If the first episode of its new season was a restatement of Magia Record‘s core ideas, it’s the second that’s a true sequel to the first season. “You’re Nothing Like Me” refocuses on the core cast of Magia Record’s first season. It picks up some time after Iroha was caught in the collapsing museum back in “A Faint Hope”. She’s been missing for a while now. As such, the episode centers mostly on Yachiyo. Who is here portrayed as desperate and direly wanting to find the Wings of Magius’ headquarters and, consequently, Iroha.
Yachiyo was a pretty hard customer even back in season one. But the loss of her found family has driven her to the brink, here. Over the course of the episode she threatens a random Magius member, Mitama Yakumo (the “coordinator” from season one), and Iroha’s hitherto seldom-seen partner Kuroe. She wants to prove that Iroha isn’t dead, but can’t do that without knowing where she is. Hotel Faint Hope, as the Magius HQ is called, offers the only possibility of finding her. (Fitting, given the place’s name.)
Little Black Wing
Kuroe gets some screentime here, too. Despite having been present as far back as season one’s first episode, Kuroe has always been something of a cipher. That doesn’t totally change here, but we learn that she’s part of the Wings of Magius now, which is more than we knew before. She’s given a mission by Nemu Hiiragi, a bed-bound girl with book-related powers and one of Magius’ leaders. An Uwaasa that Nemu herself created, in the form of a cherry blossom tree, needs taking care of. This is what eventually brings her into contact with Yachiyo.
If that all seems a bit complicated, one thing about “You’re Nothing Like Me” is that it returns to season one’s shotgun lore-dump style of plot pacing. There’s a genuine joy to be found in the tangle of fantasy terminology here if you’re a certain sort of person, but it can be a little tough to follow if you’re not.
Thankfully, “You’re Nothing Like Me”‘s climax needs no similar explaining. Pursuing Kuroe eventually leads Yachiyo to her former partner, Mifuyu Azusa. Azusa, being one of the Wings of Magius’ leaders, is not somebody Yachiyo exactly harbors warm feelings toward anymore. Their fight is “You’re Nothing Like Me”‘s easy visual highlight. In addition to getting a brand-new transformation sequence, both Yachiyo and Mifuyu deploy their Doppels here.
Both look amazing, and the art team’s approach to animating them remains compelling. The secret technique here is taking Gekidan Inu Curry’s papercraft-inspired designs and then animating them traditionally. They look even better than the first season’s, here. The painterly blues that accompany Yachiyo’s being my personal favorite. Although Mifuyu’s enormous paper bird is great, too.
It’s not all spectacle of course. Magia Record is good at really making you feel for its characters. Yachiyo has always been one of the best examples, and seeing her pushed right up to the edge here is harrowing. There is a moment where, having beaten Mifuyu, Yachiyo really seems like she’s about to kill her, and launches into a victim-blamey spiel about her ex-partner’s weakness. She stops herself at the last moment, taking control back from her Doppel half, but if Yachiyo is already in the red this early into the season, it’s fair to wonder where she’ll be later on.
The episode ends with Yachiyo finding Iroha, but not in the way she might’ve wanted. The missing magical girl is suspended in the branches of Nemu’s cherry blossom tree, and on that ominous image, the episode ends.
We’re only two episodes of eight into Magia Record’s second season, but “You’re Nothing Like Me” has already given us plenty of mysteries to chew on. Perhaps next week we’ll get some answers? Until then, anime fans.
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