|Puella Magi Madoka Magica character|
|First appearance||As If I Met Her in My Dream...|
|Voiced by||Emiri Katō (Japanese),|
Cassandra Lee (English)
Kyubey (Japanese: キュゥべえ Hepburn: Kyūbē) is a fictional character and the main antagonist of the 2011 anime series Puella Magi Madoka Magica and its 2013 sequel The Rebellion Story. He is a messenger of magic that can grant any wish to a certain girl, on the condition that she become a magical girl and fight against witches. It is later revealed that his true identity is Incubator (インキュベーター Inkyubētā).
In 2017, Paste magazine ranked Kyubey as the eight Greatest Anime Villain of All Time.
Creation and design
Kyubey was created and designed by writer Gen Urobuchi. As one of the primary antagonists in the series, producer Atsuhiro Iwakami stated that "the mash-up of cuteness and darkness is the central theme to Madoka, and Kyubey is an epitome of that theme." A central goal in Urobuchi's writing was to highlight the moral and ethical dissonance between Kyubey and the young middle school girls, which was done through actions in the series such as Kyubey eating its own corpse in order to recycle energy. Urobuchi compared Kyubey to monsters occurring in the works of horror fiction author H. P. Lovecraft, commenting of the character: "he isn't evil, it is his lack of feelings that make him scary."
In Madoka Magica
Kyubey is a genderless (though he apparently identifies as a male) extraterrestrial cat-like being posing as a familiar who can grant any wish to a certain girl, on the condition that she become a magical girl and fight against witches. When the chosen girl makes a contract with him, he extracts her soul and places it inside a soul gem, reconstructing their body into a shell that is more resilient in order to fight witches. He constantly tries to get Madoka Kaname to make a contract with him, as she allegedly possesses great magical potential within her that would allow her to become the most powerful magical girl. He can only be seen or heard by magical girls and those with "magical" potential, and is able to communicate with them telepathically.
Kyubey is later revealed to of a hive-minded race called the Incubators, who eat their dead and take their predecessor's place and identity. The Incubators developed the technology to convert emotions into energy, which they use to counter entropy and prevent the impending heat death of the universe. Having evaluated countless races throughout the universe, the Incubators find ideal subjects with humans, specifically pubescent and prepubescent girls as they produce the most energy which reaches its zenith when a magical girl's soul gem turns into a grief seed. Kyubey claims his race lacks emotions (or, at least, that those in his race who have emotions are abnormal), with little understanding of mortality or the value of life, considering their actions simply utilitarian in nature despite appearing cruel to others. Despite this, Kyubey is a very skilled manipulator as he leaves out the vital aspects of the contracts and only reveals the truth when asked. According to Kyubey, the very existence of the Magi-Witch system is what allowed the evolution of mankind's civilization, as many of the main events in human history have had magical girls involved. Despite answering all questions posed to him, there is still much about the universe that Kyubey has not spoken of.
In the side-story manga Puella Magi Kazumi Magica, Kyubey also appears as the contractor of all the magical girls in Asanaru City, including the Pleiades Saints. When the Pleiades learnt the truth about magical girls, they took one of Kyubey's corpses and used it to create their own Incubator Jubey, who could absorb darkness from soul gems. Furthermore, they had Umika cast a spell that would make Kyubey invisible to all other girls in the city and rewrite their own memories to believe they contracted with Jubey, in an attempt to stop more witches from being born. This ultimately backfires as Jubey turns out to be a failure.
In The Rebellion Story, which takes place after the series, Kyubey sealed Homura outside the Law of Circles' jurisdiction to force Madoka back into the physical world in an attempt to restore the witch system of the previous timelines since his kind have been harvesting less energy in the new system. But the scheme backfired when Homura ended up stealing Ultimate Madoka's powers for herself, enslaving Incubators to take Madoka's place in taking on the curses of the new world. Kyubey is last seen lying on the ground, disheveled and shivering as he is driven mad by his sudden ability to feel emotions combined with being forced to shoulder the combined grief, suffering, and despair of every magical girl that is, was, or ever will be.
In other media
Reception and legacy
Kyubey won the 2011 Newtype Anime Award for best mascot character. He took third place and fifth place in the following two years, in 2013 and 2014. Kyubey won the 2011 Net Buzzword's Bronze Prize for his popular catchphrase, and also won the 1st Nikkan Anime Grand Prix's "Worst Dark Character" award by the Nikkan Sports newspaper. Emiri Katō won the 6th Seiyu Awards for Best supporting actress in 2012 for her portrayal of Kyubey. In December 2015, Kyubey was included among the "Anime's Most Despicable Villains", a poll conducted by MyNavi Student. He was voted third most cutest mascot character.
Andy Hanley from UK Anime Network initially described him as an "odd cat-like figure". Gabriella Ekens of Anime News Network characterized him as "the alien embodiment of utilitarian logic." Jacob Churosh of THEM Anime Reviews scribed, "Emiri Katou's contribution in the role of Kyuubey is also considerable; although he initially seems rather monotonously cheerful, Katou eventually manages to convey the relentless, strange rationality -- what one might call the alien logic -- that drives him.
The Kyubey character, for his part, is a screenwriting accomplishment in and of itself. So fleshed-out and complete is his worldview that it's hard not to start (ironically) empathizing with how he sees things, and the reveal of exactly who and what he is – and how he sees the world – is executed so well it's thrilling in and of itself. As a result, Kyubey has all the best dialogue in the show, and some of it is laugh-out-loud hilarious near the end, putting a button on everything that's happening with a cold, calculating attitude. We don't see this kind of character writing often, and that it's accomplished so well here is a minor miracle. Simply put, it just shouldn't work as well as it does, but the proof is all there on screen.— Zac Bertschy, Anime News Network.
Kyubey was listed by Paste Magazine as the eight greatest anime villain. Lynzee Loveridge of Anime News Network ranked him at number 3 of "8 Shocking Betrayals" list for being a manipulative. CBR ranked Kyubey first in the website's "The 20 Strongest Alien Species In Anime" list, with writer Ashley Glenn stating "this is perhaps one of the most powerful aliens out there". Game Revolution also included Kyubey among the "The greatest anime betrayals ever" list.
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