Much like its predecessor, Magia Record has so very much to relate, layers unraveling what should be a simple tale. Episode five of Puella Magi Madoka Side Story progresses the story by leaps and bounds, but while doing so deepens the mystery instead of unraveling it. I was surprised this was the case until I remembered we were only five episodes into a show that has felt twice as long, and judging especially by this episode—the remainder of the series will continue to be quite a ride.
Episode five begins with the showdown between Yachiyo and Mifuyu on one hand and Iroha and Ui on the other; there’s no tension in the latter, with an understanding that it’s still too early to show what’s become of Ui; this fake Ui resembles an NPC, repeating the same phrases over and over. However, Mifuyu is much more realistic, to the point that Yachiyo is hedging her bets by saying, “Come home with me,” as if to also add, “because if you do, I’ll know that you’re real.”
Of course, she isn’t. But the fight that commences is where the narrative tension arrives, beginning with Iroha’s continued failed attempts to defeat enemies, whether witches or, in this case, a “rumor.” Yachiyo saves her from an attacking “Mifuyu,” with much more care this time than in times past, and Iroha in turn uses her grief seed (from where did she get this?) to clear up her savior’s soul gem. Unfortunately, Iroha’s own soul gem is in poor shape, and As she falls into unconsciousness, dreaming of Ui and then of a replica of herself, a creepy one that lacks eyes and other facial features. At the same time, the full rumor beast arises, but is defeated not by the magical girls but by yet another new creature.
The enemy shrine entity causes Iroha to transform into a demon that appears to be a witch; it destroys the shrine creature before it in turn is stopped by none other than Mami, who arrives just in time. The defeated entity releases Iroha’s body, which falls back to earth, at which point Mami and Yachiyo discuss what Iroha really is and what the course of action should be; unsettling memories of Homura vs. Mami should come rushing back to you at this point.
The remainder of the episode brings the action down, but the questions have now been established (or established further): Are the rumors that brought Mami to the city true? What is this creature that erupted from Iroha, and why did it come out? At first, since it arose after Iroha dreamed of Ui, I thought the new being might be what became of her little sister, but the after-credits scene shows a similar demon replicant of Kaede in her own team’s battle. What is causing this transformation? Is it a way to combat the increasing threat? And is Yachiyo part of this threat, as Mami seems to infer when warning Yui?
I don’t have an answer, though by this point I’m very much on board with the storytelling in Magia Record and believe that interesting responses and a strong resolution is on the horizon. I also assume that a few smaller questions may play big roles: an emphasis later in the episode on Iroha’s lack of parental figures and Little Kyubey’s continued guidance, as it twice in this episode indicated danger just before it struck.
I look forward to where the series is headed. Again, as I mentioned in an earlier post, Magia Record isn’t going as dark as the original Madoka Magica did—this episode was as dark as it got, and no one died (though there was plenty of opportunity and times where I thought it might happen)—but it’s sinister enough and with a story that’s so well-developed that I’ve almost entirely left behind my PMMM expectation and am just enjoying this show on its own merits, which thus far have been very high indeed.
Puella Magi Madoka Magica Side Story: Magia Record can be streamed on Funimation.