This recap contains spoilers for Magia Record

Last week’s MAGIA RECORD saw Mifuyu inviting our heroines to a lecture at an abandoned “memory museum”, Yachiyo’s past returning to haunt her with visions of what appeared to be her doppel in the mirror, and the return of Touka–one of Iroha’s missing sister’s friends–as a Wing of Magius. It was a dense episode, yet, it was clearly still building up to Magia Record’s final act, an act that begins this week.

Two Reflections

The first thing we see is Yachiyo conversing with phantoms. It’s not really clear if these are somehow actual entities or simply shades of her own mind. The latter seems more likely, but it’s ultimately less relevant than what happens in these opening minutes. She’s confronted by the image of the still-living Momoko and another girl whose fate we discover later in the episode (it’s not pleasant).

Crash Course

The lecture that Touka gives covers some basic fundamentals of how magical girls work in this setting. This will likely scan at first like re-treading old ground, but the key piece of information revealed here is one that was made known to the characters at a similar point in the original series. When a magical girl’s soul gem is broken, she dies. It was easy to assume, based on the alternate continuity and the generally greater knowledge about magical girls in MagiReco’s specific take on the Madoka universe, that this was common knowledge among the characters too. That it’s not is something of a meta twist.

Playing on audience expectations of course is something that Madoka has always done, but it’s impressive to re-wire a basic piece of lore as a revelation with real emotional impact. This happens again, in mirror, with the revelation (to the characters anyway) that magical girls become witches if their soul gems go completely black.

Kyubey is the one who exposits all of this in the flashbacks, because of course he is.

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Doppelganger

If the meta level of it all isn’t enough to sell you, the memory museum sequences themselves likely will. The memories we see aren’t just anybody’s of course. They’re Yachiyo’s. Through three separate flashbacks, we see Yachiyo and Mifuyu lose the third member of their original team. (That’d be the gothic, hammer-wielding Kanae. Her minimal screentime here is the real tragedy, if you ask me.) Then lose another girl, Mel, to witchification. Finally, at episode’s end, Mifuyu appears to become a witch as well, only for the process to reverse. This is the Doppel that’s been mentioned and alluded to but not exactly explained up until now. We don’t really get much of an explanation here either, as this scene is actually where the episode ends.

That is in fact pretty much it as far as the literal events of the episode go. This excepting a side plot where it appears that Kaede reappears. She, now wise to all of this as well, seems to be a Wing of Magius herself. She shares her knowledge with Tsuruno (mostly offscreen) turning their reunion from heartwarming to heartwrenching

To top it off, she also drops the line about “the salvation of magical girls” we first heard way back in episode 1. 

The series wraps up next episode, which leaves us with a question of what we think this show is trying to do as it heads into its final hour. Prediction is always a dangerous game. It’s even moreso with a series like Madoka, which gets a lot out of the way it interacts with audience expectation. That said, I think we can draw some conclusions based both on what it’s doing and what it’s not. Magia Record clearly never wanted to just be “Madoka 2”. That’d be redundant anyway, given that the series already has a direct sequel in the form of Rebellion, one of the best animated films of the past 10 years. Even if the series does turn out to be in-continuity with the original, they’re distinct.

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Where You Used To Stand

Magia Record, like its parent series, uses the magical girl archetype to explore how the world treats the people who live in it. Here, as in the original, Kyubey’s system of “become a Magical Girl, fight witches, eventually become one” feels like a metaphor. One broad enough to cover just about any kind of bad cyclical circumstance. Poverty, abuse, and so on. It’s the Wings of Magius who add an odd twist in the formula. So we must consider the sole original Madoka character who’s yet to make even a token appearance in the series itself.

That’d be Homura Akemi. Homura is the main protagonist of Rebellion. (You could reasonably argue she’s the most important character in PMMM itself as well. But let’s not reignite that old debate). Homura separated herself from Kyubey’s cycle, in part by becoming a witch on purpose. This isn’t dissimilar to what the Wings are doing. For that reason, I think she may have something to do–at least conceptually–with what’s going on here. 

This does raise another question. Are the Wings of Magius actually the good guys? Certainly, Yachiyo doesn’t seem to think so. When she finds out where her friends went she chases after them. Full battle regalia and all. Even as she continues to insist that they’re not actually her friends. It’s maybe unsurprising that even here, as the series nears its end, that MagiReco is more questions than answers.

Anything else aside. The show remains compelling and among the best of the Winter 2020 season. What answers will the finale bring? There’s only one way to find out.

Catch up on our Magia Record recaps here!

 

 

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