Sayaka Miki Character Analysis 2: Personality

Welcome to an Anime Rant about measuring Sayaka Miki’s personality. We’ll examine her disposition using two personality metrics. First is the Big Five personality model, and then the MBTI or Myers-Briggs model. The Big Five is used in many company workplaces to evaluate employee strengths and weaknesses. The five traits are 1) Conscientiousness, 2) Agreeableness, 3) Neuroticism, 4) Openness, and 5) Extraversion.

Conscientiousness means being dutiful, orderly, reliable, thorough, and focused. Its opposite is Lack of Direction. Agreeableness is being caring, sympathetic, kind, understanding, and compliant. Its opposite is Antagonism. Neurotic traits include hostility, anxiety, depression, and self-doubt. The opposing trait is Emotional Stability. The facets of Openness include uniqueness, curiosity, excitement, and active imagination. Closed to Experiences is the opposing trait. Lastly, extraversion encompasses sociability, enthusiasm, energy, and assertiveness. Its opposite, of course, is Introversion.

For each of the five traits, a person is on a spectrum; I generalize with the terms High, Medium, or Low. If a person is low on the scale for Agreeableness, it means they are simultaneously high on the scale for Antagonism. That is how the opposite traits are tied into the equation. For an example, these are my results. Low Conscientiousness, and thus high Lack of Direction. High Agreeableness, and thus low Antagonism. High Neuroticism, and therefore low Emotional Stability. Medium Openness, or about evenly balanced with Closed to Experiences. Low Extraversion, which means high introversion. So, what would Sayaka’s results be like?

Sayaka and the Big Five Personality Traits

For Conscientiousness, Sayaka would probably have a Medium score. She’s naturally impulsive, and leaps between different ideas and thoughts, leading us to believe she’s not particularly careful or thorough. Sadly, Sayaka actions show she’s not reliable to finish a job as a Magical Girl. She struggles and almost dies every witch she fights, and fights in a dangerous way. She needs rescuing more than once. (Her unreliability is totally understandable, though, being caused by terrible mental distress and trauma.) Also note that she does try her best at all times. She just can’t succeed because of putting too much pressure on herself without accepting help.

Agreeableness is a tough call. Sayaka is capable of great kindness and love, doing so much to help Kamijo, being protective and supportive of Madoka, and dedicating her life to defend humans from Witches. She can also be very understanding, as we saw when she comforted Madoka and forgave Kyouko. However, just as often, Miss Miki is quick to judge and quick to anger. She can misplace blame and hold grudges. Furthermore, she completely lacks the trait of compliance. That might mean Sayaka would place low on Agreeableness, close to Antagonism. Nevertheless, I believe the kindness she shows when she’s stable gives her a medium score.

I believe it’s impossible to make a fair estimation of Sayaka’s Neuroticism, because anyone would become neurotic if they were in her shoes. The introduction to a whole new world, the decision to live a life of dangerous battles, the violence she’s seen, the sudden change in her self-image, and the frustrations of young love are each stressful things on their own. Mixing them all together and putting them in a fourteen-year old creates extremely severe stress. It would be abnormal if Sayaka was not neurotic. Since we don’t see much of her life before the introduction of magic, we cannot say whether Sayaka is truly neurotic or non-neurotic in daily life.

For Openness, Sayaka would probably score high. Although she is not usually open-minded when it comes to accepting the values of others, Sayaka stays “open to experiences.” This is the core of the Openness trait. Sayaka welcomes new experiences such as exploring the world of magic, protecting the city, learning to fight, and generally acting on her desires. (If anything, Sayaka can be open to too many things under severe stress, including being hurtful and careless.) Had Openness referred to acceptance of others and their values, Sayaka would score medium at best, but since the key is openness to experiences, she is high on the scale. 

Sayaka obviously scores high for Extraversion. Consider her wild excitement about joining Mami on witch hunts, her enthusiasm for being the hero of the city, her talkativeness with Madoka, Mami, and Hitomi, her asstertive insistence on her values, and her confidence in the first half of the story. Even if it’s sometimes negative, stubbornness comes from the positive trait of being assertive. After the halfway point of episode 6, Sayaka’s self-esteem plummets, and her sociability and cheeriness all but disappear; however, this is due to severe stress and depression. It doesn’t reflect her more natural state in the early episodes.

In summary, Sayaka is highly Extraverted, highly Open to new experiences, and moderately Agreeable. She seems highly Neurotic and mildly Conscientious, but those might only be characteristic of her under stress. Next, let’s consider Sayaka in the light of Myers-Briggs typology. Of course, it’s impossible to accurately predict the personality type of a fictional character, but I enjoy using the MBTI for a guideline. For a brief explanation of how the Myers Briggs works, see the first few paragraphs in my post on Anime Characters and the MBTI.

Sayaka and the MBTI

I believe Sayaka is extraverted, intuitive, feeling, and percieving, which makes her the ENFP type. Extraverts like Sayaka derives energy from being around others, are outgoing, eager, talkative, and people-oriented. In my opinion, Sayaka is definitely intuitive or an N type; unlike S types, she doesn’t focus on physical reality or senses very much, but is abstract in her thinking and strangely insightful at times. Being interested in new things, trusting of one’s impressions, and leaping between different ideas are also traits associated with being intuitive. As for Feeling and Thinking, I believe Sayaka would be an F type because she relies on her gut feelings to make a decision. She is a P and not a J because she can be incredibly spontaneous or have trouble following through.

from 16personalities.com

Some say that Sayaka is the ESFP type, but I think ENFP is the better fit. Here are some quotes for the ENFP from personalitypage.com. These are just a few evidences of Sayaka being an ENFP.

* “ENFPs are warm, enthusiastic people, typically very bright and full of potential. They live in the world of possibilities, and can become very passionate and excited about things.”
* “To onlookers, the ENFP may seem directionless and without purpose, but ENFPs are actually quite consistent, in that they have a strong sense of values which they live with throughout their lives. Everything that they do must be in line with their values.”
* “ENFPs almost always have a strong need to be liked.”
* “ENFPs sometimes make serious errors in judgment. They have an amazing ability to intuitively perceive the truth about a person or situation, but when they apply judgment to their perception, they may jump to the wrong conclusions.”
* “They place no importance on detailed, maintenance-type tasks, and will frequently remain oblivious to these types of concerns.”
* “They have a strong need to be independent, and resist being controlled or labelled.”
* “An ENFP who has ‘gone wrong’ may be quite manipulative – and very good it.”

In the end, all of this is opinion, so the people who argue ESFP are not any more right or wrong than the ones like me who argue ENFP. Still, I must defend my viewpoint. Outlined in this link are Strengths and Weaknesses of ESFPs, which are often called “Performers.” Strengths: bold, original; aesthetic showmanship; practical; observant (of tangible reality); and having excellent people skills. Weaknesses: sensitive to criticism, avoidant of conflicts, easily bored, avoidant of long-term planning, and unfocused. This doesn’t sound quite like Sayaka.

from 16personalities.com

 NF types are said to be idealists, while SP types are said to be artisans. Sayaka is more of a stubborn idealist than a specialized artist. I admit that she’s bold, people-oriented, and sensitive to criticism. However, she isn’t practical or observant, and while her ideas can be creative, her adherence to values and old-fashioned altruism is not exactly original.

In design, Sayaka has an athletic and superhero-like aesthetic, but it’s never her conscious focus, and as far as being competent and beautiful in battle, well, about all she can do is hack at things with her swords. Rather than avoiding conflicts, Sayaka tends to start conflicts, which is more like the ENFP under stress. She isn’t unfocused, except in conversation perhaps; if anything, she focuses on her goals and her methods too single-mindedly.   

I want to draw attention to the ENFP personality type and how it fits Sayaka, so I’ll point out this category’s Strengths and Weaknesses, too. The positive traits mentioned are being curious, observant, energetic, enthusiastic, excellent communicators, and usually friendly and popular. The weaknesses mentioned are poor practical skills, difficulty with mundane tasks, tendency to overthink things, easily stressed out, highly emotional, and independent to a fault.

Of the above traits, I believe most are true of Sayaka. It is easiest to see this when considering all of Sayaka’s interactions, expressions, lines, and actions throughout the series. Picking out all the examples of each trait would take many pages, so I will pick one or two examples for each. First let’s a look at Sayaka’s strengths or gifts, and afterward her weaknesses will be discussed.

There is plenty of evidence for Sayaka’s curiosity, observant nature, energy and enthusiasm. If Sayaka hadn’t been curious about the world of magic, she wouldn’t have agreed to learn from Mami and go on witch hunts. It was curiosity that led Sayaka to learn of Kyouko’s past. We can tell Sayaka has a perceptive nature because she sees right away that Homura has hidden motives. She also instinctively senses danger, becoming protective of Madoka in ep 1. Rarely does Sayaka lack enthusiasm. She is wholeheartedly excited about the witch hunts with Mami in ep 2, as well as her new task of being the city’s protector (ep 5). Generally Sayaka speaks in an animated, eager way. She is well-loved by her friends an assertive communicator.

Sayaka’s weaknesses are similar to those of the ENFP. She is never very practical. She’s the only Magical Girl who uses weapons of very limited range like clubs and swords against huge Witches. Sayaka ruminates over the tragedy of Mami and overthinks Homura’s role in it, coming to hate the transfer student. She becomes stressed and hyper-emotional easily, and we see her slowly breaking from pressure and disappointment in eps 5-8. An example of Sayaka acting overly independent is the way she gives a Grief Seed to Kyouko as a debt repayment instead of using it to lengthen her own life. Another is rejecting a free Grief Seed from Homura. Sayaka doesn’t even rely on Madoka, her best friend. Instead, she hurts her duting a critical time.

Here is a little bit of evidence for Sayaka being intuitive and not sensing. Though impractical, Sayaka shows amazing insight and thoughtfulness about abstract things at times. She and Madoka debate becoming Magical Girls and choosing a wish in ep 4. During this conversation, Miki points out that she and Madoka are privileged, unable to think of a wish right away, when so many other people around the world have wishes they would die for. “Why were we, of all people, given this chance?” Sayaka asks. Abstract and insightful thinking like this is commonly seen in those with the Myers-Briggs trait of intuitiveness.

That’s all for Part 2 of my Sayaka Miki Character Analysis blog series. If you’re not convinced Sayaka is an ENFP, there is more discussion of the idea in Part 3. Thank you for taking the time to stop by and read today. I really appreciate it. Arigatou gozaimasu!

Part 1 of this series is here in case you missed it.
Part 3 of this series contains psychology discussions related to Sayaka’s story.
Part 4 of this series will be about Sayaka’s specific struggles and her purpose in the story.
There may eventually be more parts added to this series.

(If you enjoy Anime Rants, please consider supporting this site. At the bottom of the page, in the footer on the right, there is an option to make a $3 donation with Paypal. I can’t begin to tell you how much I’d appreciate it.)

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

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