|“||I want you to make contracts with me and become magical girls!!||„|
|“||Whenever I tell you humans the simple facts you always react the same way. It makes no sense at all. Why are humans so sensitive about the kind of container their souls are housed in.||„|
Kyuubey is the main antagonist in the anime and manga series Puella Magi Madoka Magica, and had some minor roles in its spin-off mangas Kazumi Magica and Oriko Magica.
He appeared as the "Messenger of Magic" who would grant wishes to girls. However, in return they sign a contract, and serve as a Puella Magi (Magical Girl). Their job was to kill Witches, creatures that fed on the hopes or dreams of ordinary people. However, this is actually just a distraction from Kyubey's true goal.
He is voiced by Emiri Katou in the Japanese version and by Cassandra Lee in the English version, the latter of whom also voices Saki Mikajima and Yubel.
Kyubey is a small, cat-like creature, about two feet long (including tail). His entire body is covered in often clean, white fur. He has what appear to be four ears; two that resemble an average cat, pointed and up, while the other two appear as long tassel-like appendages that split into three sections at their tip. The tassels fade from white to pink and have three red dots horizontally before the splits. they also bear a pair of floating golden rings. Kyubeys face is his most well known feature; two beady pink eyes with ark maroon irises and a tiny, sigma-shaped "cat mouth". Due to Kyubey's method of telepathic communication, his face remains almost completely immobile with the exception of blinking and consuming food. This unmoving face is often a source of fan stigma involving Kyubey "staring into one's soul".
On his back is an egg-shaped red oval. In timeline 6, this oval flips up, like a trapdoor to act as a receptacle for grief seed fragments.
In the anime, Kyubey has not been evidenced to bleed, however, when injured, he has red matter underneath his fur. When he is shot by Homura several times, Kyubey's body does not seem to contain organs, only solid red. Whether this is artistic censorship or an actual attribute of Kyubey's anatomy is yet unknown.
In the anime, Kyubey's body often makes noises like a plush toy when squeezed or pressed against, suggesting that he is soft and cuddly, at least physically. In Oriko Magica, Kyubey takes on even more of a "plush toy" appearance than before. Now, his sharp tipped tassel ears are soft and curved, lacking the pink gradient and red spots. His magical hoops have moved further up his ears and his front legs appear to have shortened.
- Kyubey's appearance (and name) share an affinity to Kyuubi, Mythical Japanese foxes with nine tails. In folklore, Kyuubi were known to possess men and have them do the Kyuubi's bidding, a trait identical to Kyubeys desire to collect energy from Puella Magi.
Kyubey is an Incubator/Messenger of Magic. Because of this, he, like his race, cannot exhibit emotions of any kind. As a result, Kyubey often appears to be cold, arrogant, calculating, and scheming; traits that make him appear villainous in the series. However, Kyubey only seeks to achieve a goal; to preserve the universe from entropy. To meet this goal, he takes all means logically efficient and reasonable; namely creating Puella Magi. Initially, Kyubey appears to be extremely enthusiastic to help the Puella Magi in their quest, offering advice where applicable, however, as more of his true motive is revealed, either by him or others, Kyubey becomes progressively more passive and observatory in manner (although this could be because he has no advice left to offer).
Throughout the series, Kyubey is often accused of trickery and deceit by turning girls into Puella Magi, and subsequently witches, treating humans as energy livestock under the guise of being an impressive miracle granter. Although this can easily be understood, Kyubey states that he never intended to "trick" Puella Magi, but simply leave out traumatizing subtext in order to make the process more appealing to a potential Puella Magi.
Kyubey uses certain speech patterns that indicate he may see himself as superior to the magical girls; the lack of honorifics, the use of the pronouns "Boku" (僕) and "Kimi" (君) and the misuse or overall lack of polite verbs suggests that he is either rude or very casual towards the girls. However, due to his temperamental and emotionless nature, and the fact that he is an alien, Kyubey may simply misunderstand the need to be polite, as opposed to being direct.
Kyubey apparently enjoys hot baths and human food, as evidenced in the second episode of the anime.
Powers and Abilities
Kyubey has a wide variety of magical abilities which he uses in his mission to counteract entropy. The ones he has demonstrated so far are listed below:
- Telepathic communication - Kyubey communicates with Puella Magi and potential Puella Magi through telepathic communication, as opposed to verbal. Exposure to this apparently enables Puella Magi and potential Puella Magi to also communicate telepathically amongst each other when Kyubey is nearby.
- Invisibility - Kyubey is invisible to everyone, except for Puella Magi and candidates. Normal humans do not seem to notice his presence at all, just as he never communicates with them.
- Teleportation - Kyubey has been evidenced to cross long distances in impossibly short time spans, the method for which is yet unknown, but can be assumed to be teleportation. In episode 10, he also fades into reality above Homura, which may be the visible manifestation of him teleporting.
- Wish granting - Kyubey can grant the wishes of young girls, in the same manner a Genie would. Unlike most genies, Kyubey does his best to grant the wishes accurately, without twisting the wording, and wishes that end up backfiring do so for factors entirely beyond the Incubator's control. Kyubey only allocates one wish per contract. It appears that Kyubey can only grant the wishes of others, since he has never been seen using his reality-warping power to his own ends. Wishes are fueled via the magical potential of the new Puella Magi. Because of this, while Kyubey can grant almost any regular wish, particularly high-impact wishes cannot be granted for most girls.
- Energy conversion/collection - Kyubey is able to collect energy from witch transformation and battles through unseen means. In Timeline 6, he collects it when magical girls drop grief seeds into a hatch-like "mouth" that opens in the red oval on his back. How he is able to transport this energy also remains a mystery.
- Soul Gem Creation - Kyubey is capable of rending young girls' souls from their bodies and placing them within small egg-shaped gemstones called soul gems. This makes the newly formed Puella Magi capable of transformation into their "magical girl form", granting increased agility, strength, endurance, pain threshold, conjuring of magical weaponry and other magical abilities. Although this process is invaluable to allow the girls to fight without being overwhelmed by pain, Kyubey tries to avoid mentioning fact that it involves separation of soul from body, as it tends to be traumatic to the Puella Magi. It is unknown whether Kyubey can create a Soul Gem at will, or whether a contract must first be formed.
- Replication - After being killed, another identical Kyubey will appear nearby and consume the remains of his predecessor if possible. This duplicate appears to retain most, if not all the knowledge of the last one. This may suggest a "hive mind" or cloning process. It has been stated that Kyubey "instantaneously generates a replacement body out of the surrounding mana". The ability may reference the saying "cats have nine lives", as Kyubey resembles a cat.
- Soul Gem Stimulation - As seen in episode 7, Kyubey can create impulses of certain feelings on a soul gem simply by touching it. In Sayaka's case, he emulates a pike (probably mimicking Kyoko's) impaling Sayaka's stomach.
- Soul Gem Purification - Jubey, another Incubator, has been shown in the spinoff comics to be able to purify Soul Gems. Kyubey likely has the same ability.
- Advanced magical technology - The Incubators are stated to be a highly advanced alien race. They are obviously capable of space travel. The Inhibition Field seen in Rebellion Story is an example of their technology. Since they are not overly hostile to humanity and do not need to defend themselves if attacked, preferring to regenerate in a new body, it is unknown whether the Incubators dispose of any weaponry or offensive magic.
In episode 9, Kyubey is revealed to be a member of a highly advanced alien species known as the Incubators. Ostensibly, the girls he recruits to become Magical Girls are to defend the Earth from Witches. But the Incubators' true goal, which he keeps secret, is actually the creation of Witches, which are in fact Magical Girls who had their souls corrupted by grief and despair. In one of the spinoff comics, it was revealed that Incubators could prevent this transformation by purifying the corruption from the girls' Soul Gems. It is implied that Kyubey knew of this, but always kept it from the magical girls in the first series as revealing it would have been counter productive.
Kyubey states that his reason for creating Witches is to collect the emotional energy of the girls. His race would then use this energy to stave off the destruction of the universe by entropy. As such, Kyubey can be seen as a "necessary evil" of sorts. His own race is incapable of feeling emotions, and as such sees humans as nothing more than convenient "energy producers". He himself does not see his own acts as "evil" in any way.
Kyubey's main goal throughout Puella Magi Madoka Magica is the conversion of Madoka Kaname into a Magical Girl. It is revealed that Homura Akemi has unwittingly boosted Madoka's magical potential to an astronomical level by going back in time repeatedly in an attempt to save her from death, creating many timelines all centered around Madoka. Kyubey states that Madoka could become the most powerful Magical Girl and then the most powerful Witch, and that her transformation could produce enough energy to singlehandedly save the universe from destruction (though her Witch may destroy Earth in the process, something Kyubey doesn't seem to care about just as long as he gets his surplus of energy).
To accomplish this, he cleverly schemes and plans to ensure that as many Magical Girls as possible die in Mitakihara Town, so that when Walpurgis Night arrived, the girl would be forced to either contract with him or allow her city to get completely destroyed.
Kyubey appears to be unkillable, as he spontaneously generates a new body if the previous one is destroyed. He also seems to be capable of teleportation, as in episode 10, at the end of the first timeline, he appears to fade into reality above Homura.
Role in Puella Magi Madoka Magica Movie: Rebellion Story
Kyubey appears in Rebellion Story right from the beginning as the mascot of the Puella Magi Holy Quintet, but behaves much more like a regular "cute magical mascot" stereotype and cannot speak. However, in reality this is a shameless ruse he puts on in order to spy on the girls without being suspected.
In reality, Kyubey and the Incubators are responsible for the existance of the idealized Mitakihara, which is actually the world inside Homura's Soul Gem. After Madoka made her wish to erase Witches from existence, Kyubey became interested in restoring the Witch System, which he believed to be more effective for the production of energy than slaying the Wraiths that replaced the Witches. In order to observe and possibly subvert and control Madoka, the Incubators devised an Inhibition Field wherein they placed a dying Homura. Normally, in such a situation Madoka would have spirited away the girl and erased her despair, but the Inhibition Field made such an intervention impossible. Homura began her transformation into a Witch, but the Field kept it under control. Kyubey hoped that Madoka would personally come to the rescue of the suffering girl, allowing the Incubators to observe her and learn how to deal with her.
Unfortunately for the Incubators, they promptly lost all control of the situation, which culminated in the creation of Akuma Homura, who restructured the universe according to her own design, suppressed Goddess Madoka's powers and enslaved the Incubators themselves.
- People still argue as to how to write his name. Is it Kyubey or Kyuubey? His name is written in both Hiragana and Katakana as キュ(kyu)ゥ(u)べ(be)え(e), so Kyuubee or Kyuubey would be most accurate as a romanization. On the other hand, the fifth commercial has his name romanized as "Kyubey", which resulted in controversy. However, the lack of the extra u is probably just a use of the modified Hepburn system, which never accounts for extended vowels.
- Gen Urobuchi joked that the "Kyu" comes from the katakana of the English word Cute so it could also be Cubey. However, episode 8 suggests that his name actually comes from the word 'Incubator', which would be romanized as 'inkyubeetaa.' In the same episode, it is revealed that he has multiple replacements.
- Some fans of 2ch have taken to assigning the kanji 「九兵衛」 (Kyūbē, lit. nine protector soldiers or nine warriors in defense) to his name, speculating that like Doraemon (whose name can be written as 「銅鑼衛門」), Kyubey's naming might have been inspired by old Samurai dramas.
- Kyubey's name's spelling is supposed to be Kyuubey by Puella Magi Kazumi Magica logic. There is another Incubator called Juubey (which is "Juu" (ten) + bey). Thus, Kyuubey is "Kyuu" (nine) + bey. This also means that there are at least ten Incubators in the Puella Magi world.
- 'QB' is short for 'Kyubey' in Niconico Douga. This name is also common on 2chan.
- On the Blu-ray commentary it was pointed by Gen Urobuchi that Kyubey has no gender.
- In the Drama CD "Sunny Day Life" Kyubey tries to convince to an exasperated Madoka that "he" doesn't see himself as male (in human terms) so "he" doesn't understand why "he" isn't allowed to be in the bathroom with a naked Madoka. Madoka isn't buying it.
- Kyubey always uses boku (僕) as a first-person pronoun, this being typical for boys and young males. When addressing the girls, he always uses kimi (君), which, in modern Japanese, is usually used when addressing people of the same or lower social status, usually by male speakers. He also never uses honorifics when referring to people by their names. This is uncommon in real life, especially when referring to people present around. He also always uses plain (as opposed to polite) verb forms, which is normally used only in close relationships. While he does not say anything specifically to insult the girls, these patterns of speech (especially calling by full name without honorifics) can be considered rude and may indicate he doesn't respect the girls and considers himself clearly above them in the social ladder.
- This may also be used to give a "foreign" touch to Kyubey's speech, as this pattern emulates the typical way of speaking in other languages, such as English.
- It can also be interpreted as Kyubey treating personal names just as tags for identifying individuals, similar to a social security number.
- Boku can be used by girls, too, but this is uncommon in real life. In manga, anime and alike, this is often employed for girls exhibiting "boyish" personality traits. Such girls are called boku-kko (僕っ子).
- Given how many times Kyubey says he just doesn't understand humans, it might be he doesn't understand the need to be polite. That aside, since he isn't even human, it's also possible that nobody ever bothered correcting him. You can't expect magical familiars to abide to the same rules. This may be similar interpretation above one. It is possible. He however could use more general and short expression, last name (or family name is more formal) without honorifics, which are identical enough if he just doesn't need to be polite. I feel his social advantage (upper stage of social layer) as incubator against incubating eggs from his choice.
- Kyubey claims that he turns girls into magical girls (and thus eventually into witches) to keep a surplus of usable energy in the universe. He explains that through entropy, energy is gradually lost and the energy formed by the emotions of magical girls restocks that energy.
- It's a bit more complex than that. Entropy dictates that in a closed universe, producing energy always costs more than it produces. Common examples of this include the fact it takes dozens of years to grow a tree which will in turn grow apples, but that the total of apples that tree will produce in its lifetime will give less energy than it took to grow the tree itself. In this end this means that all energy is destined to eventually run out, even if it's at a pace our human minds can't conceive. Emotions however aren't bound by entropy; to Kyubey's species, humans are basically walking emotion dispensers and can produce hundreds to thousands of times more emotional energy in their lifetimes than it takes to give birth to them. Since they themselves don't have emotions, Kyubey's species has decided to use humans and to convert their emotions into energy they then, presumably, pump into the cosmos somewhere to give entropy the middle finger. Madoka's transformation into a witch is said to be able to produce so much energy that they "collect even more energy than their quota", meaning that her transformation has enough juice to save the entire universe.
- Small quibble: technically, energy is never lost. It is only made unusable.
- The quota statement was likely just that he got more energy from Earth than he was assigned to (or what was expected to be extracted). You'd require an infinite amount of energy to permanently stave off the heat death of the universe after all.
- It is also possible that transforming a girl into a witch converts heat to energy, and that Kyubey's explanation was simplified.
- For more information about energy and thermodynamics in general, see Thermodynamics.
- Freud also has a concept, an extension of his Pleasure Principle, that he terms 'entropy', which he defines as a state of reduced or absent tensions that are caused by differentiation (the recognition of 'separateness' of self from others and the world, etc.). Entropic pull refers to the desire to return to that state. So, the use of the term 'entropy' here could also be subtly implying the idea that the girls eventually return to the undifferentiated state of the universe's energy. For more information, please see Rosemary Jackson's "Fantasy: The Literature of Subversion".
- In Episode 9, Kyubey states to Madoka that his race is incapable of producing emotions, that they are driven by logic and utilitarian beliefs. Their lack of emotions makes it difficult for them to harness their own emotional energy to offset entropy, so it is for this reason that they sought the solution outside of their own galaxy. However, in Episode 11, Kyubey reveals to Madoka that while this statement is true on the majority of their race, there have been extreme rare cases of those capable of expressing emotions, but because this is a very rare phenomenon they are considered to be mentally ill.
- Spa Weekly! Article: Kyubey's utilitarianism prioritizes the continuation of the whole universe and takes precedence over the happenings of individual entities. Kyubey's actions are not based on ignorance since he is aware of the cause-and-effect law of nature, he consciously decides that the law is immutable and conveniently uses it to exploit the Puella Magi system. Apparently this makes Kyubey a Bad Buddhist. "If you meet Kyubey on the road, kill it with fire."
- Gen Urobuchi comments in the Audio Commentary for Episode 12 that (the) Kyubey's presence is world wide (WWQB). This can be interpreted as that multiple Kyubeys are being used to contract and reduce entropy; and are not limited to just using one single incubator at a time. If all Kyubeys are coordinating with each other as a global network in their efforts to contract and collect despair energy, it would make their labor process and collection very efficient.
Character inspiration and design
- According to the Blu-Ray Episode 2 voice commentary, Kyubey was not based on any animal, just the concept of a "small mahou shoujo animal".
- When asked what animals were used as the basis for Kyubey's design, Ume Aoki was very cryptic because of spoilers. The only clue she gives is "coil". According to the drama CD interpreter, it was possible that this hinted Kyubey's design is based on the uterus. Supporters of this theory believed Kyubey's ears look like fallopian tubes and that this inspiration might connect to his name "incubator". However, this interpretation was proven wrong in the commentary for episode 8, where Chiwa Saito explained that the truth is that the marking on Kyubey's back is intended to resemble an egg, which still connects to his name "Incubator".
- According to Shinbo, he had just finished reading Michael Sandel's book, and he describes Kyubey as a Michael Sandel-esque character (this is regarding with the book's section on Utilitarianism).
- During the Sakura-Con 2012 panel interview, Urobuchi explains that Kyubey is not evil, it is his lack of human feelings that makes him scary. Urobuchi compares Kyubey to H.P. Lovecraft's eldritch creatures, in that both are uninterested in humans.
- In an interview with NewType, Shinbo was thinking of giving lip-synching to Kyubey in the new world but Yukihiro Miyamoto said no since fundamentally Kyubey remains the same creature as before, only interested in energy efficiency, so he remains unchanged. Also in the interview it's stated Kyubey doesn't move his mouth to speak because he is communicating by telepathy. It also enhances the creepy factor.
- Prior to broadcasting, no one told the seiyuu (specially Emiri Kato) that Kyubey's mouth doesnt move, so she tried to properly lip-synch her lines. When they saw the first episode on the air, the seiyuu were shocked that they were tricked.
- Aoi Yuuki (Madoka), Chiwa Saito (Homura), and Kaori Mizuhashi (Mami) tried for the role of Kyubey. Saito was told her Kyubey sounded too stupid, and in Yuuki's part hers sounded too naive and that she was too cute for it (no surprise there). They all found the role for Kyubey to be too difficult for them. They also found the Kyubey character to be too smart for them.
- In the Audio Commentary for Episode 9, before reading the script or knowing the nature of the show, Emiri Kato (VA of Kyubey) was very happy that she was voicing a cute animal character, though she was horrified when she found out Kyubey's true nature.
- A fanart meme tends to point out Kyubey's similarity to Hummy, the mascot of Suite Precure♪, the other (much more traditional, child-friendly, and optimistic) magical girl series that began airing in Winter 2011. Due to the closeness of their airing dates, this is likely a coincidence, but it has not gone unnoticed and adds to the series' postmodernist deconstruction of the magical girl genre.