The Spring 2022 AniTAY Sequel Guide (Part 2, The Sequel)
Y’all know the drill, this is simply the second part of our seasonal Sequel Guide. Part one can be found here! In this entry, we began to experiment with For/Against entries, similar to what we do for Honorable Mentions on the regular collab piece. Please be aware that these are just the opinions of our writers, and we promise we don’t hate each other!
Magia Record: Puella Magi Madoka☆Magica Side Story Final Season: Dawn of a Shallow Dream
Presented by: Alistair (For), Doctorkev (Against)
Genres: Dark Magical Girl, Fantasy, Misery, Existential Horror, Unrestrained Gacha-fuelled GREED
Why You Should Catch Up: It is the finale of a great adaption from the mobile RPG video game of the same name, developed as a spin-off based on the 2011 series Puella Magi Madoka Magica. This is a simple yet compellingly warm story about a magical girl named Iroha Tamaki, a great example of a narrator whose credibility compromises due to her psychological emptiness, as well as its manifestation through her doppelganger, which motivates her to go to Kamihama City and search for her missing sister.
Shaft, the studio behind the original series, is back for Magia Record and recreates the iconic visual style and avant-garde cinematography of the original. Magia Record delivers an accurate and precise quality job to get us back to the nihilistic universe of the franchise in a truthful fashion, particularly when CGI fuses with hand-drawn art.
The openings, endings, and soundtrack set an appropriately bombastic and unsettling tone through energetic electro-pop tunes, fairytale music, and a mystery/action vibe with feelings of anguish.
As a welcomed expansion, it adds its own flavor by playing with the concepts established previously (magical girls, familiars, and witches), creating new interpretations (doppels, rumors based on popular urban legends, and connects) that feel fresh and rich because they explore a new territory rather than offering a déjà vu experience. It is a story that stimulates the curiosity of the viewer by establishing a situation without a prior explanation so the story can unfold eventually.
The difference between this and the 2011 original resides in Magia Record’s approach to exploring the idea of exploitation of man by man between equals with uninformed consent and selective misinformation as misguided means to solve the conflict. Kyubey (Mephistopheles) plays no major role in this story, unlike the original, changing the narrative to one focused on the characters themselves rather than an external force, as a different antagonist has taken his place to prevent him from interfering. Doing this provides a delicate balance between breaking previously established rules and staying true to the original work.
The symbolic use of masks and doppels to reflect changes in the personality of characters is very effective. On one hand, it shows a transition period after they fall in despair and somehow manage to regain control after deciding to use the power they have properly to face a problem. On the other hand, this intensifies the self-image each character has and how it can be reinstated or altered. It is a reflection of how an adolescent overcomes negative emotions by producing positive ones and manages stress to succeed while not succumbing to anxiety.
Characters are appealing due to how easy it is to distinguish one from the other. Their motivations provide additional conflicts that are interesting since they explore how friendships work and how quickly relationships, even between siblings, can become toxic. In addition, the amount of characters from different places establishes the paradox that caught these girls as a plague acrossJapan rather than an isolated event in a prefecture or region.
This side story happens at the same time in the mainline the battle against Walpurgis takes place to let it flow at its own pace, introducing new power activation mechanics (connects and transformation sequences). It is a more optimistic perspective with no need to outlive the legacy of Puella Magi Madoka Magica as a sample of many variations created previously to exploit the nostalgia of old fans and lure newcomers alike. Walpurgisnacht is upon us, rejoice.
Alternatively, Why You Shouldn’t Catch Up (by Doctorkev):
2011’s Madoka Magica was a succinct, perfectly-formed, 12-episode slice of well-paced and intricately-structured hope mixed with despair. I was both excited and nervous about the prospect of more. 2013’s sequel movie Rebellion proved divisive, with an ending that ripped up the parent show’s neat conclusion, leaving a gaping wound, perhaps mendable only by the recently-announced sequel movie Walpurgisnacht Rising.
How does Magia Record fit in? It doesn’t. This is a side story, invented purely to spin wheels as an episodic enticement to continue playing a never-ending gacha game. Well, I say that, but the international (English-language) version of the game was canceled in October 2020, a little over a year after release, so the Magia Record anime promotes a game that fans outside of Japan can’t even play (or at least comprehend). Without the guiding hand of original writer Gen Urobuchi, Magia Record is a poorly-structured and thematically empty, ersatz version of Madoka Magica, a formulaic and frankly boring tale that apes the basic “magical girl” shows the original subverted so cleverly.
Madoka Magica succeeded because of its laser-focused attention on five main girls, their strong personalities, motivations, and mistakes. Magia Record, because of its gacha-game origin, tries to cram in a dizzying number of peripheral characters, often at the expense of its central quintet, who seem frustratingly poorly-drawn despite almost doubling their progenitor’s episode count. I could tell you almost nothing about protagonist Iroha Tamaki, other than she’s a bit shy, she misses her sister, and her pink-and-white colour scheme is clearly meant to reference Madoka’s.
While production duties are once more executed by premier anime studio Shaft, unlike Madoka Magica, Magia Record is not helmed by master director Akiyuki Shinbou. Without the guiding hands of either its original writer or director, Magia Record can’t help but seem like empty “product”, churned out merely to drain further cash from gacha slaves. Although the ongoing pandemic can’t have helped, the final few episodes of 2021’s second season were hopelessly unfinished, with incomplete scenes, missing transitions, undubbed lip flaps, unsubtitled dialogue. It made an already bloated, overlong, and confusing story incomprehensible.
On those occasions where Magia Record ups the ante on its action scenes, it can at times almost approach a superficial level of parity with Madoka Magica. However, even the vaguely clever plot mechanics can’t elevate the pedestrian structure and pace inherited from the game. If you’ve not already started with this spinoff, please don’t waste your time.
Time to Catch Up + What You Need to Watch (if you really must):
Puella Magi Madoka☆Magica: 12 episodes: 5 hours
Puella Magi Madoka☆Magica The Movie: Rebellion: 2 hours
Magia Record: Puella Magi Madoka☆Magica Side Story Season 1: 13 episodes: 5.5 hours
Magia Record: Puella Magi Madoka☆Magica Side Story Season 2: 8 episodes: 3.5 hours
Where to Catch Up (Though it’s not too late, you can turn back now):
Puella Magi Madoka☆Magica: International: Netflix. US: Netflix, Hulu, HBO Max, Funimation, Crunchyroll
Puella Magi Madoka☆Magica The Movie: Rebellion: International: Blu-ray only. Unavailable to stream. US: Rent or buy from Apple, Google, YouTube, Microsoft.
Magia Record: Puella Magi Madoka☆Magica Side Story Seasons 1 and 2: Crunchyroll, Funimation, HIDIVE
Rising of the Shield Hero: Second Season
Presented by: Marquan (For), Kinksy (Against)
Studio: Kinema Citrus
Genre: Isekai, Fantasy, Action
Why You Should Catch Up (by Marquan):
Atop the peak of Japan’s tallest mountain sits the lead of an anime with mysteries that keep you anticipating the next episode, action that has you yelling at the top of your lungs while being treated to more fanservice than you could ever ask for. This…is not that anime.
It’d be an understatement to say that Rising of the Shield Hero was a divisive anime when it first aired back in 2019. Some felt that it was nothing more than the newest edgelord power fantasy, complete with a main character being wronged in the first episode, vowing to get stronger and exact revenge. Our lead, Naofumi, is accused of rape by one of the kingdom’s princesses, which is a big no-no in any country, let alone a matriarchal one like to which Naofumi was summoned.
Now, this is where Shield Hero lost a lot of people; well, that, and Naofumi buying a slave. And I’ll admit, using rape, even a false accusation as plot device, is lazy, uninspired, and overall pretty horrible. The anime almost lost me too, but I have a thing for revenge stories, and to my surprise, my wife wanted to stick with it. So we pushed through the uncomfortable first episode.
What we’re treated to over the course of this anime is a story of redemption, personal growth and survival, not only for the titular character but his slowly growing party as well. We get dashes of mystery sprinkled throughout what is essentially a traveling/merchant simulation anime that happens to have action and RPG elements. We get the flashy battles, the corny dialogue, and cute girls gravitating towards a lead that has been put through the ringer, but still manages to become OP, relatable, and worthy of being rooted for. What more do you need?
Plus, I can’t be the only sucker for a nice cape out there.
Alternatively, Why You Shouldn’t Catch Up (by Kinksy):
What more do you need? How about a show that doesn’t feel like it’s treading water? I’m not going to tell you that you shouldn’t watch Shield Hero because of its controversial aspects, such as the slavery and the rough start. If you’re even considering watching season 2, you already know about those. I’m going to break down every other aspect of it instead. Shield Hero suffers from being one of the earlier isekai light novels getting adapted far too late after many other shows have done the formula in better and more interesting ways. It even fails to measure up to its contemporary show: Mushoku Tensei. As much as the anime wants you to like Naofumi, he never really elevates himself to being a character you actually want to root for, and he only shines in comparison to absolute human garbage like the princess Malty or her loyal simp Spear Knight, Motoyasu, who sees her as incapable of doing wrong.
Speaking of the Spear Hero, with a 2nd and 3rd season of Shield Hero announced, we approach a bleak future: one in which a sequel series about Motoyasu, objectively one of the worst characters in this cavalcade of awful people, could get greenlit. Please don’t allow this to happen. Even the author knows it’s terrible; he was so mad at his fans for enjoying the bad parts and hating the only interesting things about it that he extended the ending into self-admitted trite cliche bullshit out of spite, and when the fans ate that up, he invoked the monkey paw and gave them more of the worst, in the form of The Restart of the Spear Hero. Please, don’t be those fans. Let it die in obscurity before it festers.
Time To Catch Up + What You Need to Watch
Rising of the Shield Hero S1: 25 episodes, approx. 8 hours.
Where to Catch Up: Crunchyroll, our new anime overlord, has all of season 1 available to stream.
Science Fell In Love, So I Tried To Prove It r=1-sinθ
Presented by: Requiem
Genre(s): Comedy, Romance, Totally Legit Science
Why You Should Be Watching, Empirically:
Look, dear reader, I’m going to level with you. This is where I’m supposed to dazzle you with some kind of deeply insightful analysis that breaks down in detail why you should be watching Science Fell In Love So I Tried To Prove It Season 2. In fact, that would be thematically appropriate for this show. But if I, your humble chronicler of worthy anime, am to be completely honest with you, there’s really only one reason you should watch: it’s really, really funny.
Now, as often stated by an Australian lawyer friend of mine, simply saying “comedy is good because funny” is insufficient. Humor is subjective, so why is it funny? That’s the key. ScienceLove mines most of its jokes from its characters being ridiculously focused “science types” who are so unaware of how love works they try to quantify it scientifically, and it’s hilarious. From trying to understand the romantic quotient of a sunset to testing saliva for oxytocin to verify happiness and a 2D dating obsessed colleague who does a whole presentation on the perfect algorithm for the routes in a dating sim, it’s the joke of “what if you took love way too seriously as a scientific inquiry” drawn out to ridiculous lengths. Look, maybe a woman rejecting a potential suitor by whipping out a laptop and giving a detailed PowerPoint presentation on his faults isn’t funny to you (somehow), so how about cutaways where a bear dressed as a professor explains complicated scientific terms to the audience whilst being kind of a dick about it? If a shit-talking science bear isn’t funny, I don’t want to live in this world anymore.
The real key to making this all work is the cast really feels like a dysfunctional but still loving family. While most of them are there to get in their gags or funny reactions, they’re given just enough depth to make you care about them. On the legendary Protonstorm Memorial Romance/Comedy Scale, Science Fell In Love definitely falls more on the comedy side, but that doesn’t mean the romance is wasted; I find myself rooting for this couple, even though they’re the two smartest idiots in anime history.
In the end, all I can say is: if you found the first season funny at all, you will likely enjoy season 2. If you didn’t catch it the first time around, I highly encourage you to give it a couple of episodes — I bet you’ll find yourself laughing.
And again — I can’t stress this enough — they have a Science Bear.
What You Need to Watch + Time to Catch Up:
Science Fell In Love So I Tried To Prove It Season 1 (12 Episodes, approx. 6 hours)
Where to Catch Up: Crunchyroll
Tiger and Bunny Season 2
Presented by: Doctorkev
Studio: Bandai Namco Pictures
Genres: Drama, Superhero, Sci-fi
Why You Should Catch Up:
Before My Hero Academia became the poster child for “US-style superheroes, but anime”, there was 2011’s popular and successful TV show Tiger and Bunny. Aside from a sort-of-recap movie in 2012, a sequel movie in 2014, and a more-or-less unrelated spinoff in 2018, the franchise went extremely quiet until the recent announcement of a surprise second season, exclusive to Netflix. Set for another twenty-five episodes, this will be split-cour, with the first thirteen episodes available on April 8th and the final twelve due later in 2022.
The titular Tiger and Bunny are the terminally mismatched, squabbling pair of superheroes Wild Tiger/Kotatsu Kaburagi and Bunny/Barnaby Brooks Jr. Although they share identical superpowers, their personalities and motivations often clash, not aided by a significant age difference. Kotatsu is a veteran hero whose powers are beginning to fade, and he’s less than enthused to be teamed up with a confident and flashy new hero whose youth and abilities triggers Kotatsu’s insecurities. In this alternate version of New York, in the city “Stern Bild”, corporations sponsor superheroes, providing equipment and practical support in return for blatant advertising and product placement on the top-rated “Hero TV” network.
The clash of corporate and altruistic ideals inherent in the commercialisation of superhero work informs the central interpersonal conflicts and provides a fascinating, almost dystopian backdrop to what is otherwise a fairly upbeat, sometimes humorous, colourful and action-filled spectacle. Although the hilarious and obnoxiously corporate-branded superhero exo-suits are entirely CGI, their bright colours and cartoony aesthetic blend well with the high-quality traditional animation.
With a strong peripheral cast of other misfit heroes, the show explores various aspects of its culture using individual characters and their struggles. Blue-haired idol singer/cold-powered hero Blue Rose rails against her corporate sponsors who force her to repetitively quote catchphrases that paint her as some kind of icy dominatrix, with a revealing Pepsi-Cola-branded outfit to match. Kotatsu himself struggles to balance life as a corporate slave/superhero with being an attentive single (widowed) father to his adorable daughter Kaede. His horror at Kaede’s crush on the dashing Barnaby is hilarious.
Season one’s otherwise satisfying ending left various plot threads dangling that were not resolved in the follow-up movie The Rising, so let’s hope these are picked up in the upcoming second season.
Time to Catch Up + What You Need to Watch:
TV show Tiger and Bunny Season 1: 25 episodes — 10 hours
Movie 1: Tiger and Bunny: The Beginning: Retells episodes 1+2 for the first half, new story set between episodes 2 and 3 for the second half — 90 minutes
Movie 2: Tiger and Bunny: The Rising: New story set after the epilogue of episode 25
Optional: Double Decker! Doug & Kirill: Shares many production staff, apparently set in the same world as Tiger and Bunny, no overt in-show connections. 13 episodes — 5.5 hours.
Where to Catch Up:
Tiger and Bunny Season 1: Netflix (US+international), Hulu, Peacock, Vudu, Tubi TV (all US only).
Tiger and Bunny Movies 1&2: Streams with ads on Tubi TV, rent or buy from Apple, Google, Microsoft, YouTube (US and Canada only). International: out-of-print blu-ray/DVD, no streaming options.
Double Decker! Doug & Kirill: Streams internationally on Crunchyroll