Does anyone else just love to debate the MBTI personality types of fictional characters? You don’t? What?! Lol well, anyway, it’s something I thoroughly enjoy. Most of the internet seems to agree that Sayaka Miki is an ESFP “Entertainer/ Performer,” when I believe it’s obvious she is an ENFP “Campaigner/ Inspirer.” So what? So, I’m compelled to rant about this until satisfied. I’m also very willing to hear about and discuss anyone’s reasons for thinking Sayaka is ESFP (or any other type for that matter.)
1. Intuition vs. Sensing & Values vs. Practicality
To start with, let’s review the differences between S (sensing) types and N (intuitive) types. As you can see from the link, this information is from the Myers-Briggs Foundation.
“Paying attention to physical reality, what I see, hear, touch, taste, and smell. I’m concerned with what is actual, present, current, and real. I notice facts and I remember details that are important to me. I like to see the practical use of things and learn best when I see how to use what I’m learning. Experience speaks to me louder than words.
“The following statements generally apply to me: I remember events as snapshots of what actually happened. I solve problems by working through facts until I understand the problem. I am pragmatic and look to the “bottom line.” I start with facts and then form a big picture. I trust experience first and trust words and symbols less. Sometimes I pay so much attention to facts, either present or past, that I miss new possibilities.”
“Paying the most attention to impressions or the meaning and patterns of the information I get, I would rather learn by thinking a problem through than by hands-on experience. I’m interested in new things and what might be possible, so that I think more about the future than the past. I like to work with symbols or abstract theories, even if I don’t know how I will use them. I remember events more as an impression of what it was like than as actual facts or details of what happened.
“The following statements generally apply to me. I remember events by what I read “between the lines” about their meaning. I solve problems by leaping between different ideas and possibilities. I am interested in doing things that are new and different. I like to see the big picture, then to find out the facts. I trust impressions, symbols, and metaphors more than what I actually experienced. Sometimes I think so much about new possibilities that I never look at how to make them a reality.”
The very fact that Sayaka chose to become a magical girl (after all she had seen and heard warning her otherwise) shows that she isn’t very practical. The nature of her wish shows the same thing. She used her wish just to heal the injury of Kyousuke, instead of something more useful and worth the life-or-death battles of a magical girl. There was no guarantee that Kyousuke would be grateful or fall in love with Sayaka right away, and she knew that much. She just genuinely wanted him to become a violinist like he aspired. Still, Sayaka didn’t expect Kyousuke to start going out with another girl- – a mutual friend, no less- – so soon.
Sayaka does not work through any problems in a pragmatic way or by using facts as a starting point. Can you think of one example where she even tries to that, let alone makes any real progress with it? She is lost in possibilities, which, due to stress and trauma, are mostly negative. When Madoka timidly suggests that Sayaka should talk things out with Kyouko, Sayaka refuses. Madoka wants all of them to get along, but when she brings up Homura, Sayaka just becomes more irritated. She makes false accusations about how Homura wanted Mami to die and chose not to save her. Kyouko, she claims, is probably happy that Mami is dead.
When she is forced to acknowledge facts, Sayaka doesn’t handle them well. For instance, she can’t stand it when she realizes Kyubey was right about her not being a strong enough magical girl. She hates acknowledging the truth that most other magical girls are self-interested, and that Mami was an exception. The fact that her soul had been removed from her body upset her so much she stopped considering herself human. Because of that, she couldn’t find it in herself to confess her love to Kyousuke. The sensible thing to do would have been to at least try.
Sayaka’s resolution in episode 7, to never regret anything anymore, is astoundingly impractical, and guaranteed to fail. Her fighting style isn’t practical, either. For starters, she envisioned being a hero with swords as her magical girl theme, even though her strength was healing magic. In addition, fighting huge witches by hacking at them with swords, and always taking the risk of close-range battle just doesn’t match up with common sense. Neither does the way she fights in episodes 7 and 8, block out pain and letting herself get shredded with cuts, strengthening the separation of her soul from her body and reducing her response time.
Intuitive tendencies are evidenced by the fact that Sayaka is at once overjoyed thinking of possibilities for her wish. When talking with Mami and Madoka about it, she thinks aloud, “So we could wish for riches and treasure? Or eternal youth? Or even the fabled 108-dish of Emperors!” This line can be seen as a joke, but it also shows imagination and leaping between possibilities. Sayaka’s general excitement about being going on witch hunts with Mami and maybe becoming a magical girl herself shows her enthusiasm for new ideas and experiences.
Miki often confuses facts with her emotional impressions, which is what a Intuitive types tend to do. She also shows the intuitive trait of reading between the lines and sometimes arriving at very deep insights or thought-provoking sentiments. The combination of N and F makes her observant of the underlying attitudes and motives of others. You don’t see this kind of thing with the SF types as much. They’re more sweet-natured and focused on practical caretaking.
One of Sayaka’s first “serious” moments is in episode 2, when she philosophically wonders why she and Madoka were chosen by Kyubey. She theorizes that she and Madoka are ignorant, fortunate, and privileged. That’s why they can’t recognize the true value of a miracle. Sayaka notes that it doesn’t seem fair for girls like her to have this chance, when there are most likely millions of people who long for a miracle and know what wish they would make. This scene is one of the most convincing signs that Sayaka is Intuitive and not Sensing.
In episode 7 when the two are talking in the church, Sayaka is able to see through Kyouko’s attitude of selfishness, noticing her desire to help, give advice, and offer partnership. That shows sharp NF insightfulness. Sayaka reveals in episode 8 that she’s never been able to trust Homura because she’s always felt like the mysterious girl was hiding her true motives and attitude. This is exactly correct. Homura admits that her real motivation is to help Madoka, and that she actually cares nothing for Sayaka, who is making Madoka suffer.
Closely related to Intuition vs. Sensing is the topic of practicality vs. idealism. You should see what I mean from these brief type summaries of ESFP and ENFP. They were taken from The Personality Page, with emphasis added.
“People-oriented and fun-loving, they make things more fun for others by their enjoyment. Living for the moment, they love new experiences. They dislike theory and impersonal analysis. Interested in serving others. Likely to be the center of attention in social situations. Well-developed common sense and practical ability. Click here for a detailed description of ESFP.”
“Enthusiastic, idealistic, and creative. Able to do almost anything that interests them. Great people skills. Need to live life in accordance with their inner values. Excited by new ideas, but bored with details. Open-minded and flexible, with a broad range of interests and abilities. Click here for a detailed description of ENFP.”
ENFP and ESFP are both enthusiastic and social. The ESFP wants to serve others in a realistic way, and the ENFP’s altruistic values make them seekers of justice. ESFPs have great practical skills to put toward their work, and ENFPs can master a number of talents, mostly involving people skills. The two are similar, but there’s a major difference. The ESFP is mentally grounded in reality, accepting the hard facts of life. But the ENFP is driven by their ideals. They are easily stressed and can make major errors in life because of inability to swallow the bitter pills of reality. This dilemma is more common in INFP than ENFP, but it generally applies to both.
We’ve already looked at a lot of examples wherein Sayaka is impractical and lacking in common sense. What about evidence of her attachment to values, though? The reason she became a magical girl was partly wanting to heal Kyousuke, but mostly it was to be “a hero of justice.” Throughout the series, Sayaka is always insistent on her altruistic ideals, which is part of why she loathes Homura and Kyouko so much. Despite Kyouko being her senior, and knowing a lot more about the magical world than newbies, Sayaka argues against her aggressively, and fights her. It’s because her values are being challenged.
The best evidence, though, is what Sayaka says and does in episode 8. The ENFP is constantly vigilant about staying true to their personal values; if they fail and do something that clearly goes against their ideals, they can’t handle it. Sayaka deeply hurts Madoka’s feelings in episode 8. Then, after hearing two men on a bus bragging about abusing women, Sayaka completely snaps, and most viewers argue that she killed those two. This complete separation from her ideals was the last straw in making her despair, blackening her soul gem, and turning into a witch.
2. Comparison of Strengths
If you still think Sayaka is ESFP, why don’t we examine the particular strengths and weakness of ESFP and ENFP? According to the 16 Personalities page about ENFP, the following items are their noteworthy strengths: being curious, observant, enthusiastic, excellent communicators, knowing how to relax, and being popular and friendly. The 16 Personalties page about the ESFP lists these strengths: being bold, observant, original, keen on aesthetics and showmanship, practical, and excellent with people skills. There are many commonalities between these types. So, despite my enthusiasm for the ENFP argument, I do completely understand if you take the ESFP side.
Each stength will be discussed here. The ENFP’s curiosity is essentially the same as the ESFP’s boldness, if you read the descriptions. Both are open to new experiences and ideas, and the same can be said for Sayaka when she is mentally stable. Originality in ESFP refers to lack of consideration for traditions and expectations. But ENFP’s combination of curiosity and high enthusiasm for new ideas and thoughts is essentially the same. This is another case where the trait is true of Sayaka and found in both types.
For most of the story, Sayaka doesn’t show the good communication talent of ENFP or the excellent people skills of the ESFP. But that’s because of stress and trauma. Overall, I believe Sayaka is better at communicating her thoughts and ideas than she is with people skills in general. Sayaka would rather be an inspirer of others than an entertainer for others. Here, have an example. After the death of Mami, Madoka feels isolated and dissociated, but has no idea how to express it. Sayaka effectively communicates both their feelings. “Nobody knows about Witches or about Mami,” she says. “We feel strange because we know, and nobody around us knows. It’s like we’re seeing and living in a different world from them.”
While the observant nature of ESFP refers to noticing physical, tangible changes, the ENFP is only observant of shifts in attitudes, patterns of action, and their perceived meaning. Sayaka in this case is more like the ENFP. Knowing how to relax and enjoy life is not true of Sayaka. For this trait, she is unlike an ENFP. Still, She is also unlike the ESFP in major ways. For instance, Miki is not practical, nor does she exercise aesthetic showmanship– not in fighting, nor in the way she presents herself.
Allow me to sum this all up. Sayaka could be ENFP or ESFP for two of the strenghts (orginality and openness). There were two cases where Sayaka was more ENFP than ESFP (her form of observation and her ability to communicate her ideas and thoughts.) There was one trait of the ENFP that Sayaka did not share (ability to relax) and two traits of the ESFP she did not share (showmanship and practicality.) If you consider all that, Sayaka has more in common with the Inspirer type than the Performer type.
3. Comparison of Weaknesses
Now let’s look at the weaknesses of both types according to the 16 Personalities site. Weaknesses for Poor practical skills, difficulty focusing, overthink things, easily stressed, highly emotional, and independent to a fault. weaknesses for that type. Sensitive, avoidant of conflict, easily bored, poor long-term planners, and unfocused. To be fair, either or both of these lists could describe Sayaka, so close inspection is needed to find the differences. The analysis of weaknesses will be much simpler than the strengths, because this is getting really lengthy.
ENFP: Poor practical skills. This one is true of Sayaka, who never chooses the sensible solution, and according to Kyubey, is the magical girl least suited for fighting. About all she can do is hack away at witches and use her sword almost like a bat.
ENFP: Overthinks things. Note her Sayaka’s deep self-loathing and regret over having a single thought that maybe she shouldn’t have saved Hitomi. She also overthinks Mami’s death, the perceived evil nature of Homura and Kyouko, and her own responsiblities.
ENFP: Intensely emotional. True of Sayaka. This often shows in her stubborness and anger, and depression and hopelessness as the story goes on. She has a short fuse and is prone to emotional outbursts that are counterproductive. When such strong negative emotions are combined with the communication skills of ENFP, the result is someone who can be manipulate and hurtful. Remember how she treats Madoka early in episode 8, guilt-tripping and pressuring her.
ENFP: Easily stressed. Also true of Sayaka. Mostly, it’s because she holds herself to ridiculous expectations and never accepts help for them.
ENFP: independent to a fault. Most definitely true of Sayaka. In ep 8, she defeats the Witch with her dangerous and self-injurious method of fighting. She then refuses to use the Grief Seed to purify her Soul Gem, instead giving it to Kyouko because she doesn’t want to be in debt. Later, she refuses a grief seed from Homura, too. In addition, she never wants to partner with other magical girls, even though that would mean killing more witches, and doing it effectively.
Both ENFP and ESFP: Difficulty focusing. Not true of Sayaka. In conversation, Sayaka might have trouble focusing, but in general, she’s pretty single-minded and determined in her mission to protect the city and the pursuit of her ideals.
ESFP: Sensitive (to criticism). Very true of Sayaka. I doubt you even need an example.
ESFP: Avoidant of conflict. Not true for Sayaka. She tends to start conflicts with her emotional outbursts and stubborn insistence on her values.
ESFP: Easily bored. Not generally true for Sayaka. She does love new ideas and possibilities, but she doesn’t get bored of them too easily. Instead, she ruminates over them a little too much.
ESFP: Poor long-term planner. True of Sayaka. Well, this is extremely obvious, since Sayaka made her wish without thinking enough of consquences or the future down the road.
As you can see, Sayaka has two weaknesses typical for ESFP and five weaknesses typical for ENFP. This analysis of weakneses proves once again that Sayaka is more like a Campaigner/ Inspirer than an Entertainer /Performer. The comparison of strengths had the similar results. Our inspection of Intuition versus Sensing and Idealism over Practicality suggested the same thing. At this point, it would be very difficult to come up with a strong argument for Sayaka being an ESFP. If you want to voice your opinion, though, please do so in the comments. Perhaps you can contest some of the points I’ve made.
As always, thank you so much for reading this long and random rant. Take care now!
If you’re interested in Sayaka Miki, check out my other posts related to her.
Sayaka Miki Character Analysis Part 1 (Introduction)
Sayaka Miki Character Analysis Part 2 (personality type)
Sayaka Miki Character Analysis Part 3 (psychology discussions)
Sayaka Miki Character Analysis Part 4 (struggles and purpose)
(All images were found by searching the web, and I don’t own any of them.)