No Mami this time around. That’s pretty peculiar. And yeah, for all I know, she appears in the next episode. I’ll find out soon enough. Moving onto what’s more apparent in the episode.
I initially didn’t think too much about what the friendship ending staircase suggests about Magia Record‘s overarching narrative but evidently, it was a big hint of what to expect from here on out. As it turns out, there’s a whole bunch of these rumors floating around town. And while you might think Iroha would be better off spending her time investigating Toka and Nemu’s whereabouts, our protagonist decides that the rumors are her best lead instead. The idea that Ui may have disappeared because of these phenomenons is actually kind of sound but with so many rumors to look into, this endeavor reeks of a wild goose chase. I suppose it does pay off since the next rumor investigated is a Seance Shrine that lets you meet someone you desire to see and Ui does appear at the very end of the episode. But I don’t know, it feels too coincidental and considering this is Madoka and there’s nine episodes left, I suspect there’s a catch.
All this aside, I really have to ask: is this really what we’re going with? Snooping around town, investigating rumors, and hitting whatever witch or something of like that’s causing them? I must’ve already called Magia Record‘s story pedestrian before but it still stands. This just seems too basic, especially for Madoka. Furthermore, something about the plot feels off to me. Like, you’d think if these rumors really are making people disappear and magical girls are the only ones who can combat them, a lot of these would’ve already been resolved by now. I can buy Yachiyo doing her own research on the matter but has she really not tackle anything on her own already? She hardly seems like someone who’d first ask for help. It feels too convenient that Iroha enters Kamihama with a whole list of rumors for her to look into and monsters to beat up. Why, it’s almost like this story was originally for a video ga- …oh.
On the flipside, I think the characterization fared a bit better in this episode. For starters, I like the new magical girl, Tsuruno Yui (Sora Amamiya). Her feisty personality and fire-based powers are perhaps too similar to Momoko’s. This is the kind of problem that can arise when you have a large cast for a magical girl show (and when your source material is a gacha game). Still, I like how she acts as a sort of middle ground between the timid Iroha and the emotionally guarded Yachiyo. In fact, were it not for her, I doubt the latter would’ve been willing to work with Iroha. I do wonder if Tsuruno will be pretty relevant in the story. It’d be fitting since all three girls are voiced by all three members of TrySail, the group who sings the OP.
As for Iroha and Yachiyo, they seem to be developing more of a rapport now. Yachiyo still acts cold towards Iroha but you are starting to see that attitude thaw a bit with the two working together. At one point, Yachiyo even asks Iroha about her resolve to find Ui and encourages her to get stronger, a contrast to last episode where she openly called her weak. Iroha perhaps takes that advice too literally by trying to take on a witch head on and failing as a result (she really does suck at fighting) but Yachiyo surprisingly tolerates it and doesn’t reprimand her or anything. There’s also hints that the two aren’t too dissimilar from each other in terms of their goals. The final couple of scenes imply that Yachiyo is also looking for someone, a friend of hers and Tsurono’s named Mifuyu. I suppose this whole dynamic feels too reminiscent of Madoka and Homura. In fact, I expect Yachiyo to reveal a more vulnerable side of her personality in the same vein as Homura. For now, I’ll give the writing some benefit of the doubt and see where it goes with this pair.
There’s a couple signs hinting at something ominous awaiting Iroha. About a little over halfway through the episode, you have her and Yachiyo walk beside monks and maidens dressed in white and black robes. Iroha walking next to the monks in black robes while Yachiyo walks next to the maidens in white. After the fight with the witch of the week, Iroha’s Soul Gem shows some signs of corruption. At the end of the episode, you’re presented with a metaphorical shot where an apple sitting in Iroha’s bedroom tumbles down the floor. Presumably, this is an allusion to the apple of Eden. While most of the imagery is extremely on the nose, it all nevertheless suggests a fall from grace for Iroha with Yachiyo possibly being a glimmer of hope in the scenario. I do wonder what long-term effects I should expect from this. Considering that Iroha is the protagonist and we’re not even halfway through the show, I can’t imagine the suffering would be terribly permanent. I certainly don’t expect Iroha to die…yet.
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Watch Magia Record: Puella Magi Madoka Magica Side Story on Crunchyroll, Funimation, & HIDIVE
Read my Magia Record: Puella Magic Madoka Magia Side Story reviews