Magia Record, a spin-off of the famous Madoka Magica is soon to air. But is it worth your time, or a simple cash grab? Read the two of our takes on this season’s most anticipated anime.
One of the main appeals of the original series was that a show that was originally advertised as a ‘somewhat strange but happy magical girl show’ ended up being a batshit crazy dark magical girl show. The twist was what captivated most people to watch the show, but in Magia Record, it will be near impossible to have a twist that’s even half as shocking as the original, with everyone’s expectation of a crazy sequel to Madoka. But of course, the twist wasn’t carrying this Magia’s predecessor, but it still means that this series will have to come up with a different appeal(unless it plans on piggybacking on Madoka as a quick cash grab, which is unlikely since it’s being produced by Shaft, a studio that in the bare minimum has produced shows with obvious care into them, plus this show is 2-cour).
This show is obviously going to sell; its predecessor is the 23rd most high grossing anime of all time, making $36 million in box office. It’s the most anticipated non-direct sequel of the upcoming season, and Shaft is pushing its release with countless TV advertisements. The show also looks exactly like Madoka, and although none of the characters from the previous show won’t have an appearance(at least as main characters), the character designs are obviously made to look similar enough to the previous show that you could confuse the main girl for Madoka. The character designer, Gekidan Inu Curry, is the same, the aesthetic is the same, and the show’s voice acting cast is totally stacked– the show looks extremely appealing upon first glance. However, when one takes a deeper look into the released details of the show, there are some differences between the original and this spin-off that are worth noting.
First of all, Urobuchi Gen, aka “the Butcher”, the main writer of Madoka who came up with its crazy marketing scheme, the twists and wrote other famous shows such as Fate/Zero, is non existent within Magia Record’s staff. Furthermore, Madoka’s director Akiyuki Shinbo, a director who is well known even within the western community, only plays the role of animation check for Magia Record. And who’s taking up these vital positions, director and writer for Magia Record? Well, it’s the character designer, Gekidan Inu Curry. And as far as I can tell, it’s not only his first time directing anything, but his entire career seems to be art-focused. I’m not saying that Curry has no chance to make this show good. In fact, I think it’s within the realm of possibility. But when the role of both Director and Writer* is pushed onto the original’s character designer, it does make me question this anime’s promise.
If you didn’t know, Magia Record is an adaptation of a spin-off mobile game to Madoka. I’ve played a little bit of the game, and it’s clear that the writing is nowhere near as good as Urobuchi Gen’s. Maybe it’s my distaste for visual novels, but the writing felt slow and exhausting. On top of that, the limited 2.5D animation and limited facial expressions really made the whole read amateurish, but with this anime’s visuals, at least there will be something interesting to look at while consuming the story.
It’s already a well-known fact that mobile game anime adaptations end up being complete garbage most of the time, but maybe Shaft will outdo themselves again, and on top of the strange staff arrangement, they’ll create a genuinely good product. I mean, the visuals look pretty good, and the main dark appeal of Madoka seems to be there. But for now, it’s probably best to lower your expectations for this show.
*On top of director, writer and character design, Curry is also in charge of series composition. And looking at the things he worked on for Madoka Magica, he’s probably going to be working on special effects and background art as well. Maybe Curry was inspired by Birdman’s Riggan Thomson, because this is starting to look like a one-man product.
A spin off to the ever-popular “Madoka Series” is bound to keep people excited for next season. Just by looking at the trailer, you can easily see the reasons for why people are excited about this new 2-cour show. First, the visuals look stellar and is essentially a replica of the original show. Certainly the visuals don’t seem as though it will let its loyal fans down. Shaft’s signature animation and colors – the mixing in aspects of realism and animation along with the unique atmosphere that the distant, almost otherworldly colors create – is so noticeable within the trailer and seeing it here makes my heart race with excitement. The music in the show seems impeccable as well. The trailer features an orchestral composition in the trailer which reminds me of the BGM in the Monogatari Series or other Madoka shows. With ClariS in charge of what seems to be a good ED in the trailer and TrySail in charge of theOP, the music does not seem to be something to be worried about. Moreover, the show’s cast is stacked with big name voice actors such as Sakura Ayane, Ogura Yui, Amamiya Sora and Hanazawa Kana and more, the show may even draw viewers just because of fans who are interested in hearing their voices in Madoka. Of course, with such a successful prequel it’s understandable why they would go all in with the cast. After all, the name Madoka itself with draw viewers automatically.
However, what I worry about thought is none of these aspects; what may be lacking is the story and the inability to follow up with its prequel. First, none of the cast that made the original show good are still here. Second, it is a game adaptation. For example, director Shinbou Akiyuki, who directed the original Madoka is now there with the role of “Animation Check.” The writer or the original Madoka, Urobuchi Gen is also nowhere to be seen. What I’m afraid of in this situation is the possibility of this show also going through the tragedy which psycho-pass went through. Psycho-Pass was another show which had unbelievably high reviews with a very loyal fanbase. However, with Urobuchi Gen getting off the series in the second season, they ended up creating one of the worst sequels in animation history. But that’s not to say the show will be bad. The director of the show has worked on many other shaft shows with character designs, background art, art director, and more. Because he has worked on the original Madoka as the character designer and key animator, he most likely has a good grasp of the show and the direction it needs to head towards. So even though this is his first work as a director, I’m very excited to see how he does with the new show. Having never played the game, I can’t judge whether the game’s story is good or not, however, seeing FGO or Bang Dream’s adaptation, I’m doubtful a good game adaptation can even be created. Hopefully Shaft gets it done.