One thing I like to do each anime season is that I write a blog post covering some of the less popular anime that might be getting overlooked by the majority of fans. While most of us are watching the current season’s standout hits like Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid, Shinigami Bocchan and the sexy Dorm Mother of Megami-ryo, there are always some quality shows that aren’t generating as much buzz as they could. While researching my article, I was surprised to notice that season 2 of Magia Record, the sequel/spinoff from the epic Puella Magi Madoka Magica from 2011, was airing… yet no one seemed to be talking about it, at least in the corners of social media where I tend to run. Then I realized I didn’t really have much interest in watching it, either. How could I have lost interest in the universe of Madoka Magica, one of my favorite anime series ever?
Magia Record Suffers from the “Curse of the Butcher”
Nitroplus-affiliated genius writer Gen Urobuchi exploded onto the scene with the dark Cthulhu-esque horror game Saya no Uta, which was published in a high definition re-mastered edition on Steam and in uncensored form by JAST USA and J-List in 2020. He’s had a fantastic career over the past 20 years, bringing us such epic anime as Fate/Zero, Madoka Magica and Psycho-Pass, as well as his real passion project, the Thunderbolt Fantasy Taiwanese traditional puppet drama, and of course some of the best boy’s love stories Japan has ever produced.
Gen Urobuchi is famous for two things. First, he loves killing off characters fans love, earning him the nickname “The Butcher” by fans, who have learned to not get too attached to the cast of anime and games written by him. And the amazing worlds he brings into existence with his pen generally languish the minute he moves on to other projects, since no writer can match his skills at storytelling. When fans scratch their heads and wonder what happened to later seasons of Aldnoah.Zero or Psycho-Pass, it’s because he didn’t work on those story arcs.
I Don’t Love ‘Eternal’ Media Franchises
I love the way some stories from Japan have become famous all around the world, especially stories based on a medium once viewed as extremely underground, visual novels. As a businessman, I have mad respect for the creators of the original Fate/stay night universe who turned a great story based on an 18+ game into a sprawling media empire that’s earned $5 billion so far.
However, as a fan, I honestly get tired of the trend of never-ending money-machine media franchises which constantly spit out new series, movies, novels, and trading card games for us to consume, always adding layers of complexity to the world that fans feel they must memorize verbatim. The sprawling complexity of the Fate universe, which I’d need the equivalent of a Master’s Degree to properly understand? The endless stream of Sword Art Online series and films…how many times can Kirito get himself trapped inside video game worlds? Or the never-ending Monogatari universe, which will supposedly encompass 19 different series and films when complete, all get to be too much at some point, if I’m being honest. That Magia Record gacha card game makes a lot of money, but still…
My sense is that Madoka Magica made enough money, between its various TV series and films, that its creators might be trying to turn it into something that never leaves, always showing up for more, despite perhaps not having a concise and well-structured story to tell.
And guess what? There’s a new Madoka Magica movie coming! At least Urobuchi will be writing the script for Magica the Movie -Walpurgisnacht: Rising, so fans can have some hope.
I’m Afraid Sony is Behind Endless Madoka
Recently, Sony completed their purchase of Crunchyroll, essentially rolling up nearly every aspect of the industry from anime creation (A-1, Cloverworks), licensing and marketing (Aniplex) and worldwide distribution (Funimation and Crunchyroll). In reaction to this news, anime fans expressed fear on social media that Sony would bring their misguided censorship of visual novels on the Playstation (unlike Nintendo’s Switch) into the anime world, or otherwise make moves that were bad for the industry. Don’t worry, I blogged, Sony has been part of the anime world for 25 years so far, and there’s no evidence they will do stupid things that are bad for anime fans.
And yet… Sony has remarkably bad judgment when it comes to some of the projects they green-light, and I am worried about this spilling over into the anime world. When Sony hit big with the 2002’s Spider-Man film, they responded to this success by planning endless sequels and reboots and spinoffs, until they’d run the series into the ground and needed Marvel to take over for them. Because they did well with The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, they thought the terrible sequel (with none of the same cast) would be a good idea. And they signed off on After Earth, the 2016 Ghostbusters reboot, and the Emoji Movie.
What I’m afraid of is a future in which anime becomes overly reliant on sequels, prequels and reboots of popular series, without breaking new ground and building fresh worlds for us to explore. What do you think?
Magia Record: Agree or Disagree?
What do you think? Are you following Magia Record? Do you think it’s possible to get “too much of a good thing” whre our favorite anime series is concerned? Tell us in the comments below, or on Twitter!
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