Continuing on our exploration of the Christian walk through the lives of the quintet of Madoka Magica characters, today we come to Kyoko, who represents the discouraged Christian.
When we are first introduced to Kyoko, she is different from the other magical girls in the series. Mami and Sayaka both were joyful girls who used their power to protect others, but Kyoko only sees her power as a tool to advance in her life. Where Mami and Sayaka destroy witches whenever one arises, Kyokyo sometimes allows one to gain its dark power by killing and feeding on humans, in order for her to obtain a Grief Seed when she eventually does destroy it.
Kyoko’s entire attitude towards the life of a magical girl is centered around self-service; a life that revolves around using her powers in order to keep herself powerful, rather than the self-sacrificial nature embodied by Mami. So why does Kyoko use her powers this way? Why does she see the world and others as stepping-stones on her own path to victory?
The answer lies in her story. Like all magical girls, Kyoko was once a normal girl who felt an intense desire. Her father was a pastor who taught a distorted Gospel, and was discouraged because no one listened to him*. He believed what he taught with all of his heart, despite being in the wrong. And as a loving daughter, Kyoko wanted to see him happy. She wanted to bring joy and acceptance into his life.
And like many, her desire for the happiness of another led to her downfall.
Enter Kyubey, who granted her wish in exchange for a life of combat against witches. And Kyoko gladly accepted. People began to come to her father’s sermons, and the crowds grew bigger and bigger each week. Life returned to her household, and she lived a happy life with her father, mother, and younger sister. As a magical girl, she felt that she fought in the shadows where her father fought in the light, and felt that they could change the world together.
Until the truth came out.
When Kyoko’s father discovered that she had used magic to bring people to his sermons, and that no one truly believed him, he fell into despair. He wasted away with drink, drowned himself in anger and sadness, and eventually murdered Kyoko’s mother and sister before committing suicide. A haunting story to be sure, and an event that drove Kyoko to believe that using her magic for others was a waste. She hated what she had done: hated her choice, hated its effects, and even hated herself. So she decided that she would only user her magic to help herself, rather than others, and transformed into the spirit of dark power that we know her as in the series.
This tragic series of events that led to Kyoko’s disillusionment has several similarities to the struggles that Christians face at times. Some people come to Christ because they’ve heard of all the good things He can do; maybe they have a problem at their workplace, or they’re having family issues, or are struggling with their health, and they want a way out. They want to have joy and stability in their lives again, and in the lives of those around them. So they come to God expecting Him to give them all joy with no pain.
That’s the crux of the prosperity Gospel: if you have faith, you will be given everything that you want and your life will always be full of happiness. The lie that we deserve something better has always existed in some form or another, and the deadliest poisons are always packaged in the most enticing of boxes. Similar to Kyoko, they want their problems fixed, and run to the church to get them fixed. Some of them truly do come to Christ, and sometimes God truly does alleviate their pains. God does promise to comfort us. But He never promises that adversity will not come out way. And when we come to him for the wrong reasons and with the wrong expectations, bad things are bound to happen. And in the case of Kyoko, they can sometimes be devastating.
Even as Christians, we fall into the trap of wanting God to give us happiness in all areas of our lives. “Look at how much I serve you!”, we cry, “I give money, I pray, I read my Bible, don’t I deserve some happiness?” We apply this also to others in a sense of misguided love, but we all too often forget that God has a plan and a purpose for every season in our lives. Each experience, both the good and the bad, helps to shape and mold us into the image of Christ. Every tear, every hug, every cry of rage and sigh of satisfaction is ultimately for His glory in the building up of our faith. God promises that he will cause “all things to work together for good, for those that love [Him]” (Romans 8:28); that includes both our times of joy and our times of pain.
The major flaw in Kyoko’s wish was that she made it because she believed that her father deserved to be heard. She believed that his message needed to be spread, that God wasn’t doing anything, and so turned to her own strength to make things right. Without considering the entire picture, she made a decision, one that changed her family forever. Christians often do the same; discouraged because of their situations, we decide that God just isn’t listening to us, and we try to fix out problems by ourselves. But we can’t. Instead, we have to learn that as sinful creatures who naturally hate God, we don’t deserve anything, but that we are given “everything pertaining to life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:3) through faith in Christ. God has placed us in the situations we are for His own reasons, so we do not need to be discouraged when our lives seem to be falling apart at the seams. He loves us, and He will never leave us or lead us down the wrong path. Each and every circumstance that comes our way is ultimately under His control: the real test is learning to trust Him.
*side note: I find it really interesting how the show itself implies that people won’t go to church if what’s taught isn’t straight from the Bible. Wish it were more true in real life.