INTERVIEW: Magia Record Producer Yusuke Toyama and Masaki Sato

After years since its TV anime series debut, Madoka Magica is back with more story and content! As a mobile game, Magia Record: Puella Magi Madoka Magica Side Story made a big splash at Anime Expo 2019 hosted by Aniplex of America. We had the opportunity to speak with producer Yusuke Toyama (Aniplex) and producer Masaki Sato (f4Samurai) about the mobile game. 

Chiwa Saito, Emiri Kato, Yusuke Toyama, Masaki Sato, Mitsutoshi Kubota (SHAFT) [Photo courtesy of Aniplex of America]

What led you to create a mobile smartphone game that’s based on the critically acclaimed Madoka Magica

Yusuke Toyama: We actually had plans to bring the world of Madoka Magica to other forms of media when we started working on the project in the first place.


What was your vision of Magia Record’s story/gameplay and how is it different from the original anime series? 

Masaki Sato: I think the concept of a place, in this case, Kamihama City, where Magical Girls don’t become Witches, is an important factor. We brought the more light-hearted idea of helping your cute and happy Magical Girls grow to the forefront of the gameplay rather than darker elements like despair and retribution. Since it’s a smart phone game and we hope you play every day we didn’t want the tone to be too heavy, and we wanted to depict Magical Girls’ battles in a positive light.

Toyama: Our motivation for producing the game was that we wanted to make use of the Magical Girl world we had built with Madoka Magica. We thought there was plenty of room for there to be many stories set in that world. Because of this, there are elements that feel a little different from Madoka Magica, with the sisterly bond between Ui and Iroha being a major focus of the story.   


Yusuke Toyama (Aniplex), Courtesy of Aniplex of America

I noticed that all 30 characters have interesting backstories and weapons. I especially like Felicia Mitsuki! What were some of the inspirations and influences for each character? 

Toyama: Including Iroha, we had more than 10 entirely new characters drawn for the game. Specifically, we would tell the artist the weapon the character would use and other essential information, along with a simple description of their background, then we had the artist develop the character from there. aokiume has said that in Felicia’s case, when she was told she would use a hammer, she imagined a girl who was like an energetic dwarf when she worked on her.  


Do you have any particular favorite characters to work with and produce?  

Sato: I like all of the characters, really. That said, I do have a small Kyubey and Iroha stuffed animal on my desk in the office.

Toyama: I think by the time you make it to the end of the main story, you’ll have encountered lots of likeable characters like Iroha, Yachiyo, and Ui. Also, I always use Ultimate Madoka in Mirrors battles, our pseudo PVP system in the game for which we will be having a ranking event in North America soon. I hope you’ll shoot for S rank when we hold the ranking event!


What led to the decision to create Magia Record using traditional JRPG mechanics instead of card turn-based mechanics and other gameplay?

Masaki Sato (f4Samurai)

Sato: We were being asked to build a game with a story where Magical Girls would battle and grow, and we thought this model was the best fit for making each and every Magical Girl as valuable as possible in relation to how many resources had to be expended to develop them.

Toyama: We borrowed from the systems that f4samurai had developed. We thought this system gave room for us to put a lot of thought into the game while providing a platform for players to enjoy the game for a long time.


How were you able to implement the original source material into the mobile game? For instance in some games, there are specific game mechanics of why video animation cannot be skipped or why there’s randomization of cards, which is reflective to the series. 

Sato: We used music from Madoka Magica in the game and brought the atmosphere you feel in the show out into the game’s story. One of the big elements of Madoka Magica is the unique feel each Magical Girl has, and that comes out through their weapons and attacks, so we made sure that each Magical Girl in Magia Record has their own unique motions.

Toyama: The tutorial for Magia Record starts with a scene from Madoka Magica. This depicts a split off point from the events of the anime, and we think it clearly positions the game within the overall story of the anime. Also, characters like the small Kyubey and new Witches have all been integrated based on the rules of the world of Madoka Magica.       


When creating the game, what were the most memorable moments for you? 

Sato: I remember being very happy and being even more motivated than ever when I saw the huge sense of expectation from the fans when we first announced the game. Also working long hours with the people who worked on Madoka Magica to come up with a new Magical Girl story and new enemies is a great memory of mine.

Toyama: When we released Magia Record in Japan, we actually had to push the release date back twice. We had to debate a lot and make all sorts of adjustments, but we came up with a good product, so I look back fondly on those times.


Do you have any last remarks for the US players of Magia Record?

Sato: As game developers, one of our biggest hopes for Magia Record was to have the opportunity to bring the game to you guys. We’ve been preparing so we can provide not only a stable service but also hold unique campaigns for North America. While Magia Record has many points we’d like you to pay attention to, one thing we think is unique to Magia Record is the diverse cast of female protagonists this game has to offer.  Each Magical Girl has their own individual personalities, strengths, and weaknesses that we encourage all players to explore and learn more about as they play Magia Record. Through the Magical Girl Stories, we hope you learn more about each character and grow to love them just like we have. I would be really thrilled if you played a little bit each day, shared your experiences with your friends, and made many fond memories together.  

Toyama: Your passion for Magia Record at AX this year was amazing, and we had a great time there ourselves. We’re planning on implementing North American version only Magical Girls into the game, so please look forward to them.  Along with the unique characters, Magia Record has a unique battle system that players can approach casually or view more analytically if they choose to do so.  Each Magical Girl Formation has their own advantages and disadvantages that some players may prefer over others, so we hope everyone has an opportunity to unlock these other formations and test them out with their team of Magical Girls. Additionally, bringing SHAFT onboard to do the transformation animations, main story animations, and opening animations really gives Magia Record something amazing that other titles can’t mimic.  Combined with the animations, the fully voiced character dialog helps bring the story telling of Magia Record to life and we think that’s really incredible, so we hope you enjoy them as much as we have.

A big thank you to Aniplex of America for the wonderful opportunity. Magia Record is now available on the US iTunes Store and Google Play Store

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