A bit late with this post. Sorry about that. Workdays/weekdays are, as always, keeping me busy and I had stuff to do this weekend.
The plot of Magia Record is moving along. Iroha now remembers Ui and not only does she dream of her sister going to heading to Kamihama, she also figures out that the hospital she visited her was located there as well. Kyubey is doubtful of all this and argues that it’d be unnecessary and require too much power to erase Ui. Then again, this is Kyubey we’re talking about so take everything he says with the smallest grain of salt imaginable. Upon arriving at Kamihama (again), Iroha stumbles upon a labyrinth and is saved by a trio of magical girls — Momoko Togame (Mikako Komatsu), Rena Minami (Kaori Ishihara), and Kaede Akino (Ayaka Ohashi).
I am frankly finding myself feeling underwhelmed with what’s going on right now. With the worldbuilding so thoroughly developed and explored already in the original Madoka, you’re forced to focus on the quality of the characters and said characters are leaving a bit to be desired. I stand by that Iroha looking for her sister is a fine enough hook but when you think about it, you don’t know all that much about Iroha other than that she’s a magical girl looking for her sister and she really likes mopping. Meanwhile, you have the strained friendship between the newly-introduced magical girl trio which frankly feels generic right now. The direction does a good job telegraphing their closeness with one another but the infighting is stuff you’ve seen before. Tensions really starts to feel forced by the end of the episode when Kaede gets captured by a witch because her name got written on a cursed staircase. Really? This is what we’re going with? I’m sorry but it feels like such an obvious downgrade from the character and philosophy-driven drama we got in the original show.
The direction is once again, the more impressive aspect of Magia Record. One thing that I kept noticing is a lot of shots where Iroha and just Iroha is in the middle of the frame. Perhaps I’m overthinking here but it does feel like a direct contrast to certain shots in Episode 1 that empathized some sense of duality and/or showed objects in pairs. It also makes literal note of Iroha being the center of attention to the other characters — an out of town magical girl who could use some help and a factor that unintentionally reopens a rift among everyone. You do see other characters placed in the middle of the frame but I’m doubtful if there’s anything meaningful behind that. For all I know, it could be a simple way to make them look important and less expendable (hey, this is Madoka we’re talking about).
One stylistic choice that felt rather overindulgent however is during the burger place scene where the infighting among the trio happens. The holographic, cartoony images on the wall displaying messages that reflect exactly what everyone is thinking is too on the nose. They do appear briefly and sometimes even backwards but once you notice it, the scene feels far less interesting and evokes a lack of confidence in dialogue and acting, however intentional that may be. Maybe if the messages were more vague and ominous or the dialogue contradicted them in some way, it could work.
I’m kind of hoping the third episode is where things will really turn around. That was the case with the original Madoka series. Even though that had the advantage of a tonal bait and switch, it’s still possible for the writing to find its footing by then.
ED: “Alicia” by ClariS
Thanks for reading!