12 Days of Anime – Day 2 – Kyubey and Masakaki

If there’s one thing anime taught me this year, it’s that you should be weary of random strangers who are overly excited about making deals with you.  If there’s a small, white animal-friend who wants to make a contract with you to become a magical girl because it’s awesome, you stay away.  If there’s some white, Willy Wonka-esque character wanting to mortgage your future because you’re not using it today, you stay away.  Those are two invaluable lessons that I can thanks anime for teaching me.  But what I should really be thanking anime for are two iconic and unforgettable characters that defined their respective shows.  The characters Kyubey from Puella Magi Madoka Magica and Masakaki from C The Money of Soul and Possibility Control are two of the most memorable anime characters this year and deserving of the second of my 12 Days of Anime.

At first, both Kyubey and Masakaki seemed like cute or silly mascot characters in their anime that represented the ambassadors of their corresponding enterprises, that of the world of Mahou Shoujo and the Midas Bank.  They were the representatives that would guide the main characters, and anyone else really, into their worlds and show them the glorious possibilities that lie ahead.  They seemed like wonderful benefactors to our shows protagonists and a true friend for them in times of need.  Plus they each had a distinctive design and personality to differenciate them from the rest of the cast.  Boy, aren’t these two just great characters?  But of course, there was a catch, and it was something that they would not tell the show’s characters that slowly turned them from stereotypical mascots to something even more.  But it wasn’t this twist that made them special.  No, what helped elevate these characters into stardom is because they became ‘complex’.

Both Kyubey and Masakaki fail to be genuinely evil although some of their actions can be misinterpreted as such.  Had they turned out to be clichéd villains with no rationale or perceptive, then they would’ve quietly faded into nothingness.  And they certainly aren’t good either, tricking characters into eternal damnation without an ounce of guilt.  Had that been the case, they would’ve ended with the same fate, becoming irrelevant or even forgotten.  What has allowed these two to persist in our memories is that they shared both attributes of good and evil and had reasoning behind their perspectives and their actions.  This is what made them complex and why they are both fascinating characters.

Everyone agrees it was wrong of them to lure people into these situations without them fully understanding the situation they about to embark on.  But they don’t see it like that.  Kyubey fails to understand human emotions and comprehension, so he cannot see why the humans resist his methods so strongly.  And his unchanging facial expression seems to confirm his unwillingness, whether by design or not, to sympathize with the suffering he causes our heroines.  Masakaki has a better understanding of the human psyche since he’s evolved with humanity through time, so that puts him at even a worse position than Kyubey.  He knows that he’s ruining the lives of his clientele, watching them slowly lose everything around them, as well as steadily destroying the world for his own selfish profits.  And how does he respond?  By singing and dancing like a maniac of course.  Or even worse, showing that creepy smile of his.

Understanding the intricacy behind these characters is only part of what makes them simply fascinating and beyond extraordinary.  Had it been their complexity alone, then they would’ve simply been footnotes in their anime.  But thanks to their respective roles, these characters could flourish.  Because of the influence they had on the characters and their stories, they became focal points of their anime and lightning rods of controversy.  That and they both did an excellent job of helping turn each anime down a darker, terrifying, and helpless path.  They provided a unique character in an exclusive position that you really don’t see that often in anime or stories in general.  And it made each anime so much better and so much more memorable as a result.

Kyubey and Masakaki are two characters I don’t think I’ll ever forget.  I loved what they were able to do in the anime and I’m glad we had some insight into their mind to see why they acted the way they did.  I had a great time each week trying to analyze their characters whenever we got a new bit of information or saw something happen to the characters that we never considered.  I don’t necessarily love both of them but I thought they were irreplaceable in their anime and certainly two of the best character of the year.  I realize virtually everyone will make a post about Kyubey and his role in Madoka for the 12 Days of Anime (and for good reason) but I did not want Masakaki to be left out since I personally found him more interesting than Kyubey.  But I found them to be quite similar (actually wrote about it for one of my C posts) and decided to combine them into one post for my 12 Days of Anime series.  I’m sure everyone has memories or thoughts behind these two characters, so it will be fun to browse around the other blogs and see everyone’s opinion on Kyubey (and hopefully Masakaki, too!).

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  1. #1 by cyshtoph on December 15, 2011 - 1:24 AM

    I like to think of them as ultimate epitome of trolls.
    Kyuubey would be 2ch while Masakaki more global oriented 4chan. They are not evil per se, they just don’t care whether they bring you to a suicide. ;>

    • #2 by zammael on December 15, 2011 - 10:33 AM

      @cyshtoph
      Trolls are aware of their trolling, and they gain pleasure from the sufferings of their targets.

      Kyuubey is earnest and his intent are clear, although he never really spells out the entire implications before making contract with the prospective candidates. His lack of humanity or emotional context doesn’t allow for any schadenfreude.

      A troll would feign ignorance about magical girls becoming witches and then laugh at the Magical Girl’s inevitable realization that she’s been trolled. Kyuubey didn’t, and took it as a necessary law of magic.

      Yeah, Avvesione, Kyuubey is my top villain of 2011 as well.

      BTW he does change expression – especially when he’s wounded or eating. That ups his innocent moe like characteristics, which itself adds to his villainy.

      • #3 by avvesione on December 15, 2011 - 7:12 PM

        True, the trolls would be the creators of the series and not Kyubey or Masakaki themselves. They’re the ones who take pleasure in seeing how we react to the characters they made. An example of a character that was a troll would be Prince from Level E (another anime I loved this year).

        Must’ve missed him changing facial expressions when I did my research but I remember now in the first episode when he was injured (as well as a few other times with Homura when she was hunting him). But the fact he doesn’t change his facial expressions concerning the girls is what made him disturbing in the first place.

        • #4 by zammael on December 16, 2011 - 8:58 AM

          Prince Baka is the perfect troll because he intentionally causes violent emotional reactions with misdirection and bald lies yet feigns innocence, despite repeating this trick over and over. I nearly forgot that anime, but that was hilarious!

        • #5 by avvesione on December 16, 2011 - 11:03 AM

          It just missed out on my 12 Days of Anime post but I expect to see it everywhere, especially since it was one of the best anime of the Winter.

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