For the next few weeks, we’ll be covering (somewhat) episodically the releases of MagiRevo, one of the many isekai shows that released this winter 2023 season, but also one that, in my opinion, stands out among its competition. Why? Read on to find out! And let us know what you think about these episodes in the comments!
Those who seem the most free often feel the most caged.
That’s the theme of episodes two and three of MagiRevo. After being providentially and unceremoniously whisked away from the evening soirée in which her engagement was sworn off, Euphie doesn’t really have a future anymore. She’s tempted by Anis’s offer to stay at the royal villa and become her research assistant, but more than that, she’s lost, confused, and a little ashamed. The broken engagement fills her with dread and sorrow, like the alarm clock to a dream she doesn’t want to wake up from. Being queen was her life’s pursuit—what’s she supposed to do now that the crown’s no longer hers to wear? She can do whatever she wants, but her freedom doesn’t make the loss any less real.
Further complicating matters is Euphie’s strained relationship with her dad, Duke Grantz. From hints in episode two, it seems like the duke cares about his daughter but can’t express it well, so it comes out as overbearing expectations and strict standards, a family dynamic that many of us can relate to in some ways. Euphie was raised from a young age to take the throne: to view queendom as a noble and righteous calling that would give her life direction. But now she’s lost her map, and though Duke Grantz seems to realize how his parenting has negatively affected his daughter, he doesn’t seem to realize that telling her that she can go anywhere she wants now doesn’t help when she doesn’t have anywhere to go.
Lots of complex feelings! And that’s what makes MagiRevo shine in a season inundated with isekai shows. Euphie’s struggle is portrayed with nuance and subtlety, inviting the audience to wonder what’s next for her rather than presenting easy, fulfilling answers up front. No doubt that’s due to Wataru Watari (of Oregairu fame) working on series composition for this show: he excels at unpacking characters’ internal conflicts and teasing out a path to healing. It’s no different here.
It’s not just Watari’s hand at work here, though; the direction also helps to clue us into Euphie’s conflict. Euphie excels at acting the part of the perfect queen, making it hard for her to admit her sorrow openly, and means that no one around her notices her subtle pleas for help. It’s a suffocating situation, portrayed by intimate composition and attention to detail with facial expressions. Episode three features a heartbreaking scene in which Euphie stumbles across her former maids adjusting her wedding dress for the new queen-to-be, where their discussion of her newfound “freedom” is immediately followed by a shot of them snipping the stitches of her dress—cutting her off from the happiness she had longed for.
(Not to mention the bird imagery, which would require a whole article in itself.)
In the meantime, Euphie is staying with Anis, an eccentric time bomb whom she envies for her abundant inventive genius but also doesn’t quite understand. How can someone be so free and so happy? How can Anis chart her own path amidst the swirling conflict of possibilities she’s presented with? How can she keep her smile when the pressures of noble life threaten to crush it? More importantly, why would someone like Anis care for a “damaged woman” like Euphie?
Anis’s answer, delivered in her usual carefree but perceptive tone, is this: “If you can smile on your own, you can do what you want.” If you’re truly happy, in other words, you can be free no matter the circumstances. Freedom is the capacity to have and to spread happiness, which is why Anis reached out to Euphie—she couldn’t bear to see Euphie suffering, smiling for others’ sake rather than on her own. “Every magician should use their magic to make others smile,” and Anis is no exception, even though she lacks magical ability.
That generous love is revolutionary to Euphie, and in some sense, to the kingdom itself, embroiled in succession disputes, diplomatic conflicts, and noble-commoner divisions. Amidst all that, Anis shatters conventions with her joy and care for all and her progressive advocacy for “magicology,” a science that would allow commoners to use magic. In Euphie’s words, Anis will prove to be a “powerful medicine” for the kingdom if only the nobles can swallow her unceremonious methods. She’s already proven to be that for Euphie, whose brief moments of joy in the episode come while she’s testing the magic tool Anis made for her.
Not that everything is sunshine and rainbows. Anis is caged in her ways: she struggles with her envy of Euphie, whose magical ability surpasses all others. Anis developed magicology because she lacked the freedom to use magic on her own, so as Euphie freely draws from the riches of her magical talent to improve Anis’s inventions, it’s easy to imagine bitterness springing up as a side effect.
Still, it’s easy to be optimistic about what’s to come for this show. If MagiRevo soars, it will be on the wings of this relationship and these characters: their therapeutic and tender flight toward true freedom. And so far, it seems to be smooth sailing.
The Magical Revolution of the Reincarnated Princess and the Genius Young Lady is streaming on Crunchyroll.