I’m baaaaack! And do I have a treat for you all! Sit back, relax, and watch as I compare two bland light novel adaptations! Mild spoilers for both shows.
The Irregular at Magic High School(Mahouka from here on) aired from April 6, 2014 to September 28, 2014. It follows the story of Tatsuya Shiba, bodyguard to his sister Miyuki Shiba, as they attend First High School and the various challenges that seem to pop up on a regular basis. The first of which is addressing the divide between the course 1 students with talent(blooms) and the course 2 students with less magic ability(weeds).
The few positives I can list can mostly be attributed to Madhouse’s production value. The music is a decent addition during some of the action scene, though the insert song ‘Code Break’ gets a bit overused. I also felt the last few episodes had interesting designs for the assault suits Tatsuya and several others used during the climactic battle.
The negatives are as numerous as they are obvious, however. The biggest one by far is the complete lack of narrative stakes in the story. We are never given a reason to care about any of the characters, since they are all defined by their relation to our main character Tatsuya. Nobody has any character agency besides Tatsuya. I kept a running tally of how many times Tatsuya actually got hit (which he can immediately heal from), and how many times Miyuki talked about something unrelated to Tatsuya. The final count? 2 hits and 0 conversations. I will talk more about Tatsuya being completely overpowered in my comparison section, but I can say that, with how strong he is, there is absolutely 0 threat of anyone relevant being hurt badly, let alone dying.
Another factor that I found constantly annoying is the weird way it treated female characters. Miyuki is constantly treated like a child by Tatsuya, and other female characters are chastised for so much as displaying their shoulders.
The farthest girl got chastised for wearing that outfit.
And yet, they still have a hot springs scene with the same tropes as every other series; female characters groping each other and talking about breast size...until they go back to talking about how great Tatsuya is. It seems rather strange to me that the author would write in this ultra conservative fashion...yet still included a hot springs scene and a part where Tatsuya had his sister press her chest against his back suggestively.
The series also is completely contradictory with its worldbuilding. Early on, there is a conflict with a ‘terrorist group’ that is fighting for equal rights between magic and non-magic users. Tatsuya and Miyuki have the following exchange.
Yet in a later scene with the student council president, she states;
So which is it? Are magicians making more money and some of the most necessary people in society, or oppressed weapons? They certainly seem like the former, with how nice their school is and how the world is run by 10 powerful magic families. This is but one instance of Mahouka’s sloppy writing.
Airing from April 4, 2017 to June 20, 2017, Akashic Records follows the story of Glenn Radars, a lazy newly hired instructor at Alzano Imperial Magic Academy. At first he appears to be a complete failure at magic, but is quickly revealed to be one of the most famous anti-magic users in the world. He meets the hot-tempered Sistine Fibel and mild-mannered Rumia Tingel, and address issues that spark during everyday life.
Let’s get the elephant out of the room early; yes, the female outfits are weird and are what a stripper would wear. I did not notice them after the first 2 episodes, but it is still worth mentioning.
Positives for Akashic records mostly rest with the main character; Glenn Radars. He is a charismatic lazy-ass who has a mildly interesting past that slowly gets revealed over the course of the series. He has a few notable one-liners throughout the series, which is always nice to see.
But like with Mahouka, Akashic Records has numerous problems with establishing character motivations and getting us invested in their struggles. Sistine wants to reach a castle in the sky to help her dead grandpa realize his dream...how does she get there? What’s the roadmap? Glenn himself is purely reactionary to the events happening around him, same with Rumia. No plot in the storyline is given enough time to be fleshed out before moving onto the next, which becomes more of an issue as the series progresses. It takes a masterful series to make someone care about a character 1 episode after they are introduced, and this isn’t one of them, despite how hard they wanted the audience invested in a (not)deadpan loli.
And of course, almost having your main female character raped by a random thug in episode 2 is distasteful, to say the absolute least.
Tatsuya and Glenn are similar in a few respects; both have a dark past that’s hinted at early, both are bad at traditional magic but good at anti-magic, and both tend to solve their problems solo. But one factor that separates them is simple; struggle. Glenn frequently has to put in effort to defeat his opponents despite his anti-magic powers, and is frequently bleeding on the ground after a fight.
Tatsuya is completely alien to the concept of struggle. He is the embodiment of those Chuck Norris memes in the early 2000s; absolutely nothing can threaten him. The series tries to treat him like an underdog, but he is anything but. He can single-handedly take down entire terrorist organizations without getting hit at all. And if the enemy seems too strong at first, Tatsuya can pulls powers out of his ass to defeat them, like power snapping. Snapping his fingers and making a big boom. I wish I was making this up. This leads me into the second biggest flaw with Tatsuya.
He’s boring. Unbearably boring. His expression only goes between stoic and stoic with a slight frown. I get there is a story reason behind this, but it doesn’t change how he’s a completely boring main character. He has no motivations beyond protecting Miyuki, and nothing poses a challenge to him. He is the perfect embodiment of the Gary Stu; a character that bends the universe to make themselves look good, no matter the challenge. While Glenn isn’t nearly as fleshed out as I’d like from a series, he at least has the charisma to be entertaining on occasion. Tatsuya is the embodiment of this scene from Birdemic.
Miyuki and Sistine have almost nothing in common besides an attraction toward the main character. Sistine is hot-headed and proud of her school, while Miyuki is passive and focused on her onii-sama, a word you will be well acquainted with by the end of Mahouka. Both characters are woefully underdeveloped and lack any agency within the story. Sistine is largely absent from the main fights past the first 3 episodes, and Miyuki steamrolls her opponents just as easily as Tatsuya for the few fights she is in. She is also the only one who has elemental powers in the series so far, being ice powers. So one could say she is a...special snowflake.
Technobabble: From the start, both series try to justify their magic system by explaining the pseudoscience behind spells. Akashic Records does a decent job starting this discussion; illustrating how one can change the phrase of a spell to apply different effects, be it making a lightning bolt curve right or shorten the range. However, the concept doesn’t extend past the introduction and we are left with a vague understanding of the world. Mahouka, meanwhile, has the complete opposite problem. The series uses technical jargon that the audience couldn’t possibly be asked to understand in the long-winded explanations given. Tatsuya can read magic cast sequences, and adjust his psion particles to counter the specified cast and then...somehow make himself move super fast. It all devolves into meaningless technobabble to make the characters sound smart is what I’m getting at. None of this is helped by the fact that Tatsuya is apparently a supergenius who can invent a flying device when teams of researchers couldn’t for many years. How can he do this? Because he’s a Gary Stu.
Tournament Arc: What makes a good tournament arc? Cool fights, interpersonal conflict, narrative stakes for the winners and losers, and a colorful cast of characters to play off each other. Take Boku no Hero for example; we got numerous cool fights between characters with defined quirks that we saw demonstrated in the entire first season. We saw the interpersonal conflict between Deku, Bakugo and Todoroki, and the stake for winning was an opportunity to gain connections with heroes. Both of these series screwed up their tournament arcs. Mahouka had completely uninteresting matches that included Tatsuya’s teammate surfing in a straight line to win uncontested. And the climactic fight was...Tatsuya shooting a bunch of floating circles. Riveting. There was no personal conflict between him and his opponent, and the prize for winning was...medals. Akashic Records, meanwhile, had its tournament as a background event while Glenn dealt with an entirely separate matter. The stakes for the tournament? Glenn made a bet with another teacher for 3 months of the loser’s salary. Real high stakes here.
If my tone wasn’t clear, I do not recommend either of these series. Mahouka has almost nothing of value to offer in terms of character design(everyone looks the same), storytelling(no stakes at all), action(barely any) or enjoyment. I give it a 2/10, and the only reason why it’s not a 1 is because the art is alright. Akashic Records scores a 4/10 for the decent first 2 episodes, but quickly becomes uninteresting as well.
I manage to watch Irregular magic high school all the way and while yes the protagonist is overpower and the rest of the side character are terrible with no stake, I honestly did enjoy the main character being a badass, I just wish they put him in threatening situation. While yes it is overall boring, I manage to watch it all the way because I did enjoy the main character and his power was sort of cool. I wish it focus less on school and more on him in secretive mission.
Akashic record I drop 6 episode in I think. The first episode was hilarious and seem like it was going to make fun of the magical school trope, only to become the very exact thing which just pissed me off especially since it was way too predictable and all over the place with its tone. I mean which one I like better, I personally cannot decide, but they both are shows people are better off not watching.
And hey, that is totally cool if you like Tatsuya. I just couldn't stand the guy. Akashic Records really did start out strong with its first 2 episodes...then just kinda meandered around for the rest of the time. The author does seem like a fan of Jojo though.
Old Man Dream: ...later titles in the Macross franchise can finally come stateside with all involved parties finally coming to a truce over how to handle things with the Macross trademark and all later anime in the franchise associated with it.
Apr 9, 2021 10:26:05 GMT
Taka: I see. A global release will benefit it. Gundam did pretty good. The only few franchises that are only popular in Japan but not popular in the west - Yokai Watch comes to mind.
Apr 10, 2021 1:55:16 GMT
Master Menos: F for Respects. DMX did all his work while suffering from a drug addiction, and I almost never knew until a point. I hope his next life treats him far better.
Apr 10, 2021 15:30:45 GMT
HungryWorld: Sorry for taking so long for the things i have to do, have been suffering from some health issues (including mental health deterioration). Anyways hope i can be a bit more active here soon enough once i am properly patched up again.
Apr 27, 2021 17:45:38 GMT
Taka: No worries, health, family, school, and work take priorities first.
Apr 28, 2021 7:41:52 GMT