Sayaka Miki Character Analysis 1: Introduction

Welcome to Anime Rants. This is the first of a series of blog posts analyzing the character of Sayaki Miki, as well as discussing various elements related to her story and struggles. To start this series off right, we must cover some basic introductory information about Sayaka and the anime in which she appears.

Sayaka Miki is one of the five or six central characters in the anime series Puella Magi Madoka Magica, commonly abbreviated as Madoka Magica. The twelve-episode series focuses on the young girl Madoka as she is pulled into a world of bloody battles and despair. Though the art style is adorable, and the show was marketed as a normal shoujo, Madoka Magica deals with deep themes such as self-image, despair, suicide, grief, depression, violence, and death. Mature and psychological subject matter is what made fans and critics give the series so much acclaim. It’s an effective deconstruction of the genre of magical girls.

The story of Sayaka Miki is one of a hero who falls into darkness. I won’t waste time writing out the events and details of what happens to her, because I assume you’ve seen Madoka Magica. That being said, if you haven’t seen it and still want to read, be aware that there are spoilers in all parts of this blog series. Though some reminders might be given, I won’t be providing comprehensive explanations of things like Soul Gems or the motives of the Kyubey race. Also note: this series covers the content and themes in the original anime TV series, and doesn’t include anything from the Madoka Magica: Rebellion movie.

Now, what I wish to briefly discuss in this post is Sayaka’s preoccupation with heroism and justice. We’ll go over that by looking at a few examples from the series.

Sayaka Miki and Heroes of Justice

Sayaka is an idealist with a romanticized view of the world. She is driven by her personal sense of values, and would be this way even without the naivety and rosy expectations of youth. She is also very people-oriented. This combination results in someone who is interested in serving others and the public good.

An early evidence of Sayaka’s sense of heroic values can be found in episode 1. She wants to save people and is thus quick to take action to protect her friends. By spraying a high-pressure fire extinguisher at Homura, Sayaka “saves” Madoka and Kyubey. Then, when they are caught in the Witch’s Labyrinth, she holds Madoka protectively, remaining alert and ready. One day not long after, Madoka seems frightened of Homura at school. So Sayaka declares, “If she tries anything, I’ll punch her lights out!”

Soon after witnessing Mami in action, saving people and fighting Witches, Sayaka decides that being a good magical girl is one and the same with being a “Seigi no Mikata.” This phrase literally means ally of justice, but is typically translated as hero of justice, or sometimes superhero. Sayaka admires Mami right away and wants to be a magical girl, too. Sayaka’s motive is not to be praised and rewarded, but to do the right thing in accordance with the social and altruistic values that define her. Of course, it wouldn’t hurt if she could get some appreciation for her efforts.

Int the first 3 episodes, Sayaka practically worships Mami. This shows her fascination with and admiration for heroes. (On the other hand, she intensely despises Homura, and later Kyouko, for prioritizing self-interest and survival over saving the lives of strangers. Heroes should not be so quick to write people off as enemies. This is one sign that Sayaka won’t last as long as a dogged idealist in the cold and cruel reality.)

As a hero should be, Sayaka is brave and courageous. For on example, take episode 3, when she volunteers to stay behind and keep an eye on the Witch’s Labyrinth beginning to open near the hospital. Although Sayaka doesn’t fight the Witch on her own, simply being in the labyrinth without a magical girl is a huge risk.

Eventually, Sayaka assumes the role of hero. Even after seeing the violent, brutal death of Mami, she made a wish to heal the boy she loved, and thus becomes a magical girl. The costume design of each magical girl shows something about their personality or attitude. For instance, Madoka is gentle and girlish, so her costume is typical for a young girl: pink and white with a puffy skirt and cute ribbons. Sayaka’s swords, gloves, and white cape show her interest in knights, heroes, and fighters for justice. Her costume is also a little more revealing of her neck and chest, which demonstrates her confidence and resolve.

On her first night as a magical girl, Sayaka kills a witch and saves the lives of Madoka, Hitomi, and about a dozen others. It must have been a scary experience, but the next day, with Madoka, she acts extremely cheerful and confident- –to the point where it almost seems fake. She declares that she’ll keep everyone in the city safe. In addition, in episode 5, Sayaka refers to herself as a “seigi no mikata.” This is just one more proof selfless heroism is the framework of her view of the world. Many factors combined to cause Sayaka’s fall into despair in the later episodes, but one significant part of it was the failure to live up to her own standards of being a hero.

Closing Notes

For your information, here some notes on organization. Part 2 of this series will analyze Sayaka’s personality type according to two measures: the Big Five and the MBTI. Next, Part 3 will be a discussion of psychological topics relevant to Sayaka and her story. In Part 4, I explore the struggles of Sayaka, as well as her purpose in the anime. There may eventually be a part 5 which expands on the argument of what MBTI type Sayaka would be.

That about wraps it up for the introduction. Thank you for stopping by to read today. Your readership is always appreciated, as is any feedback you may want to give. Have a great day, and until next time, Sayonara!

Links to The Rest of The Series
Sayaka Miki Character Analysis Part 2 (personality type)
Sayaka Miki Character Analysis Part 3 (psychology discussions)
Sayaka Miki Character Analysis Part 4 (Sayaka’s struggles and purpose)

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(All images were found by searching the web, and I don’t own any of them.)

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