Perhaps in answer to the horrible, horrible life advice that Madoka’s mom shared last episode, Sayaka’s classmate actually offers up some of those most cool-headed and reasonable straight talk I’ve ever heard in any show. Seriously, where were friends like this in high school? Can you imagine how much needless anguish could be outright avoided if more people were as honest with themselves as she asks Sayaka to be?
It’s little touches like that which make me certain the people making this know precisely what they’re doing. I’ll say it again - - sex, violence and any other potentially “exploitative” ingredient can always be used, without guilt or embarrassment, if the writers know their precise effect. And, judging by the rancor against, say, the TWILIGHT flicks, I think we can agree teen angst is an ingredient of that order.
Sayaka’s friend offers a counterpoint that establishes enough self-awareness here to make it clear that these we’re seeing a supporting character with dimensional flaws, not some thin surrogate for the writer. Likewise, her fear of that advice works so well - - cleverly wrapping up body image and self-confidence metaphors into the fantastical notion of her new, impervious form.
Other attempts at deepening characters don’t quite work, though. The backstory about Kyoko’s father seems oddly out of place. Sure, it does fit in with the greater themes of the series, but it still seems… overly busy? She makes such a sharp point about Sayaka being so foolish for making such a big, life-shaping sacrifice for a boy - - but her self-interest’s established with an absolutely overwrought amount of complication.
Lastly - - I’m starting to figure that the witches must be Magical Girls who eventually strayed from the path or de-evolved, somehow. That’d make this into be some sort of sinister pyramid scheme for Kyubey, and that’d be all too fitting. He’s sounded like an Amway salesman this whole time, after all.