Warning: This post contains extreme spoilers for Puella Magi Madoka Magica.
If you want to see it without knowing some key plot twists, then I suggest you stop now.
I warned you.
Take a look at this thing.
Take a good long look.
You will never see something so evil contained in such a saccharine package.
This is Kyubey, apparently ‘mascot character’ from the recent anime hit Puella Magi Madoka Magica: a dark, horrific deconstruction of the Sailor Moon type magical girl shows where the titular leads fight horrors hidden from the rest of the world.
In truth, he’s the series main villain.
I have yet to see a character more evil in a magical girl show. That’s including entities supposedly made of pure evil, mind you. This guy tops THEM.
I’m also not going to admit how many magical girl shows I’ve seen.
This little guy is nothing less than the devil. Specifically, he’s Mephistopheles. His M.O. is to find girls with magical talent and make them an offer. It will grant them one wish. In return, they become Magical Girls and fight Witches.
It’s not quite a literal soul sale, though it is referred to as such, and what he does to the target’s soul is pretty horrific in and of itself. In this universe, “Magical Girl” pretty much means “Lich” (an animated corps with its soul hidden in an object) and the “fight Witches” part? Yeah, they need to do that to continue their sentient lives or they become witches themselves.
“On this planet, you call females who have yet to become adults ‘Girls.’ It makes sense then that you’ll eventually become Witches, you should be called ‘Magical Girls.’”
Kyubey never tells them this. Why? Well, they never asked. They just assume that it’s “Hey, get a wish AND magical super powers!” They don’t know the terror, the bloodshed or the desperation to come. Nor do they know that for however much hope they put into the wish, an equal amount of despair must also be created.
His mindset is so alien that it might as well be lovecraftian, with lines that emphasize how “other” he truly is (if a gender can even be applied to it) with each new line.
“Why is it that when humans regret the decision based on a misunderstanding they feel resentment toward the other party?”
“In our culture, the phenomenon known as emotion is considered a mental illness.”
“Do you feel sorry for cows?’
With his cute appearance, he can charm the young ladies easily, but he truly is a devil.
Making pacts at the price of their soul in more ways than one: costing them their sanity, their humanity and their lives. All this for esoteric reasons that might as well be nonsense to the girls, but claimed to be for the greater good – using the energy created from the transformation of hope into despair and sadness to send energy out to prevent the heat death of the universe.
“When you're ready to die for the sake of the universe, call me. I'll be waiting.”
The entire series is littered with homages to “Faust”, so its starting position was already pretty dark.
This odd cat-rabbit thing has biology as bizarre as its motives. Its form and shape are largely inconsequential to it. It would be more accurate to call it a “meat puppet” than an actual body for it.
This is illustrated after one of the magical girls riddles its small body with bullets and a second Kyubey appears shortly their after and consumes the pulped remains as if nothing happens. Waste not, want not, I suppose.
The remains do bleed, but no organs were present in the corpse when it was pulped by bullets: only white mush really remained. This may also speak of a rapid decomposition process. It does appear to eat mundane foods (and its own rotting corpse), though it also possesses a chamber in its back for holding Grief Seeds that have absorbed the maximum amount of despair from the Magical Girl’s Soul Gems.
That’s a lot of odd terminology, but it’s better explained in the life cycle of Witches within “Madoka”. The chamber can hold these golf ball sized objects and after the chamber glows, it is unknown what happens to it. Given Kyubey’s MO is to (according to him), the energy created from the transition of Hope into Despair, it is likely taking sending that collected despair back to its masters.
Aside from granting wishes and creating magical girls, detecting the location of Witches, it is gifted with various telepathic abilities. This functions a bit like a mental cell phone, able to hold group conversations among magical girls as well as focus his thoughts on a single individual for more private matters.
It claims to have no true magical power in and of itself. In fact its ability to grant wishes is limited by the magical potential of an individual. Which itself is determined by the target’s “Fate”. The greater their importance the more power they possess and thus, the bigger the wish that can be granted.
Of course, some of that information is from Kyubey’s own words. Though it is later confirmed by visuals it is best to never trust what any character says about their abilities unless it is verifiable visually. They could be mistaken, after all.
Or not have all the data themselves.
Or, they could be too stupid to know what they are really doing.
Or, more importantly, they could be lying and Kyubey is well known for lying towards his own benefit.