she isn’t alone and they are in for it together. Afterwards, she felt better and continues on the quest to battle the witch.
As for the Grief Seed, Sayaka finds it on a wall of the hospital after visiting her brother. Madoka looks for Mami so she could fight off the witch while Sayaka watches over it. They eventually end up in the maze along with Homura. With her appearance, Mami ties up with magical powers. The background surrounding the girls is an extremely weird nightmare that poured into a hospital. On top of that, some of the rooms looked like sweets and cake! Is this an indication that the witch would eat anything? Lastly, after Madoka helps Mami from her angst, there were capsules showering down in the background that reminded some people of the game, Dr. Mario.
The battle I have to say was the most ironic and tragic part of this episode. When this witch appeared, it’s a cute nightmare-inducing version of a clown! When Mami thought she defeated the witch, it changes forms and then eats Mami whole. This is probably the most gruesome way to die, especially for a magical girl. The defeat of a magical girl is different from what I have seen with other shows in this genre. It’s usually a girl getting their butt kicked or magical power drops temporarily/permanently… From some speculation in the discussion, Mami probably did this to give a basis for Madoka’s wish of resurrecting her, but at a cost. Sadly though, Momura grabs the Grief Seed like a jerkass while Madoka and Sayaka morns the loss over their mentor, Mami.
Since I have mentioned Momura, there is something about her behavior that reminds me of the first two episodes. She is harsh towards Kyubei and Madoka in her speech since she doesn’t want her to face a fate of becoming injured or even worse, death. The whole magical girl thing feels like high risk, high return kind of thing since battling these witches is extremely dangerous. If you make one wrong move, it’s basically game over. Regardless, Momura probably has a different motive to collect these Grief Seeds, which is unknown.
Lastly, some people in the live watch have mentioned something about Kyubei’s lack of emotion. If you compare this mascot to something like Yuuno from Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha, Yuuno actually has a lot of emotion and interacts with other people. Typically, the mascot drives the comic relief in the Magical Girl show. On the other hand, Kyubei hardly shows any emotions or even have any fun. He is seen as the enforcer of rules or a spectator. Also, he is always in a really dark shade when he appears. As a result, it caused some people to speculate in the live watch that Kyubei’s purpose of making girls become magical girls is to eventually see the girl’s death in a witch battle. Whatever the case may be, it’s in no doubt that the director wants to make things serious opposed to the fluffiness seen in the traditional magical girl show.
Overall, I have definitely enjoyed this episode, especially with other people. With situations like the death of Mami, the show is definitely redefining the magical girl genre to make it feel serious, dark and edgier. On top of that, the mystery and speculation surrounding this show would make each episode feel thrilling and interesting. I think the first three episodes proved it, so I’m definitely continuing to see what lies ahead for Madoka and Sayaka.