Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei Review

I can’t begin to count the number of times that The Irregular at Magic High School was recommended to me, so after enough reminders, I finally picked up this show (viewable on both Netflix and Crunchyroll) over the winter and just recently finished it. I don’t remember why I skipped it when it first aired, but it took only one to two episodes for me to add this to my watch list. The setting was none too unique–a high school instructing students on magic and organized by entrance scores–but the lead characters firmly took a hold of the tone of the series through their capability and set themselves apart from other magical high school anime.

The setting and main characters are mostly formed by the segregation in private magic academies, where students are organized by test scores. These evaluations favor the practical magic portion for placement, while excellent scores in the theoretical exam are usually overlooked. Course One takes the high-ranking practical students; Course Two includes all others. Unfortunately, these courses come with nicknames of “Bloom” and “Weed” that reflect the true feelings towards the system. It doesn’t help that not only classes, but also uniforms, reflect the separation. Course One students have arm badges of a flower in bloom–in sharp contrast, Course Two members have plain grey badges with no decorative design.

Our godly protagonist set aside, it’s clear from a very early point that the method for testing and placement are deeply flawed. Both Tatsuya and his sister Miyuki are irregulars to First High’s student body. The title mainly references Tatsuya, but can also honestly apply to Miyuki and most of Course Two. Many of the second-tier students excel in the heat of the moment where their supposed superiors fail. Others specialize in fields that are no less valuable to mankind. Tatsuya’s understanding of people of abilities all over the spectrum allows him to focus on magics no matter the person and perceived inability.

A secondary and informal method of segregation is created by the bloodlines from whence the students are born. There are 28 magician families, the 10 strongest of which make the decisions to which all must adhere. If you are from one of these families and a Course One student at First High, you constantly remain in the spotlight with high expectations. If you end up a weed and obscurity doesn’t protect you, all the more derision is heaped upon you. Miyuki and Tatsuya are again unique in the fact that though they are from the Yotsuba Clan, the very top of all the families, they do not carry the name and keep their identities a secret. I think that a wise decision given the violent politics that already run rampant both outside and inside of the school.

The course placements and familial connections make it simple for many of the students to decide their next step after completing high school. Much of what they are taught in school results in hands-on experience through tournaments and projects that can also point the way to possible careers. I have to give the school props for the opportunities they provide to not only the privileged, but also the hard working and talented–as long as they’re from Course One. Many of the students already have experience in the military, like the Shiba siblings and the Crimson Prince from Third High School.

I’ve found two camps of thought in viewer reaction to this show: love and overwhelming hate. I feel a bit at odds with both since I stand in the middle. The setting and engineering are mildly interesting to me, and I’m not bored or phased with the “techno-babble” like some; yes, the explanations were redundant or unnecessary at times, but at other times I felt they gave depth to abilities that other anime would be prone to gloss over as plain “magic.” I also liked the quick decisions made by Tatsuya and many of his friends. They don’t dither over possibilities or excessive doubts and waste precious time. I just wish some of their choices turned out to be mistakes or come with permanent consequences.

While I found some of the show fairly enjoyable and watchable, there were instances where I wanted to just fast forward or mute the speakers. One of the most prominent examples is the relationship between Tatsuya and Miyuki. They are blood siblings, and share a close bond of love and trust. However, Miyuki’s devotion goes past understandable respect and affection and barges right into downright obsessive. I am never down with incestuous relationships, and usually avoid it in anime at all costs. I can appreciate the humor in the awkwardness that their public flirting causes, but want to get up and pace every time Miyuki pushes herself on her brother in private.

Another issue is Tatsuya’s invincibility. He can honestly do no wrong. He faces all conflicts head on and leaps over them with ease. At times, he talks a bit about the difficulty of the situation, but I don’t ever believe him because not once has he failed to squelch opposition. This unbeatable state makes it incredibly difficult to rise with the tension of the various arcs. I find myself wondering only just how our characters will succeed–how will enemies be humiliated and defeated? If a sequel is to be made, I hope that it’s one with genuine struggle in mind for Tatsuya. I want to see him up against an enemy he cannot beat–perhaps his own family.

9 thoughts on “Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei Review

  1. I really enjoyed this anime, I wish for a second to see more of the godly protagonist back in action fighting crime. One thing I hated about this show was how it had some great moments of when people fought, or when they were trying to figure stuff out but then had bits where the sister would just ruin the whole atmosphere. I wanted to see more of a dark setting for this anime.

    Like

    • I could maybe see some kind of prequel showing Tatsuya’s birth into the Yotsuba family and his rise as a “Ryuuya Oguro” and “Mahesvara.” That would be a perfect place for the series to take a darker tone. And hopefully in such a show, there would be very little of Miyuki given her age.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I enjoyed the show well enough, but certainly wasn’t in the ‘love’ category, nor in the ‘hate’ category. It had some interesting concepts with the ‘magic’, but felt that it bogged down a lot in execution. If you don’t mind a main character who is invincible and completely overpowered, out of the blue, then it’s fine. I don’t mind a show where the ‘good guy’ is just curb stomping the bad guys, so I didn’t have a problem with that. They kind of overplayed the Bloom and Weed thing a little much, especially for having all the effective fighters end up coming from the Weed group. All it ended up showing was that the criteria for selection was completely arbitrary and inapplicable to anything in the ‘real world’.

    One of the main reasons I watched the show was because I really enjoyed the voice actors. Saori Hayami is someone I’ll watch in anything, Satomi Satou and Kana Hanazawa are always good, and I love the voice that Marina Inoue used as Mari in this show. Yuuichi Nakamura was fine, but I don’t know how hard it is to do that monotone.

    I also didn’t have a problem with the “Some people are just better at things than others” message that the show had. I know that really ticked off a LOT of people but I think it’s just an inescapable fact. Maybe the show rubbed it in a little bit with Tatsuya, but even though I’m not an objectivist, I don’t reject out of hand the ideas the way I’ve seen some people do.

    I also didn’t have a problem with the incest stuff. I usually don’t have any issue with any relationship form that is consensual, no matter how farfetched or different from my preferences it is. The part that got a little out of hand was Miyuki’s overprotectiveness and uncalled for ‘punishment’.

    It’s not a show that I’d widely recommend (I’d be far more likely to recommend Cross Ange over Mahouka), but I didn’t think it was a bad show.

    Liked by 1 person

    • While I can appreciate an interesting voice when I hear one, I’m really bad at following or recognizing many of the seiyuu out there other than Kugimiya Rie or Hanazawa Kana. And this was an anime where I really didn’t pay attention to the voices–now you have me wanting to rewind back and listen carefully this time.

      I didn’t read much of the reviews about this show while it was airing, so I had no idea there were so many complaints regarding the various skills of the characters. I agree that it’s natural for people to be better at certain things than others–that doesn’t mean that people can’t work hard and overcome the more talented, they just need to keep at it and maybe, just maybe they’ll exceed expectations.

      Thanks for commenting, Highway! I don’t usually expect much feedback about older shows that I’m posting late on, so it’s nice to still hear your thoughts after all that time.

      Like

      • I always enjoy reading your posts and commenting, and I like seeing you posting more frequently lately.🙂

        I did some reviews for Metanorn of Mahouka when it was airing. I really did one post per story arc (one of the things that annoyed me about the show was the episode names: “The Yokohama Disturbance- Part 7” and “Nine Schools Competition Part 11”. Come up with interesting names, or don’t put previews up!) and it was fun to recap the whole thing as opposed to the episodic writing I usually do.

        I didn’t really touch on the messages that much, that was more of an anitwitter thing. But it’s not surprising, as anything that is ‘libertarian’ or its more derided distant cousin ‘objectivist’ is seemingly quickly piled on against (says the guy who is a libertarian).

        Liked by 1 person

      • The titles really were unimaginative/lazy, but it did make it easier for me when taking breaks between watching to remember exactly where I had left off. Hah!

        I’m not sure what it is lately, but I’ve found myself chattier about currently airing shows. I’ve always wanted to mark down when I finish up an older show and leave my thoughts somewhere about it since I missed out the first time around–and again, only now am I following through on posting them. It helps that I’ve started being more adamant about writing a bit every day, no matter how little time I have.

        Like

  3. I have several points of criticism for this series

    1. Despite the mention of discrimination, the main character is always placed above it by the surrounding people. The main character often say negative things about those who are suffering from others who happens to be stronger than them.
    2. The supporting casts usually are in privileged positions and they demand the less fortunate and weaker people to accept discrimination, something they won’t receive due to powers they were born with.
    3. The main character and the organization he serves often destroys the lower class’s efforts to improve their situations . They maintain status quo that denies lower class hopes for improvement of their status. Despite all the focus on discrimination and words of promises to better the lives of the weaker caste members, no visible improvement happens.
    4. Other than supporting casts close to the main character, all the other characters are depicted as very incompetent at most things. Only those that manage to have a chance to behold the godliness of the main characters show any sign of competency .
    5. There is a scene where a heavily populated Korean Port gets annihilated by the main character. His attack is supposed to have power of 20 megaton thermonuclear warhead. Due to proximity of the port to the 2nd biggest city in Korea, Pusan, this should mean millions of civilians should have perished. The LN authors uses all sorts of non-sense to justify this attack and damage.
    6. There is a scene where Tatsuya helps his school mate win in water sports by casting magic on the water itself. In no sports will a spectator affecting the playing field be allowed.
    7. The whole show starts with billions of people dying from various events which includes global COOLING . The author deliberately denies Global Warming is happening in order to push his radical right-wing views on economy, society, and politics
    8. All the major democratic powers are claimed to have become authoritarian imperialist power vent on proving that they are the supreme race. This would mean the state of humanity has regressed to that of before 19th century where racism and discrimination was the norm. It is hard to expect such a technologically advanced society, with Earth having only one-fourth of current population, should resort to such intolerance and corruption.

    Like

    • I’ll try to respond to each point directly🙂 I’ve already forgotten so many details, so forgive the lapses in memory for events that actually were in the anime.

      1. I don’t really recall this issue in the anime. Perhaps you can give a specific example? I don’t doubt you, but I honestly can’t remember.
      2. For certain supporting characters, this attitude makes sense given their personalities and is shown as a weakness on their part, isn’t it?
      3. Again, for the anime, where is this shown that Tatsuya and his organization act in the way described? As for visible improvement, I think true progress comes about slowly, and isn’t always immediately apparent. Even if leaders profess to make changes, reality often takes no action, or very slow movement towards it.
      4. This is a definite flaw of the anime. It’s ridiculous how overpowered Tatsuya and his friends/peers/organization are.
      5. I feel horrible that I don’t remember this scene taking place in Korea! Was it only in the LN, or also in the anime?
      6. Legit concern. Their school should’ve been disqualified, if not from the specific sport, but even from the overall competition.
      7. Well, this is fiction. It’s up to the readers/viewers to interpret it as they wish. I wasn’t bothered by the choice of global cooling.
      8. Again, as this is a work of fiction, and I have seen many other shows that are set in the future with advanced technology that also display what one would deem backwards politics, I’m not too thrown off by the attitude shown here.

      Like

      • 1. Tatsuya is has never forwarded any suggestion to better the lives of those who are discriminated against. Furthermore, he statements suggests that people who tries to ease the discrimination are those who seek to rob the other of wealth, privilege, power, and glory they attain through their ability and hard work.
        2. Despite Tatsuya’s claim that those who have fallen behind are there because they didn’t work hard enough, most of people who are glorified in this series are born in prestigious family, and most of their ability is due to power they were born with or power they could access easily through their family connections.
        3. All the plot is focused on protecting the privilege magicians have. No where did anyone put forward reasonable civil reform plan that can help non-magicians. Despite vastly outnumbering the magicians, and despite that political, economical, and academic knowledge and ability should be unrelated to magic, none of the vast number of people put forward any thing in motion that would lead to better and more peaceful world for all.
        4. The societal structure and political system Main character defends with the words and action is one that justify rich getting richer and poor getting poorer because the rich have earned the means to making themselves richer. All the systems in this world makes it very hard for anyone who get classified into lower class to rise to higher class without someone from higher class going away or receiving favor from someone in power.
        5. In episode 6, Tatsuya says that there is no world that would grant privilege equally to everyone. This statement alone can be said to go against one of the principle of USA’s constitution. He further claims that such a society is one where everyone will be treated badly. If you further his claim, then the society should euthanize those born with birth defects or suffering from mental problems.
        6. In the episode 26, Tatsuya uses Material Burst to annihilate Great Asian Alliance’s navy . In the LN the location is described as Jinhae port which is part of Changwon city in Korea with population of 1.1 million. It is right next to Busan with population of 3.5 million, thus is part of the whole megalopolis area. In the anime the real map of Jinhae area is shown, followed by the whole region being vaporized. This attack was described as having power of 20 megaton thermonuclear bomb. There would have been at least a million civilian living in the area that disappeared from the map. Further more, any remnant radiation, energy, or disturbance from this attack would have killed millions more. The area is too big and too well populated of being void of civilians. The anime made someone who just killed millions of people, a hero.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jinhae-gu

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Changwon#Seaports

        7. If you think about the school’s 2 tier system, it is totally unfair to the 2nd tier. If the only difference is 2nd tier having no access to magic instructors ( a school where students seldom sees teachers? Why do you need such a school? ) , either access to magic instructors means big which would deny 2nd tier any chance to catch up to the 1st tier, or if it doesn’t matter too much, then there just isn’t a good reason why 1st tier should have monopoly of the magic instructors. The system is set up to encourage discrimination, and the adults are NOT doing anything to reduce discrimination and harassment by the 1st tier.

        Like

Please tell me what you think!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s