ember_keelty: (utena for her)
[personal profile] ember_keelty

Let's do this!

The thing for which Sayaka takes the most flak from fandom is her relationship with Kyousuke. She gets called clingy. She gets called yandere. She gets treated as though her attraction to him were the core of her entire personality.

None of these things are true. In this post, I will be addressing the lattermost.

Sayaka does love Kyousuke and she does want to be with him. There's no denying his importance to her character arc. But her conflicted feelings about him are only emblematic of the much larger conflict that defines her character. The question that Mami is asking her in the panel above is just one variation of the question she struggles with in every aspect of her life. And note: "both" is not presented as a valid answer.

In the anime, after the first time Sayaka is shown visiting Kyousuke, she has a moment of solitude on the way down from his room in which she curls in on herself and says, out loud, to no one in particular, "I am a bad girl." She's just spent her spare time visiting an ailing friend in the hospital and her money buying music to make him feel better, but there's a part of her that wants his gratitude and love, so she's bad. To Sayaka, an act cannot be good unless it is entirely selfless. Helping people doesn't count if you get or even just hope to get something back from it.

It gets worse when Mami dies. Before that happens, Madoka gets a chance to see some of the vulnerabilities she kept hidden, but Sayaka never does. To Sayaka, Mami was a saint and her death a seal of canonization. It gets worse still when Kyouko shows up and more or less presents herself as the physical embodiment of selfishness and appetite and greed and all of the things that Sayaka hates most in herself and tries to repress. So of course she responds by repressing them harder.

Then she loses Kyousuke to Hitomi, and they all come bubbling to the surface anyway. That's why she falls into suicidal depression: not because she didn't get the boy, but because she considers herself a failure at being a good person. The revelation about soul gems hits her at just the right time to convince her that she isn't a person at all and doesn't deserve to be loved, or even to live.

Remember the scene where she cries into Madoka's shoulder? It begins as her crying about Hitomi "taking away" Kyousuke, but once she gets going, what comes out is entirely unrelated to that. "I can't face Mami like this," she sobs. That's what's at the core of her misery: that she hasn't been able to live up to her ideal image of herself, which is what Mami has represented to her ever since her death.

That's why she starts refusing to use grief seeds to purify her soul gem. All she can do to make up for her own perceived inadequacies is to throw herself entirely into helping other people — and she still believes, perhaps more than ever, that helping people doesn't count if you get something back from it.

Date: 2011-09-10 02:25 am (UTC)
alias_sqbr: (happy dragon)
From: [personal profile] alias_sqbr
Yes, all of this.

Date: 2011-09-10 03:39 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] moon-blitz.livejournal.com
I've only seen the series once, but I liked Sayaka throughout it, as well as he relationship with Kyousuke (for some reason, I was under the impression that they were siblings for the longest time). Unfortunately, I think she was overshadowed in my mind by Madoka and Homura, but this post really made me appreciate Sayaka and understand her better. Thank you.

Date: 2011-09-10 05:31 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ember-reignited.livejournal.com
You're welcome! :D That's really my goal for this week, so I'm glad to hear it.

Date: 2011-09-10 08:19 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] dropsofgleam.livejournal.com
Oh, hell yeah! Poor Sayaka keeps getting crap and is calways called the weakest of the Puella Magi group when Hitomi isn't being called whore for the Kyousuke deal, and things aren't as simple as the fandom shows them. Sayaka is a really complex girl, so it's a shame to have people only seeing her as this.

Date: 2011-09-12 12:06 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ameliorer.livejournal.com
Except that some people do say that about Hitomi, and she's not. She might not have liked Kyousuke for as long, but has still liked him for a while and kept quiet about it until then. She also gave Sayaka a head's up and the chance to confess to him. She had absolutely no idea about the puella magi stuff. If none of it had happened, then it would have been just a small conflict, and they all would have moved on. Hitomi isn't a whore for going after happiness, especially since she gave Sayaka the chance to speak to him before her. It's not about "sisters before misters"; if they were good enough friends, then their friendship should hardly be affected, or eventually the rift between them would heal itself.

Date: 2011-09-12 04:46 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ember-reignited.livejournal.com
I was going to say something like that, but then I realized that's probably what the person you're replying to meant: that the fandom has an unfortunate tendency to pit the two of them against each other, and when someone isn't hating on one of them, it's probably because they're too busy hating on the other. It was just worded kind of ambiguously.

Date: 2011-09-13 12:18 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] dropsofgleam.livejournal.com
That's actually what I meant, yeah. *puts ESL flag aside* The MadoMagi fandom either loves blaming and slutshaming poor Hitomi for every single thing that went wrong with Sayaka, or loves to reduce Sayaka's complex troubles into "Oh, she's just weak" or "oh, she was a selfish little yandere girl". Both attitudes are all kinds of wrong, imho: Hitomi isn't a whore for liking a guy and refusing to "give him up", and Sayaka's drama was rather multi-faceted. :/

At this rate, maybe I should sign up to write a Hitomi defense on [livejournal.com profile] womenslovefest. I do have a pro-Hitomi rant already on [livejournal.com profile] hated_character, so cleaning it up a little should be easy...

Date: 2011-09-13 12:28 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ameliorer.livejournal.com
Oh, yes! There are multiple ways of interpreting that sentence, sorry. I read it as "whereas Hitomi isn't being called..." instead of "when people aren't calling..." which is what you meant.

Date: 2011-09-13 12:22 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] dropsofgleam.livejournal.com
Except that, hm, I didn't say Hitomi was a whore? I was mentioning what the fandom says about her, which as I explained to [livejournal.com profile] ember_reignited, is very irritating and very far from the truth. Hitomi truly didn't know anything, never had bad intentions, tried to be active in a conflict that would've been brought up sooner or later... and the poor kid is actually "punished" by the fans because they accuse her of "stealing Sayaka's man".

I guess I didn't express myself clearly in my comment, and if I did, I'm sorry. Eeeep.

Date: 2011-09-12 03:50 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] terajk.livejournal.com
This meta is made of win. And makes me think, the whole series is a deconstruction of the magical girl genre. Sayaka's story deconstructs heroism as an ideal.

Thank you.


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