As far as I know Magia Record: Puella Magi Madoka Magica Side Story began as a mobile game spinoff from the monstrously successful (and influential) Puella Magi Madoka Magica. With the mobile game not yet available in Australia, my impressions are based on the Magireco (as its known on twitter) anime in isolation.
Magireco clearly shares the visual imagery of its predecessor. It is very much Studio SHAFT from the get go. i.e Like Madoka Magica before it Magireco has a:
…very distinctive visual style that is well worth appreciating. There is a well planned mix of stark clarity in some scenes contrasted with surreal elements in other sequences.
The show begins with an apparently not-too-powerful magical girl Iroha Tamaki struggling both to remember what’s missing from her life, and to fulfil her duties as a magical girl to defeat wishes.
The set up is very similar to the original Madoka Magica: get a wish (the usual caveats apply), become a magical girl, collect grief seeds. So it’s either in an entirely parallel reality, or Madoka Kaname has yet to redeem the magical girls with her own selfless wish.
After checking the Madoka Magica Wikipedia entry I’m leaning towards a parallel reality. Iroha and another magical girl Kuroe hear a rumour that magical girls can be saved, or released from their duties, in Kamihama city. However Madoka Magica was set in the equally fictional city of Mitakihara, and if Magireco was set in the same reality I would expect Mitakihara to be the location of the rumour.
Iroha and Kuroe’s initial visit to the outskirts of Kamihama is not particularly successful, and the franchise trademark of meeting another hostile magical girl who will become a friend/ally later is duly deployed. She is as yet unnamed.
Overall I’m intrigued by Magireco, it looks to be well executed with a potentially interesting story of its own to tell. This is a keeper on the watch list for now.