Anime about nasty contract surprises gets real-life credit card with nasty contract surprises – The Foreigners magazine In tokyo
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Anime about nasty contract surprises gets real-life credit card with nasty contract surprises

Written by on November 14, 2021


Life imitates art with the Puella Magi Madoka Magica credit card, which grants great (purchasing) power, but at what cost?

Apologies in advance for mildly spoiling a mid-series twist for a 10-year-old anime, but things aren’t as they initially appear in Puella Magi Madoka Magica. The provocative dark magical girl series starts off with a lot of similarities to its brighter genre-mates, but before long it becomes apparent that the contract offered by the cute/unnerving creature Kyubey is actually an insidious monkey’s paw, granting young girls magical powers now at the unspoken cost of their soul and sanity down the line.

So fans who have seen the series might find themselves a little wary of the official Madoka Magica 10th anniversary credit card that applications are being taken for in Japan right now, and it turns out that it, too, has some unpleasant surprises in its contract.

First, though, a little background on how credit cards usually work in Japan. You could make the argument that they’re technically closer to debit cards, since instead of being sent a statement from the credit card company at the end of the month which you then have to pay, the standard for Japanese credit cards is for them to automatically and directly deduct the full purchase price from your bank account, which you register when signing up for a credit card.

Alternatively, you can pay in monthly installments, or a “revolving payment,” as it’s called in the industry. However, carrying the unpaid balance over to the next month means you’ll have to pay interest fees, and so the revolving payment is an option very few Japanese shoppers take, or even consider. For the vast majority of Japanese credit cards, if you do want to pay in instalments  you have to declare so at the time of purchase, verbally telling the clerk if you’re shopping in a brick-and-mortar store.

But not with the Madoka Magica card.

▼ Damn you, Kyubey, this was your doing, wasn’t it?!?

Sift through the terms and conditions in the card’s 23,914-character contract, and after about 4,500 characters or so you’ll come to Chapter 2-Payment, Article 10, which states:

“The repayment method for purchases or cash withdrawals made with this card will be revolving payment.”

In other words, if you use the Madoka Magica card thinking it works like almost every other Japanese credit card, where once the transaction goes through it’s automatically paid off in full from your bank account, you’re going to be in for a surprise when you find out you’ve only paid off a fraction of the purchase price, and you’re going to end up paying extra overall because of the interest fees, which work out to 15 percent a year.

▼ The complete credit card contract, with the repayment-method-will-be-revolving-payment part circled in red (by us)

The Madoka Magica card, issued through Orico, does at least still have a minimum monthly repayment amount, aside from interest fees, that it automatically pulls from your bank account, so in theory that should eventually pay off your balance, at which point you’ll be free from the interest payments. The keyword here, though, is eventually. For balances of 100,000 yen (US$878) or less, the default automatic repayment is just 3,000 yen a month, meaning it could take as many as 34 months to pay off, and that’s assuming the card isn’t used to buy anything else in that nearly three-year period.

Online reactions from fans of the anime have been a mix of shock and wry acceptance.

“Reminds me of that part in the anime where Sayaka says ‘Why didn’t you tell me about that part of the contract?’ and Kyubey says ‘Because you never asked me about it.’”
“Make a contract with me and do revolving payments!”
“I can make miracles, magic (and revolving payments) happen.”
“I don’t like this card, but it’s very faithful to the source material.”

▼ Trailer for Puella Magi Madoka Magica the Movie -Rebellion-

It is worth noting that unlike Kyubey, who kept completely silent on the hidden cost of the magical girl contract, the Madoka Magica credit card does explain the repayment system before you enter into the financial contract, partially buried in the fine print as that explanation may be. It also looks like it’s possible to, on a month-by-month basis, adjust your repayment amount so that your balance is paid off before you start incurring interest fees. With almost everyone in Japan accustomed to using their credit cards in an interest-free, one-step-and-done manner, though, the Madoka Magica card’s tricky, counterintuitive nature seems like exactly the kind of deal Kyubey would offer, so if you do sign up for it, use it with care.

Source: Twitter/@aniplex_plus via Hachima Kiko, Orico
Top image: Orico
Insert images: SoraNews24, YouTube/Madman Anime
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