|“||The Witches go and eat weak humans. Then we hunt them down and eat the witches. It's the natural way of things. The weak gotta give up to the strong.||„|
|~ Kyoko Sakura|
Kyoko Sakura is a character in the anime and manga franchise Puella Magi Madoka Magica. In the main anime and manga series, she serves as a secondary antagonist before realizing the error of her ways and becoming a heroic character, as she was before her Start of Darkness.
Kyoko is a rogue magical girl whose only goal is to benefit herself, regardless of how many people die in the process. As one of her character tics, she is always seen eating snacks of some kind. She has a very vicious and aggressive temperament, and is extremely territorial, attempting to kill rival magical girl Sayaka Miki to clear her territory. However, it turns out that her abrasive nature was the result of a tragic incident from her past, as Kyoko herself explains to Sayaka through an eerie puppet show. In the end, Kyoko befriends Sayaka, and attempts to sacrifice herself to save her friend after Sayaka becomes the witch Oktavia von Seckendorff.
Although Kyubey, the main antagonist of the series, does not have a true Dragon (second-in-command), he manipulates the series' magical girl protagonists, including Kyoko, into achieving his goals for him. Kyoko is the only magical girl in the main series to directly qualify as a villainous antagonist, despite not serving directly under Kyubey (unless Sayaka just prior to becoming a witch is counted, as she is implied to have killed two men on a train).
In the video game Puella Magi Madoka Magica Portable, choosing a certain path of events causes Kyoko to become the witch Ophelia.
Kyōko's distinguishing features include long red hair and a voracious appetite (she is almost never seen without food, usually either apples or pocky). Unlike most of the cast, she doesn't go to school, therefore she is most often seen wearing a casual outfit with a grey hoodie jacket and extremely short shorts. Her Magical Girl outfit is bloodred, and her Soul Gem turns into an ornament resembling the insignia of her father's church.
She wields a spear which can extend itself, split into multiple sections, and produce a ball at the end of a chain, which can constrict and hit others at the same time. She also has the ability to put up barriers to protect others or keep them from interfering.
According to supplementary material, she was once able to create illusionary copies of herself to act as decoys. However, she lost the use of this skill after the death of her family.
Kyōko is one of the most powerful Puella Magi for two reasons. First and foremost, since she never hunts down familiars, her Soul Gem is always clean, allowing displays of magic that would quickly tire out most magical girls. In addition, she has been a Puella Magi much longer than the others, and thus is more skillful.
Behavior and backstory
Kyōko's personality can be seen as rude, violent and even cruel. She cares for nobody other than herself, lets Familiars grow into Witches since they don't drop valuable Soul Gems, and viciously crushes any opposition to her ways (including Sayaka during their first meeting). She is a big advocate of never being selfless, and even suggests Sayaka to break all the limbs of her love interest Kamijou just so he would have to depend on her forever. While this personality makes her seem antagonistic and even villainous, it actually stems from a troubled past.
Kyōko's father was a preacher, but he advocated a form of religion that deviated from traditional Christianism. People refused to accept his views, leaving their family eternally poor. Kyōko used her wish to make people listen to her father's preaching; but unfortunately when her father learned of this, he thought of her actions as dark witchcraft and went mad, killing everyone in his family aside from Kyōko. After this incident, Kyōko decided only to use her magic for herself, since using it for others would only cause despair. Having grown up in a poor family, she often had to steal food and hates people who waste it, a logic she also applies to Grief Seeds, hence why she only goes after fully grown witches.
Kyoko first appears as a foe to Madoka and Sayaka. Wanting to clear her territory, she attempts to kill Sayaka and clashes with her, making disparaging remarks about Sayaka's lover and expressing her Social Darwinist philosophy in the process. Madoka almost decides to become a magical girl so she can wish to stop the fighting, but the fight is interrupted by Homura Akemi.
Kyoko later encounters Sayaka once again, and the two almost clash in a rematch. However, to prevent the two from battling again, Madoka throws Sayaka's Soul Gem off a bridge, assuming it would remove Sayaka's magical powers and make her of no interest to Kyoko. When Sayaka goes limp and lifeless in the process, Kyubey tells the group (including Kyoko) the truth about Soul Gems: they contain the soul of the magical girl herself, extracted by Kyubey during the contract process.
After learning the truth about Soul Gems, Kyoko's Heel Face Turn slowly begins: she sympathizes with Sayaka and tries to help her. She tells Sayaka the story of her tragic past and attempts to encourage her to follow her own selfish way of life, but Sayaka refuses and, shortly afterwards, descends into insanity.
After Sayaka becomes a witch, Kyoko becomes determined to save her and restore her to normal, but ultimately realizes that her efforts are in vain and instead sacrifices herself in the fight so that Sayaka would not die alone. She overloads her soul gem to create a massive explosion that kills them both.
In a previous timeline, she was killed by Mami, who was driven insane after learning that they would all eventually become witches. In the final timeline, Kyōko survives, and grieves over Sayaka's death in battle. In the third drama CD, it is explained that, prior to the main storyline, Kyōko once had the power to utilise illusion magic, but after her family's death she subconsciously lost that ability. She also had a friendship with Mami prior to her family's death, which was severed when Kyōko decided to be more selfish with her magic. This friendship was also explored in Oriko Magica, though not in-depth.
- Fans also use the alternative spelling of Kyouko for her name. This is because the first 'o' in Kyoko is a long vowel which is written as 'ou' (おう) in Japanese. In proper Hepburn romanization, the long vowel is indicated by a macron on top (Kyōko). The macron is often left out in general usage.
- Before her name was officially revealed, she was nicknamed Condom-chan by Western fans because of the suggestive-looking ice lolly she had flapping in her mouth in the Opening animation. She is nicknamed Anko by Japanese fans due to an initial misreading of her name when she was first revealed in a magazine.
- The first character for Sakura (佐) means "to help" while the second (倉) means "warehouse."
- Her last name can also be used as a first name.
- Her first name (杏子) means "apricot." Apricot+ happens to be Ume Aoki's circle name.
- The first character of her name (杏) is the implied real first name (An) of Kafuka Fuura from Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei. Both characters are voiced by Ai Nonaka.
- Aoi Yuuki (VA of Madoka) confessed that she was in love with the Kyoko character in the Magical Girls Tea Party bonus CD.
- Ok, "in love" would be putting it lightly considering Aoi Yuuki claims Kyoko to be her waifu with extreme infatuation.
- So is Chiwa Saito (VA of Homura) apparently.
- And Ryouko Shintani (Hitomi).
- Eri Kitamura (Sayaka) is the Seme to Kyoko's Uke.
- According with the Drama CD "Farewell Story", Kyoko has been a magical girl for a year before she met Mami. Since the Drama CD events takes place one year before the anime events, it is suspected that Kyoko has been a magical girl for at least two years. Making her the second veteran of the group, after Mami.
- Kyoko's special attack is called "Rosso Fantasma" (Red Illusion/Phantom) but for personal reasons she no longer has her illusory powers during the time of the anime events.
- For obvious reasons she thinks that the name is embarrassing, you can blame Mami for that.
- In chapter 19 of Kazumi *Magica, Umika Misaki uses her own ability to learn and study how to use "Rosso Fantasma".
- Ai Nonaka describes Kyoko's speech style to be Shouwa-ish (Shouwa era, 1926-1989), meaning an old style of talking.
- In the Audio Commentary for Episode 7, Aoi Yuuki (Madoka) describes the character of Kyoko of being an anti-hero, a flawed human character that has to fight to overcome aspects of her unjust self, to attain an overall form of justice that she believes in.
- In the PSP game, her which form is Ophelia, depicted as a horse rider with a candlestick for a head.
- In the original draft for the script it is stated that Kyouko did steal the apples in Episode 7.