Magia Record: Puella Magi Madoka Magica Side Story Season 2 - The Eve of Awakening otherwise known as Magia Record: Mahou Shoujo Madoka☆Magica Gaiden (TV) 2nd Season - Kakusei Zenya is a dark magical girl series that was released in the summer 2021 season. As the name implies, this is the second season of the original Magia Record season which aired in the winter 2020. A third and final season for Magia Record is due for release in the winter 2022 season. If you wish to know how the first season was like I suggest you check the link below for my season one review:
Season one: Magia Record: Puella Magi Madoka Magica Side Story
From the get go I can say that Magia Records season two is not suitable for newcomers as the events that transpire occur immediately after the climax of season one. If you do decide to watch this without checking the first season beware it will be difficult to understand the events that take place as, unlike the first season, the plot progresses at a very quick pace.
This brings me on to my next point. One of my chief bugbears over the first season was it had a good premise that was spoiled due to a lack of story progression. For the most part, the first season largely focused on character development at the expense of its storytelling. This balance in story/character development was largely reversed in the second season with plot taking centre stage.
In fact, the pacing of the story is such that it can be almost too much for some. This season is a short affair with it being only eight episodes but it is an action-packed ride with little downtime. Revelations come thick and fast so if you are not paying attention, it is easy to miss important details and get confused as to what is happening. It is advisable you pay close attention. If you do keep up then you will appreciate the story and tribulations that the magical girls face all the more.
From what I said one may get the impression that this show is a simple action fest but that wouldn’t paint an accurate picture of the show. For whilst it is true that the fights take centre stage, the parts of relative downtime are devoted to significant plot developments. In fact, it is during these quiet points when one needs to pay the most attention as often it is during those moments when we learn the most about the various afflictions that haunt the magical girls.
Their issues, backstories, past decisions and even worldbuilding are both sources of grief and character development for the cast. It is all relevant, important and will have a bearing on the overall plot but this carries even more weight at the end when the revelations made largely drive the drama of the climactic battle.
As a result of these character developments, it is much easier to relate to many of the newer Madoka girls as unlike season one, when I felt the antagonists were more interesting, I felt a genuine bond for Iroha, Yachiyo and Tsuruno who I saw a real change in their personality/outlook after all the hardships they faced. There are more girls that got significant growth but the characters mentioned got the lion’s share of growth. If there was a disappointment in this area it would be with the old cast of Madoka, Sayaka, Kyoko, Homura and Mami personalities which largely remained static and never changed. This is in stark contrast to the main story when we got major growth. Still despite that flaw I feel there are plenty of fans for this old crew so it is likely a point that will be overlooked by many.
Animation for the second season is sort of a mixed bag. The first half of the show is stunning, stunning like the first season however those admittedly very high standards cannot be maintained. In episodes five and six there is a noticeable decline in quality and the usual hallmarks of shortcuts such as the no eye treatment begin to feature heavily during these episodes. The seventh episode maintains a good standard but the seasonal finale cannot quite match the standards of the previous episodes either. Still, despite those declines the standard remains very high overall all things considered Magia Record season two is a delight to watch.
In terms of musical score, it is of a similar standard to season one. I enjoyed the opening and ending songs but it is not something that is breath-taking. The opening is "Careless" by ClariS while there are two endings. The first is actually the opening song whilst the second is "Lapis" by TrySai.
Magia Records season two is a noticeable improvement over its predecessor which in many ways was rather lacklustre. The balance struck between character development and plot progression is much better and with a good finale one is hopeful the series will push on to better things in the final season. However, it must be noted that this series will be most appealing for people who enjoy action series, magical girls or yuri action. People who are not fans of these genres are still likely to be entertained just not to the same degree.
Mystery elements remain and the source for these mysteries primarily centre on the overall motives and objectives of the antagonists. Like before, while we think they are evil this is never made explicitly clear. If you liked what you saw in season one then you will like what is shown here. The antagonists are complex characters so don’t expect any cartoon villains here. Saying all that, the mystery element is not on the same level as the original Madoka series so if that was your pull then you will be disappointed with what you see here.
Story 8 – The season starts with a great action scene featuring the most popular characters in the Madoka franchise. This episode sets the tone for the rest of the series which is largely driven by breath-taking action scenes. These battle scenes are punctuated with quieter moments when significant plot and character developments occur that are all relevant in driving the drama that ensues in the later part of the series. It is a gripping tale from start to finish and there are no moments when you will feel bored.
Character 7 – Old fans will like the characters that are introduced. In terms of the season one cast, while we don’t get whole episodes dedicated to character development there is still time for them to grow and we get to hear the backstories about them that make us more empathetic to their plight. There are upsetting scenes scattered throughout the show so beware that those moments will come. It is a dark magical girl series after all.
Animation/music 8.5 – Season two starts on the same level as what we saw in the first season. Unfortunately, those high standards are not maintained throughout the eight episodes as there are noticeable declines in episodes five, six and eight. Despite those drops in quality those episodes are still of a good standard they are just no longer spectacular. If you were to omit those episodes then this would have got an 9.5 rating. Musical score is good and is similar to that from season one.
Overall 7.5 – This is a significant improvement to the first season, which in many ways was a distinctly average series. Unlike before, the balance struck between story and character development is far better and allows the audience to become more engaged in the events that transpire.
For all its plot developments and mystery this is primarily an action driven series so if that isn’t your thing then you are less likely to enjoy this. On the other hand, if you are fan of that genre then I would recommend giving Magia Record season two a go provided you watched season one first.
Transformations 7 - The transformations are only shown once for each girl but for what it is worth, they were all pretty enjoyable to watch. It is not as good as what we saw in season one though.
I would also highly recommend you check out the gallery for Magia Record season two as there is an abundance of nice shots in this anime series.