Title: Magia Record: Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica Gaiden
Length: 26 x 24 minute episodes
Genre: Horror, thriller
Year of release: 2020
Maybe a premiere review post isn’t the best place to go into the deep-end on what pacing is exactly, so I’ll give the short version instead: taking time, and using that time wisely. Magia Record is not doing that. Not at all. Its exhausting opening 15 minutes or so is straight exposition, followed by a brief and tensionless battle that is cut short before more exposition rains down until the end of the episode, where barebones mystery writing adds salt to the wound.
Much of this infodumping is completely unnecessary, too. Is it really all that important that Iroha is a loner, and, if so, does it have to be conveyed through random discussion from onlookers as she dances about the classroom? That sounds like it could be interesting, but at the behest of 10 minutes of random explanations, such as three separate instances that the show tell us that she does not have parents, it seeps into boring territory.
The original Madoka Magica was no slouch when it came to long periods of overdubbed dialogue or monologues. However, that show’s writing was much tighter, blending in more nuanced emotions, finely picking its words much more interestingly, and ultimately using more vivid visuals to convey layers and layers of parallel or even perpendicular meaning. Magia Record attempts this, but it feels like lame imitation; uncanny moments like the teacher rapping her desk have some meaning but are too brusque, too menial and too tired. The direction of Magia Record’s episode feels like a tired balloon, farting out its excess worth in a desperate race to deflation, all while randomly hitting onto the visual motifs of much better series the staff and studio has previously worked on.
Even if the show overcame all of its tired delivery, the fundamental aspects scream ‘fanservice’ more than anything else. Iroha is a dead-ringer for Madoka, but the show is far too uninteresting to have me questioning whether she’s some sort of parallel universe reincarnation due to the original series’ powers (read: she’s not). Nanami doesn’t just look like the previous series’ tragic villain, Homura, but she downright acts like her too, and the show almost wink-winks that its for similar reasons. These sorts of parallels would be charming if the show could overcome the sense of frustration with which it proceeds, but I can’t detect an ounce of excitement anywhere in this episode; not from its creators, and certainly not from me.