It was hard to imagine ten weeks ago that Magia Record would be where it is today. The show’s strong directing and thematic core make it as compelling as ever. Strong direction accentuates the visuals even when the actual technical side struggles a bit. Here is where we should mention two of episode ten’s first shots. A young Sana clutching a porcelain doll. And then, that same doll, shattered on the ground.
Porcelain on The Rooftop
Sana otherwise sleeps through the first half of the episode. A half that manages to cram a shocking amount of stuff into only about eight minutes. There’s a brief (and sadly somewhat scattershot) fight scene. Before that, we have Felicia accidentally cutting Kamihama’s power grid for a few seconds, and the reappearance of Alina Gray. Gray gets a brief moment to shine, here, actually. Her appearance is probably the strongest part of the entire fight scene. She monologues nonsensically about “art”, summons a Witch styled after a clock, and is subject to one of the show’s more out-there brief art shifts.
We also get a pretty shocking revelation, that Mami is one of the Wings of Magius. Has the character gone to the dark side or is there more going on here than we first thought? It’s hard to say right now, but this being Madoka I would not be surprised if the answer was the latter.
The real important part of this episode is actually the second half, though. Sana awakes after the Wings flee, and the episode takes a sharp left turn into the surprisingly domestic. Even warm, in spots.
Sana, unsurprisingly, becomes the newest member of the Mikazuki Villa. She’s slow to adjust. A shot early in this part of the episode shows her clutching her phone, clearly longing for her days of playing chess with Ai.
Eventually, Yachiyo convinces her and the rest of the household to, of all things, come on a shopping trip to buy mugs. This being a SHAFT series, there is of course a dedicated mug store. A store that sells mugs exclusively. Sana picks a cat mug, but I feel Felicia’s choice is worth highlighting as well. She goes for a cow. Why? Because cows are tasty. It’s hard to argue with logic like that. (In all seriousness, her idea here is that being a common dinner food means they bring families together. So it does, in fact, make some sense.)
Later that night, Sana returns to her old family home. Still invisible to everyone who’s not a magical girl, she simply hovers about while her family brag about empty accomplishments in the living room. This sequence is the episode’s strongest bit of directing, and the visuals are great here. Her family is depicted not as normal anime characters, but as a bizarre hybrid. Half-mannequin, half 1950s inspirational poster.
She leaves. On her way out, she hears other families, in other houses along the street, calling each other’s names. She is, briefly, struck with panic as the realities of her situation come rushing back to her. Then she has a revelation. If she wants to hear her own name called, all she needs to do is head back to Mikazuki Villa, her new home.
Where The Heart Is
A lot of ink has been spilled over the years at the rise of “found family” themes in modern anime. It’s perhaps not a direction expected from the new Madoka spinoff, but it’s one that should be welcomed. It is also, of course, used to a different, ambiguous end in this episode’s rather lengthy post-credits sequence. Here, Magia Record pulls a neat trick. We cut to the Wings of Magius’ headquarters. Mifuyu and Mami discuss things with two other figures who, notably, we don’t get a good look at. More important though is that after said meeting, Mifuyu heads to her own home, where a curious parallel is explicitly drawn.
The girls of Magius, much like our heroines, look out for and care for each other. The parallel is explicit enough that there are some literal match cuts comparing the life Mifuyu leads now and how things were when she lived with Yachiyo. It’s an interesting example of almost purely-visual storytelling. At no point is the idea that the Wings might not be as bad as we thought (or that something else entirely is going on) brought up verbally. It is demonstrated through the repetition of these scenes.
Which brings us to a point earlier in the episode. When we find out that Mami is a Wing of Magius, she briefly flashes back to this.
Sayaka and Madoka, two of the other original Puella Magi. They have yet to show up anywhere in Magia Record, but their presence in her memory–and who is notably absent from the original PMMM cast that have shown up so far–seems to hint at something deeper going on. Will we get answers? Time will tell.
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