Magia Record Story The Legendary Story of the Paper Mulberry Leaf ~The Swaying Feeling, Once Again Fascinating~
One day, in the approach to Tanabata, Yachiyo bumps into Tsuruno on a day when school is out. As it turns out, Yachiyo's latest job entails her performing in a recorded drama with Sayu-Sayu that will be screened on the night of the festival, and later broadcast online. Tsuruno, however, recalls Yachiyo's dire performance in Karin's Halloween play, and realizes Yachiyo must be incredibly nervous about this production, too - so she decides to join Yachiyo, and Yachiyo welcomes it.
They find Ria and Mayu are assisting with makeup and costume work on the set. Yachiyo recognizes Ria, calls her by name(!), and praises her for her makeup work and asks for tips from her - which makes Ria drop the rival act and bask in internally fangirling for a moment. With so many magical girls gathered on set, though, Yachiyo gets a bit anxious, recalling the incident in Rondo of Oblivion and how several magical girls making a movie, with their magic powers (intentionally and accidentally) involved, rapidly turned into a disaster. Tsuruno tells her not to fear - if anything happens, they've got the Mightiest Magical Girl on their side, and she'll do whatever it takes for her Master!
Tsuruno soon wins over everyone on the production team with her exuberance and cheer, just as coincidentally, the play's co-star had to drop out of the production. The director, realizing that Tsuruno is perfectly suited for that role, asks Tsuruno to take it on instead. The notion of starring with Yachiyo wins over Tsuruno, and she eagerly accepts her new role.
The play is a sort of fairy tale historical drama about an ancient Mizuna legend. Long ago, in the midst of a punishing famine, a selfish lord extracted a huge tax from the people so he could spend it on his luxuries. Two girls with incredible martial arts skills, named Tsuyu and Chizuru, came to befriend each other despite their families' bitter rivalry that makes their relationship a forbidden one. While their personalities and philosophies were polar opposites, they both connected through their compassion and heartbreak from the suffering of their people, and decided to join forces to punish the evil lord. Yachiyo plays the role of the ice queen with a heart of gold, Tsuyu, while Tsuruno is the cheerful and impetuous Chizuru, and Sayuki plays the Magpie, who seems to be Tsuyu's pet who helps bring the two of them together (and is also a convenient mascot for the play).
During the script reading, however, everyone soon realizes that Yachiyo's skills are still horrible. During a break, Yachiyo confides that she's actually been approached for many acting jobs, but has turned them all down because she's not comfortable with them and knows she's a poor actress - but this time, the director begged her to take on the role, even if she flops it. Yachiyo has also realized she can get more and better opportunities if she can expand her repetoire, and vows to see this through to the end - and Tsuruno promises in turn that she'll be by Yachiyo's side every step of the way.
Ria, however, upon seeing her idol botching her way the script, seems to be in shock. What's worse, the filmmakers seem to be pretending not to notice how terrible Yachiyo is, and is instead trying to work around it by taking away her lines - and for Ria, this will not stand.
After the reading, Ria confronts Yachiyo and Tsuruno on their way out, saying that she's giving Yachiyo an acting bootcamp. After all, she's doing Yachiyo's makeup, and doesn't want Yachiyo's performance to drag down Ria's work with it - and besides, since Ria has declared Yachiyo her rival, if Yachiyo performs badly, then that reflects poorly on Ria's reputation as well. Yachiyo accepts her own, and while Sayuki and Tsuruno are doing great at their roles, they vow to join their practices and work hard as well!
At home, while Yachiyo is reviewing the script (much to Mikazuki's confusion over what she's up to), Tsuruno explains the whole Mizuna fairy tale to the rest of Mikazuki. Felicia doesn't seem too interested until Tsuruno confirms there are fight scenes in it. See, at one point Tsuyu and Chizuru give up on each other, and while of course, they do get back together, they only do so after an epic swordfight! And then Felicia is raring to go watch the movie. Tsuruno also explains that the day Tsuyu and Chizuru teamed up to take down the evil lord was the same day as Tanabata, which is why the show will be screened on that night - and she also explains that people in Kamihama actually entrust their wishes to Tsuyu and Chizuru. The "paper mulberry leaf" mentioned in the show/event title comes from the tradition to write wishes on mulberry leaves before people used wishing paper.
Over the next week or so, Yachiyo is drilled on acting with both a professional coach and with Ria's guidance. After some painful performances (and brutal honesty from Felicia), Yachiyo eventually executes her lines perfectly. Ria is relieved, saying to herself, "This is the Yachiyo I’ve been wanting to see..."
While Yachiyo has a long way to go to truly suit her role, she's at least no longer delivering her lines with all the passion of cardboard. Riding on that high, the girls take a lunch break one day, courtesy of Manaka and Tsumugi's preparation for the food stall they'll be running. There, Yachiyo broaches a question to Ria about one of the scenes. Yachiyo is struggling with the motivations of Tsuyu at one point - the part where she and Chizuru hold hands after they have their epic fight. Yachiyo can't understand how Tsuyu could have such a change of heart in that moment - only for Ria to refuse to answer, saying answering that question for Yachiyo would defeat the point of acting to begin with. They're soon distracted by Tsuruno feeding Yachiyo, Sayuki getting excited and wolfing down food to get amped up for acting - and Mayu is just happy to see everyone enjoying themselves.
The next day, after a good rehearsal, Yachiyo continues going to others for advice, gradually improving her performance, though it means Yachiyo isn't actually understanding the role for herself. Some people talk behind her back - it seems unusual for Yachiyo to be working with others so closely when she has a storied reputation for being a cold lone wolf; some think she's only asking questions out of a certain sense of humility or respect, given she's not used to working as an actress. The gossip makes Ria bristle.
At the end of that day, Yachiyo goes back to Ria to talk more about the scene she was struggling with. As she asks, Ria begins flashing back to her memories of Yachiyo - how she spent her childhood idolizing her, wondering how someone could be so cute and yet so cool, realizing it's because she's always so proud and confident in the work she does, and Ria aspiring to be just like her...and now, having seen Yachiyo seem so lost, nervous and unsure of herself is straining Ria's understanding of her... And finally, Ria can't take it anymore and blows up at her idol, screaming, "You're not the real Yachiyo!" Everyone is thrown for a loop, unsure of how to respond or what to do - Mayu, however, realizes exactly what's gotten into Ria: the idealized image of the woman she had for so long adored and aspired to be has been brutally shattered. Now, Ria's world is crashing down around her, and Ria is not taking it well at all...
After Ria runs off and Mayu and Sayuki go after her, Tsuruno and Yachiyo absorb the aftermath for a little while. Yachiyo is clueless as to why Ria freaked out, and asks Tsuruno if she has any clue what happened, but after some thought, Tsuruno says that's a question for Yachiyo to answer - just like how Yachiyo needs to figure out for herself what kind of person Tsuyu was. After a bit of teasing, Tsuruno goes home, knowing Yachiyo needs time to think, but asks she comes home in time so everyone at Mikazuki can have dinner together. While alone, Yachiyo realizes how, when it comes to this play, she's deferred so much of her responsibilities onto others.
The next day, Yachiyo tries texting Ria about what happened, but Ria leaves her on read. While waiting for a response, Yachiyo decides to dig into her role some more by doing research. The books at Mikazuki don't offer much help, nor do the university archives, which discuss the legend but don't have much documentation on Tsuyu herself. By then, it's time for her to practice, but no matter how much and how many ways she goes through the script, she just can't crack Tsuyu's motivations. At this point, Yachiyo will be able to perform the swordfight scene by rote, but she won't have the "it" factor that pushes it into a work of art. Before she works herself into a headache, though, Mayu drops by the practice room with refreshments in hand.
While they hang out, Mayu gets constant texts on her phone, and keeps waving them off, saying she has a friend who's always worrying about her and keeps in constant communication. She serves Yachiyo some delicious tea; Yachiyo wonders if it's homemade, and Mayu suspiciously confirms that yes, it's indeed homemade.
Eventually, Mayu notices that Yachiyo's been eyeing her phone as well. Yachiyo explains that she's trying to apologize to Ria, but isn't getting a response. Mayu says Ria just has a lot on her mind, but ultimately, she was so harsh on Yachiyo because she thinks she's so great. As Yachiyo goes back into researching Tsuyu, Mayu points out that the art museum she works for is having a special exhibition for Mizuna's Tanabata event, featuring historical artifacts and documents centering on Tsuyu and Chizuru themselves. With Mayu's help, she can get them both a behind-the-scenes view before the exhibition formally begins, and Yachiyo graciously takes her up on that offer.
Once at the museum, Mayu shows some of the special artifacts they have. Most pertinently, she gives a document with a quote from Tsuyu, saying how she wants to be someone who can live up to "her" admiration in order to return her feelings. This helps Yachiyo understand what was going on in Tsuyu's head and heart a little more. The next critical thing is a seashell that Mayu allows Yachiyo to touch - and when she does, Yachiyo realizes it has magic in it. It was likely, then, that Tsuyu or someone close to her was a magical girl as well. With all that together, Yachiyo connects the dots: Tsuyu's struggles from way back when are the exact same ones that Yachiyo is experiencing now.
After thanking Mayu, Yachiyo goes to where Tsuruno and Sayuki are filming one of their final scenes. She wants to learn how Tsuruno interprets Chizuru, knowing they should have openly discussed this much sooner. Once there, she sees the crew wrapping up, with Tsuruno and Sayuki's scene executed with aplomb. Afterwards, Tsuruno talks about how she sees Chizuru as someone who aspires to be equals with Tsuyu, but holds a deep yearning and admiration for her, too. Yachiyo realizes that, in their climactic scene, she needs to be someone worthy of Chizuru's devotion, which makes Tsuruno giggle, saying Yachiyo and Tsuyu are way too alike, especially in how dense they can be.
With that comment, Yachiyo flashes back to many of her interactions with Ria in the event - she realizes how her humility has made her look incompetent and overly dependent on others instead, and how uncomfortable Ria - who admires and cares for her so deeply, Yachiyo realizes - must have been to see her like that. She knows now that both she and Tsuyu are people who want to live with dignity, for the sake of those who believe and support them.
And with that, Yachiyo's personal magic activates, and she inherits Tsuyu's hope - it turns out that Tsuyu truly was a magical girl, and Yachiyo's magical girl outfit tranforms into Tsuyu's. Fully confident that she and Tsuyu's feelings are in sync, Yachiyo texts Ria one last time, imploring her to come see the final scene being shot - the very same one she'd pestered Ria for help with over and over.
Meanwhile, Mayu's phone still blows up with texts - and we see that they're all from Ria, who's been passively-aggressively wanting to know what's going on with Yachiyo - making sure Mayu didn't reveal Ria had made it; asking about the museum exhibit; how Yachiyo is doing (not like she actually cares or anything, of course); and finally, her announcing that she's going to the shoot tomorrow - not because Yachiyo asked her, of course, but only because she's on makeup duty! Mayu giggles to herself and hopes for the best.
Come morning, everyone, Ria included, is on the scene. Yachiyo and Tsuruno's performances in the sword fight stun the onlookers. Even Ria is choked up. When Sayuki catches her crying, she blows up and insists she's not Yachiyo's fan; she's her rival - even though no one said anything about that.
Finally, we cut to some time after Tanabata, once the drama is available to watch online. The girls of Mikazuki love it and already vow to rewatch it time and time again. Yachiyo reveals she's now inundated with offers for commercials and other acting roles. Meanwhile in Mizuna, Ria is tirelessly researching all of Yachiyo's latest appearances in commercials and other film jobs, watching every single one...when Manaka presses for an explanation, Ria insists it's for research, knowing her day will come when she'll be starring in a drama herself, just like Yachiyo, who's now restored to her proper place as Ria's hero - erm, arch-rival.