First Look: Magia Record: Puella Magi Madoka Magica Side Story

Game Adaptation by Shaft
Streaming on Crunchyroll and Funimation

Premise

Iroha is currently fighting witches as a magical girl, however unlike other magical girls she can’t remember her wish when she made her magical girl contract. She travels to Kamihama City, site of the original Madoka Magica series, to look for answers.

Jel’s verdict: Soulless

Why couldn’t they have just left Madoka alone? I mean, I know “why” (that thing was printing money) but I don’t like it. The original series was such a tightly told story with a strong beginning and end. Adding or subtracting to it has only done it harm. We saw it with the movie series, and we see it here.

Magia Record does a good job copying the sights and sounds of Madoka, but that’s not what made Madoka great. The unraveling mystery, the sympathetic characters, and the bittersweet climax are just some of the reasons why everyone loved the original series. None of that appears to be present here. Iroha is a bland protagonist, fighting her way through recycled bits of the Madoka universe with no emotional connection to the audience. I cared about this story as much as when I attempted to play the game, which in full disclosure I ended up skipping 90% of the time.

Unless you’re a total Madoka junkie, or maybe a fan of the game, I don’t see any reason to watch this. As far as I’m concerned, there is nothing more to say in this story, let it end in peace. What I’m really saying is this is the anime equivalent of Rise of Skywalker. Bleh.

Zigg’s verdict: Unnecessary

There’s basically two types of Madoka fans – people who believe the original story was perfect and would prefer it to remain as a complete work, and people who loved the world and characters it created and would like to dive deeper into them. I’m very much in the first camp, but I don’t even really think those planted in the second will gain a great deal from this. It’s technically absolutely fine, and does a good job of dressing itself up in visual and audio cues of its parent show, but that’s all it is – dressing up. No trick is ever as effective the second time round and that’s true here too.

What’s a far more fundamental problem though is that Record is missing the pulsating mystery and danger that drove the original story to such heights. There’s way too much standing around regurgitating plot points, and there’s very little immediate attachment to the characters. Iroha is kind of just there, bland in a genial way, and we’re not given any reason why we should care about her or continue watching her adventure. This isn’t an embarrassment to the Madoka legacy, but it does nothing to build on that story or try and establish itself, and as such is just completely unengaging.

Artemis’ verdict: It’s… Fine

I’m firmly of the belief that unless a show is a direct sequel to (and features the same primary cast as) the original, it should be judged entirely on its own merits. The issue with Magia Record is that this is all but impossible. Sure, most of the main characters are new and even the production staff are mostly comprised of different faces. On the other hand, there are so many call-backs to the original Madoka Magica that you can’t avoid making those comparisons even if you wanted to, from the return of Kyuubey to the nearly-identical surrealist art style. And the problem is, I’m not even sure Magia Record would work on its own as far as the story goes, since I imagine anyone going in to this completely cold would be hella confused by the events taking place.

Moreover, as far as being a follow-up to Madoka Magica goes, Magia Record just can’t quite match it in either quality or content. The former title worked so well exactly because it was unexpected – it felt unsettling to watch, but viewers didn’t necessarily know why, and that’s what made it such a gut punch when shit eventually did hit the fan, so to speak. This time, viewers know precisely what to expect (not that Magia Record is going to any pains whatsoever to be subtle about its darker side), which takes away much of its emotional impact. It’s still weird and trippy and intense and all the other things you’d expect from this franchise – just without that oomph factor that made the original series so compelling back in the day.

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