Vrai, Mercedez, and Alex celebrate the 10th anniversary of the industry-changing magical girl anime, Puella Magi Madoka Magica, with a rewatchalong!
Date Recorded: March 28th, 2021
Hosts: Vrai, Mercedez, and Alex
0:01:31 We’re OLD
0:10:09 Past experience
0:18:30 Simulcasts, seinen, and seminal status
0:25:18 Dark and/or menified magical girls
0:29:01 Mami and the episode 3 twist
0:40:47 Sayaka’s soul
0:50:56 Bodily autonomy and horror
0:58:58 Back to we’re old
VRAI: Hello and welcome to Chatty AF, the Anime Feminist podcast. I’m Vrai. I’m a managing content editor and contributor at Anime Feminist. You can find me on Twitter @WriterVrai, where I post my freelance stuff. And you can find the other podcast I cohost about trash media @trashpod. And with me today are Mercedez and Alex.
MERCEDEZ: So, hi, my name’s Mercedez. I am an editor at Anime Feminist, and I’m also a Japanese-to-English localization editor, proofreader, and QA. I wear a lot of hats. I do a lot of pop culture writing, and you can find the podcast that I host at @shovelcast on Twitter. It’s a School-Live podcast, so… yay!
ALEX: Cool. Hello, everybody. I am Alex. I’m a contributions editor here at AniFem. In my daytime life, I am a researcher and soon-to-be PhD-haver. You can find me on Twitter, where I link my writing and various ramblings about books and anime and all that sort of fun stuff, @TheAfictionado.
VRAI: Whoo! Good job, team. Today, we are finally getting around to a podcast that I think we’ve been kicking around the idea of since the site started, but it felt especially apropos now because we are officially in the tenth anniversary of the incredibly influential magical girl series Puella Magi Madoka Magica.
VRAI: [crosstalk] Yay.
MERCEDEZ: God, can you believe that this series is a decade old? I was a freshman. I was a freshman when this came out, in college.
ALEX: Ah, yes, the passage of time.
VRAI: It’s rough.
ALEX: Just this very morning, I saw an announcement for the Anohana tenth-anniversary celebration, and I had a moment of… Oh! That was a decade of my life ago? Okay. [Chuckles] Okay!
VRAI: Yeah, no, it’s fine. It’s all… It’s fine.
MERCEDEZ: [Chuckles] You sound like that dog that’s sitting in the fire in that meme.
VRAI: Yeah. I mean, I already kind of had my moment because I actually watched Madoka a couple months after everybody else because I was busy watching the second cour of Tiger & Bunny as it aired. And they announced that season 2 a few months ago.
MERCEDEZ: Wait, I’m sorry. Excuse me. Excuse me. Time for a breakdown. Is Tiger & Bunny a decade old?
VRAI: Yeah, it aired in winter and spring of 2011.
ALEX: Oh my God. [Laughs]
MERCEDEZ: Wow. Wow. Wow. Winter and spring 2011 really came for the gays, the bis, the queers, the lesbians. It came for all of us! It came for all of us!
VRAI: [crosstalk] It was a powerful season.
MERCEDEZ: Oh, wow! God! Jeez! [Chuckles]
VRAI: As you can tell, everybody on the cast today has already seen Madoka once. There are people out there who haven’t, but it’s a little hard to find, so this is one of our rewatchalong-style podcasts. If you want folks watching it for the first time, I believe the Me & Utena podcast did a side trip to their first time watching Madoka, so that’s a little bit more of a fresh newbie take.
We will, however, be following our usual rewatchalong rules, which is that while we may allude to stuff that happens in later episodes, we will keep the discussion to stuff we watched for this week, which was episodes 1 through 6, and won’t include any major spoilers. So if you are in fact somebody who waited for the AniFem podcast to try Madoka for the first time, you’re good.
VRAI: Some basic background info before we get into it. As I mentioned, Madoka Magica aired in winter 2011 from January through April. It was a little bit delayed. The last two episodes were held off because of 3/11, which was the 2011 tsunami that hit Japan. The studio had production delays, obviously, but it was also because of content issues that they held off on airing the finale for a little longer.
MERCEDEZ: Yeah. Which I will say as someone—I guess this is a weird thing to connect—as someone who actually lived in Fukushima for four years and visited the coast frequently, I fully understand why they held off.
VRAI: Yeah, I think it was the respectful thing to do.
MERCEDEZ: Yeah, it absolutely was. There was a lot of outcry at the time from American fans about “Mm, my animu’s late!” but—
VRAI: “My animu!” God.
MERCEDEZ: —they did the right thing, absolutely.
VRAI: Mm-hm. Yeah. This series has four major figures that get talked about as part of the creation of its design, known as the Magica Quartet. It was co-directed by Miyamoto Yukihiro, who worked predominantly on the Zetsubou-Sensei sequels, and Shinbo or Simbo—as Anime News Network notes is his preferred romanicization—Akiyuki, who is one of the cornerstone directors of Shaft Studios, the production studio that is… They were famous before Madoka, but now they’re the Madoka studio.
MERCEDEZ: I was gonna say, they had a lot before Madoka. Let’s give them some props.
VRAI: And Simbo is part of that reason because he also directed Bakemonogatari, which was arguably the series that shot Studio Shaft into stardom. I think people like Tsukuyomi, but it’s not like juggernaut success in the same way.
MERCEDEZ: Yeah, Bakemonogatari is—and I say this knowing that I’m absolute garbage for kind of liking Bakemonogatari because it’s got capital Problems.
VRAI: [crosstalk] Nah.
MERCEDEZ: It’s good! It’s good.
ALEX: Mercedez, don’t even worry about it, because we’re going to be talking about Urobuchi, head writer for the show, Urobuchi Gen. So at some point, I’m going to mention that I used to really, really love Fate/Zero and the Fate franchise. And I still kind of do, so don’t worry. [Chuckles]
VRAI: Oh, man, I was really ready for you to say Song of Saya, my dude!
ALEX: Nope. No, no, no. Not that deep. [Laughs] Though…
MERCEDEZ: [Laughs] Oh my God.
VRAI: Yes, in one of the few cases where the series composer is more associated with the series than its director among anime fans, this was written primarily by Urobuchi Gen, who is best known for Fate/Zero and now, afterwards, for Psycho-Pass, although before this he had primarily done a lot of work at the game studio Nitroplus and Nitro+chiral. Nitro+chiral… it’s BL.
MERCEDEZ: It’s got that good DMMD! [Chuckles]
VRAI: I can’t remember—
MERCEDEZ: Wait, is that good or am I lying to myself?
VRAI: Listen, I really like Dramatical Murder. I really have a soft spot for Nitro+chiral shit, but it has—to use your phrase—uh, problems.
ALEX: Yeah, so we’re all in the quote-unquote “problematic” dirt. It’s okay. Nothing here is cringe. Nothing here is trash. We’re all in a safe space. [Chuckles]
VRAI: It’s fine. And to round out the four we have Aoki Ume, who was the character designer. And this is kind of her main claim to fame.
MERCEDEZ: Really? This is what people know Aoki Ume for? Does Hidamari Sketch get no love in this world?
VRAI: I mean, other than taking up maybe two pages of the Sentai catalog, I don’t think it ever hit quite as big in the West. I know its fans are quite devoted.
MERCEDEZ: Am I the only American with taste on this planet?
VRAI: I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.
MERCEDEZ: It’s okay. It’s okay.
VRAI: Yeah, so, Madoka… We’ll get more into it as we go along, but suffice it to say, if you’re a younger fan, Madoka came at this very odd juncture where it was at the end of the moe boom of the 2000s that had kind of petered out and died off. We were still kind of in the point where you saw some two-cour original series, but it wasn’t as common, whereas nowadays one-cour is basically the given unless it comes with a really famous production staff. There is Before Madoka and After Madoka. I really can’t emphasize enough how much this series impacted.
MERCEDEZ: This series codified an entire subgenre of magical girl shows that we are still seeing now. It’s amazing.
VRAI: Well, “amazing” is a word.
MERCEDEZ: And when I say “amazing,” I don’t mean that positively necessarily, y’all. I’m just saying it’s amazing.
ALEX: It’s a complicated brew that I’m sure we’ll get into.
VRAI: I think a decade out, it can finally almost be time to just look at Madoka as a series in what works and what doesn’t, and not just with the simmering resentment for all of the lesser followers that it spawned. Which I’m sure is how mecha fans feel about Eva.
MERCEDEZ: Probably so. I would have to imagine. I would have to, absolutely. Or maybe how I feel about Love Live.
VRAI: I’m sure it is! I am sure that that is similar.
MERCEDEZ: Come into my DMs. You know me, y’all. Pop in. I’m ready. I’m ready. I’m sticking to that. Anyway.
VRAI: All right, so when did you two originally watch Madoka?
ALEX: Well, we have established I’m the baby of the AniFem family, at least on the staff, so this will really cement that. I was in year 11 when this came out, which is the 11th grade to you foreigners.
MERCEDEZ: Oh, God!
ALEX: Yeah. So this is really interesting, because this was me still being very much A Teen (TM), but also me getting much more into looking at media critically and really unpacking themes and characters and writerly tendencies that I found really interesting and why they did or didn’t work.
So, I will confess for a hot minute there, my baby self got caught up in “Wow, this is so cool and deep and dark! And the themes of heroism and idealism!” Which then kind of looped in on itself like an ouroboros. A couple of years later, I was like “Man!” Yeah, the simmering resentment came.
And as I alluded to before, the first cour of Fate/Zero also aired, end of 2011, going into 2012. And as anyone who has followed my blog presence from, I want to say, about 2013 to 2016 will know very well, I developed a very storied love-hate relationship with his work, again, particularly Fate stuff, but also Psycho-Pass going onwards.
Honestly, as a slight tangent, he’s a really interesting writer to have followed because, as you said before, Vrai, he started off in that Nitroplus, weird, kind of deep, dark, and gritty stuff. But now he’s working on Godzilla and Thunderbolt Fantasy and things that I understand are much more lighthearted. I don’t know. I don’t want to make speculations about his personal life, but I kind of have to wonder. I’m like “Are you good, man? Did you get something out of your system? Are you doing much better now?” [Laughs]
In any case, Madoka is a series that’s very special to me, and it’s a really interesting one to rewatch every few years, because it says something different to me at each stage of my life that I return to it. And yeah, I have some fun milestones associated with it. For example, the first paid feature article I ever had was that dark magical girl piece that I wrote for you guys way back in 2017.
MERCEDEZ: Oh, wow!
ALEX: So yeah, Madoka is very much part of my journey as a media critic, I suppose, and I love it a lot. If anyone knows me from that 2017 article and is worried that the Madoka hater has logged on, no, no, not at all. I really love this series. I acknowledge that, yeah, it exists in a complicated space, but I’m ride-or-die for this series. I care for it a lot. So that’s me. That’s me and Madoka.
MERCEDEZ: Oh, neat! I like that, though. That’s interesting. So I watched Madoka week by week. And yeah, I’ll admit: I was in college; I didn’t watch it legally. I work in localization now. I was vice president of anime club. We watched it probably on Kissanime. But we watched it weekly.
And I remember, because I didn’t grow up watching a lot of magical girl shows… Like, I’ve never seen Sailor Moon. I’ve never seen Cardcaptor Sakura. Because I hadn’t grown up watching a lot of magical girl shows, but I read a lot of magical girl manga, Madoka kind of codified a lot of tropes in the genre in that first inaugural watch when I saw it in 2011.
I also just want to say, I love this series. I have a lot of passion for it. I’m also very willing to critique it as an adult. But it was really influential for me afterwards. It kind of kicked off and reignited this passion for magical girls that I had. I had been into a lot of magical girl warriors. I was really into Magic Knight Rayearth. I went through a really big Mermaid Pichi Pichi Pitch phase.
ALEX: Yes! God, I love that series. [Chuckles] It’s so cute.
MERCEDEZ: It’s a good series, and it’s also very dark. But Madoka was so hyped at the time that I was fully on board, watching week to week. The twists that are kind of infamous for the series, all of those things really appealed to me. When I saw it in 2011, I was a freshman in college, and I was also under the impression that I was het, so…
MERCEDEZ: It was a very different—
ALEX: [crosstalk] A different time.
MERCEDEZ: It was a very different time for Mercedez, y’all. [Chuckles] And so, this show became this very powerful thing because—I’m just gonna say it outright—Madoka is a very queer show. I feel like in this show, you either die het or you live long enough to become a magical girl bi. And that’s the two routes you have.
VRAI: There are also lesbians.
MERCEDEZ: Oh, okay. I’m sorry. Don’t want to erase my sapphics. Because, yeah, it’s just this inherently powerful show about girls and women. But I think, like Alex, my point of view on it has changed as I’ve gotten older. But yeah, that’s my little background. The OP and the ending slap, still. Those are good, so good.
ALEX: The soundtrack is so good.
MERCEDEZ: Always good. Sweet taste! Great taste.
VRAI: It is fantastically made. One thing that can never be taken away from Madoka is how absolutely perfectly constructed it is at every step, my God.
MERCEDEZ: The sound design is wonderful. And I know we’re about to get into this. I just have to say the opening of the show has this beautiful no-music, just ambient sound design, and it’s so good. And it’s very emblematic of how excellently constructed a lot of things in the show is—are. Are.
VRAI: Is, are. Words are hard.
MERCEDEZ: I mean, you know? [Chuckles]
ALEX: What’s your Madoka origin story, Vrai?
VRAI: I actually… I feel like I always missed out by not having as nuclear, strong feelings on Madoka as everybody else, because I came to it…. I was a junior in college when it aired and, like I said, I was watching… Tiger & Bunny was the show that I was watching week to week.
MERCEDEZ: Hoh! Hoh!
VRAI: By the way, enjoy that, the gap between episodes 24 and 25, the week-long gap!
MERCEDEZ: [crosstalk] Jesus. Brutality.
VRAI: So I did not go through what I assume must have been the brutal experience of the weekly cliffhangers. I binged it all at once a couple of months later.
MERCEDEZ: Yeah. And I guess, too, you avoided… When the show went on its rightful break, you avoided that gap between episodes 10, 11, and 12.
VRAI: [crosstalk] Yup!
MERCEDEZ: Which, like I said, obviously, I think we’re all in agreement that the largest earthquake to hit the region of Japan and the tsunami that ensued… those two events took precedence over anime.
ALEX: Oh yes.
MERCEDEZ: And I’m just gonna say, if you’re listening to this in 2021 and you don’t feel that way—
ALEX: You are incorrect.
VRAI: They should have a think.
MERCEDEZ: I hope you step on Legos.
VRAI: So, I’m very fond of Madoka. I actually have a Homura figure on my shelf right now. I need to fix her bow.
ALEX: [crosstalk] I have a big plush of Sayaka sitting atop my bookshelf watching over me as we speak. [Chuckles]
MERCEDEZ: I’m not even gonna lie, Sayaka and Mami, those are my two girls, ride or die. Ride or die.
VRAI: It is very interesting to me that in addition to the issues of intended marketing, which we’ll get into, Madoka happened to air right as streaming was starting to take off. It didn’t have the quick turnaround that it has now. Even if you had Prime subscriptions, there was still a one-week delay back in 2010 to 2012. But this was maybe the first time that a much wider audience was seeing a show as it aired.
MERCEDEZ: And I think that’s why Madoka is actually quite impactful, is that Madoka sits at this really interesting gateway to what we now have, which is simulcasting. Madoka sits at, kind of, the beginning of when anime was starting to become much… It was moving out of being so niche. It was becoming a lot more mainstream.
Because you can talk to most people and they’ll be like “Oh, I know that green-haired kid from that My Hero Academia” or Naruto or Goku. That’s very common today, and Madoka was kind of at the cusp of this really big level of transparency, of anime becoming much more widely available outside of Japan in legal capacities. And I think that’s really interesting.
VRAI: Mm-hm. I am not a magical girl enthusiast. I’m just sort of a casual fan. I’ve read a lot of the biggest series, but I wouldn’t call myself an expert. But I might get grumpy that a lot of the really big meta genre commentary things that Madoka gets praised for were things that Princess Tutu did a decade before. But it has to be acknowledged that Princess Tutu was licensed at the time, but it was locked behind… You know, you’d have spent 60 bucks on a DVD and it wasn’t available online anywhere, and that’s a steep barrier to entry for people who don’t necessarily know where to look.
MERCEDEZ: Right. And I think, too, for a lot of younger fans, a lot of Gen Z, this might have been their first anime for magical girls. I think that’s also—
VRAI: [crosstalk] This and Kill la Kill. Those two are big deals.
MERCEDEZ: Yeah, because I remember having friends who… this was their first magical girl anime. And I think that that kind of codified things. It kind of makes me think of… Sailor Moon fans are very passionate, and for a lot of them Sailor Moon was (A) their first anime or (B) it was their first magical girl anime. And so it kind of codifies what you think of as the tropes of the genre, which I don’t think is a bad thing.
ALEX: Yeah. It’s kind of interesting. I’m trying to think. In a way this was kind of my first magical girl series, because when I was younger I had a real allergy to anything that was obviously made for girls. I was like “Nah! I’m watching Digimon. This sucks.”
So I kind of came into the genre sideways later in life trying to sort of remedy that, reading those classics like Mermaid Melody and getting into PreCure, which is why it’s so exciting now you can watch PreCure legally. Which, yes, I will admit, we did also pirate Madoka at the time, but I now live in a house of three, and somehow we have four different copies of this series on various combinations of Blu-ray and DVD, so I like to think that I made up for it. [Chuckles]
MERCEDEZ: And I think it’s interesting that you said “made for girls,” because Madoka is not… the target audience is not women or girls at all. It’s men. And I think people often find that shocking when you say “Madoka is a seinen anime; it was not made for women at all.”
And I think that as an adult a decade later, I feel a certain level of discomfort that I didn’t initially because I didn’t know what the word “seinen” meant. As an adult, knowing that this show with eighth- and ninth-grade girls was made for a male gaze and made for a male audience, I want to protect all these children so much.
MERCEDEZ: That’s just always a mood.
ALEX: I think it’s one of those weird ones, too, that even if it’s officially labeled as seinen, then I think it’s a lot of ones that… kind of like we talked about with our yuri episode, even if it’s directed at a certain audience, in theory, a lot of female fans and women fans and—fans who aren’t dudes, is a better way of putting it—have really latched on to it because it spoke to them, whether or not it wasn’t “intended for them,” quote-unquote.
VRAI: Well, yes and no. Because I do think we have to talk about, yeah, that issue of genre and what it did, because there’s this interview with the one of the producers, Iwakami Atsuhiro, that talks about how they set out, and their prime goals when constructing the series were “We want to make something that appeals to a general audience” and some talk about how… They specifically namedrop Minky Momo. So that kind of gives you an idea of where their heads were at with the evolution of the magical girl series: they’re making a show in 2011 and they referenced something from the ‘80s.
MERCEDEZ: Well, but I wonder if they referenced it because of how Minky Momo ends.
VRAI: Right. Put a pin in that. But it is also interesting to me that he also says, “We didn’t do Madoka as an antithesis to these shows. It was purely based on the idea of what it would be like to do a dark story on a magical girl stage,” which is… I think we can argue whether or not intent out-trumps effect. But I think that’s interesting in that Madoka is often accused of being sort of a send-up of the magical girl genre, and that wasn’t necessarily what they were aiming for. But yeah, Minky Momo is relevant in that she famously gets hit by a truck and dies.
VRAI: That’s not the ending. But it does happen pretty late in the game. Apparently—I looked this up—because, basically, the character was pretty popular but the show wasn’t selling enough toys to the right audience.
ALEX: Oh no.
MERCEDEZ: She gets hit by a truck carrying toys!
VRAI: Uh-huh! Yeah! I feel like some animators had some opinions.
MERCEDEZ: I don’t mean to laugh, because obviously animated children getting hit by a truck is not funny, but…
VRAI: It’s a little funny.
MERCEDEZ: But, I mean, they literally killed Minky Momo! And then they reincarnate her! And then she comes back as a foster child, which…
VRAI: No, no, no, she was a foster child. She comes back as the biological child of the family she’d been living with.
MERCEDEZ: Yeah. I guess they were like “Okay, you get to come back as their child again”? It… I… They hit her with a truck.
VRAI: Yeah, and then the last cour of episodes is like she’s fighting inside of a girl’s dream. It’s very odd.
MERCEDEZ: Oh my God! Oh my God! Minky Momo Wonder Eggs?
MERCEDEZ: God. It’s just a lot.
VRAI: Yeah, Minky Momo I wish I could watch legally. It sounds like a trip. Which, actually, it is good to note that: yes, magical girl shows are often dark, because I think one of the things we do have to acknowledge about Madoka is a lot of women and marginalized-gender people in general like Madoka and took a lot out of it, but it was also pretty largely responsible for what you call the “men-ification” of the magical girl genre.
MERCEDEZ: Yeah. I wholeheartedly agree.
ALEX: Yeah. We can get into this more in our second episode of this, but the real reason that rattles my chains is because the fact that this is a dark and gritty take on the magical world tropes we’re familiar with is not actually the most interesting thing about the series, nor do I think it’s the point of the series. You get to the end, and it kind of puts some of those things that took apart back together.
So, I feel like it’s a classic case of that meme where it’s just like “Wow, cool robot,” and everything’s going over your head. People saw that the show was successful, and it was like “Well, obviously, it’s successful because it’s beating up these cutely dressed 14-year-olds. Uh, let’s do that—and profit.” But that’s not why the show has such staying power or such impact, I don’t think.
MERCEDEZ: Yeah, not one bit, not one bit. And I’m with you, Alex. The most interesting thing about this show is absolutely not the grittiness. It’s so much more.
VRAI: Mm-hm. I do wonder how much of it is the fact that Madoka is somewhat unique among magical girl anime. Not so much anymore, because you have stuff like Revue Starlight and Flip Flappers and the stuff that’s kind of becoming positive magical girl anime post-Madoka. But at the time, it was one of the only single-cour shows, so it’s kind of—
ALEX: That’s true. Yeah, it might have been a lot more bite-sized and accessible.
MERCEDEZ: Yeah, and it’s only… Yeah, it’s 12 episodes, so it’s very… You can sit down for six and a half hours and knock it out.
VRAI: Yeah. And when you look at the twist structure that it’s famous for, if we take, say, episode 6 and the Soul Gem reveal, that’s around the same time, give or take, in, say, Rayearth halfway through where you learn that the girls got brought to their fantasy world for a really dark reason!
MERCEDEZ: Oh, boy, is it dark. Oh, God. And to go off of that, if you think about episode 3 and that sudden twist, a lot of anime have an episode 3 twist where the rug gets pulled out from beneath the characters, something really tragic happens, and that’s how you know we mean business.
I don’t know why this is the anime that came to mind, but Re:Zero comes to mind with that, where episode 3, it really gets you and you’re like “Oh, we’re not playing around. This is a different kind of isekai.” And I think that only really exists because Madoka did it first, and it did these twists that a lot of younger fans and creatives saw, and it did them so impactfully for people that it became like the genre-maker.
VRAI: Even then, looking at it on the expanded time frame, episode 3 is a quarter of the way through the show; a quarter of the way through the first season of Sailor Moon, you introduce Nephrite and Zoisite, who are the first antagonists who are trying to kill people, as opposed to wacky Jadeite’s workout schemes. So it tracks, but this is small and accessible and bite-sized version, so people are giving up from the early character episodes and they’re like “Whoa, this is the first time I’ve ever seen this! It’s so revolutionary!”
ALEX: [Chuckles] And I kind of want to talk about that episode 3 twist, as well, because I think that a lot of the mythology around the show became this idea that you start watching and the first couple episodes are really normal, pink and bubbly magical girl show, and then bazaam! Suddenly, she gets her head bitten off! Oh my gosh! But I don’t think that’s at all accurate to how it actually plays out.
MERCEDEZ: No. Because it is a very—and I hesitate to use this word because I think it gets used a lot with Madoka and I don’t necessarily agree from it—it is deconstructive from the beginning. From the moment that we have this beautiful scene in episode 1 where Madoka is walking through what I call the Persona 4: Golden hallway, because it’s just like this long, black and white, kind of harlequin-print hallway that she’s walking in and it’s just her footsteps, and she opens the door, and there’s Walpurgisnacht.
ALEX: [crosstalk] Mm-hm, and you get like—the Kalafina comes in, and it’s like…
MERCEDEZ: Yeah, which pretty much gets revealed instantly, that there’s this giant thing that’s being fought against. And you see this black-haired girl, and the anvils get dropped. You know that this is going to be a little bit more of a serious show. So I do think that that lead-up of “Okay, episode 3 is where it gets dark—” No… It’s grim from the beginning.
ALEX: Yeah, as you say, the sound design and the atmosphere in that scene is so good. And yeah, it tells you what it’s about. It’s a fun scene to rewatch, because when you finish the show, you know what it all means. But if you’re unfamiliar, it does so good at drawing you into this surreal, frightening, violent world.
So, that’s there from the beginning, so I think it’s totally unfair to say that the Mami twist comes out of nowhere. And on top of that, the first couple episodes, they’re ominous as hell. It does a really good job of building unease into the undercurrent through everything.
MERCEDEZ: And I would say more than Mami’s head getting bitten off is when Madoka’s like “Oh, you can’t mix those chemicals! You can’t do that!” That scene is terrifying, actually. But there’s a lot of horror that’s happening before [with] the uncanniness of Homura and how much she knows. It’s really uneasy, and they do really well. And I should say… We haven’t said what we watched. I watched the dub.
VRAI: Yes, please tell me a little bit about the dub, because I’ve seen some short clips from when they announced the dub actors, but…
MERCEDEZ: So, I watched the dub because I stan Christina Vee very hard. I really like her. I like her as a voice actress. I’ve followed her since before she became a voice actress. And she plays Homura, and she gives Homura this really… The voice she does for Homura is really, really good. It’s this slightly world-weary but also slightly haughty kind of voice.
Homura kind of comes off like… Something’s not right about her, because she knows too much. But every time she talks to Madoka, she almost is kind of talking down to her a little bit, like “You stupid girl. Do what I’m telling you, so you don’t become a problem” kind of vibe, which I think actually is really interesting because that’s kind of how Homura comes off in these first few episodes, like “Homura knows best; the rest of you all are foolish.”
ALEX: Which then raises that question of “Well, why? What is she talking about?” Which, I know we’ve said we’re not going to go spoilers, so I’m not going to talk about it. But I will say the foreshadowing in the show is excellent.
MERCEDEZ: [crosstalk] It’s really well scripted.
ALEX: It is so much fun to rewatch because you pick up on so much. My favorite thing is Sayaka’s joking around at the mall and she ends up spoiling one of the really big twists of the show, just because she’s messing around. But yeah, Homura is really fascinating to watch. All the other characters are really fascinating to watch, as well, just because you know where they’re going to end up.
MERCEDEZ: And I have to say… You said spoiling. I know we can’t talk about certain things, but y’all, there was a point where I almost screamed involving Sayaka. I think it was in episode… Goodness me, it might have been in episode 4.
And I should say, Sayaka in the dub is really well voice-acted. She’s kind of downrange, which is nice to hear, because a lot of times you hear higher-pitched girls and the reality is a lot of AFAB people don’t have high voices. I don’t have a high voice. At least I don’t feel I certainly do. And so it’s nice to hear a little bit more of a downrange kind of girl.
But Sayaka is beautifully voice-acted, and there’s a scene that stuck out to me this time, and it is when Sayaka and Kyosuke are sitting in the hospital and he is listening to “The Girl with the Flaxen Hair.” And I immediately was like “Hm. I wonder what girl in the cast has flaxen hair that we’ve seen.” And it explained a lot about what we’ll talk about in the back half with Sayaka’s whole wish and the ordeal it puts her through, because I was like, “Oh! Girl with the flaxen hair? Oh, no! That’s not gonna work out well.” It’s just very beautifully… It’s really well done, still.
VRAI: So much about this show is just impeccably thoughtfully detailed. There are moments where it’s a little proud to show its flourishes. And honestly, I can’t blame it.
Like when they give Kyubey a line about how since Sayaka wished for somebody to heal, she has regenerative abilities. And you can tell that there are just pages… And I haven’t seen the book, but apparently, there is a fully written-out version of the witches’ language, so people have decoded the names and stuff.
But there are so many little details that I like so much, like the fact that Sayaka thinks so highly of Mami and her sword attack is a throne circle around her like Mami’s muskets, even though that doesn’t necessarily make sense for her.
MERCEDEZ: Real quick, can we talk about Mami and how… I believe, in my own personal notes… I gotta find the line because I’m kind of proud of it. I said, “Mami woke up one day and was like ‘My power is gun’ and never looked back.”
ALEX: She’s a mage with one power, and it is gun.
MERCEDEZ: I really liked Mami this watch around.
VRAI: Me too.
MERCEDEZ: I really liked her character. You get this really full arc about who exactly Mami is. And also, I love her apartment. It’s real great. But you get this very full arc about who exactly Mami is, what exactly her ethos is, and how exactly she got roped into being a magical girl.
ALEX: Yeah, Mami, I think is— Oh, sorry.
MERCEDEZ: [crosstalk] And I think it’s really well done. Oh, no, I was just— Oh, go on, go on.
ALEX: I was just gonna say, Mami, to me, is maybe the best example of the efficiency of the writing, because really, we only know her for maybe an episode and a half, which is (what’s that?) like 30 minutes max?
MERCEDEZ: Yeah. I would say maybe we get like 35 minutes of really good Mami.
ALEX: [crosstalk] Yeah. But in that time, like you said, we know basically everything we need to know about her to see her as a fully fleshed-out person, enough that the tragedy of losing her really hits. It’s super effective. And I can understand people feeling as though her death is the big shock that turned people away and she didn’t need to die.
MERCEDEZ: But is it?
ALEX: But it works really well in the narrative! And the thing, as well, which is another point on the board that this being a dark and gritty suffering series is not the point, it really doesn’t linger on the gory details of her death. I think a lot about that shot. You see her fall. But instead of panning over her corpse or anything, it shows that scene of the spilled tea and it zooms in on that, and that’s like the stand-in, and you understand the horror from that.
MERCEDEZ: I would say actually, that 10 years later, what I appreciate about that scene is it shows the immediate trauma, because Madoka and Sayaka leave and they break down. They cannot handle that they literally just saw (A) someone their age and (B) someone that they cared about as a friend die. And Madoka cries over breakfast the next day, and her mom is like “Hey, what’s up, sweetie?” And she’s like “I’m just really glad that breakfast was so good,” because she’s glad because she’s alive.
ALEX: Yeah, because she can’t talk about it.
MERCEDEZ: Right. I believe I also might have written in my notes, “Madoka stared death in the face, and all she wants is an omelet for breakfast.” It is heartbreaking.
And I’m joking, but I’m also joking to keep from crying because it’s this really immensely touching scene of… Madoka has to move through that grief. And what it does is Madoka moves in one direction and Sayaka moves in a very different direction, with how they manifest their grief.
And actually, it felt like these were writers who were writing actual teenage girls, because I think when you’re a teenager, emotions feel a million times bigger because you’re for the first time learning autonomy over how you want to emote. And that’s a really big shift from as a child where you’re encouraged to emote freely, to as a teenager you’re encouraged to emote with restraint, because that’s what adults do and you’re becoming an adult. And it felt like they actually understood the tension that specifically a Japanese teenager might have in a society where you are supposed to split your public face and your private face very differently.
Madoka has to make up something because she can’t talk about this very private thing, because her mother and her father are not part of the ingroup of magical girls. Madoka is barely part of that ingroup. So is Sayaka, but still, they’ve seen this really horrific thing and they have to cope somehow. It’s really well done. It’s really well done.
VRAI: Honestly, one of my problems with this series is… I really did appreciate the Mami arc much more this watch than I have the last couple times I watched it, because I appreciated how foreshadowed her death is purely through her decision-making process and the fact that she’s so lonely that you can see her pushing past things that she should be careful about and that the show flags are reckless actions for her, through Homura and Kyubey.
So it feels like this is a natural consequence of the fact that she slipped up. And it’s the sense of good tragedy, where it felt inevitable that we came to this point when you came back and look at it.
I don’t think the series always pulls that off. I think as part of Urobuchi’s writing, he’s sort of infamous for turning his characters into mouthpieces for viewpoints at a certain point, and there are definitely times in this stretch where it’s like… like Hitomi getting a Witch’s Kiss on her because we need Madoka to be at this place and in danger.
Or especially my big sticking point with this series is when Sayaka makes that shift to “every magical girl except for Mami is evil and I hate them.” I do not buy that character shift. It’s just that we need her to be at this extreme place right now.
MERCEDEZ: Yeah, I was gonna say, if there had been some buildup with that, I would believe that a lot more.
VRAI: I’d buy it after a stretch of time, but it’s definitely where the economy… Yeah.
MERCEDEZ: It comes really suddenly. In a way it almost feels like there’s two Sayaka, like there’s a Sayaka that you would believe would get to this point and there’s a Sayaka that we get, that you’re like “Sweet baby angel. Did you wake up today and decide to…?”
MERCEDEZ: And that’s also a personal opinion, too, though, for sure.
ALEX: Yeah, that’s really interesting because, again, as you said, Mercedez, they feel very young. And I think that’s something I can appreciate much more now that I am older and there is more distance between my age and the age of the characters.
Sayaka feels so fundamentally 14 to me. It’s kind of impressive. All the ways that she is annoying, all the ways that I love her, I’m like “Yeah, this is you being quintessentially a teen.” Because she shows up with the cape for superheroes and the sword for the knight in shining armor. She clearly has a very black-and-white sense of good and bad. And that’s really interesting because it ties into the whole ideology that she gets swept up in.
Sayaka’s a super interesting character for me to revisit because when I first watched this, she was my favorite and she really resonated with me, and I really related a lot to her: her steadfast optimism and the way she always leapt to help people and her dedication to putting others before herself.
And it made it interesting to rewatch because now with more distance I’m like, oh, I see a lot of my younger self in Sayaka, and that’s maybe not the best thing. Maybe some of the self-sacrificing tendencies and that sense of “I must be the hero. I must be the savior. I must fix, fix, fix,” maybe that’s not so good. Maybe I need to work on that. [Chuckles]
VRAI: No, no, I’m very invested in Shinji Ikari. I feel you.
MERCEDEZ: And it’s funny that you say the self-sacrificing because, yeah, Sayaka’s literal power is self-sacrifice. It’s just it happens that it rebounds onto her through her ability to heal, but it’s literally like she has to sacrifice her body to access that ability to regenerate. And I think a lot of people who are raised AFAB especially are encouraged, under the idea of femininity, that sacrificing yourself is one of the most feminine things you can do.
ALEX: Yes, that it has a nobility to it.
MERCEDEZ: Yeah, and I don’t think that that’s a purely… And I hate using the word “Western” because it does have these really negative connotations nowadays because of Nazis and they won’t let us have anything fun because they hate. But Western cultures often push that, but I actually think that’s a much more global thing.
I think the way that women—and when I say women, I do mean anyone who’s assigned female at birth or anyone who aligns themself with femininity or being female—I think that anyone who’s assigned female as an identity is really encouraged that the best, most forthright thing you can do is to sacrifice yourself and sacrifice for a man, sacrifice for your children, sacrifice for other people. But what’s hidden in that is this kind of Kyubey-esque contract of “Yeah, you’re sacrificing, but are you doing it for yourself, or are you doing it solely for others with no return?”
ALEX: Which makes Sayaka, yeah, super interesting.
Small tangent: watching Kyubey’s guilt-trip recruitment tactics is super interesting and super slimy! Because both of the main girls have this moment where they’re like “I think my life is okay. I can’t really think of anything I’d risk my life for,” and Kyubey right away is like “Well! How interesting! All the other girls thought of something right away,” which makes them feel like there’s something wrong with them.
And Sayaka has this whole monologue where she’s like “Maybe I’m blissfully ignorant because I have not suffered and that makes me a bad person.” I’m like “No! Don’t listen!” It’s so transparently… [Chuckles]
MERCEDEZ: Kyubey felt like he was gonna sell me Tupperware from a TV ad. I do not trust him. I don’t trust him at all. You know what, I’m sorry. I don’t mean to gender Kyubey like that because even mean little catlike monsters that trick teenagers into whatever he’s trying to do, they deserve to be gendered right and I believe Kyubey is gendered as “they.” So, they, I don’t trust.
ALEX: [crosstalk] I think they use “he” in the subs that I’ve…
VRAI: [crosstalk] The official dubs use “he,” I think, but I don’t know if this was from an era before they were paying attention to whether…
MERCEDEZ: I would say it was, because this was pre-2012 Tumblr, which is when I feel like a lot of the internet really started to jump on the bandwagon of gendering things differently. So I’m gonna say that it probably was a time of “he” and “she” versus the fact that we all are aware that that’s not all there is to gender.
ALEX: Yeah, Kyubey’s from space, so who knows? I have in my notes that Kyubey looks like a haunted Neopets doll. [Laughs]
MERCEDEZ: [Chuckles] Oh my God, Kyubey does.
VRAI: It’s such a good design. The manga added expressions to Kyubey, and I feel like that fundamentally misses the point.
MERCEDEZ: Yeah. Yeah, because the whole point is that Kyubey doesn’t emote. That’s what makes them so good.
ALEX: [crosstalk] Yes, and that’s what makes them so weird.
MERCEDEZ: Yeah, they have this little coy smile of “Hey, what’s up? Maybe I stole your parking spot; maybe I didn’t!” But adding emotion to Kyubey just takes away the unease that they instill from the moment they show up on the same scene.
VRAI: Kyubey might not have a gender, but they do have the strong energy of a Reply Guy on the internet asking me for my facts and logic.
MERCEDEZ: You know what? Kyubey would absolutely play devil’s advocate on Twitter.
ALEX: I mean, Kyubey is kind of the devil, so, yeah. [Chuckles]
MERCEDEZ: Yeah. Yeah. Kyubey would absolutely quote-retweet you to their fanbase. And that’s some demonic energy if there ever was some.
ALEX: But Kyubey would also find a way to single you out and Not Like Other Girls you and put you on a pedestal, all the more to tear you down and take your Soul Gem when the time comes.
MERCEDEZ: Y’all, I don’t think we like Kyubey, do we?
ALEX: Kyubey is an exceptional villain because their morality is on a completely different spectrum to anything that is from planet Earth and regular society, which makes them a super interesting antagonist, because… I guess we can get more into this in the second half, but…
VRAI: I was gonna say, we’re gonna have to come back to that, given some things in the back half, but…
ALEX: In any case, by episode 6, though, the Faustian allegory is very much cemented.
MERCEDEZ: [crosstalk] Oh, it’s in full force.
ALEX: So I feel like it’s okay for me to play on that, because, yeah, you get that episode 6 twist, and it’s like, “Oh, we sold our souls.” And I’m like “Hm. I wonder if that’s an allegory for anything.” [Chuckles] But… Oh, I forgot what I was finishing.
MERCEDEZ: Y’all, I forgot that Madoka yeeted Sayaka’s soul into a garbage truck!
VRAI: Oh my God, that scene is burned into my memory.
ALEX: Oh, that was funny.
MERCEDEZ: I mean, Madoka grabs it, and she—short of being like “Yeet!”—tosses it, like perfect three-point shot, into a trash truck. And Sayaka just falls to the ground. And then Kyubey’s just like “Oh, yeah, there’s a 100-meter radius on that. So, don’t do it.”
ALEX: [crosstalk] Which, again, that scene is so scary because Kyubey delivers all the information so matter-of-factly when it’s like the most terrifying thing these girls have ever heard. So, again, you get that juxtaposition that really enhances the horror without going for the gore of it all.
MERCEDEZ: I have to tell you, Kyubey’s instructions feel like trying to put together an Ikea shelf. I never know what I’m doing and I really wish I had more information, but I’m gonna do it anyway. Kyubey, you could have told these children, “Oh, by the way, you’re gonna want to keep this on you at all times, because it’s your literal soul essence.” But instead Kyubey’s like “Oh! I forgot. By the way…”
ALEX: Well, they say, though… They’re just like “Man, everyone always reacts so unnecessarily and so over the top when I say this, so I just don’t, because it’s easier.” And again, it’s a sign of their inhumanity.
Of course these people are reacting this way. Of course these teenagers are reacting this way. But Kyubey is just on another plane. Which, again, that midpoint twist really enhances that, oh, we are now in a realm that is deeply unfamiliar and deeply beyond our control, which is the real horror of that.
VRAI: I might not think much of Madoka as a world-changing genre commentary, but as horror, it is quite solid.
MERCEDEZ: And I really wish that Madoka had gotten codified as a horror show—I’m sorry, I have really hard trouble saying that word, and I know it just sounded not like “horror.” It sounded like a not-nice word. Oops.
I wish it had gotten codified as a horror show more so than a dark magical girl fantasy because it is terrifying. It has a lot of implications in its worldbuilding that you’re like “Oh, that would be horrific if it happened to me.” But as a dark show, I’m not completely sold at this point on it being dark.
And I get more and more removed from that, the older I get and the farther we get away and the more shows that we have coming out that actually are. The one I always think about is Tokyo Mew Mew: is a much darker show than Madoka, where—spoiler—the main heroine dies by suicide to save her boyfriend, which is much grimmer, I think, than Madoka, where the deaths we’ve witnessed so far have largely been out of their hands.
VRAI: Yeah, there’s an interesting thing of a lot of dark elements in magical girls versus Madoka where a lot of the darker elements are interpersonal, relationship-based issues, like in Magic Knight Rayearth or the emotion powers into Tutu or the self-sacrifice themes in Sailor Moon S.
Whereas in Madoka, it is that they are specifically being acted on by this outside system, and the girls are reacting with horror to these things that are happening at them, which I think is what got picked up on by a lot of its lesser followers, just that we need cute, passive girls who are being bludgeoned by the horrors of the world.
MERCEDEZ: Right. And I think if you combine what you just said with the horror allegory, the actual terror is that these young teenage girls have no bodily autonomy. That is the actual horror of the show. They literally are puppeted, and they don’t know why, but they have no bodily autonomy. And that to me is far more horrific than Mami getting eaten or… [Chuckles] I mean, clearly, I think I had a much funnier reaction to the Sayaka’s soul getting yeeted scene, wherein I laughed.
VRAI: [crosstalk] Yeet!
MERCEDEZ: [Chuckles] But to me, the fact that they have no control over their bodies is a much more relatable horror. Especially if you grew up as someone who was female or assigned female, that is a much more relatable horror to understand, that in the real world you don’t also have control over your body if you are assigned female or a woman. It’s much scarier.
ALEX: Yeah. Which makes, again, to bring it back to the Sayaka fan club of me… [Chuckles] Sayaka’s—
MERCEDEZ: Oh, no, Sayaka’s my girl. That’s my girl.
ALEX: Yeah, to connect all this together, Sayaka kind of works really well as an allegory for that whole business. Obviously, she has that more surface-level thing of… she is here trying to be an ideal superhero—hero of justice—in a world where it just doesn’t work and she gets beat up… Which, again, you can see Urobuchi doing his thing, because he also deals with that a lot in, for example, Fate/Zero. Obviously hadn’t got it out of his system.
But there’s an undercurrent that’s really interesting where, yeah, if you take this as a gendered story—which it is, because they chose to do magical girls—then yeah, it becomes this extra story about how the expectations of society and the equation of self-sacrifice with goodness in a very black-and-white way, that leads her to… She does what she thinks she’s supposed to both as a hero and as a healer and as the girl of Violin Boy’s dreams. And she gives up her soul. She gives up her bodily autonomy and falls into the trap of exactly what this system wants.
So I don’t think it’s totally one-on-one to say that Kyubey’s whole deal represents patriarchy. I think it goes even more cosmic than that. But the allegory definitely rings true.
MERCEDEZ: I do have to say, I repeatedly kept saying to myself, “Sayaka, men are not worth it.” [Chuckles] “Ah, girl, it’s not worth it.”
ALEX: But it’s such a thankless job even before everything that we’ll discuss next time happens. I’m like “Can someone just please tell her that she can volunteer at an animal shelter or something to get this out of her system instead of…?”
VRAI: Listen. If she hadn’t sold her soul, she would never have met her girlfriend. So, six of one.
ALEX: [Laughs] Sometimes it works out like that.
MERCEDEZ: I just want to reiterate if you’re a woman out there listening, men are not worth selling your soul to. Don’t do it.
MERCEDEZ: I don’t know. Go buy a nice fruit basket or something.
ALEX: Or watch Fruits Basket, the anime.
MERCEDEZ: That also has some men that aren’t worth it in it, but this is not the Fruits Basket podcast. Go buy yourself a bar of chocolate. Men aren’t worth it. Don’t give up your Soul Gem for a man. Take that for what you need to take that as. But yeah, poor Sayaka is just like… Oof. She does meet her girlfriend, which is great.
VRAI: I love Kyoko so much!
ALEX: Oh, yes, we haven’t given ourselves much time to talk about Kyoko, but Kyoko’s really good!
VRAI: There’ll be plenty of time to talk about Kyoko next time. I will say, I do want to shout out how much I appreciated Madoka on this watch. I live with a Madoka disliker, so I know all about the criticisms, and I truly think they’re valid, but…
MERCEDEZ: Oh no! Who doesn’t like Madoka?
VRAI: My wife sat through the whole series for me, and she truly, truly dislikes it because she felt like… she never felt like she got invested in the characters and that she was just kind of watching this puppetry at work to feel a thing.
MERCEDEZ: That’s some real love for you, that she sat through… Wow. Bake her a cake. Get her a fruit basket.
VRAI: Hell yes! But I do appreciate how much Madoka… who when it was airing, I recall, got dinged with a lot of the same criticisms as Shinji, that she’s passive and annoying. But I really value her this watch around as this unflaggingly empathetic force that also isn’t necessarily as destructive as Sayaka’s route, because she is steadfastly there. She’s not offering to do things for you, but she’s offering to be there with you, which I feel like is this crucial distinction the show is making.
MERCEDEZ: It really is. And I have to say, Madoka is a really good protagonist because she is very much so an average girl who really just wants to feel important. And I don’t know what teenager doesn’t feel that. She’s good. She’s good.
ALEX: [crosstalk] She’s good.
VRAI: [crosstalk] She’s good.
MERCEDEZ: Want to give her a hug. This poor child.
ALEX: [crosstalk] Yes! Exactly. That’s basically what I was gonna say. The benefit of distance, age-wise and time-wise, means that, yeah, I look at these kids and I’m like “These are kids!”
And Madoka honestly, all things considered, she’s handling trauma realistically but also really well. She’s doing good. And the fact that she keeps trying to do good and help people, even if she makes mistakes along the way—for example, yeeting a Soul Gem… But, you know, she didn’t know. Was this pre “yeet” becoming part of the lexicon?
MERCEDEZ: Oh, yes, yes, it was pre-yeet.
ALEX: Oh, wow. See, we’re in the pre-yeet era. This is really… [Chuckles]
MERCEDEZ: Yeah. I mean, this was also before Tumblr really took off. This was before Twitter really took off as a platform, it is. Yeah, this is, I would argue, a really different era of the internet. We’re just coming off of… What, I guess right now we’re in Web 3.0, if I’m correct.
ALEX: I don’t know. We’re in Hell.
VRAI: Oh, yeah.
MERCEDEZ: Yeah. Oh my God, yeah.
MERCEDEZ: We’re in Web 3.0. Well, no, I guess that would have been Web 3.0. I think we’re in Web 4.0, probably, where the Web was making this really big transition to become a much more intelligent internet with— Not necessarily the people. I shouldn’t have said that. Keep that in. But it’s a much more intelligent internet with more predictive elements, with the algorithms as we know them.
So, Madoka sits at this really interesting shift that we went through. Yeah, this was pre-yeet. It was pre-Tumblr becoming a big thing. It was pre-Archive of Our Own being the massive thing that it is now, I would even argue.
VRAI: Yeah, it existed but it was still a baby little site. If you want a flavor of how different the internet was when Madoka came out, it was when regular people still hung out on 4chan occasionally and not just right-wing reactionaries, because the single funniest Madoka parody of all time came from 4chan, and it is Being Meguka Is Suffering.
ALEX: Yes! I was hoping someone remembered that, because some shit from that is still in my vernacular today.
VRAI: It’s still so fucking funny!
ALEX: Somebody overtook me on the highway yesterday, and my immediate reaction was like “Why this?”
VRAI: It’s so fucking funny! “My city now”!
ALEX: Exactly! “My city now,” legit, it’s common lexicon on especially fandom discussions, when someone’s like “Oh, the writer did something you didn’t care for? My city now.”
MERCEDEZ: Yeah, it’s from this very different era, right? And I think it’s neat as a microcosm, and if someone ever wants to write about Madoka fandom and how that whole engagement happened, please do. I would love to see that.
ALEX: That would be fascinating.
MERCEDEZ: And look, I’ll even throw in mine. Madoka’s so old that I was still writing on fanfiction.net, and I did write fanfiction on fanfiction.net of my ship for this series.
ALEX: [crosstalk] Excellent.
MERCEDEZ: So, it’s a much older series when you think of it like that. And I think that explains its influence. And we’ve talked about that.
ALEX: Yeah, in internet time, this is an ancient series practically, which just makes its staying power even more impressive, really.
MERCEDEZ: The fact that people this year were like “When are we getting Madoka part 2? When are we getting more? It’s ten years. When are we getting…?”
VRAI: [Groans long, as if tired]
MERCEDEZ: And I think we’ll talk in the back half about, and maybe perhaps in the third episode we do of…
VRAI: Oh, yeah, we’re doing the movie, people!
MERCEDEZ: Yeah, I think we’ll talk about maybe why franchises don’t necessarily need more.
ALEX: Indeed. I feel like… Yeah. We’ll get into that.
MERCEDEZ: And I’ll even say it might not even be because of the movie. It might be because of the anime that released last year that everyone has forgotten about.
ALEX: Ah, what a shame.
VRAI: [crosstalk] Magia Record sure exists, huh.
MERCEDEZ: Does it, though?
ALEX: Yeah, I watched the first couple episodes, and it was a very surreal experience because I would have these little bursts of serotonin, but they were all when it played part of the soundtrack or referenced something that gave me nostalgia for the original. And I was like “This show cannot sustain itself on this alone. It just can’t. I don’t want to see it fail.” So I didn’t watch it.
MERCEDEZ: I will say, much like 2020, Magica Record [sic] did not spark joy.
VRAI: That’s fair. All right, we are just a little bit over an hour. So I gotta bring us in for a landing.
MERCEDEZ: Let’s shut this down!
ALEX: I think that’s a good place to wrap up for today, as well. We’ve covered Being Meguka Is Suffering, so I’m happy. [Laughs]
VRAI: Fuck yes. All right, well, next time we will be watching episodes 7 through 12. Thank you so much for joining us, AniFam.
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