I’m finally back to reviewing Magia Record. It’s been a while since the last post, almost three months in fact. Long story short, I was sick for much of March and by the time I felt fully recovered, the show was nearing its end (for now) and Spring 2020 was fast approaching (though in hindsight, that didn’t amount to much). When that kind of situation happens, I lose a lot of motivation and since then, I’ve gone back and forth about whether or not I should finish this project or abandon it entirely. That I’ve been so-so towards the show up to this point hasn’t help in that decision making. In the end, I decided that I will see this finished. Why not? Maybe I’ll even like it enough to watch Season 2 (either that or I hate myself that much). I intended to resume at the start of this month but…I ended up sitting on this for a couple weeks longer. Why? I don’t know…
Let’s just hop right to it.
After a cheeky and meta transition to the OP (I guess Iroha, Yachiyo, and Tsurono’s voice actors exist in the Madoka universe?), Iroha beings her first day as a transfer student in Kamihama Municipal University Affiliated School. This is the same school Momoko, Rena, Kaede, and Tsuruno all attend (thus Iroha now wears the same uniform as theirs). Things start off fine though after needing to retrieve Felicia from jail after her friend gets arrested, all her classmates begin to distance themselves from her. The situation Iroha finds herself in school is meant to mirror how she starts off at the beginning of the series — lonely or at least not having anyone she’d recognize as a friend.
That part of Iroha’s character is sending mixed signals however. Looking back at Episode 1, you have Iroha being polite but not close to anyone in school, her teacher telling her the importance of having a friend, and other magical girls such as Kuroe (REMEMBER HER?) being acquaintances to her at best. All that is fine and sensible because that’s how Iroha starts off. By Episode 8, she’s definitely found a circle of friends with Yachiyo, Tsurono, and Felicia and she’s also on solid terms with Momoko, Rena, and Kaede. To have her inner monologuing about being alone or something along those lines seem at odds with the plethora of scenes where she’s hanging out with someone she knows. Honestly, her new classmates distancing themselves from her doesn’t carry much weight, especially since they’re all nameless extras. Who cares when what matters is Iroha’s relationships with the other main characters.
I do kind of like the little moments between Iroha and the others though. Tsurono offers to cook lunch for Iroha gets her to eat more of her 5/10 cooking (she also hires Felicia as a waitress in Banbanzai which is downright hilarious). The scene where Iroha retrieves Felicia from the police station is really nice. It’s sweet of Felicia that she considers Iroha the closest she has to family and Iroha very much honors that bond when she neither expresses annoyance that Felicia got arrested nor does she question about it, much like how an understanding parent would. Yachiyo has one peculiar scene where she’s calling an ally about the rumors and the Wings and as soon as she realizes Iroha has entered the room, she hangs up. Perhaps she’s concerned and doesn’t want Iroha involved? Whatever the motivation, this episode makes it clear that Yachiyo still cares about Iroha. During the climax where Iroha fights solo, Yachiyo gathers the others and rushes to her aid. After fighting, she’s relieved to have made it in time.
Since Iroha now attends their school, you get an update on what’s going with Momoko, Rena, and Kaede. After becoming a Not-Witch, Kaede has shut herself off from everyone. Rena assumes her friend is mad at her again and I find that frustrating. After deciding to be more honest with each other in Episode 3, you’d expect Rena to make more of an effort in finding out about why Kaede has been avoiding her. Meanwhile, Momoko is just there. You have a brief scene depicting her conversing with classmates and that’s it. Iroha doesn’t even meet with her like she does with Rena. It’s as though the staff at Shaft completely forgot about Momoko and then realized at the last minute that they should include a scene with her.
Somewhat annoying is that there’s about four rumors or phenomenons to keep track of this time around. First, Iroha hears about an invisible girl. Then, she finds out about a voice you can hear on your phone when you’re near Kamihama’s radio tower. At night, everyone’s phones/radios all turn on while they’re asleep and receive a signal from a mysterious voice. While all that’s happening, Iroha keeps getting spam messages asking for her help, one of them even asks if she’s a magical girl. Unsurprisingly, the signs are all pointing to these occurrences being connected. As to what that link is, one of the twins working for the Magius provides Iroha a name: Sana Futaba. If the story’s structure is anything to go by, we’ll find out who Sana is in the next episode.
To be honest, I’ve come to think Iroha is actually pretty bad with investigating the rumors. I mean, Yachiyo is the one who figured out the Seance Shrine and when it came to the Lucky Owl Water, Iroha idiotically didn’t find anything suspicious about it until Yachiyo filled her in. In the case of this episode, Iroha asks Rena and Tsurono for tidbits but never once thinks to look at Yachiyo’s case files. Maybe that’s because Yachiyo would say no but the show still needs to imply that. There’s also the part where she tries out the radio tower rumor with Felicia which only happens because the place is on the way home. Even after discovering it to be real, she dismisses it at first because what she heard is different from the reports. The only thing I can’t blame her on is not reading her spam messages and deleting them at first. In her defense, the average person wouldn’t bother looking into them. That said, it’s pretty silly that Rena is the one who notices something is up, not Iroha.
Oh and Iroha has another flashback of Ui, Toka, and Nemu that she was somehow present for. Does she follow up on it? Nope! And honestly, the flashback doesn’t tell us anything new anyway.
The last thing I want to discuss is the Mami cameo. Before reinforcements arrive, Iroha is briefly assisted by Mami during her fight against the Magius and their Witch of the week. I’m guessing Mami is keeping tabs as the Not-Witches is pretty much her only clue about what’s up with Kamihama. That or maybe she feels bad about almost putting a bullet to Iroha’s brain. While I appreciate the briefness of her appearance, it is weird that she leaves. I wouldn’t mind seeing her actually interact with Iroha. Just give me anything. I remain on the fence seeing any of the original five in this show but even so, I still want to see them involved less nebulously.
Thanks for reading!
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Watch Magia Record: Puella Magi Madoka Magica Side Story on Crunchyroll, Funimation, & HIDIVE
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