Magia Record Story The Masked Student Council Strikes Back (Holy Maiden Academy Edition)
The story dawns with Minou greeting you, the player, on the grounds of the Holy Maiden Academy, and proceeds to explain the nature of the world. It originates from a fake teaser from Puella Magi Tart Magica volume 3, and provides the usual disclaimers that everything here is a work of fiction and has no relationship with any real people or organizations. She assures you to relax and enjoy yourself - nothing in this story exists in memory or history, nor does it exist in the realm of possibility or the future. All of this is simply a "what if" fantasy...
Which is fairly obvious to us as readers and players, isn't it? But there's just one little twist in play: in this story, the characters are all aware they're in a video game world, too.
Now, we pivot to Tart greeting the player, introducing herself and her friends. She and Melissa are the two members of the Bible Study Club, while Riz is the sole member of the Going-Home Club - a club literally dedicated to going home after school. Finally, there's Elisa, whose not a member of any club, and proceeds to explain how she ended up here.
See, last year, after transferring to the Holy Maiden Academy and losing to Melissa in their judo class at gym, Elisa scoured the school for Melissa's club, and burst in on her for a rematch, assuming it was a martial arts club - only to discover it was the Bible Study Club instead. Tart and Melissa explain while they're in the Bible Study Club, they're using the Going Home Club's clubroom. Elisa boggles over what activities they would do (with Riz abruptly cutting off her text box before the player can tap)...but no, it turned out the club really is all about going home after school. In any case, the four of them have been hanging out ever since.
We have a few more flashbacks to set up the characters - such as Monsieur Gilles de Rais, the head of the Tart Fan Club, and their arch-enemies, the masked student council, helmed by Lapin, Corbeau, and Minou. Their conflict began one year ago, and remains ongoing - and little do they know, their next clash is about to begin...
The Masked Student Council is headquartered in the school's clock tower, where they have their army of maids who help carry out their duties. The problem with hanging out in the clock tower, though, is that every time the clock strikes the hour, it causes an ungodly racket all throughout the room - such as during the teatime they're having at that moment. Minou excuses herself as Lapin and Corbeau partake in their tea - another mysterious "factor" has manifested in the school, and she must investigate.
Meanwhile, the Tart Quartet has a breaktime of their own at the school lounge. While the drink of the day is a black tea blend, Riz orders her usual "honey café au lait," which is all but pure honey. Melissa, meanwhile, always has her homemade "grape juice," kept in the three trusty water bottles always by her side - one each for red, white, and rosé. Soon, however, Elisa notices something off with the other students - they're not speaking with each other, but simply smiling and giggling to themselves. An unusual situation is clearly at hand...calling for them to act as magical girls.
They hurry through the school to figure out what's going on, being hounded by students brainwashed into mindless joy, trying to get them to drink a cup of tea. Eventually, they meet with Gilles de Rais and Melissa's father and the school gym teacher, Monsieur La Hire. Through their conversation, the Tart Quartet learns that everyone - students and teachers alike - are affected by the tea, save for the six of them, and figures that the black tea is what's brainwashing everyone. The only people who could manage that are the members of the student council.
Tart turns to the player and breaks into a spontaneous exposition dump - in this "what if" world, magical girls have the duty to resolve mysteries caused by strange, reality-distorting objects that wind up here from alternate universes, called "If Factors." Every incident so far has involved the student council, as though they are seeking out and collecting these objects. Riz just knows they're up to some bigger plan - and speak of the devil, Madame Isabeau shows up, passing through the halls like always, giving the Quartet no heed.
The Quartet manages to wrangle one of the student council maids serving the tea to others...along with an army of brainwashed tea drinkers. After the battle, the maid rouses awake, and explains how she randomly found the teapot in one of the school kitchenettes, overflowing with wonderful-smelling tea. As soon as she had a drink, she was compelled to serve it to everyone. The maid insists the student council had nothing to do with this, but the Quartet understandably finds that hard to believe (especially given that the tea is an English blend), and head over to the clock tower - but not before dumping out the teapot, which, strangely, had somehow refilled itself during their conversation...
They burst into the student council's super secret lair, only to find Lapin and Corbeau have been brainwashed along with the others - meaning it's likely they really did have no involvement with this teapot incident. Speaking of which, the teapot had refilled itself even faster than before, prompting them to dump it out again before they run over to see if they can figure things out with the school's mysterious teacher, the one and only Ms. Specs.
There, after giving Ms. Specs the rundown, the tea refills itself yet again, which strikes Ms. Specs as dangerous. She goes on to explain the If Factors a little more - that they are the physical incarnation of people's dreams and desires - a "what if," if you will. Sometimes, these If Factors are quirky trinkets, or even powerful enough to make an alternate world/dimension, like their own Holy Maiden Academy, but this teapot is unfortunately different. Ms. Specs speculates it likely originated from an idle desire like "if only I had a teapot that could produce an endless supply of delicious tea, everyone would be happy" - and now that it's manifested in their world, it's breaking reality. In this case, at the rate the teapot is generating tea, it will drown the entire world by the end of the day.
So what can they do? Nothing. They wait for the bad end to kick in, and it does, destroying the world. Minou chuckles at your antics, and then remarks that since this is merely a "what if" world, then with a mere snap of her fingers, she can "what if" you and the world back to life.
And she does.
The characters wake up after the reset, shrugging off the apocalypse - they're quite used to the world ending and being reset, and deal with it like any other fact of life. They soon roll into their next set of shenanigans, with Melissa discovering a Wikipedia-esque website, If-pedia, that contains everything one could possibly know about information behind their world. The page on their school, for example, describes it as something like: "Holy Maiden Academy is a fictional international school that appeared at the end of Volume 3 of Puella Magi Tart ☆ Magica. It is a French mission school known for its beautiful school building that resembles a medieval castle."
It includes things all the info on their failed teapot ending, or all the secret factions vying for control over the school, and "detailed profiles on all of the characters," but what really catches their eyes is the info on the school cafe's menu - honey galettes are on sale today, and Riz is all for trying them out! They decide to hustle over to the cafe, swing open the door, and find...it's a door to a mind-bending void. They try again and again, finding the door leads to somewhere completely new each time, like the French countryside or the site of Kamiket. It seems they've found something related to the next If Factor - something that must break spatial logic and relationships.
Eventually, the door leads to another room in school, and they figure it's progress. They find Acting Chancellor Charles in there, unconscious, and with his mother, Isabeau's, beloved vase shattered. When he comes to, he's distraught - if Isabeau finds her favorite vase was destroyed, the world will surely end. And if it's Charles who did it...he'll be kicked out as the head of the school! The gang can't let that happen!
The gang proceeds into the bizarre labyrinth once more, warping through various settings a few times before finally ending up back at Ms. Specs's classroom. They question her about what's going on and get a big exposition dump, where she reveals that the academy was founded 115 years ago. Ms. Specs pulls up some old photos from back then, with a woman who looks very suspiciously like her in one of them, along with Isabeau. The Quartet realizes Isabeau's family has actually held control of the school for a long time, which is odd - they've made no further power grabs in a century. Why maintain the status quo without expanding control? Riz supposes the intent may be to keep the school under surveillance for some other purpose.
We cut to Minou, who affirms to the player that yes, this is precisely why. She starts to explain why the council has made the labyrinth to begin with - you see, a certain something is missing from the council room. She flips between a before and after of the council room to allow the player to play spot the difference, and of course, a vase that was present "before" is no longer there "after." Since they don't want to take the fall for breaking Isabeau's cherished vase, they framed Charles, and created the labyrinth so no one, especially Isabeau, could enter the council room and uncover the truth. And, strangely, there's a kitten hanging around, one that Lapin befriended. But what's the kitten doing there? Well, they don't know - but they shrug it off for now.
Meanwhile, the Tart Quartet ends up back at the school cafe, where they decide to take a break and order a honey galette - one that takes over twenty minutes to prepare.
We cut back over to the student council scheming even more, where they reveal the labyrinth has been engineered to uncover and exploit people's weaknesses to prevent them from finding the council room. For example, it exploits Riz's honey craving to make them waste time in the cafeteria instead of looking for the council room, or exploiting what seems to be Ms. Specs' desire to drop exposition on people, which buys the council even more time. Isabeau is trapped in the labyrinth as well, as they need her to be...and Lapin is sitting in the council room playing a phone game. Corbeau decides to embark in the labyrinth and crush the Tart Quartet rather than risk discovery, causing Lapin to go "Nooo, you have to promise you'll come back," and Corbeau goes, "Don't worry, once I get back, we'll have a weekend vacation at the hot springs" - Minou kindly asks them to refrain from raising up death flags. For some reason, though, they find the kitten seems insistent on accompanying Corbeau, who lets it come along.
Back at the cafeteria, Melissa indulges in some more "grape juice," revealing that there's an odd stone inside her bottle - one her father received from a kind and generous man some time ago, which has a catalytic reaction that makes the juice taste amazing. (In the meantime, we also find that Melissa plays the same game as Lapin and becomes her in-game friend)
Just then, Tart gets an idea - why not try to look up what's going on through If-pedia? They do so, and discover some huge facts - first of all, that the grounds of the academy would make for an amazing hot springs, and second, that their school is undergoing a limited-time labyrinth event! The girls discover the twist about the labyrinth "exploiting weaknesses" in the event description, and soon, Riz realizes the nature of the website: If-pedia isn't a reflection of reality, but reality is a reflection of If-pedia. If-pedia, then, is the If Factor here - the student council has been editing it in order to edit the world, thus creating this labyrinth.
They spring to get back in the labyrinth again, but find Corbeau waiting in the next room, itching for a fight. Before they can fight, though, Riz spots the cat...and her heart melts over how cute it is. That's the point of the cat, they realize - since the labyrinth exploits weaknesses, it seems the kitten was drawn here to activate Riz's weakness for cute things. While the Quartet wants to retreat, Corbeau gets the fight she's looking for by threatening the kitten - and they have no choice but to engage.
Meanwhile, Minou has embarked into the labyrinth to find Isabeau, but instead encounters bunch of flashbacks, like a scene of her and her sisters from the second Tart event, or the moment she killed Corbeau in canon. Minou concludes that the labyrinth has determined her critical weakness to be fact that she, unlike everyone else, still carries these memories...
Back to the Quartet, they save the cat and escape. Corbeau tries pursuing the Quartet, finding another door to open - and once she and her maids do so, the sight shocks her. Before we can see it, though, we move over to the Quartet. Melissa realizes she suddenly has editing rights over If-pedia - before, that seemed to be solely within the power of the student council. She deletes the page on the labyrinth event, and...just like that, everything's back to normal. Well...almost normal. Melissa takes liberties to edit Elisa's page so Elisa exuberantly praises Melissa, much to Elisa's chagrin.
The masked girls find themselves warped back to the council room, too, and quickly realize what happened. Well, things were getting too complicated, anyway, so they figure it's all for the best. That just means they have to figure out what to do about the vase...and how it broke to begin with.
Long story short, it comes out that Lapin was responsible - as mentioned before, since the council room is right underneath the clock tower's bell, every time it rings, it blasts through the room, scaring everyone. She got startled at one point while playing her game and almost broke the vase, so put it aside on a chair so she wouldn't bump into it again. That put it in reach of the kitten who spawned into the room, and when she left the room...cats being cats, that spelled the end of the vase.
The girls decide to see if they can edit If-pedia to make it so the vase never broke to begin with, only to realize that Isabeau has been in the room all this time, listening to them...and everything begins to rumble. The girls panic, and in their rush, they end up deleting the home directory for If-pedia - and once again, the world ends.
Things are getting too much for the Tart Quartet. The end of the world isn’t a big deal in this "what if" world - but it is starting to get annoying at this point. They conclude that someone must have deleted If-pedia, thus destroying the world, and go to Ms. Specs for more exposition - this time, about the true nature of the world. Elisa has already connected some dots - Ms. Specs established that the whole world is an If Factor, and that If Factors are born from people's desires or wishes. Who, then, wanted this world to come into being? What was the wish that created this world?
Ms. Specs explains that six hundred years ago, Isabeau wanted to take over France and became the Crépuscule de La Reine; long story short, the Tart Quartet and Corbeau and Lapin are reincarnations of their Tart Magica selves. Meanwhile, recall that at the end of Tart Magica, on the English side, there were only two survivors among Isabeau's family - Isabeau's shambling, mindless body, and Minou. Surely, Ms. Specs speculates, Minou had been agonizing for the longest time, with many dreams that began with the words, "What if...?" Such as, what if she could bring back her mother's monstrous form?
But a simple "what if" by itself isn't enough to make something into an actual world. The manifestation of desires and obsessions into reality requires an incredibly powerful catalyst, such as one that medieval alchemists dedicated their lives to creating - the Philosopher's Stone. Only two alchemists had succeeded in this task - Nicholas Flamel, and his wife Pernelle...in other words, Ms. Specs herself. With two stones in hand, she and Nicholas were able to create an elixir of immortality, allowing them both to remain unchanged (and she proceeds to go off gushing about her beloved "Nico"). One stone remains in their possession, while Nico donated the second to someone in need, which ultimately ended up in Minou's hands.
Since the Philosopher's Stone is such a powerful magical catalyst, then over the span of six hundred years, it was able to conjure Minou's dream of a world of the Crépuscule de La Reine's rebirth into a "what if" actuality - and that actuality is the world of Holy Maiden Academy. Only recently have the rest of the Tart cast been reincarnated into this "what if "world.
Ms. Specs reveals it's been possible for quite some time to summon the Crépuscule once more - and yet Minou has continued to wait. So why hasn't she revived her? Simple - Minou won't be satsified with her being reborn in a mere "what if" world. She wants her mother's monstrous form to exist in the real one. She wants to breach the barrier between "what if" and "reality." And for that, she needs an extremely strong If Factor to be that catalyst.
We return to Minou once more, where she applauds Pernelle's insights. Yes, she does indeed need a powerful If Factor from another world to allow her mother to enter the real one. But what Ms. Specs didn't say is that Minou has finally acquired just what she needs. And that factor is a certain little Mokyu - in other words, you, the player!
Mokyu ended up in this world after falling asleep on Ui's phone (or "the Book of Prophecy" from the second Tart event), and thanks to wibbly-wobbly-timey-wimey If Factor stuff that's never really explained, Mokyu and the phone ended up in Minou's "What if" world. Lapin wound up finding the phone when it and Mokyu first manifested into the world and has been playing her phone game on it, while Mokyu has now been captured by the student council, stuck listening to Minou's monologues.
Since Mokyu is trapped with her and her plan is all but ensured, Minou elaborates on her scheme. By using one of the If Factors she's collected, she's been able to take a look at what's going on in the real world's present day, discovering things like Touka and Nemu's powers to convert energy and manifest dreams, or Kagome's ambition to document and reveal the truth of magical girls, and all the ways magical girls have brought about miracles. Minou's gambit, then, is to use Ui's phone to record Isabeau's witch casting the world into darkness and chaos. She'll return the phone to the real world with Mokyu, but not before casting a compulsion spell on Mokyu to force people in the real world to share the video with everyone else.
From there, all it will take is one Magical Girl who wants to watch the world burn (say, a Hanna or Mitama, though Minou doesn't use those specific examples) to wish for Isabeau to be reborn in the real world. It doesn't have to be right away - with the Philosopher's Stone in hand, guaranteeing her immortality, all Minou needs is to plant the possibility and wait for the inevitable. To do so, however, Minou needs to get Ui's phone from Lapin, which is a fairly easy trade. See, Lapin wants to start whaling on her game, but Ui's phone is set up to prevent spending money, while Minou's isn't. First, however, she needs to transfer her game over to Minou's phone (Corbeau offers a friendly reminder to set up your transfer ID and password and maintain backups of them). That settled, she and Isabeau commence the ritual to awaken Isabeau's witch form.
The Tart Quartet and Pernelle figure out what's going on as well, and need to gather info on any methods to send Mokyu back to the real world before Minou can hatch her plan. (Elisa proposes they keep things simple and just shoot Mokyu dead, but Tart objects since that's what villains do) Meanwhile, Melissa plays her game and sends texts to the new player she's befriended, since they've exchanged contact info. Upon Pernelle finding a document about how ringing the clock tower bells can return interlopers back to their home world, Melissa remarks how this scenario shares similarities with an event in the game she's playing - a certain game called Magireco, in an event called The Chiming Bell That Transcends Time...
Well, they choose not to overthink it and get on the move. At least, they would, if they weren't surrounded by the minions of the student council. Tart blasts them aside, and Melissa and Elisa head to the tower to ring the bell, while Tart, Riz and Pernelle move to stop the ritual itself. The Masked Sisters, however, only need to buy themselves time to complete the ritual - and so, on their way to the clock tower, however, Melissa and Elisa encounter Lapin, and brace themselves for a battle.
With Lapin's fight underway and the ritual going as planned, Corbeau decides to intercept Tart's team. She warns her maids to be careful, that there's a chance Tart's team will break through despite Corbeau's efforts, then goes over to Minou, who is in a deep trance due to the ritual. She explains that she knows in her previous life that she was no match for Tart and her friends, and despite all the odds being in their favor, things may go all wrong again. But even if they do, she assures Minou that she'll always be by her side - even if the whole world turns against them. Minou has heard it all, though, and seems quite unsettled that Corbeau now remembers everything...
Corbeau fights with Tart's team (and throwing in a title drop for good measure), and Lapin with Melissa and Elisa; the latter realize this is a stalling tactic, and try to contact Tart, but Lapin intensifies the fight, which makes Melissa send it to the wrong number. Tart's team realizes the stalling tactic as well, and first agree to rendezvous with Melissa and Elisa to take out the clock tower - but Corbeau blocks their escape. In doing so, however, she gives Tart and Pernelle an opening to rush to the ritual site, giving Corbeau the 1-on-1 fight with Riz she craves - she knows the ritual is almost complete, and will enjoy herself to the fullest until then.
As they approach, Pernelle gets a text from Nico - he's explained the Philosopher's Stone she asked him to secure is gone, having donated it some time ago to a total stranger. Well, on the bright side, it at least means it can't fall into Minou's hands, and get a move on - just as Minou strolls in, chiding them for running in the halls, which is a violation of school policy. As it turns out, while Minou isn't much of a fighter, her strength of her magic corresponds to her mother's - and as Isabeau grows yet more powerful, as does Minou. She and Tart engage in battle.
In the midst of their fight, the world begins to tremble - Pernelle realizes Isabeau must be fully reborn now. Tart cuts off the battle and rushes into the ritual hall, finally reuniting with Mokyu, who's strapped onto Ui's phone. Minou follows them, chuckling to herself about the fulfillment of her plan, and the spell she's cast on Mokyu seems to activate, sending Mokyu into a trance as the phone records a video. Pernelle observes the phone, and tries to deactivate the recording, but Minou catches on, slapping her away, just as the school building begins to break free from the earth. Pernelle and Tart have no choice but to evacuate, as Minou heralds the rebirth of her mother's true form.
Meanwhile, Elisa and Melissa finally take out Lapin, and Melissa tries sending another message to Tart - only to accidentally plug in the wrong contact again. Before they can do anything else, however, they, too, realize the school building is lifting off, and run. Finally, Riz and Corbeau deal their final blows, knocking each other out. Tart manages to rescue Riz, and everyone escapes in the nick of time, reuniting with each other. Melissa decides - recognizing it as a sudden fit of foreshadowing - that in times like these, she needs her grape juice...except it looks like she accidentally dropped her water bottles in the boss fight with Lapin! But there's no time to fuss over that now - Isabeau has become her witch form, erupting all over the academy grounds and beyond.
The Quartet agrees they're better off destroying this "what if" world than see the real one annihilated with it (and besides, it'll come back in no time), though Tart protests again, saying it's villain talk. Even so, they have no choice - their only way out is to take Mokyu and the phone and send them to the real world, and rally for a desperate final stand...
And, well, the Tart Quartet loses. With all obstacles eliminated, Ui's phone has successfully recorded Isabeau, and Mokyu is still stuck wearing it. It all paves the way for Minou's plan to come to fruition. She orders the council maids to ring the bell, but suddenly notices something - the phone isn't glowing anymore. She quickly examines the phone...and realizes that one of the texts Melissa had accidentally sent to Ui's phone (which was formerly Lapin's), which caused the video app to crash, meaning that absolutely nothing of Isabeau's revival was documented. Minou panics and orders the maids to cease all operations, but it's too late - the bells ring...and Mokyu and the phone vanish. Minou can only scream as six hundred years of planning are blown away at the finish line.
Mokyu wakes up from his nap in a terrible fright. Iroha figures the sound of a text being sent to Ui's phone - which Mokyu was laying on - must have startled him awake. Mokyu seems so convinced that the bad dream was real, though, and Iroha and Ui help assure Mokyu there's nothing to worry about - it was all just a bad dream...wasn't it?
Finally, we end with Minou in her blighted world, devastated that her six hundred years of isolation, planning, and waiting have come to naught. Wearily, she uses the Philosopher's Stone to return her world to as it was six hundred years ago, so that she may begin anew - and finds herself alone once more, and this time in an empty castle - a place born from her desires.
Alone, Minou has nothing to do but ruminate - how she will not give up, no matter how many hundreds or thousands of years it will take, no matter how many times she must try again. The mask she wears is one of determination - everything she has done is for her mother's sake, even killing her own sisters. Her sins are best left in the past, as means to an end, and yet...she simply can't let go of those memories.
Corbeau and Lapin quite literally crash into the scene; Minou is floored, but Corbeau says she has no excuse to be surprised - she said she'd never leave her sisters alone, and also that she would stand by Minou's side, even if the whole world turned against them...or if Minou was the one turning on them. Corbeau explains she knows everything that happened - she looked herself up on If-pedia, and in the labyrinth, the door she opened showed her memories of the real world. Corbeau understands why Minou did what she did - Minou puts their mother above everything else, and will destroy any perceived threat to that end, even Corbeau. She doesn't hold anything against Minou and forgives her for her betrayal.
Lapin quickly recognizes what they're talking about - it's just like the event going on in her game right now: that game being Magia Record, and the event being "Rebel of an Endless Land" (sic). It's super interesting to her, but it has a totally unrealistic plotline, she says, where Minou kills Corbeau. Unfortunately, they can't play the game right now, give that they're back in an If World set in the fifteenth century, long before any video game was in service.
Speaking of which, Minou asks how her sisters were able to reach Minou's If World. It's simple - they made a wish to save Minou, using the second Philosopher's Stone they found in one of the water bottles Melissa lost. That just leaves the question of what they do from here. Minou warns them against standing with her on this plan to revive Isabeau's witch - there's no assurance they will succeed this time, after all. But since this "What if" world is much like a video game, it's no big deal - if they fail, they just need to restart and try, try again. After all, Lapin and Corbeau just want to help their little sister - when Minou gets what she wants, so do they. And in this If World, where the impossible becomes possible...that just might happen. And so, their plans to revive Isabeau begin once more - but this time, Minou is not alone, and they vow to get things right this time.