Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica Series Series Review

Anime Hajime Review: Magia Record: Mahou Shoujo Madoka☆Magica Gaiden

Original Run: January 5, 2020 - March 29, 2020
Number of Episodes: 13
Genre: Drama, Magic Girl, Thriller

To read my Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica review, please click HERE.

***Warning, the following may contain spoilers for Magia Record: Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica Gaiden. Reader discretion is advised.***

Series Synopsis

To gain the fulfillment of a single wish, one must agree to become a magical girl and fight a never-ending war against terrifying monsters known as Witches. Regardless of the magnitude of a wish, the life of a magical girl quickly becomes a nightmare.

This is the story of one such girl name Iroha Tamaki (voiced by Momo Asakura).

Along with her mission to battle Witches, Iroha is on a quest to find her lost sister. Her search eventually brings her to the mysterious city of Kamihama, where enemies are unusually strong. There, Iroha learns of a rumor that suggests a way for a magical girl to break free of their deadly fate. However, much like the granting of a wish, not all is as it seems.

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Series Positives

If you have not seen the original Madoka Magica series or the film trilogy, then you best put Magia Record: Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica Gaiden (Magia Record) out of your mind until you do. This show was also based on a mobile game of the same name, but I didn’t learn that until after the fact, and I did just fine. So long as you are familiar with the franchise, you should do well with this one. At the very least, you’ll have enough information to form some conclusions.

First, here are three points of emphasis:

  1. I was excited and intrigued to get a Madoka Magica follow-up finally.
  2. The first series was much, much better.
  3. I am interested in seeing where Magia Record Season 2 will go.
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Above all else, this show felt like it belonged in the franchise. There was no question that this was a Madoka Magica spin-off-sequel, and that, surprisingly, carried a lot more weight than I expected. After all, we have to remember what the original series was.

Madoka Magica was a thoroughly well-done deconstruction of the typical magical girl formula. It explored and twisted the classic tropes of the genre and gave the usually upbeat positive nature of these sorts of stories a much darker spin. Mix that with an excellent story and brilliant visuals, it is no wonder the first show was a massive hit. Therefore, it would have been evident if a second installment wasn’t given an equal amount of effort. As such, Magia Record was a proper companion piece in many areas.

By the way: Not only was this a Madoka Magica series, but Magia Record was also a Shaft series. Thus, there was an expectation when it came to visuals.

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To put it bluntly, Shaft productions are usually a trip. Remember, this is the same studio that gave us the Monogatari franchise, and those fingerprints were all over this show.

Shaft relies heavily on its visuals to tell its stories, something I am always in favor of seeing. Accordingly, Magia Record’s was a visually-driven narrative as well. The artwork alone was enough to dictate the atmosphere of any given scene. Typically without a single word of dialogue, a real sense of tension and trepidation permeated throughout this series. This was especially true whenever the show entered a Witch’s layer.

To give away what I plan to talk about in the next section: Had Magia Record’s animation been any less than it was – and if it didn’t carry the Madoka Magica name – I would have found it to be far less engaging. Luckily, since the visuals were as phenomenal as they were, that kept me from losing focus, which, in turn, allowed me to notice something else about this show.

The characters were pretty good.

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Now, was this cast as memorable as the one from the original series. Of course not, and I think this show knew that for reasons that I don’t want to spoil. Again, it needs to be said that Magia Record’s characters felt as though they existed in the world of Madoka Magica, with Iroha Tamaki being the best example.

To compare, Iroha was similar in temperament to that of the titular Madoka Kaname from the first series. They were both kind, friendly, and loyal to their respective groups. Where they differed was in their willingness to take action. Iroha was never hesitant to fight whenever it was inevitable. For her part, Madoka was always unsure of herself and took a long time to come to a course of action. Be that as it may, and this was the sticking point Magia Record could never get out from under. Madoka’s story had a lot more life than Iroha’s.

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Given their circumstances, it was to Madoka’s benefit that she was as timid as she was. After all, she resisted becoming a magical girl, and thus, never needed to hold her own in a fight. Iroha, on the other hand, was a full-fledged magical girl, and from what I could gather, she had been one for some time. Despite that, in almost every battle she was in, someone had to get her out of trouble. Iroha, in other words, was dead weight and got in the way.

I’m standing by what I said. Magia Record may have looked and felt like it was apart of the Madoka Magica universe. Unfortunately, Magia Record forgot to include the one thing that made Madoka Magica so great – a story.

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Series Negatives

Recalling Madoka Magica for a moment: The series, as a whole, was as solid as could be. However, its ending was a bit underwhelming, overly complicated, and if I’m being completely honest, hard to follow. It was the weakest part of the original.

Considering that, what would happen if we took the worst aspect of an otherwise outstanding series and convert it into its own story. The result would be Magia Record. Nothing actually happened in this show; it was more like a collection of thinly connected events.

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It was a while before I figured out when Magia Record took place. For most of this series, it could have gone three different ways – before, during, or after Madoka Magica. Hopefully, to give you a better context should you decide to watch this show, everything occurred after the original. And to be more precise, this story was set after what took place in the third movie, Rebellion.

How does knowing that help us? In the long run, it doesn’t. If anything, it hurts Magia Record because it meant that this series didn’t serve much of a purpose other than being an incredibly convenient retelling of Madoka Magica. Seriously, it was astonishing how many things just existed when they need to be there.

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Granted, calling this show a “retelling” isn’t entirely accurate. This series didn’t have anything close to the same emotional impact as its predecessor, and there was no ever-present feeling of impending doom. The label of “retelling” has more to do with how Magia Record’s big reveal was the same one from Madoka Magica – discovering the true nature of the Witches, and that was the most substantial aspect of this narrative. Upon seeing that, suddenly, no one’s motivations made sense. There was no longer any goal to work towards achieving.

Earlier I said that I am looking forward to Magia Record‘s second season. My excitement comes less from wanting to know what will happen next and more from the possibility of Magia Record 2 being a proper sequel to Madoka Magica.

Sadly, since this series is based on a mobile game, it’s hard to say whether we will get any sort of resolution. The first show was an original production, so that allowed it to have a full story arc. That same flexibility doesn’t exist with Magia Record, and it could suffer because of it.

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Final Thoughts

I’m not sure what to do.

This series was well made, but poorly told. The same outstanding animation and music that existed in the original made a return. The characters weren’t as memorable as their predecessors, but they fit comfortably within the same universe.

Therefore, I think this comes down to a gamble. How will season two pan out? If there is a satisfying conclusion, then this installment would be worth checking out. That’s a pretty big “if,” though.

But looking at this as a stand-alone series, I can get behind it. Unless something drastic changes in the future, Magia Record: Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica Gaiden can be skipped.

But these are just my thoughts. What are yours? Have you seen this series? How would you advise Magia Record: Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica Gaiden? Leave a comment down below because I would love to hear what you have to say.

And if you liked what you have read, be sure to follow me on my social media sites so that you never miss a post or update. Also, please share this review across the internet to help add to the discussion.

I’m LofZOdyssey, and I’ll see you next time.

10 comments

  1. 2 things.

    First one being is how madoka is often called a deconstruction of the magical genre is actually incorrect since if you took the time to look at and watch magical girl anime and look at their underlying themes then most would or have become to realize madoka as a series didn’t deconstruct anything and does play like an actual magical girl anime. Even the dark elements in it have been done by others that have existed in the magical girl anime genre. Just ask yuji asada one of the writers of a certain magical girl series and us known for Pokemons darker themed episodes nd dark atmosphere in some of the games.

    The other thing is to answer your question, yes magia record is a mobile game spin off and keep in mind this is not the first spin off as there 2 or 3 manga spin offs of madoka as well, magia record being a mobile game that is doing well but it’s hard to say if there will be an actual ending since money talks, the reason the stories feel thinly connected is cause the stories they are base on in the mobile game are a lot more detailed which add to the connection better, most of the resolutions did feel rushed and even the whole mami 2nd transformation was a odd choice primarily due to the fact that form she had was holy mami. A version of mami that existed in a non canon event for Christmas. Yeah that mami was a Christmas event transformation. As for where magia record exists in the timeline well it doesn’t exist in the timeline. Apparently the idea is that madoka can see the various multiverses of the franchise which is why these spin offs can get away with using the original cast without affecting the original story or 3(technically 1) movies. Magia record is a timeline that’s become a singularity where something was so drastically changed that god madoka can’t interact or interfere with it. So the magia record versions of the original cast are there including madoka but they aren’t the exact same characters we know due to events changing in this timeline.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Interesting thoughts.

      I do have to disagree with you saying the original series wasn’t a deconstruction. I will stand by the notion that it was because it embraced and fully displayed the darker elements of many magical girl stories. For instance, Sailor Moon had plenty of scenes that were incredibly disturbing, but still, many people would still consider it a show suitable for younger audiences. I doubt there would be a lot who would do the same with Madoka Magica, which was as good as it was precisely because it played out as a magical girl narrative that just happened to be told from a more sinister point of view.

      To your second point, it does appear you are confirming what I thought was wrong with Magia Record. If the stories were better explained in the mobile game, great. Too bad that doesn’t do the anime any good. Especially since this series was more than happy to directly reference the original.

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      1. You do know there was attempted incest, a middle school girl dating a college man although not the only time underage girls tried dating men at adult ages, the amount of times each of them died, on occasion being stripped naked, and even one of the first few anime and manga to have its first lesbian couple and transsexual characters.

        Sailor moon literally had a lot of the stuff that madoka is using as did every other magical girl. The difference much like how you can compare magia record and the original madoka is the one who wrote the story far as original madoka goes gen urobuchi wrote it and that’s a guy whose known to be a great writer and it helped that shafts animation made it stand out as well as that music track that’s been used in other properties.

        It’s really not a deconstruction you just have to be able to realize why magical girls have always had this sense of dark yet hopeful atmosphere to them. Hell even madoka for all the attempts at being dark had the hopefulness under it all too.

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        1. Sailor Moon used themes of hope, love, and kindness to push its characters forward. In Madoka Magica, those were the emotions that led its magical girls down the path to their own doom.

          I would also argue that Madoka Magica hopefulness wasn’t as significant since Madoka Kaname had to give up so much in the end. And that’s not even considering what happened at the end of the third movie.

          And I’m saying many consider Sailor Moon more suitable for younger audiences is because people, in Japan, at least, do; despite everything that happened within its story.

          Madoka Magica’s deconstruction, or if we want to use another word, interpretation of a magical girl story was not to hide those more adult themes. Displaying the darkness and not trying to hide it with hopefulness was a huge aspect of this series’s power.

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          1. They never did hide that both the hopefullnes and despair aspects are in every magical anime. Madoka presents hopefullness while homura represents despair. The 2 go hand in hand for any magical story in the same way each magical girl story is representative of how the girls involved grow up or have to face adulthood. In the case of madoka it can be argued that the magical girls denied their adulthood which is represented with the original 5 girls.

            Madoka took the darker visual but thay never altered or deconstructed what magical girl anime were and still are. Again you need to watch and see for yourself that those lighter tones you’re talking don’t hide the dark tones they always had.

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            1. If we are bring in Homura as the representation of despair, then I assume we are referencing the third movie. In that case, that is the biggest difference between most other magical girl stories since hope did not win out in Madoka Magica.

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              1. No no, homura was always that representation of despair and desperation.

                Hell this video even helps explain how madoka is not a deconstruction of the magical girl genre but a story on the idea of false maturity where the girls of madoka became magical girls as a way to skip the struggles of life that other magical girl anime still go through

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                1. Link is not working.

                  Yes, thanks for better explaining my point. What you just said is Madoka Magica’s deconstruction of a magical girl story. This series was more despairing despite using the same themes in other magical girl stories.

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                  1. That’s not a deconstruction not did anything I said prove your point again I’m telling you need to actually look at magical girls to know madoka is not a deconstructoon

                    Like

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