Those who have seen the 2011 TV anime Puella Magi Madoka Magica will recall the story’s emphasis on separate realities induced by alternative timelines and the endless possibilities created thus.
Like many other components of the Madoka Magica media mix, the Magia Record phone game released last year takes advantage of the flexible setting laid out by the anime. The game portrays magical girls being drawn to the same city in order to team up and fight endlessly for piles of in-game currency. The game takes place sometime before the events of the TV anime’s first episode. (In other words, Homura still has her braids.) And so the Madoka Kaname of Magia Record is the kind yet naive girl from the beginning of the anime. She has ended up contracted with Kyubey and fighting alongside her fellow magical girls with a cheerful disposition.
Magia Report is an online companion comic for the Magia Record. The comic is a lighthearted commentary that pokes fun at the game as it updates with new characters and features.
The goofy and self-aware style of Magia Report isn’t new territory for the Madoka Magica franchise. The 2012 spin-off manga Puella Magi Homura Tamura (available in English from Yen Press.) is about Homura’s adventures through various timelines and the many, many (comedic) possibilities they hold.
Magia Report simply follows in the stylistic footsteps of Homura Tamura, even when it comes to how the heroine Madoka is portrayed. Throughout the various timelines Homura transverses, she encounters a practically infinite amount of Madokas along the way. Many of these Madokas have vastly different personalities from the original Madoka that Homura is trying to save.
Madoka-senpai, as she is known in Magia Report, has a heavily divergent personality from the Madokas that are playable in the Magia Record game. Thus creating a comedic contrast perfect for Magia Report’s purposes.
New characters are consistently added to Magia Record’s ever-growing roster. And about a week ago a familiar magical girl became available, Madoka-senpai from Magia Report.
Madoka-senpai’s portrait from Magia Record
Madoka-senpai’s existence was nicely confined to the Magia Report comic strips. But in celebration of the comic’s anniversary, Madoka-senpai was added as a playable magical girl. And so what was initially thought to be an April Fool’s stunt, has become one of the most powerful interpretations of Madoka Kaname.
One major difference between Homura Tamura and Magia Report is that Homura Tamura still takes place within the proper story of the Madoka Magica franchise. Magia Report on the other hand bleeds into the reality. The characters don’t really acknowledge the forth wall but rather fail to heed it. The characters of Magia Report don’t spend their time fighting for their lives like their phone game counterparts. They spend it watching anime and playing games and hanging out much like the real people reading the comic. Their contracts as magical girls aren’t actually enforced and instead they react to the events taking place in reality that are of relevance to them, like game updates and merchandise releases. They do this in a time frame sensitive to our reality.
The world of Magia Report is the closest resemblance within the franchise of our own world. This means Madoka-senpai is the closest resemblance to the theoretical Madoka that would exist in our timeline. Our timeline being one where the Madoka Magica anime and all it’s spin-off content is accessible and Madoka herself can consume it, just as Madoka-senpai has done in the comic. Having watched the anime, Madoka-senpai is fully aware of her fated god status and the powers she possesses because of it. Unlike all the other versions of herself, Madoka-senpai has the omniscience that she is a cartoon character.
So while all the other characters of Magia Record have animations based on the game’s established logic and physics, Madoka-senpai conjures whatever nonsensical attacks she pleases with comical glee. Even her magia animation is a goofy gimmick Madoka-senpai puts on for the players rather than for the sake of the actual battle. (It’s also speculated to be a dig at the game Magia Record is most commonly compared to, Fate/Grand Order, due to its incorporation the sword Excalibur. Thus implying that Madoka-senpai consumes more media from our reality than just that relating to the Madoka Magica franchise.)
Madoka-senpai’s in-game transformation sequence also separates her from the other magical girls. Rather than animated by the same means as all the other magical girls. Madoka-senpai’s transformation is instead filmed. She crosses the boundary into reality, in that her costume change is portrayed with real life thaumatrope filmed in various locations.
Madoka-senpai’s presence as magical girl begins in our own world and once fully transforms she leaves for the world of Magia Record.
Introduced in Magia Report, following suit with Homura Tamura, originating from the iconic anime series and crossing the boundaries between media and reality, Madoka-senpai seems to be Madoka’s most powerful form yet.
At the very least, she is my favorite yet.