Magia Record‘s ninth episode is less the initiation of a new arc and more of an in-depth character study. You might assume that it’d be one, if it is, of one of our existing cast members. Instead, the episode hones in on two new characters. One who we can assume will be important throughout the remainder of the show, and another who unfortunately definitely will not.
We begin with another “rumor” sequence. These have become a staple of Magia Record, and generally explain the episode’s central Uwasa, or the rumor that gave rise to it. This one is fairly simple, briefly outlining rumors of a literal invisible girl. Regular readers may remember that this was alluded to last episode as well. That girl is pretty important to this episode. However; before we get to her, we should check back in with the mysterious text-sender that Iroha was dealing with last episode.
Radio City Fantasy
The texter, as it turns out, is not a person at all, but an AI that has somehow gained sentience and been turned into an Uwasa. The Wings of Magius’ work, as one might expect. This is not a completely crazy swerve for the franchise given that it’s always had a few light sci-fi elements lurking in the background. It is, though, still quite unexpected. The AI-Uwasa, named Ai (both an obvious pun on her nature and also a Japanese word for “love”), wants to be defeated. She explains her situation over the course of another of the series’ lovely avalanches of surreal imagery. She’s been made to lure girls into her virtual world, called Endless Solitude, where they’re imprisoned.
The method one has to use to get to Endless Solitude is also quite something. Iroha and friends are calmly informed that one of them will have to leap, by themselves, from the top of the radio tower. The very same that showed up last episode. It’s in the tower, post-jump, that we’re introduced to this episode’s other star.
This is Sana Futaba, the “invisible girl” of the rumors. We learn in fact, that her ‘invisibility’ is the result of her magical girl wish. Even in a series that’s never been shy about “be careful what you wish for” narratives, Sana’s is uncommonly grim. Sana is Ai’s main companion, having voluntarily jumped off the radio tower and trapped herself with Ai. Ai being one of the few people (of any sort) who can still actually see her. The two grow close over the few weeks that Sana is there. It’s a classic story for this kind of thing. AI gives human attention they can’t get elsewhere, human teaches AI about emotions. This being Magia Record though, even this is played pretty darkly.
Sana’s reason for wanting to become invisible in the first place seems to be nothing short of familial abuse. The episode again buries this exposition beneath more of Gekidan Inu Curry’s fantastically strange visuals, but they only blunt the impact so much. It says a lot that Sana’s former family are portrayed not as people, but as monstrous silhouettes.
Ai and Sana all the while spend a lot of time together. The inside of Endless Solitude is portrayed as an infinitely-malleable space. It’s not hard to see why Sana would prefer it to the real world. It is also, suitably, another of this episode’s visual high points.
This being Madoka, their happiness together does not last.
Iroha’s intervention is just one thing that causes this particular house of cards to tumble down. One is that Ai, having developed empathy and a somewhat motherly disposition toward Sana, genuinely does want the girl to go back to the real world. The other is this particular episode’s shock moment. We’re introduced, briefly, to Alina Gray. A Magius who is some sort of magical painter.
The fight scene here is so brief that even calling it one seems incorrect. We do get the first in-show use of the term “doppel”, though. This being the official name for the strange half-witches the Wings of Magius can summon. Alina is quite a bombastic character, and it’ll be fun to see where she ends up popping back up. This story, though, ends as you might expect; sadly. The episode ends with Ai briefly taking on Sana’s form to embrace her. Mere moments later, Sana has to “kill” her, escaping Eternal Solitude.
The episode’s brief postscript indicates the next will see our girls travel to the nearby Kamihama Tower. That aside though, this is quite a nice little self-contained episode. If, of course, a very sad one. It’s also a positive sign after the somewhat visually underwhelming episode 8. Magia Record remains a contender for the 2020 Winter season.
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