Before I put on my writer’s cap, let me make one thing very clear: “I Had a Feeling We Could All Become Magical Girls Together,” the first episode of Magia Record‘s second season, is amazing. It’s as much a restatement of the entire franchise’s core ideas as it is an immediate sequel to the first season.
Indeed, the original cast introduced back in Magia Record season one only show up in the post credits here. In their place? Madoka, Sayaka, and, for the first time in the spin-off’s run, Homura.
The latter’s return to the franchise will get a lot of the hype here, which is fair. But it’s important to point out that “I Had a Feeling” is the best-looking production to bear the Studio SHAFT name in a very long time. Efforts like last year’s Assault Lily Bouquet have been solid.
But the combination of incredibly fluid and dynamic animation, emotive directing and the welcome return of Gekidan Inu Curry make this an easy standout. The only other thing airing this season that has this strong a visual identity is the quite different Sonny Boy.
It’s worth at least briefly considering Magia Record‘s competition. Or at least the landscape it’s entering. Madoka Magica combines the tropes and general story beats of a pulp genre, magical girl anime, with psychological and philosophical contemplation.
The result is something with mass appeal, but a ton of depth. Now, it’s true that this specific take on that idea is not as unique as it used to be. One of Magia Record‘s contemporaries, the criminally-underrated Blue Reflection Ray, is doing the exact same thing. (If not as strongly.) Only two seasons ago, Wonder Egg Priority tread adjacent territory. Last season, SSSS.DYNAZENON tackled some broadly similar material using a different genre.
In other words, “I Had a Feeling” is less something radically different than the current anime landscape, and more the rightful king returning home. In the few hours since it aired, it’s been rightly hailed as one of the best premieres of the year. The hype train is real, and there are no stops planned.
So with all due accolades out of the way, what about the recap part of the recap? You know, what “I Had a Feeling” is actually about?
First, full disclosure, Magia Record‘s second season goes all-in on Madoka Lore, so if you haven’t seen the original series, Rebellion, and season one of this show, you’re going to be totally lost.
“I Had a Feeling” is, in essence, a riff on “I Won’t Rely on Anyone, Anymore,” the 10th episode of the original series. That episode depicted Homura’s origin story as a time-manipulator desperate to save Madoka at any cost. In doing so, it explicitly showed that Homura has cycled through hundreds of time loops.
“I Had a Feeling” depicts a new one, either set before the original Madoka Magica or in a new “timeline” entirely. The key difference is simple. This is the same timeline that Magia Record‘s first season took place in. It’s worth emphasizing that it’s not a recap or a flashback.
Events play out differently, the main distinction being the presence of the ghostly apparition of Ui Tamaki. Who viewers of the first season will remember as protagonist Iroha’s sister, and the catalyst for her quest to the mysterious city of Kamihama.
It not being a flashback or recap also means all of the animation, etc. is brand new. Huge chunks of “I Had a Feeling” are a pure love letter to both the original Madoka Magica and to the fans who are still sticking with the franchise. There are enough cool little details here that I could spend the entire article talking about them.
To single out a few particular highlights, Homura and Madoka recieve new henshin sequences, both of which are excellently-done. The late-episode fight against the witch Patricia, on that same note, is the sort of thing people will be combing for eye-catching gifs for weeks.
The narrative arc here is fairly simple so far. “I Had a Feeling” is, storywise, mostly some canny welding of Magia Record and the original series, but the subtle differences in characterization are great too. Homura is not quite as cynical as the one we met in the original Madoka Magica, and it seems that her own sojourn to Kamihama will be the primary connective tissue between the two series.
Mami’s fate is another important element, as this takes place after the first season. And thus, after she’s been brainwashed by the Wings of Magius cult.
Where all of this will go exactly is a mystery, at the moment. Especially with the knowledge of a third season as well as the final Madoka movie, Walpurgisnacht Rising, on the way. A post-credits sequence reintroduces Yachiyo, here roughing up a Wings of Magius cultist who promptly spills some information about the group’s HQ.
A mysterious building that “moves around” known as The Distant Hope Hotel. A cut to the very same building reveals that Iroha’s mysterious sometime-partner Kuroe is working for the Wings as well. All questions, no answers.
Perhaps we will know more next week. Until then, anime fans.
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