The Irregular at Magic Highschool - A Review
For my first attempt at at an anime review, I spent many nights wondering which one I should write about first. I'd already seen many of them, and grew up with long-running classics like Dragonball and Pokemon. But after riffling through my memories, I settled on one that stood out the most, and fascinated me from the very beginning. Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei - literally "The Poor Performing Student of a Magic Highschool."
The anime, based on Tsutomu Satō’s Japanese web novel series, follows siblings Tatsuya and Miyuki Shiba, as they enroll in First High Magic Highschool, one of nine in Japan. It’s set in a world with an alternate history, where magic exists, and because of it, the world map and its' borders, have slightly changed.
(Tatsuya & Miyuki Shiba)
Despite both of them being the same age, Miyuki, the younger sibling, is enrolled in the 1st course, for students who possess strong magical ability and prowess, while Tatsuya is on the 2nd course, reserved for students who lack strong magical ability, but may excel in magical theory and innovation. Because of this, 1st and 2nd-course students are often at odds with each other, with the former feeling superior to the latter.
The siblings harbour a closely held secret which, if made public, could put them at odds with other magicians, as well as remove any sense of privacy they have. Tatsuya and Miyuki spend their days trying to keep a low profile and avoid getting involved in any conspicuous activities that might alert the Ten Master Clans(the ten magician families that oversee the magic community) about their existence.
The Plot, Genre & Characters
(From left to right: Mikihiko, Mizuki, Leo, Erika, Tatsuya, Miyuki, Honoka & Shizuku)
Looking at online summaries, tags, and pictures, one might assume that this is a typical magical anime in a school setting, with a handsome young man surrounded by a harem of attractive girls who develop secret feelings for him. At it’s most basic, it is! But there is so much more to this series, from the very first episode.
For one thing, Tatsuya is no pervert. He is hardly fazed when girls flirt or tease him. In some instances, he turns the tables on them, and by the end of the conversation, the girl is the flustered one, all in jest of course. Tatsuya is probably the most aloof and disinterested main character I’ve seen to date (correct me if I’m wrong!) This is one of the biggest draws of this anime.
Then we have Miyuki, the devoted sister, whose loyalty and love border on obsession, and may at times blur lines (also a common trope in anime). She is the most beautiful, and likely the most powerful magician at school, captivating both genders wherever she goes. If you’ve seen the anime, and read the novels, you will come to understand why she is practically perfect.
Tatsuya is charged with Miyuki’s protection, and is strict on this to the point where he may even consider friends and acquaintances as enemies, should they pose a danger to her. While Tatsuya does become the object of many of the girls’ affections, you don’t feel irritated by them. Many have their own complex back stories which, sadly, aren’t expanded in the anime.
The supporting characters are far from shallow and are on no way space fillers. Leonhard Saijō’s straight forward, formidable physical strength, friendly openness, and simplicity make him refreshing and light-hearted to watch. Mikihiko Yoshida’s shy attentiveness and earnestness make him a solid and watchful supporting character.
Erika Chiba, a childhood friend of Mikihiko, and Tatsuya’s classmate, is an energetic, formidable swordswoman, with familial problems of her own. She’s the fearless one of the group and eager to defend her friends.
These are just a few of the many supporting cast of The Irregular at Magic Highschool (Mizuki, Honoka & Shizuku, too!), each one with a story to tell, if you take the time to look.
(From left to right: Mikihiko, Erika & Leo)
What makes The Irregular at Magic Highschool unique, is that magic isn’t typical. It’s given a technological spin. The theory and mechanics surrounding the use and development of magic makes it seem scientific, almost logical and believable.
There are many facets of this series that make it a good one to watch.
The disparity between the 1st and 2nd course students; the unparalleled strength and intelligence of Tatsuya, despite him being a 2nd course student (you want to know why!); the competition between the 9 magic high schools; and the many conspiracies and discrimination between the Ten Master Clans, magicians, and non-magicians.
There are few drawbacks, though. The fact that Tatsuya is surrounded by a practical harem is irksome. This trope is found in a myriad other high school setting anime. It is overused and sometimes drowns out a good story-line, especially if the females all happen to be busty, perpetually flustered airheads. It’s a disservice to the female population. Yes, you’ll probably say the target audiences are boys and whatnot. But here is one boy (Me!) who can do without it! Plus what are they teaching young impressionable boys out there?
One of the reasons why I overlooked this is because Tatsuya has no interest in pursuing a love interest, barring the strict devotion and protection of Miyuki.
The magic explanation and theory can be a little confusing if you’re not paying attention. This anime is not for light watching. However, the many categories and systems used in magic make it interesting. Utilizing complex spells often require the use of mechanical devices called CAD's, which can take the form of a communication terminal or pistols, among other things. The magical world is already well established when you start watching it.
As for the end, it’s a bit rushed and open-ended. I longed for the day when a second season would be announced. But luckily, we have a movie to look forward to, due to be released later this month. Also, read the light novels. You must!
So, would I recommend you watch The Irregular at Magic Highschool? Yes. Because yes. I’ve re-watched it more times than I can count, and always find something I missed! The animation itself is okay, with a mixture of 2D and 3D graphics. The actions scenes are easy to follow and the story-line is interesting. I give it 8 out of 10 Pulses
For the next review, I’ll be watching Amagi Brilliant Park. Until next time!