Folklore of Zero
The Folklore of Zero (午前0時のフォークロア Gozen Rei-ji no fōkuroa) (or Folklore of 0) is a clandestine organization in Kamihama City consisting of magical girls from Yukuni City (湯国市 Yukuni-shi). They act as a secret society in Arc 2 of Magia Record, and claim to believe in the "beginning of the end (終わりの始まり)" and "Awakening/resignation (諦念)." An aquarium in Minaminagi Ward serves as their base of operations.
In the story draft notes presented at the December 2021 f4fanfes, Folklore of Zero was described as follows:
- Faction name: Folklore of 0
- "Girls who came to wish for extinction after persecution from humans"
- Type: Empty + destructive
- Goal: Eliminate Magical girls from the world and reset everything
- Atmosphere: Bright at first glance, but farsighted/philosophical and nihilistic underneath
- Ideology: Magical girls are only harmful in humanity's eyes; only salvation is death
- Intergroup relations: United by strong, codependent bonds
- Keywords: Ghosts, in hiding, tranquility, airport, charm that pulls people in
Folklore of Zero's origin is the topic of the Ash Grey Revolution event. There, it is revealed that before forming Folklore of Zero, the four girls who now comprise its membership had attempted to publicize the existence of magical girls in their hometown of Yukuni, which led to magical girls being scapegoated for the suffering of humankind. Magical girls were hunted and persecuted in the city, which led to the psychological torment and physical torture of the faction's members. After much suffering, however, the magical girls were able to turn the tide of public opinion in their favor - that is, until a horrific accident occurred that killed all of their supporters, and drove the girls out of their hometown.
The girls work with Professor Tasuke Satomi (Nayuta Satomi's father) and his findings and experiences related to publicizing magical girls. They and Tasuke have observed unnatural behaviors regarding magical girls and their relationship to the public. For example, magical girls seem "programmed" to never discuss their lives as magical girls with non-magical girls, even during the devastating conflicts in Kamihama and Futatsugi City. The greater public was entirely unmoved by the unnatural spike in the deaths of adolescent girls during these conflicts. The feats of historical magical girls like Jeanne d'Arc or Himiko also lack any mention of magic or supernatural feats, or are treated as mere myths and legends rather than material truth. Furthermore, in Tasuke's attempts to document and publicize the truth of magical girls, such as his investigation of the Tokime Clan, he found himself growing deathly ill.
These various factors and more have led Folklore of Zero to hypothesize that there is a greater power - perhaps greater than even the Incubators - that seeks to preserve the magical girl system at all costs, and will not hesitate to eliminate those who threaten it, or to force magical girls to fall back in line. Tasuke, who initially began his research with the ideals of changing society to save magical girls, has instead concluded that such an endeavor is impossible. The goal of Folklore of Zero, then, is to observe the happenings in Kamihama City. If events play out as they did in Yukuni, they will conclude that their hypothesis is correct. From there, they will enact a currently-unknown plan that will result in the prevention of any further magical girls from being created, the very concept of magical girls being forever shunted into mere folklore, and finally, the elimination of all remaining magical girls.
Folklore of Zero's leader, Lavi Himuro, marks the countdown to their plan's enactment with a broken pocketwatch in her possession. As of Ash Grey Revolution, the watch's hands were set to five minutes before midnight, with midnight marking the moment their plan begins. Each death of a magical girl pushes the hands closer to the end; in chapter 7, it is stated that the deaths of Nayuta Satomi, Touka Satomi, Nemu Hiiragi, Kagome Satori, or Himena Aika will instantly move the clock to midnight. Notably, all five of these characters are connected by their desire to publicize the truth of magical girls.
For much of Arc 2, Folklore of Zero embedded various members into Arc 2's factions, excluding Kamihama Magia Union and Puella Care. While Lavi did not join a faction proper, she instead led Nayuta on a wild goose chase to ensure Tasuke's whereabouts remained hidden for as long as possible. While Alexandra Kurusu has claimed that Folklore of Zero only ever acted as observers, in truth, its members have meddled with the faction wars to very significant degrees. Urara Yume, for example, was directly involved in Ui's kidnapping, while Asahi Miura successfully advised Shizuka Tokime to end the alliance between the Tokime Clan and Kamihama Magia Union. Furthermore, the revival of Neo-Magius under Himena Aika was orchestrated by Alexandra herself.
The faction members will also not hesitate to hinder those who would oppose their goals. Lavi, for example, actively leaks misinformation in Nayuta's search for her father and tries to sabotage the alliance between Nayuta and Touka. In another instance, prior to Lavi's conclusion about the five deaths that will instigate Folklore of Zero's eponymous "zero hour," Urara attempts to murder Kagome as the latter seeks to reveal the existence of magical girls to the public. Despite their ruthlessness in some ways, the faction girls have also attempted to manipulate events to more generally favorable conclusions, such as Asahi summoning the ghosts of Felicia's parents to soothe their daughter at the behest of Kako and Ayame, or Urara and Asahi working together in an attempt to prevent the deaths of those they cherished.
This extensive involvement in the events of Arc 2 and Lavi's laissez-faire towards their interception is attributed to their philosophy of resignation: nothing they do will change the course of fate, which is to say the greater universal power that they believe ensures the bleak fates of magical girls. As Asahi summons the ghosts of Felicia's parents to save the latter's life, for example, she also declares that doing so is futile. A recurring theme among the faction's members is that while they all want to cling onto hope, and can't help but attempt to bring about ideal conclusions (such as in Asahi saving Felicia's life, or her and Urara's attempt to do so for others in the Chapter 7 battle with Promised Blood), their experiences have proven to them time and time again that only despair awaits them. To quote Lavi, "If our acting freely could disrupt the Awakening at its source, it'd hardly be something worth believing in to begin with." Simply put, Lavi allows her teammates to do as they feel inclined, as long as they all survive to implement their so-called "Final Salvation." All in all, as Alexandra says to Himena in their trip to Himena's hometown, Folklore of Zero's vision of "salvation" for magical girls differs massively from those of the other factions.
- Lavi Himuro: Leader
- Alexandra Kurusu: Undercover in Neo-Magius
- Ulala Yume: Undercover in Promised Blood
- Asahi Miura: Undercover in the Tokime Clan
- After the events of Ash Grey Revolution, Yukuni City remains extremely hostile to magical girls.
- The "zero" in their faction name refers to "zero hour," or midnight.
- Lavi's pocket watch bears a resemblance to various astronomical clocks, and may be inspired by the Doomsday Clock, made to represent how near or far the world is from a man-made global catastrophe.