Aniplex Online Fest: Magia Record: Puella Magi Madoka Magica Side Story - Magical Talkby Lynzee Loveridge,
It's no exaggeration that Madoka Magica changed the anime landscape. The series quickly redefined how audiences thought about magical girl stories and went on to inspire multitudes of manga and anime in the same vein. The characters were inescapable immediately following the original show's release in 2011. Regardless of what you think about the Rebellion movie, many fans continue to immerse themselves in Madoka's world, including in the popular mobile game Magia Record: Puella Magi Madoka Magica Side Story.
The new stories contained within the game's parallel world earned their own anime adaptation, this time following Iroha Tamaki as she attempts to remember and recover her sister Ui in the strange Kamihama City. Kyubey, too, returns but this time as "small Kyubey" and seemingly less nefarious than his predecessor. The enemies and magical girls are different but animation studio SHAFT made sure that this follow-up evoked the same mood as the original series.
At Aniplex Online Fest's tongue-twister panel "Magia Record: Pulla Magi Madoka Magica Side Story Magical Talk," voice actresses Momo Asakura (Iroha), Emiri Katō (Kyubey/Small Kyubey), original game producer Yūsuke Toyama, and anime producer Tatsuya Ishikawa discussed all things sparkly. Tomoyama and Ishikawa were on the same set sitting at a safe distance from one another while Kato and Asakura joined the discussion from, presumably, their homes or agency offices.
Kato has been with Madoka Magica from the beginning as the voice of the mysterious mascot, but Asakura was a new addition to the team. She didn't watch the original anime when it aired, a point she regrets, but did binge-watch the anime after she was cast in the Magia Record game.
"I wish I could have experienced the anime as it happened," she said in reference to the show's big plot twists.
Kato started recording her lines as Kyubey in autumn of 2010 after first auditioning for the part. She wasn't given any insight into the true nature of the show, only finding out the truth about her character as she received the episode scripts. She described sitting with anticipation while waiting for audiences to see the game-changing events in episode three.
Toyama, meanwhile, was a casual anime viewer. He watched the original series after a friend, who he described as not typically into anime, recommended it to him.
When it comes to Magia Record: Puella Magi Madoka Magica Side Story, everyone had different picks for their favorite moments. Asakura was especially attached to the scene where the girls visit Mikazuki Villa and pick out mugs together. Prior to that moment, the magical girls had witnessed many dark scenes and overcome multiple challenges. Asakura described the shopping trip as a moment of relief where the girls were able to bond and be normal teenagers.
Emiri recalled her first time voicing Kyubey for Magia Record as a little strange, since the rest of the Madoka Magica cast weren't at the studio. However, her favorite scene was the discussion between Touka Satomi and the Wings of Magius.
"I'm not sure if the character knows about them or not, there are still many mysteries now that Kyubey isn't the only antagonist. I wonder if Touka is pulling the strings," she said.
Toyama took time to highlight his favorite scene from the original game. The game includes both battle and adventure (story) sections. He was impressed when the game became an anime series and how the staff paid attention to the game's details, even helping Toyama deepen his own understanding of the game. He also enjoyed seeing characters get their chance to shine when they got less attention in the game itself, like Ren and Rika. Characters themselves were fleshed out more, like Mitama Yakumo's lack of cooking skills, and that let Toyama know that the staff really cared about the game. Toyama was especially blown away by battles, including the fight between Holy Mami, Sayaka, and Yachiyo.
Differentiating between the original Kyubey of Madoka Magica and Small Kyubey of Magia Record isn't always easy for the audience. Kato felt pressure recording lines as the cute mascot simply because fans are naturally suspicious of him and it was difficult to find the right tone knowing viewers were going to attempt to dissect the true meanings behind his lines.
"Sometimes the lines aren't profound and he's just responding to Iroha, but then I start to think that the viewers will think that I meant something else, " Kato said.
She spoke with SHAFT president and series producer Mitsutoshi Kubota about how to approach Small Kyubey and he told her to take the darkness out of her original performance and play the character as small an innocent. Emiri described Small Kyubey as very submissive to Iroha and concerned for her safety (whether viewers trust him or not).
Yachiyo's voice actress Sora Amamiya joined the panel briefly via a pre-recorded video to share her favorite scene from the anime's final episode. Amamiya remembered trembling when she performed the scene where Yachiyo fully accepts Iroha for the first time. The scene included both happiness and despair but we'll save the spoilers for readers to find out.
Asakura agreed that the scene was highlight and a stark contrast from the opener. The characters didn't initially get along since Yachiyo was cold and never opened up to the other characters. It was Iroha that helped Yachiyo change, but Iroha developed more as the series went on, too.
"Iroha was someone that needed to be protected, but she matured thanks to interacting with those around her," Asakura said.
There were some subtle changes when the characters made the jump from the mobile screen to television screen. Asakura was surprised at the differences between Iroha's Doppel and found the anime version "more evil looking." Iroha's personality also underwent some changes from a less reliable character to one that was a bit more mature.
"Of course she becomes more reliable later in the game, but the first season focuses on the character's past and the challenges they face now. She's focused on finding Ui and drags others into her problems, however in the anime she's more mature and always looking out for others," Asakawa said.
Toyama said that some of the changes seen in the anime made their way back into the game, such as the Witch created for Mel.
The anime's biggest change was the introduction of Kuroe. The character still has quite a few mysteries surrounding her but more will be revealed in the upcoming second season. However, those with a keen eye can pick up on the clues surrounding Kuroe in episode 13.
The Magia Record: Puella Magi Madoka Magica Side Story game launched for iOS and Android devices in August 2017, and is free to play with optional in-game purchases. The first anime season ran from January to March and ended with a teaser preview video that confirmed a second season is in the works and "coming soon."
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