"If Magical Girls are said to be born from wishes, then Witches are creatures born from curses. Magical Girls bring hope to the world, Witches bring despair. And since they’re invisible to humans, they are that much more insidious. Anxiety and mistrust, rage and hatred; they sow the seeds of disaster all over the world."
— Kyubey, episode 2.
In the anime, these locations are designed and animated by Gekidan Inu Curry in a style vastly different from that of the rest of the series in order to reinforce the otherworldly aspect. Inside and outside of the anime they are sometimes referred to as "mazes" (迷路 meiro) or "wards". In English translations, they are referred to as "labyrinths".
According to the January 2012 Dengeki PlayStation, the barrier is "a space resembling the Magical Girl's mental landscape before she became a Witch".
The barrier can be based off a lot of things, such as where the girl became a Witch, what their Soul Gem or Grief Seed motifs are or were, what they liked, and/or what their wish was.
This can be proven by looking at Oktavia von Seckendorff's barrier. It has a theme of longing for Kyosuke, since Sayaka's wish was to heal his hand. The ulterior motive behind the wish was for Kyosuke to love her, but this didn't happen. There is a Kyosuke-like figure shown in her barrier. Additionally, she became a witch at a train station, and at the beginning of episode 8 we see trains in Oktavia's barrier.
After eating a few humans (approximately four or five according to Kyoko in episode 5) they will grow into copies of their master Witch, able to spawn their own Familiars and dropping their own Grief Seed.
They do not drop any Grief Seeds when killed unless they have matured into a full Witch.
According to the January 2012 Dengeki PlayStation, Familiars are "projections of the magical girl's heart before she became a witch".
When a Soul Gem contains too many impurities and becomes completely black, it will transform into a Grief Seed, and its Magical Girl will become a Witch. All Grief Seeds drain impurities when used on a dim Soul Gem, replenishing a girl's magic and staving off her transformation into a Witch. In episode 6, Kyubey warns that absorbing too much impurities can revive the Witch. A Grief Seed that has been used before and already contains impurities will be unable to fully cleanse a Soul Gem.
Because of how valuable they are, Magical Girls may also use Grief Seeds to test if she can cooperate with another Magical Girl; rejecting an offered Grief Seed from another Magical Girl means refusing to work with her and hostility. Both Mami and Homura peformed such kinds of tests.
As shown in Magia Record, Grief Seeds can be consumed by Witches and make them stronger. They are also confirmed to exist within the bodies of the Witches that own them. They can also be reached and stimulated by the hydrogen line, a specific radio wave used to send and receive signals during searches for extraterrestial intelligence; it can penetrate through any obstacle, including the bodies of Witches, and resonate with their Grief Seeds within, allowing whoever is sending the signal to stimulate and manipulate their emotions.
See this page for list of Grief Seeds in the franchise.
The Soul Gem is the source of a Magical Girl's magical powers, produced upon contracting by Kyubey extracting a girl's soul and giving it physical form. When they use their magic, experience strong negative emotions, or sustain physical injuries, the Soul Gem gathers impurities and becomes "tainted". When "tainted", the gem loses its lustre and becomes progressively darker. The only way to rid it of its darkness is to extract it with a Grief Seed.
A Soul Gem is physically required for a Magical Girl to transform. When not transformed, a Magical Girl's Soul Gem typically takes its default "egg" form, or may be turned into a ring at will to be worn for easier transportation. When in ring form, the band will display its owner's name written in Runes. When transformed, the gem will change appearance and become incorporated into its owner's costume. The gem's costumed form most often takes on the appearance of one of the two symbols, which may or may not be the same symbol repeated, on the top and bottom/center of the gem in its "egg" form (e.g. Mami Tomoe's becomes a flower, Rena Minami's becomes a music note, etc.).
A Magical Girl is capable of using their Soul Gem to perform magic when not transformed: they can merge it with a normal object to temporarily imbue it with magic, which also transforms its appearance, which is then returned the normal when the Soul Gem is separated from it; and they can summon simplified forms of their weapons made of magical energy that extent from, and can be retracted into, the gem.
A Magical Girl must remain within 100 meters of her Soul Gem or their connection will be broken, and the girl will instantly "die". If this connection is broken, it will only be re-established once physical contact between them has been made again. Once separated, a Magical Girl's body has approximately 48 hours until it begins to decay. While transformed, a Magical Girl may be separated from her Soul Gem and retain her life and magic provided the distance between them does not exceed 100 meters; however, if a Magical Girl is not already transformed and is separated from her gem while remaining within proper distance of it, she will be unable to transform and, potentially, unable to use her unique magic. The connection between a Magical Girl and her Soul Gem can be broken by another using magic while still within 100 meters of each other.
Episode 6 reveals that Soul Gems are in fact their owner's very soul, while their body is now effectively a "puppet" that their gem controlls.
Episode 8 reveals if the Soul Gem becomes too full of impurities and turns completely black, it will transform into a Grief Seed, and its Magical Girl will become a Witch.
It is unknown what would happen if a Soul Gem separated from its owner's body becomes black in Kamihama City.
See this page for list of Soul Gems in the franchise.
A Witch's Kiss is a marking, the personal symbol of the Witch, used by a Witch and its Familiars to control the minds of humans. They can be used to exacerbate pre-existing negative emotions and thoughts, change personalities, induce delusions and false beliefs, make people commit crimes or suicide, or lure them into a Labyrinth to be consumed by the Witch inside. While some of these actions may not necessarily lead humans to being consumed, a Witch also desires merely to spready evil and misfortune regardless of if she gets sustenance. Further, a human being Kissed may not always result in a death. Familiars can Kiss humans well outside of the Labyrinth they hail from in order to bring them to their Witch.
In the original series, Witch Kisses were only depicted as appearing on people's necks. In Magia Record, they are now shown to appear on any part of the body, including the face and limbs.
In the original series and Magia Record, it is shown that non-contracted Magical Girls with magical potential can still become Kissed. It is unconfirmed, though implied in Rebellion, that even contracted Magical Girls can also be Kissed.
The symbol that makes up a Witch's Kiss also appear at the entrance of its owner's Labyrinth.
From left to right:
- The cards for Kriemhild Gretchen and Walpurgisnacht do not actually depict their kisses, but the order presented throughout the top two rows matches that of appearance in the anime. The imagery presented also correspond to their themes.
- While two different kisses appear on Homulilly's Rebellion-based cards, her card based on the Portable game does not depict any kisses to speak of, but the form shown of an hourglass corresponds with her theme of time.
Episode 8 reveals that Witches are the final form of Magical Girls. When a girl's Soul Gem becomes too full of impurities and turns completely black, it transforms into a Grief Seed, and its Magical Girl becomes a Witch.
As revealed in Magia Record, witches are capable of, and can be made stronger by, consuming Grief Seeds and other witches.
While somewhat similar to Witches, Uwasa are very different. They are the manifestations of actual rumors that are spread through Kamihama City created by Nemu Hiiragi, originating from rumors she created about the city she saw through her hospital window before becoming a Magical Girl. Uwasa exist to spread and fulfill these rumors, attacking those who meet the rumors' conditions or who prevent the rumors' completion. They can only be defeated by doing the opposite of what the rumor represents. They notably do not drop Grief Seeds when killed.
Some Uwasa are capable of communication or even independent thought that goes against the intentions of its creator or its own purpose. The Uwasa of the Commoner's Horse announces its intention to attack before it appears. The Uwasa of the Anonymous Artificial Intelligence is also capable of speech and has friendly interactions with other Magical Girls. However, it claims it is bound by its instincts as a uwasa.
According to the official website "A select few Magical Girls in Kamihama City can summon a power known as a Doppel. Only awakened Magical Girls have this ability, which allows them to invoke a portion of the Witch power in their Soul Gem when it becomes fully tainted."
Typically, a Magical Girl becomes a Witch when her Soul Gem becomes completely black from developing too many impurities. Inside Kamihama City, however, the "Doppel" power is invoked instead. Created by the combined efforts of Ui Tamaki, Nemu Hiiragi, Touka Satomi, and Alina Gray, a field exists around Kamihama exclusively that, while inside, prevents a Magical Girl from becoming a Witch. When a Soul Gem becomes completely black, a manifestation of a Magical Girl's Witch form is summoned instead, taking on a variety of forms for each individual girl. Doppels are extremely powerful, making them useful in battle, but come with a high risk: the more often a Magical Girl uses her Doppel, it becomes progressively harder for the Doppel to disappear and its master Magical Girl from regaining control. While summoned, a subconscious confrontation occurs between a Magical Girl and her Witch self, in which the Witch attempts to convince the girl to give in to her inner darkness and give the Witch full control. Thus, there is always a posibility that a Magical Girl will fail to resist her inner Witch, and her Witch self will obtain full control of its master's body.
From their in-game description, a Doppel's manifestation depends on several factors. For instance, though this is not always the case, older Magical Girls (or potentially, those who have been contracted longer, not necessarily one's actual age) experience a narrower range of emotions than younger Magical Girls, and as such their Doppels are more likely to appear fused to their master's body rather than as separate entities.
Exclusive to the anime adaptation, when a Doppel is summoned, a Magical Girl's face will morph to appear completely white with solid black eyes and a mouth. This face does not appear on those who gain enough experience summoning their Doppel that they can retain consciousness while using it, but may reappear if their inner Witch gains the upper hand and risks taking control of their body.
It is unknown what would happen if a Soul Gem separated from its owner's body becomes black in Kamihama City.