St. Pius V Corner: Puella Non Materiales Madoka Magica

St. Pius V Corner: Puella Non Materiales Madoka Magica

Even if you possessed all created things you could not be happy and blessed; for in God, Who created all these things, your whole blessedness and happiness consists – not indeed such happiness as is seen and praised by lovers of the world, but such as that for which the good and faithful servants of Christ wait, and of which the spiritual and pure of heart, whose conversation is in heaven, sometime have a foretaste.

Fr. Thomas a Kempis, The Imitation of Christ; Book 3, Section 16

So much has been brought up about the Christian allegories in Akiyuki Shinbo’s 2011 hit series, Puella Magi Madoka Magica. There’s the comparison between Madoka Kaname, the titular charcter of the show, and Our Lord Jesus Christ, especially with regard to their salvific mission for humanity; and how Kyubey is a play on the “deal with the devil” trope. But if there’s another theme that I feel is overlooked in this show, it definitely has to be the subject of materialism. In today’s society, it seems like the only way to have a high social status is to be rich, powerful and a prevalent social force. What’s important to realize however is to not to let constant pursuit of material comfort become the rule of our life. If we devote our life to satisfying our own personal needs through chasing the “next best thing” to have hit the market since sliced cheese, nothing good will come out of it in the long term – and Madoka Magica is ripe with examples of such.


I want you to make a contract with me sell your soul to materialism and become a magical girl! consign yourself to torment for the rest of your life!

Puella Magi Madoka Magica is centered around how young girls are tricked to becoming magical girls in exchange for a wish that they earnestly desire. This is all made possible by Kyubey, a delightfully devilish cat-like creature who, through his crafty schemes and his Faustian promises entices millions of magical girls throughout history to give their lives to supposedly fight a horde of witches to maintain balance and order in the universe. In this anime, five girls – Homura Akemi (a.k.a best waifu), Mami Tomoe, Kyoko Sakura, Sayaka Miki and Madoka Kaname are goaded into making this contract; all but Madoka end up screwing themselves over as a cause of their wishes.


puella magi madoka magica Mami Tomoe tomoe mami pmmm Anime Redraw  caramelgeuse •
Mami Tomoe, in her final moments before death.

Mami Tomoe, a student in Mitakihara Junior High, is the very first magical girl that Madoka and her friend Sayaka is introduced to, and befriend. On the surface, she has a prevailing sense of justice, is always on the lookout for the good of others, and seems to be the epitome of what a worthy magical girl should be. However, as we learn in episode 3, it’s clear that Mami doesn’t seem to share this opinion. Years ago, in an automotive accident that took the life of her parents, she makes a wish with Kyubey to survive – and that has haunted her ever since. What does she get for it?

I’m just trying to act cool. No matter how hard or scary it is, I can’t talk to anyone else about it. Being a magical girl isn’t all what it’s cracked up to be.

Mami confesses the truth to Madoka, episode 3 of PMMM

Because of her magical girl work, she becomes isolated from society, and is looked upon as a social outcast by her peers. As a result of her wish, she has no one else to turn to – not a very good exchange for the price of survival. Madoka becomes the only one to reach out to Mami, wanting to make her wish to be side-by-side with her always. Unfortunately, this would never come to fruition as Mami dies at the hands of Charlotte – alone in her struggle, with nobody to back her up in the fight or mourn her loss.


Anime Moon [NOTE: All posts may contain SPOILERS]: The Tragedies, Survival,  and Redemption of Sakura Kyoko (Part 1)
Kyoko’s wish was to get her family out of poverty and become recognized by all. It costs her everything.

After Mami’s death, Kyoko Sakura, a feisty magical girl comes into Mitakihara, hoping to secure her role as the city’s protector. As a child, she was the eldest daughter of an Unglican “priest” who went rogue with unorthodoxy (as if Unglicanism wasn’t unorthodox enough), and was eventually “excommunicated”, leading to their family’s destitute situation. Kyoko proceeds to contract with Kyubey, becoming a magical girl so that her father can become the most popular preacher in town. Thanks to her wish, her family climbs out of poverty, her father’s mental health improves by a mile, and things begin to look up for them as a whole. Eventually, her magical girl lifestyle are exposed by her father, who becomes a violent, angry man who eventually snaps and murder-suicides his entire family, leaving Kyoko as the only survivor.

My wish destroyed my entire family. Without knowing what they really wanted, my wish destroyed their lives. From that day forward I decided to use my magic only for my own needs, and not for others.

Kyoko recounts the lesson she learned from her wish, episode 7

Kyoko’s wish led to a miserable end for her family – and it’s the one thing that she regrets the most, swearing never to use her magic to help others. Like Mami, she was driven to make her wish out of a desperate impulse to save herself, without consideration for what it was her family really needed. Yes, her father finally gets the praise and honor he sought after, but in the end, it proved to be his own undoing. She tells this story to Sayaka, who as seen in the next section, gets her own comeuppance following her own contracting.


It is good for us to have trials and troubles at times, for they often remind us that we are on probation and ought not to hope in any worldly thing... These things help us to be humble and shield us from vainglory.– Fr. Thomas a Kempis

Sayaka, Madoka’s best friend, has a different, yet nonetheless selfish reason for her wish. She is in love with Kyousuke Kamijou, a former musician who is in the hospital following an undisclosed accident involving is hand. In episode 4, after an argument between the two of them, wherein the latter laments the fact that he will never play music again, Sayaka makes her wish to Kyubey to have Kamijou’s hand miraculously heal, and he can play music again. The following episode, she proclaims while listening to Kamijou play the violin for the first time in ages:

Mami, my wish came true. I’m the happiest that I’ve been in such a long time – I have no regrets about this decision!

Sayaka’s life is now “perfect”, episode 5

If irony were a bunch of strawberries, we’d be drinking plenty of smoothies now. Firstly, she makes this statement while Charles Gounod’s Ave Maria plays in the background. A statement about self-satisfaction and pride is made, while a song about the Blessed Virgin Mary – who in contrast sang the Magnificat (St. Luke 1:46-55) to honor God for her role in delivering Christ the Savior – plays before her ears. Then, only two episodes later, her joy comes crashing down when Hitomi, Sayaka’s friend, wins over Kamijou’s love. Filled with despair because of the heartbreak, she transforms to a witch – the very thing she was fighting against – not before regretting the fact that she couldn’t have more than what she asked for via her wish.


Determined to save the girl she deems her best friend, Homura spends a truckload of time repeating the same month over and over again, hoping to reverse Madoka’s fate. Spoiler alert: She fails

This character, I believe, best shows the dark side of excessive materialism. When Homura first arrived at Mitakihara, she was befriended by Madoka, who introduced herself as a magical girl and accompanies them in their journeys to defeat the witches. Following a disastrous battle with Walpurgisnacht, and Madoka at the point of death, Homura makes a wish to relive the moments with Madoka, and to be strong enough to protect her no matter what the costs. What follows is a 12-year long time loop where she repeatedly sees her best friend nearly become a witch and is personally forced to shoot her at one point to prevent her from becoming a witch. Unable to withstand the pain, she makes her ultimate goal to prevent Madoka from becoming a magical girl in the first place.

I’ll do it over and over again – visiting the same time again and again, to find the path to save you from despair. Madoka, my only friend, even if I have to roam this maze for all eternity, it’ll be all worth it for your sake.

Homura vows to protect Madoka, episode 10

Homura’s near-obsession to rescue Madoka grows on her, impacting her mental well-being over time. Like Cain of Scripture, she is cursed to roam the Earth, desperate to find the answer to save Madoka from her inevitable fate, yet all of these in vain. Bit by bit, as she resets each timeline, she loses her own humanity pursuing this goal, becoming a cold, ruthless and isolated individual when she is first introduced to the story. It is only by denying her own chase for the fantasy she sought out, that she can finally become at ease. I still love her though.


Notice the common trend each character follows after becoming a magical girl:

  1. After they get their wish fulfilled, they experience a sense of joy
  2. The joy is short-lived, and is followed by a sting of despair
  3. They succumb to their despair, or the circumstances surrounding it
  4. They regret making the wish to become a magical girl

Scripture is full of warnings regarding rampant reliance on materialism. In fact, Our Lord Jesus Christ warns, particularly in St. Luke 9:24, St. Mark 8:34-36 and St. Matthew 16:24-28 that materialism will never be a permanent solution to all our troubles. Coincidentally as well, last Sunday’s Gospel (St. Matthew 6:24-33) even says to be content with what we have now, and not to seek out too much comfort in material items; because eventually, something will come across our path that will disrupt that momentum, causing us to stop in our tracks and fix those. This is not just a one-time thing; this is guaranteed to be a repeating cycle of events in our life.

Madoka finally becomes a magical girl to erase witches from history.

Fr. Thomas a Kempis, author of the 600-year old spiritual booklet The Imitation of Christ, which is widely regarded as one of the greatest pieces of traditionalist Catholic devotional literature, writes, in light of this precept:

When a man desires a thing too much, he at once becomes ill at ease. A proud and avaricious man never rests, whereas he who is poor and humble of heart lives in a world of peace. An un-mortified man is quickly tempted and overcome in small, trifling evils; his spirit is weak, in a measure carnal and inclined to sensual things; he can hardly abstain from earthly desires. Hence it makes him sad to forego them; he is quick to anger if reproved. Yet if he satisfies his desires, remorse of conscience overwhelms him because he followed his passions and they did not lead to the peace he sought.

Fr. Thomas a Kempis, The Imitation of Christ; Book 1, Section 6

Rather than making the sole purpose of our lives to become gods on Earth, we are called to live a simple life imitating Christ; by practicing virtues such as charity towards our fellow neighbor, having a humble opinion of ourselves and of others, doing good works to others in service of the Lord, and abstaining from the bad influences. Madoka’s decision is reflective of these qualities.

“If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life, shall lose it; for he that shall lose his life for my sake, shall save it.” (St. Luke 9:23-24)

Unlike the four others who made their wishes impulsively, Madoka practiced patience in formulating her wish. Whereas they gloried in their powerful abilities and their wishes coming true, Madoka humbled herself, not needing anything outside of her family and friends. What she is privy to instead is the suffering that everyone who becomes a magical girl goes through, and how their lives turned for the worse. In the climax of the show, she finally decides what her wish is: to immolate herself in an act of supreme charity, thus dedicating her life to bailing others out from their troubled lives.

I want to erase all the witches before they were born. Every witch now, before, and the near future, shall be erased by my own hands… I don’t want to see all those magical girls before me cry. I want to see them smile to the end, and whatever stands in my way I will destroy it – rewrite it, if I have to. That is my prayer. That is my wish.

Madoka’s wish, episode 12
The Making of Godoka P1 – Soul Gem and Bow | deepseaprince
By renouncing the things of this world, Madoka becomes the “ultimate magical girl”, and gets the true happy ending she awaited.

Even though people like Mami, Sayaka, and Kyubey all tempted Madoka to make her wish as great as it can be, using temporal goods beyond her wildest affirmations to encourage her, ultimately she renounces those very things. She rejects the very notion of giving herself all these goods things while others are left to suffer, and gives herself up so that others can have a shot at a better life. This image evokes that of the archetypal Catholic saint – a person, rich or poor, who gives their life to Christ and uses their time to imitate His life and ministry, not in pursuit of human recognition, but for a paradise with God in the next life. Many examples exist, such as St. Martin de Porres, King St. Louis IX, St. John Bosco, St. Elizabeth of Portugal, St. Joseph Calasancticus, St. Bernadette Soubrious and Blessed Charles of Austria to name a few.

Consider the lively examples set us by the saints… They renounced all riches, dignities, honors, friends, and associates. They desired nothing of the world. They scarcely allowed themselves the necessities of life, and the service of the body, even when necessary, was irksome to them. They were poor in earthly things but rich in grace and virtue… They lived in true humility and simple obedience; they walked in charity and patience, making progress daily on the pathway of spiritual life and obtaining great favor with God.

Fr. Thomas a Kempis, The Imitation of Christ; Book 1, Section 18


Puella Magi Madoka Magica is not just a story about “Be careful what you wish for”. It’s also an allegory of how rampant and excessive pursuit of materialism doesn’t strengthen, but destroys the soul. One does not simply buy a bunch of toys from the market and decide “My life is perfect!” at whim – rather, by living out Christ in our day-to-day lives, we help empower ourselves to be better, both mentally and spiritually. Side note: I don’t like to think of Madoka as a god-like entity as this series proposes; but rather as someone who evokes a Christ-like attitude on Earth, and gets eternally rewarded for it in the end. She definitely is no exhibit of a material girl living in a material world. Her altruistic, humble disposition reminded me of another individual from history – the great Pope St. Pius X, whose feast the Catholic Church celebrates every September 3.

Growing up in a poor household in Riese, that did not deter him from building his own piety and finding comfort in the simplest things. Even after becoming a priest, a bishop, the Cardinal Patriarch of Venice and finally Pope, he never forgot his own humble beginnings, spending many days caring for the sick and infirm, sympathizing with them and their sufferings. He chose as his papal motto the words: “Instaurare omnia in Christo” (Restore everything in Christ), and he lived it. He encouraged reverent liturgy, proper catechism to help others reach God, encouraged priestly vocations from all classes, participated in numerous charitable occasions throughout Italy, and to protect the Church from error, he shot down the liberal insanity known as Modernism, which he quipped as “the synthesis of all heresies”. Not once did he misuse the Papacy for his own personal pleasure – rather, he used the dignity of his office for the good of his flock. Forty years after his death in August 1914, Pope Pius XII, his successor, would canonize him as a saint, calling into mind his place as a role model for virtue, humility, and piety for all Christians to look up to.

In conclusion: be humble and virtuous like Madoka Kaname and Pope St. Pius X. Don’t go crazy chasing popularity, power or material wealth.

Today, August 21, we celebrate the memorial of Pope St. Pius X, champion  against modernism, who combated it asking, "Who would not be fired with  love as he looks on the likeness
“I was born poor: I have lived poor, and I wish to die poor.” (Pope St. Pius X, 1914)

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