Magia Record‘s “Are You Okay With That?” is a complicated episode. If that sounds like a mixed reaction, it is because while it’s still ultimately a good episode, “Are You Okay With That?” has a lot going on, and it can be a little hard to keep track of.
Conversely, it has some of Magia Record‘s best animation, and in a show that’s had its fair share of highlights in that regard, that’s notable. In the grander scheme of Magia Record, it does make sense. But in isolation, it’s a bit much. It’s not an episode to approach unprepared.
In last week’s episode (which we, unfortunately, couldn’t cover), Yachiyo and Kuroe teamed up to rescue Iroha from a dream world created by her Doppel. That episode served to both give Kuroe some much-needed character building and to return Iroha to Magia Record‘s main narrative.
It also reestablished Iroha and Yachiyo’s relationship, but those first two points are key here. Doppels can go out of control if overused, and they ensnare their users in these fantasy worlds if they do. Remember that because “Are You Okay With That?” without that bit of information loses coherence as an episode. Thankfully, it’s explicitly spelled out here.
There’s something to be said for letting your audience do the legwork, but in an episode that already has as much going on as “Are You Okay With That?” does, it’d have been too much.
Where Your Dreams Go to Die
Taking “Are You Okay With That?” step-by-step from beginning to end would get confusing fast. The main conceit of the episode is that Yachiyo can convince Kuroe to take her and Iroha to Hotel Faint Hope. They’re interrupted by the arrival of the Amane twins, and only Iroha and Kuroe can make it through the gate.
Furthermore, they don’t end up in Hotel Faint Hope, but somewhere “below” it. “Are You Okay With That?” promptly unfolds into a sequence of familiar faces, exposition laced with frightening implications, troublesome asides and nightmarish imagery. Also, there’s an awesome fight scene in there somewhere.
Calling it a parade of horrors wouldn’t be wrong, either. In only about 15 minutes, we’re introduced to many new twists in the formula, most of them pretty upsetting. Witches, it’s been long-established, are the final, feral forms of a magical girl who succumbs to her own misery.
In-universe, this doesn’t preclude treating them as a threat. But keeping them in a bizarre facility where they are “farmed” for some sinister purpose, as the Wings of Magius do here, is certainly awful.
If you still weren’t sure if the Wings were The Bad Guys or not, later in the episode, it’s revealed that out-of-control Doppels are isolated and contained in a similar fashion.
Like a Wildfire
And one of those Doppels, unfortunately, is a familiar face. Kaede, Rena, and a bit farther in, Momoko, all return in “Are You Okay With That?” But Kaede and Rena are first seen fleeing the Wings of Magius. Some unspecified instance of “not listening to The Coordinator” has caused things to go awry.
The caveat to that awesome fight scene I mentioned earlier is it pits Iroha, Kuroe and Rena against Kaede. Because almost as soon as she’s reintroduced, her Doppel goes haywire, consuming her and turning her into an out-of-control pseudo-witch.
What eventually stops her rampage is a “Connect.” This is a new technique Magia Record‘s introduced, consisting of two magical girls combining their attacks. This sort of thing is common in the “magical warrior” subgenre that Madoka Magica takes most of its inspiration from. Still, its presence in the series is a new development.
It’s one of the few things Magia Record imports mostly unchanged from the game it’s based on. More than just a genre homage, it serves as a solid metaphor. Bottling your emotions up, even using them as a weapon, hurts you in the long run. Working through them with others, as the Connects demonstrate, is ultimately the healthier path and leaves you stronger than when you began. Which is what the Doppels stand for.
Of course, the Wings of Magius promote the curation of Doppels. Because cults with a fascistic lean tend to not be big on “healthy.”
Hotel Faint Hope
A consequence of Magia Record‘s structure, especially in its second season, which has been confirmed to have a somewhat short length of just eight episodes, is that it flows like a single long film more than anything else. “Are You Okay With That?” is a victim of this structure more than some past episodes.
It doesn’t really “end” so much as stop. After the revelation that the person rounding up all the Doppels is none other than Mitama Yakumo (that’d be “the Coordinator,” if you forgot), Iroha redoubles her commitment to rescuing her sister’s friends, who also happen to be the leaders of the Wings of Magius. We cut to a sinister scene where they anticipate a coming “last battle,” and the ED promptly rolls.
We can fill in some blanks here. The “last battle” is quite clearly Walpurgisnacht’s arrival, heralded elsewhere in the episode by an aside in the form of a weather report. It’s also clear that the original Madoka Magica cast has some role to play here. Madoka, Sayaka and Homura show up in one scene where they, too, are seeking the Wings of Magius’ HQ. (They are — in what I think is a sly bit of meta-commentary — frustrated with how confusing they find Kamihama.)
But still, as was often the case with Magia Record‘s first season, “Are You Okay With That?” raises far more questions than it answers. What are the “witch farms” and their Doppel counterparts actually for? Where is Mami, given that she’s now the only main cast member who’s yet to reappear? Do the Wings of Magius actually have some plan for dealing with Walpurgisnacht?
Right now, it’s impossible to know. But perhaps we’ll get some answers next week.
Until then, anime fans.
- MAGIA RECORD Season Finale Recap: (S02E08) You’re Not Strong - September 25, 2021
- MAGIA RECORD Recap: (S02E07) You Don’t Know Anything - September 11, 2021
- MAGIA RECORD Recap: (S02E06) This Is Something Only I Can Do - September 4, 2021