Did you know? If you want to be saved from this life, saved from having to battle witches as a magical girl, given back the life you traded in exchange for the wish which Kyubey granted you, you must go to Kamihama City! This is the rumor that magical girls have been dreaming about—a way to escape a tortuous cycle. Iroha is a magical girl, but unlike the others, she doesn’t mind fighting witches. However, she is haunted by something different: the wish she requested that she can no longer remember, and a name…
It’s now been almost a decade since Puella Magi Madoka Magica aired. In that time, it’s impact has somewhat dulled. While it took the fandom by storm, like many series, later analysis has been more critical. Still, the show has legs, as evidenced by the movies that continued the original story and now Magia Record, based on a successful mobile game of the same name. As for me, my evaluation of the original series—which is that it was one of anime’s most powerful and creative shows—remains, which makes me biased when approaching Side Story, but perhaps not in the way you’d expect. I wasn’t anticipating this series and would rather it not be made at all because I don’t think its possible to replicate the originality and authenticity of the original series, and so what we’d be left with is some pale imitation that at best would be forgettable and worst a mar on the franchise’s legacy. After viewing episode one, the first half of that statement still applies—but now I believe that there’s hope that a strong series can evolve from the original concept.
The original Madoka has two halves: the introduction of the magical girl concept and the very personal fight by Homura and Madoka to save them (and each other). Magia Record lives within this same world, and new viewers will be lost if they aren’t familiar with it (episode one quickly throws around terms like “witch” and “grief seed”). Apparently, in this universe, there is no Madoka—or at least she hasn’t made her sacrifice yet—for witches still exist and the girls remain trapped. The series leans on the strengths of the story concept and the trippy witch animation (the regular animation, by the way, is excellent—there’s a nice blend of CGI and traditional). It feels like a good choice to go down the route, to stick closely to PMMM. What shis series will do is present new characters and a new story, and signs are that both could be worthy of being attached to the classic. At the very least, the energy of this first episode, where everything (the writing, animation, voice acting) is done with an earnest excitement, makes for a breezy, engaging opening. And to my surprise, I conclude with this: I can’t wait until episode two.
Magia Record: Puella Magi Madoka Magica Side Story can be streamed on Funimation.