The Infinite Zenith

Where insights on anime, games and life converge

Magia Record Season Three: Review and Reflections At The Finale

“Look where we are, who will know?”
“We will.”

–Mbizi and Jack Valentine, Lord of War

Desperate to see Ui smile again, Iroha had made a contract with Kyubey that miraculously restored Ui to health, but in exchange, Iroha became more scarce as her time was increasingly directed towards fighting Witches. After learning of this, Ui, Nemu and Tōka begin investigating on their own and conclude that all Magical Girls end up becoming Witches. Knowing this, the three plan to save Iroha and subvert Kyubey’s system by making wishes that effectively strip Kyubey of his power so that they can remove corruption from Soul Gems, transform it into magic and convert this into energy so that they can continuously cleanse Soul Gems in a region and spare Iroha of such a fate. However, within moments of making this wish, Ui takes on more impurities than she can handle and begins transforming into a Witch herself. Alina’s arrival allows Tōka and Nemu to transfer Ui’s consciousness into Kyubey’s now-empty body and concoct a new plan to save all Magical Girls. In the present, Nemu and Tōka imprison Iroha’s spirit in a pocket dimension so they can continue on with their plan, causing the Doppels of all Magical Girls nearby to begin manifesting. Momoko and Mifuyu end up transferring the negative energy onto themselves in order to save the other Magical Girls; while they are successful, they perish from the effort. In the pocket dimension, Iroha encounters Ui again, who promises that so long as Iroha knows happiness, she’ll remember her, too. Ui asks Iroha to stop Tōka and Nemu from realising their plan, and also implores her to save Kuroe. Exiting the pocket dimension, Iroha attempts to talk Kuroe back from the brink. Kuroe reveals that she most regrets leaving another Magical Girl behind some time ago, and that she’s unworthy of Iroha’s kindness. Despair overwhelms her, and she transforms into a Witch, forcing Iroha to kill her. In the process, Iroha herself begins doubting herself, but Yachiyo, Tsuruno, Felicia and Sana catch up to her, reminding her that as long as they’re around, everyone can bear one another’s burdens equally. Iroha’s spirits are reinvigorated, and the five catch up to Tōka and Nemu, who had planned to merge Embryo Eve with Walpurgisnacht. Although Tōka and Nemu are persuaded, Alina appears and refuses to back down, intent on creating an entity to punish the world for having idly watched while Magical Girls suffered. Tōka and Nemu end up sacrificing themselves in a desperate bid to stop Alina, and in the end, Ui appears to Iroha and reiterates her wish for Iroha to find happiness with those who are living. Iroha is able to manifest Ui’s ability to collect despair, and together with Yachiyo, who realises she now carries the hopes of those around her, the pair kill Alina, ending the threat that Embryo Eve posed. Madoka watches on, noting that while this is a story none will know if, she’s now committed it to a record for posterity. After a two year journey, Magia Record finally draws to a close, acting as a welcome return to the Madoka Magica universe and presenting another dimension to a world that Puella Magi Madoka Magica had only begun exploring back during its original run.

Throughout Magia Record, the idea of togetherness is reiterated time and time again: Magia Record is a story of mental health, and more specifically, how it is so important to confide in others and not allow one’s own doubts to consume them. In reality, depression is amongst the most prevalent mental health challenges individuals face. The World Health Organisation estimates that around 3.8 percent of all people are impacted, and individuals report a wide range of challenges, from poor self-esteem and constant exhaustion, to poor sleep patterns and even thoughts of suicide. Despite research efforts and awareness campaigns, depression remains difficult to tackle because individuals who are affected may not recognise it as such; they may believe it to be a short-lived issue and attempt to tough it out. However, this creates a positive feedback loop that only worsens things. Outside of clinical treatments and medication, it is found that social support is a powerful countermeasure, and it is this social support that Magia Record is portraying as being vital. Iroha had attempted to bear the burden of her sister’s well-being herself and began to pay the price for her choices. Kuroe had turned away someone who had needed her help, and since then, cannot help but wonder if things could’ve turned out differently. Both are weaker Magical Girls who were forced into a corner, but the key difference here is that after Iroha reaches Kamihama, she becomes close to Yachiyo, Tsuruno, Filicia and Sana. Throughout Magia Record, it is shown that “weak” Magical Girls gravitate towards the Wings of Magius, hoping for a silver-bullet solution to their problems, but in the end, even the Wings of Magius dissolve. It turns out that a “weak” Magical Girl is not necessarily weak in ability, but rather, weak in that they are particularly susceptible to negative feelings, of helplessness, worthlessness and isolation. Left to manifest, these feelings worsen over time. However, in the company of others, one is able to talk out their problems, and no matter how unpleasant it may be to hear other perspectives, this forces one’s mind to open. In this way, company allows a Magical Girl to voice out her worries, her doubts and weaknesses, coming to terms with their own inner darkness. As Iroha learns, one’s own negative feelings aren’t a part of oneself to fear, but rather, it’s a natural part of existing, and while these feelings can appear to be insurmountable at times, having others in one’s corner help to put things in perspective, giving one the strength to accept their own weaknesses, and embrace their strengths, too. Magia Record unequivocally shows that the journey to recovery entails opening up to, and trusting others; people are stronger together, and much as how individually weak Magical Girls are stronger when fighting together and opening up to one another, people can begin their journey to manage and even recover from their depression, so long as they have the right people and resources in their corner.

Beyond this, Magia Record also portrays the dangers of incomplete knowledge. Through Nemu and Tōka in particular, Magia Record shows the consequences of applying purely theoretical knowledge in a real world setting without considering the potential outcomes of a decision. The imagery is particularly vivid; Nemu is clad in academic garb with a mortarboard hat, and Tōka is dressed in a Victorian-era outfit. The pair are presented as being particularly gifted, driven individuals who began their journey intending to do good and save Iroha, whom they perceive as having sacrificed herself for Tōka, Nemu and Ui’s sakes. Longing to leave their own legacies on the world, the trio end up conceiving of their system out of good intentions, and fervently study how Magical Girls work in order to devise a system that could undermine and bypass what Kyubey had constructed. With their theoretical knowledge, Tōka, Nemu and Ui imagined that their system would have acted as the means of circumventing the fate awaiting all Magical Girls. However, almost immediately after putting their plan into action, Ui is sacrificed, a consequence of the trio’s failure to realise a simple truth: in academia, and in textbooks, model systems are defined with strictly controlled parameters in order to illustrate a concept. In reality, systems do not exist in a vacuum, and interact with numerous other systems to create highly interconnected networks. Changes in any one component may have knock-on effects on another part of the system in unexpected ways. This is precisely what ends up happening: for all of their brilliance, Tōka, Nemu and Ui failed to account for the fact that a human vessel cannot absorb vast quantities of negative energy without this energy impacting their body. The Incubators’ own system are not reliant on human vessels and therefore are not subject to this limitation, which is how things worked for them without deleterious effects, but for Ui, the consequences are grave. Unwilling to admit defeat, Tōka and Nemu end up committing the sunk cost fallacy and believe that since Ui was already lost, they needed to push forwards in order to make Ui’s sacrifice worthwhile. The decision to do so thus paints the pair as dullards, standing in sharp contrast with their refined, intellectual attire. Here, Magia Record implies that theory on its own is of limited value, and moreover, the worth of a given academic topic will not be fully known until something is tried in a live setting. Attempting to fit the events of Madoka Magica into models of philosophy or psychology may not be particularly meaningful, because existing models make assumptions that Madoka Magica does not necessarily adhere to for the sake of a story; much as how Tōka and Nemu’s plan collapses around them, shoehorning academia into Madoka Magica means missing the series’ emphasis on the importance of social support networks and conquering problems together.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • With the truth now in the open, one finds it much easier to sympathise with Tōka and Nemu: although their plans had eventually created the Wings of Magius Cult and threatened to endanger existence, it was born out of a sincere and genuine desire to save Iroha. In life, Ui had been cheerful and kind, never holding any grudges, but she’d been born with a rare disease that would ultimately be fatal. In spite of this, Ui quickly befriended two other patients, Tōka and Nemu. They quickly became fast friends, and their days were spent reading together.

  • To busy themselves, Ui, Tōka and Nemu decided to create a legacy of sorts for themselves. This gave rise to the uwasa, the rumours. Magia Record‘s first season had dealt extensively with the uwasa, which were unique to Kamihama: Magia Record‘s first and second acts present an interesting insight on things like how misinformation propagates, and of how people are persuaded into becoming a part of a cult. Both arise as a result of individuals who lack confidence in themselves, and in their insecurity, subscribe to something big and imposing in a bid to bolster their own confidence.

  • Seeing the bond between Ui and Iroha explains why Iroha ultimately contracts with Kyubey: despite visiting Ui and her newfound friends so frequently that Tōka and Nemu count Iroha as an older sister, she can’t stand to see the sight of Ui suffering, deprived of a normal life. Par the course for the Madoka Magica universe, every wish comes with a cost; as a result of her wish, Iroha must now do battle with Witches, and over time, this commitment forces her to even cancel appointments to visit Ui and the others, even as Ui makes a miraculous recovery in defiance of contemporary medical science.

  • Iroha’s primary armament as a Magical Girl is a small crossbow: with a low rate of fire and weaker damage, Iroha is not a particularly fearsome Magical Girl. While doing battle in the hospital’s morgue, Ui, Tōka and Nemu end up following her and learn of the truth: that Iroha had put everything on the line for Ui’s sake. Like Madoka, Iroha is kind to those around her, and tends to neglect her own needs in favour of looking after her friends. Fighting Witches alone, however, does take a toll on Iroha, and seeing this with their own eyes prompts the three to begin pondering the question of how to save Iroha from her fate.

  • The point of this extended flashback was to show how behind sinister plots, lies a genuine (but misguided) attempt to do good: Ui, Tōka and Nemu had initially wanted to save Iroha (and Iroha alone) with their research. The three make a promise to free Iroha from being a Magical Girl, forming the beginning of the plan that would later extend to saving all Magical Girls. Exposition is critical for this reason: until now, Magia Record had presented Tōka and Nemu as being quite disconnected from reality, so wrapped up in their plan that they were willing to sacrifice everything to realise their vision.

  • However, once the motivations behind this plan were known, it became much easier to spot how they ended up following the path that they did. By researching the theoretical aspects of Magical Girls and Witches, Ui, Tōka and Nemu determined that Kyubey’s aim had been to harness emotions as a sort of power supply to keep the universe from suffering from a heat death of sorts. The ultimate fate of the universe remains unknown, dependent on a factor known as the density factor (roughly speaking, the amount of “stuff” in the universe). In a closed universe, matter would eventually cause the universe to collapse back on itself, while an open or flat universe might reach thermodynamic equilibrium, which occurs when the state is such that no work can be performed.

  • The principles that Kyubey works on falls apart upon scrutiny: the universe can be assumed to be an isolated system, one where matter and energy cannot be exchanged with its surroundings, and since energy can neither be created or destroyed, the implications are that any “energy” harnessed from emotions would have already been presented in the system to begin with. Attempts to try and define parameters surrounding how things work in Madoka Magica has always been something that has been met with failure, but it does serve its purpose as a plot device, a minimally viable explanation to drive things.

  • Once Ui, Tōka and Nemu figure out how Kyubey works, they make separate wishes that allow them to individually carry out Kyubey’s functions in their own manner. Things backfire within moments of the trio using their powers, transforming Ui into a proto-Witch. Tōka and Nemu end up attempting to reverse things, but fail, and they end up transferring her consciousness into the now-depowered Kyubey. This answers the question of who the small Kyubey is: it’s Ui attempting to guide Iroha, as well as how Tōka and Nemu came upon the power to begin messing with the Witches and Magical Girls system. With Ui caught in limbo, Tōka and Nemu determine they’ll have to make the most of Ui’s sacrifice, and make it worthwhile for saving all Magical Girls, hence the Wings of Magius being formed.

  • Back in the present, the other Magical Girls attempt to breach the barrier keeping them from reaching Iroha. Even with their combined effort, things prove to be quite challenging, but in spite of this, Sana and Filicia continue to put up an effort. In Magia Record, the Connect mechanic was initially meant as a gameplay element, but throughout the anime’s run, it became a fantastic metaphor for how the Magical Girls were stronger together: while the Holy Quintet have fought alongside one another previously, once their group began fracturing, in most timelines, the results were catastrophic. However, Magia Record suggests that Magical Girls who do maintain stronger bonds stand a better chance against increasingly powerful foes.

  • The fact that Magia Record had deliberately chosen to give Tōka and Nemu academic clothing was meant as a visual representation of how theoretical knowledge has its bounds, that it was folly to suppose the world worked as neatly as described by textbooks. Through its portrayal of the pair, Magia Record as a whole suggests that just because the pair were well-read did not make them more right about things, and I’ve long felt that this is deliberate; Madoka Magica was subject to unprecedented scrutiny following its airing, and I’ve long felt that attempts to force concepts like Social Darwinism, Utilitarianism and Nietzsche down the throats of other viewers were insincere.

  • While Madoka Magica may touch on a principle, the aim of literary analysis is to see what an author is making of a given concept, and how this impacts the characters’ experiences. It is not sufficient to say that Kyubey’s actions represent Utilitarianism (this is simply comprehension on Bloom’s Taxonomy at best): a useful discussion would need to consider what Gen Urobuchi was trying to say about Utilitarianism through the Magical Girls’ response to Kyubey’s explanations (e.g. individuals are unwilling to accept sacrificing themselves for the greater good when they are not presented with a complete representation of the role, and this implies that, were individuals given the facts from the start, the Magical Girl concept would not be as effective, hence Kyubey’s need for deceit).

  • Doing this would then show what Urobuchi thought of Utilitarianism (it only works if one is upfront about it), and then it raises the question of whether or not there are circumstances that justify withholding the whole truth, as Kyubey does. I note that it is possible to have such discussions without throwing –isms around: while having proper terminology is important, in a more casual setting, jargon only serves to obscure, rather than clarify. Back in Magia Record, Tōka and Nemu appear to relent from their plans upon seeing Iroha, but in the end, are compelled to follow through, believing this is the only way forward. They promise to keep Iroha safe and lock her in a pocket dimension before activating Embryo Eve.

  • Outside Celation Land, Embryo Eve creates a phenomenon similar to that of a Psycho-field, amplifying negative emotions and forcing the Magical Girls’ Doppels to manifest. Weaker Magical Girls succumb more quickly, suggesting that the gap between a strong and weak magical girl lies in one’s own confidence and resilience. A weaker Magical Girl is unsure of their own conviction and ability to do good, while a strong magical girl accepts their emotions and continue to do what they can. In this way, it can be said that individually, most Magical Girls are weak because there are doubts holding them back.

  • The faces that Magical Girls take on when possessed by their Doppel brings to mind the Noh mask that No Time To Die‘s Safin wears. Costume designer Suttirat Anne Larlarb explains in an interview that the choice of a Noh mask was designed to blank out Safin’s features, to render him anonymous and create a fear of the unknown. The mask thus obscures an actor’s face and is an attempt to separate them from their emotions, with horror arising from the uncertainty that this disconnect creates. The blank faces of Magia Record are likely cast from the same mold: as the expressive Magical Girls have their faces masked, their feelings become hidden away.

  • To embrace one’s Doppel, then, is to embrace nothingness, and to embrace running away from one’s emotions. Ironically, by distancing oneself from their emotions, one’s control is lessened. Much as how Safin is both calm and chaotic, unpredictable and purposeful, Doppels amplify a Magical Girl’s power at the expense of control, and this inevitably means lashing out and hurting those around oneself. This is something that Magia Record places a great deal of emphasis on: Magical Girls come to Kamihama because they want to be saved, because they fear the darkness within them.

  • The effect that Embryo Eve has on Magical Girls is not equal: stronger-willed Magical Girls are able to resist its effects more effectively, although in the end, the sheer raw power resulting from Embryo Eve begins affecting Mifuyu. Momoka ends up talking Mifuyu down from succumbing entirely; a friendly voice is enough to remind Mifuyu that despite the things she’s done, there remains a reason to stick around and lend a hand. Magia Record isn’t exactly subtle in its storytelling, but the choice to make certain things overtly clear is meant to reiterate the fact that Magia Record is not re-treading the path that Madoka Magica had in terms of themes.

  • Momoka ends up combining her power with Mifuyu’s in order to help purify and pacify the despairing souls of countless Magical Girls, including Tsuruno. Each of the Magical Girls at Mikazuki Villa entered with their own burdens, but Magia Record had shown how being able to spend time with, speak to and become closer with one another does wonders for everyone. Yachiyo has been shown to enjoy the company, and even Sana and Filicia open up as a result of their time here. Being a former resident, Mifuyu had similarly treasured her time here, and as such, is able to take on the surge of negative emotions resulting from Embryo Eve’s presence.

  • Because Mifuyu and Momoka are using their entire strength, the despair and doubts plaguing the Magical Girls are slowly being reversed. Encouraged by the support, Coordinator Yakumo Mitama does her best to look after her remaining charges even as everything around her begins to crumble. With everyone’s combined effort, the despairing Magical Girls are slowly pulled back from the precipice: although this had seemingly been impossible through conventional means, it turns out that the solution to overcoming the Doppel’s corrupting influence lies in support, and encouragement, from others.

  • In the second season, Kaede had succumbed to despair and became overpowered by her Doppel. Rena was desperate to save her, but Yakumo had mentioned there was no craft she was aware of that could be directed towards this task. With what’s happening now, even Kaede appears to be recovering, and Rena takes advantage of this moment to save someone whom she now counts as a friend; despite having spent much of Magia Record disparaging Rena, Kaede had genuinely cared for her, and during the series’ first season back in 2020, had become visibly affected when Rena disappeared.

  • Momoko and Mifuyu’s efforts are successful, although having given everything they had to save the others, the two perish in the process, hand-in-hand. Momoka had been one of my favourite characters in Magia Record: she reminds me a great deal of Yūki Yūna is a Hero‘s Fū Inubōzaki, who had similarly had a cheerful spirit and an older sister type role among her peers. Although Momoko was not a direct part of Miakzuki Villa, I’ve long felt that someone like her would’ve probably been an asset in keeping spirits up: when Iroha first met her, she was coordinating other Magical Girls and agreed to help her look for Ui.

  • Alina Grey is ultimately the antagonist of Magia Record: she’d been the one to support Tōka and Nemu’s plans by using her barrier magic to isolate Kamihama from the rest of the world, and, being something of an artist, Alina desires a world where things are exciting, where everyone must pay the price for idly watching as Magical Girls suffered. Much as an artist would create their own worlds, Alina fancies herself a creator free to shape the world however she pleases: with a casual and flippant attitude, Alina is only loyal to herself and helped the Wings of Magius where it suited her.

  • Despite their words otherwise, Tōka and Nemu have never been particularly convincing that they might actually listen to Iroha’s wish to see them step down from their plans; I’d gotten the sense that since Ui was lost, Tōka and Nemu began seeing their plan to save all Magical Girls as the only way forward, of setting right the world and making sure Ui’s sacrifice was not in vain. This is, of course, a fine example of the sunk-cost fallacy: even though it’d been clear that Tōka and Nemu’s goals would only result in complete devastation and fall short of achieving their actual aims, there is no going back because to do so would imply accepting the idea that Ui’s sacrifice was meaningless.

  • The sunk cost fallacy is rooted in emotion, and a familiar example is insisting on sticking to one dependency or API despite its shortcomings being apparent. The reason why this happens is because of loss aversion (failures are felt more profoundly than victories), and this is why people commit to something even when the costs outweigh the gains. Emotions play a large role in things, and this is why it is rare that people can pull themselves back out. Unsurprisingly, overcoming the sunk cost fallacy entails making decisions with others who might see things from a different perspective and help one to work out a way of backing out without experiencing the guilt or feelings of wastefulness associated with changing one’s mind.

  • Ui’s soul had been transferred into a different vessel, leaving Embryo Eve to be the remains of Ui’s old body, and in locking Iroha into the same pocket dimension housing Ui’s spirit, Tōka and Nemu inadvertently give Iroha a chance to speak with Ui again. Despite what had happened, Ui remains happy to see Iroha and implores her to stop Tōka and Nemu’s plan, as well as saving one other person who’d been forgotten amidst the chaos. This determination gives Iroha the strength to break out of the pocket dimension, and she sets off, intent on saving Kuroe.

  • Kuroe’s story is that of a tragic one, and by the time Iroha catches up to her, she is powerless to persuade Kuroe that there remain things worth fighting for: Kuroe’s been wandering Kamihama, partially consumed by her Doppel, and it is here that viewers finally learn of her backstory. An anime original character, Kuroe is voiced by Kana Hanazawa, whose roles are as varied as Garden of Word‘s Yukari Yukino and A Place Further Than The Universe‘s Shirase Kobuchizawa. As it turns out, early on in Kuroe’s career, she’d encountered another Magical Girl, but found herself unable to help her: the Magical Girl’s Soul Gem had accumulated impurities, but Kuroe herself lacks the Grief Seeds needed to be of assistance.

  • Whether or not this is true is left ambiguous, but what is concrete is that Kuroe had long regretted not doing more in the moment. This thought has since consumed Kuroe. I am speaking with the perspective of someone a shade more experienced in life: very few people can look at themselves in the mirror and say that they regret exactly nothing about themselves. For me, what matters more is how one chooses to continue despite, or because of, the choices they’ve made previously. In hindsight, saving this Magical Girl, helping her and getting to know her better would’ve been the right thing to do, but Kuroe cannot have known this ahead of time.

  • If Kuroe had someone in her corner at this time, things may have turned out quite differently. Like Madoka, Iroha is able to spot this, and she believes that it is the present that counts for something. Although Kuroe may have left someone behind in the past, Iroha is willing to help her anyways. Iroha’s heart is in the right place, but here, her kindness ends up backfire, exacerbating Kuroe’s feelings of guilt further, to the point where she fails to see any out. Kuroe was meant to represent how there are some cases where people can pass over the point of no return if they’re left alone for long enough.

  • This outcome makes Kuroe’s story especially tragic: because no one had been around to support and reassure her, Kuroe’s guilt was allowed to fester and morph into something she saw as insurmountable, when in reality, it may have been possible to turn things around and take advantage of another opportunity to prove to herself that she’d learnt and overcome this particular barrier. In the end, after piercing Alina’s barrier, despair finally overcomes Kuroe, and she transforms into a full-fledged Witch. Although Iroha ends up failing in her promise to Ui, she still remains resolute enough to do what she feels is right.

  • Summoning a dagger, Iroha prepares to impale Kuroe’s Witch form. Unlike Madoka, Iroha is a bit more decisive, more able to make tough calls where Madoka would have hesitated. However, such decisions come at a price, and after killing Kuroe, Iroha herself becomes consumed with guilt, wondering if there hadn’t been more that she could have done to save Kuroe. These feelings of doubt manifest as her own Doppel, which threatens to overcome her. Throughout Magia Record, negative emotions, of doubt, regret, self-loathing and isolation are presented as being the polar opposite of what it means to do good.

  • However, much as how the theory of yin-yang indicates that light cannot exist without darkness, optimism could not exist without pessimism, and positivity cannot exist without negativity. Rather than fearing, or running away from the darkness, it is important to accept that these negative feelings, of worthlessness, uncertainty and regret, are part-and-parcel with confidence, conviction and trust in one’s own judgement. Strength comes from using negative feelings and driving all of that restlessness and anger towards something productive.

  • While it is the case that this series was meant to embrace a different spirit about Magical Girls, life is not going to be sunshine, lollipops and rainbows. Suffering is not the main driving force in this series, which strove to show how neither hope or despair could exist in a vacuum: while the game might be a more cheerful experience, the anime represents an opportunity to delve into things that gameplay alone cannot portray. In this area, Magia Record is successful: while Kuroe cannot be saved, Iroha herself ends up finding a new way forward because of her friends.

  • In the end, the fact that Filicia, Tsuruno, Yachiyo and Sana are there for Iroha means the world to her: Iroha may have just been forced to kill someone close to her, but the regret and guilt resulting from this act isn’t her burden to bear alone. Knowing she can voice her concerns and sorrows to Yachiyo, Tsuruno, Sana and Filicia makes all of the difference, and Iroha is able to now spot that light and darkness are merely two sides of the same coin. In particular, darkness is not something to fear or run away from, because it’s a part of everyone.

  • Instead, what separates strength from weakness is one’s ability to channel darkness into light, and this process becomes considerably easier when one is in good company. Having now understood what this means, Iroha once again finds herself with the resolve needed to try and talk Tōka and Nemu out of carrying out their plan, which shifted to using Embryo Eve in an attempt to fuse with Walpurgisnacht in a bid to create the magical equivalent of a gamma ray burst, and harness this energy to free Magical Girls of their fate.

  • Considering that the events of Magia Record occurred precisely because Tōka and Nemu had been messing with powers they thought they’d understood, it is likely the case that merging Embryo Eve with Walpurgisnacht would have unforeseen consequences of a hitherto unseen scale. Having spotted this, numerous Magical Girls to turn around and make an effort to stop Embryo Eve from reaching its target. It is ultimately a combined effort from everyone, and words from Iroha, where it finally looks like Embryo Eve is finally stopped.

  • At the last second, Alina appears and attempts to fuse with Embryo Eve: her plans had been to inflict suffering of a hitherto unseen scale, and when Tōka and Nemu both begin hearing out Iroha at last, Alina reveals she’d only followed along with Tōka and Nemu because it was convenient for her to do so. Alina Gray ends up being the antagonist for Magia Record: selfish and concerned with none but herself, her wish was to have a creative space for her alone, and for this reason, her powers entail creating labyrinths and barriers. With her help, Tōka and Nemu were able to isolate Kamihama from the rest of the world, allowing for the Wings of Magius to begin their plans of eliminating Witches.

  • Although exhibiting a boisterous personality, Alina is quick to anger when things do not turn out as expected; through Iroha, Tōka and Nemu are finally convinced that their plan is not viable, and this leads Alina to attempt to merge with Embryo Eve. Finally seeing what their actions have caused, Tōka and Nemu decide that the only way to make things right is to give Iroha the time she needs to stop Alina. They embark on one final charge against Alina, to Iroha’s chagrin, and in the chaos, Ui appears to Iroha again.

  • Ui’s words to Iroha, that so long as Iroha finds happiness, Ui will continue to live on in her, is a tried-and-true means of expressing how people aren’t truly gone from the world until they are forgotten. Here, Ui desires for Iroha to be happy again, to remember the good times they’d had, but to also find joy anew. With this, Iroha imbibes Ui’s power to absorb despair from her surroundings and convert it into energy. Meanwhile, Yachiyo is given another chance to speak with her former Magical Girl allies, and while she attempts to apologise for failing them, they remind her that so long as she lives, she carries their hopes in them, too. With this, Iroha and Yachiyo combine their firepower to create a single, titanic attack that finishes Alina Gray and Embryo Eve off, ending the threat they pose to the world.

  • Magia Record closes off by indicating that it is the combination of having support from others, and finding strength within oneself, that helps to improve mental health. This is a multi-faceted presentation of a complex topic, but the final message is that adversity can be overcome with a variety of means. Magia Record‘s themes are decidedly more optimistic than those of Madoka Magica, representing a welcome addition to the franchise that shows how hope can be found even in the grimmest of worlds. This, in turn, sets precedence for what is possible in the upcoming Walpurgisnacht: Rising film.

  • With this, Magia Record draws to a close, and it is with some surprise that it’s now been more than two years since the series first began airing: two years earlier, the world had been a very different place, and I’d entered the series with no idea of what to expect. After its first season ended, Magia Record had left me anticipating what would come next, but a lengthy gap between the first and second season meant I’d forgotten about the series. The second season had continued in the footsteps of the first, expanding out the story further and providing answers to most of the remaining questions, and more excitingly, showcased the likes of Madoka, Sayaka and Homura.

  • While not the powerhouse its predecessor was, Magia Record excels in covering numerous topics relevant to the world, from the propagation of misinformation, to how cults gain momentum, and ultimately, how people are stronger together. Overall, Magia Record earns an A- (3.7 of 4) for succeeding here and setting precedence for what could  happen in Walpurgisnacht: RisingMadoka Magica has developed a reputation for being dark, so seeing the series explore more encouraging topics indicates that, despite the outcomes in Madoka Magica, Homura may yet have a chance of securing a fate where she and Madoka can find happiness without foisting suffering upon herself or Madoka, and moreover, that this solution likely comes from a combination of honesty, trust and teamwork, something Magia Record had showcased to great effect. I will be a little saddened to see Iroha, Yachiyo and the others go, but seeing the return of Madoka, Homura and a newfound determination to face off against a previously unbeatable foe is exciting. At present, I’ve got no idea when Walpurgisnacht: Rising will première, but having become a fan of Madoka Magica over the years, I can say I am excited to see how this film will unfold.

With Magia Record in the books after a lengthy two-year journey, the end narration concludes on the note that while it was a touching journey that no one will likely remember, Madoka herself will remember, and this counts for something. This closing means that the events of Magia Record was one possibility amongst countless others, an ending that ultimately would be forgotten as Homura continues on her journey to save Madoka. However, the fact that there exists a timeline where Magical Girls can find their happiness together is an encouraging thought because, if there are infinite timelines, then there must also be a reality where Homura can find her happiness with Madoka, without Madoka sacrificing herself in some way for Homura’s sake. This aspect is what Walpurgis no Kaiten (Walpurgisnacht: Rising) will likely cover: at Madoka Magica‘s ten year anniversary, a fourth film was announced, and although not much more is known beyond the fact that the original cast and staff are returning to continue the story, anticipation for this film is surely to be strong. Seven years earlier, Rebellion had left viewers on a cliffhanger as Homoura captured Madoka’s power and rewrote reality to build a happy ending for her, but also realised that, should Madoka ever find out, she would inevitably clash with Madoka. The outcome of this story has, until now, never been resolve: Magia Record appears to be a hint of what’s coming, to build the expectations that even in a universe where the odds are stacked entirely against the characters, there’s the possibility that a good outcome can be reached. Moreover, with advancements in animation techniques and technology, Magia Record would also represent an opportunity to explore increasingly visceral ways of presenting the fights between Magical Girls and Witches, or Magical Girls against one another. While Magia Record‘s story might be consigned to the annals of history, its themes and the animation have the feel of a pre-game show, suggesting to viewers that Walpurgisnacht: Rising will be a powerhouse of a journey, combining all of the strongest aspects of the original Madoka Magica series with learnings from Magia Record to, hopefully, offer a decisive finish to a franchise that is deserving of a conclusive ending.

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