Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei Episode 1 [First Impression]

Impression

While once a product of fairy tales, magic has become a very real concept in the world of Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei, having been fully systematized and even substituted for nuclear warfare. Throughout the country, nine magic high schools exist for the sake of nurturing the next generation of magic technicians, the most prestigious of them being First High School. Siblings Miyuki and Tatsuya have enrolled into First High, but are segregated into Bloom and Weed respectively, in line with the divide that ostensibly separates those who possess talent and those who do not.

All things considered, this was a good pilot episode – and we’re considering a lot of things. As a light novel reader, it’s really interesting to see how Madhouse have decided to adapt this. The pacing is incredibly fast, yes, but the main thing that stood out to me was the lack of any major infodumping, which was a key part of the light novels – the way the concept of magic is introduced over there is pretty much akin to quantum physics. I suppose they’re trying to cut out anything that’s not necessary, which is understandable – and they’ve produced those extra mini-videos as a way of engaging with the world building. Some of the stuff they’ve omitted is actually interesting though, so I’ll do my best to fill in any gaps whenever relevant!

Mahouka 1 Img009I’m sure there were a few things that stood out this episode, and the first of them is the incest. I can already tell that this will be valuable ammo for the many haters this show will inevitably accumulate, but for those watching this to enjoy themselves rather than to bash it relentlessly later, I’d say you really shouldn’t worry about it. To be honest, it’s not really incest in the sense that it never gets anywhere – to begin with, it’s one-sided, and eventually it just becomes comic fodder. It’s because of this that I was sort of pissed at Madhouse for emphasising it so much during the show’s exposition – it’s that sort of thing that gives potential fans the wrong signal, and a bad first impression. This probably hasn’t generated Miyuki many fans, which is a pity as she does some cool stuff later on, as does Tatsuya.

Mahouka 1 Img048The second thing that stood out must have been the discrimination. Course 1 students are seen as the elites of the elite, while those enrolled in Course 2 are merely “reserves” – they’re denoted Bloom and Weed respectively. The anime doesn’t explain this, but the main difference between the two is that Weeds don’t have teachers, and thus have to instruct themselves in magic, coincidentally widening the divide in skill. Naturally, Miyuki’s a Bloom, while Tatsuya’s ended up as a Weed. The hostility is everywhere, and long-standing traditions have left Blooms like Morisaki Shun (the quick-draw guy) firmly believing they are superior. The fact that they usually are superior hasn’t been helpful at all, either – skirmishes like the one that happened near the end of the episode probably aren’t too uncommon. It’s definitely refreshing to see these sorts of social issues pop up in an anime that would stereotypically fall back on creating large explosions and fast-paced magic battles – of course, that’ll happen in Mahouka too, just not for a while yet.

Mahouka 1 Img015Aside from Tatsuya and Miyuki, we were also introduced to a whole slew of characters. Mahouka has a large cast, and admittedly it can be hard to keep track of who everyone is – although this was more of a problem in the novel, when all we had were names and the occasional picture. Chiba Erika, Shibata Mizuki and Saijou Leonhart are Tatsuya’s fellow Course 2 classmates – while they fit fairly easily into their designated tropes, that doesn’t stop them from being interesting in their own right. Being a Weed doesn’t automatically mean you’re weak, and Tatsuya and his classmates are perfect examples of that. Finally, Tatsuya met Saegusa Mayumi before enrolment, who is the best girl by far! As an onee-san type character, I’d never really imagined Mayumi being voiced by Hanazawa Kana, but there you go… a strange choice, but not necessarily a bad one. And I’m sure I’ll get used to it eventually. As the Student Council President and a Saegusa to boot, Mayumi’s situated in the upper echelons of magic society, and yet she’s not as prejudiced as her status would imply. Which is very ironic – we get those with a fair amount of power acting all high and mighty, while it’s only those with incredible power who truly understand how pointless the Bloom/Weed divide is.

Overall, this was fairly low-key, and I’m not surprised – the Enrolment arc as a whole is going to be relatively quiet. It’s the weakest arc in Mahouka without a doubt, and because of that the three-episode rule isn’t as valid – you can tell that Madhouse are trying to blitz through Enrolment as fast as possible, so we can get on to the good stuff. At this stage, we’re world building and developing characters instead of diving into conflict and battles, but it’s a sacrifice that will pay off. Certain characters are being hinted at in the OP before they should be, too, so I’m hoping we can get into the thick of things before the first cour is fully over!

Possibility of Watching: Guaranteed
Possibility of Blogging: Guaranteed 

Sidekick’s First Impressions

Alright, I don’t really get the deal with this? It’s supposed to be this year’s Sword Art Online right? It certainly doesn’t have a good start. In fact, it was a really boring first episode. I’d like to find mean things to say about it because I absolutely suck, but there isn’t much except for the fact that I found this episode boring. Is it because it’s only the first arc of the light novels or something?

I guess the main problem I have with this anime is the main character. Why is he called an ‘irregular’ when he’s clearly too perfect in every way, to a point where there is clearly something wrong with the writing? He’s kind, level-headed, skilled in martial arts and ‘magic analysis’ or whatever, clearly isn’t socially awkward, has a sister that’s head over heels in love with him…there really isn’t any flaw to him at all. In fact, he’s the main reason why I didn’t like this first episode. He’s boring, plain and simple. He’s too perfect. There’s nothing compelling about him. There’s nothing in his character for me to root for.

I guess the world-building isn’t too amazing either, but I’ve seen much, much worse so I won’t complain too much here when I don’t think it to be necessary. The introduction to the setting was done pretty blandly and also didn’t help to pique my interest in the world the characters inhabit. I mean, introducing a world war first before switching to a high school setting is kinda lame, unless you’re Code Geass. The dialogue in the anime was pretty standard stuff for light novels too, but I’m surprised it took itself /this/ seriously when the content itself seems to be something tonally different?

The same goes for the music. The soundtrack itself is good, but I found it difficult to ever think that it matched what was going on on-screen…? That really could just be me nitpicking and being annoying.

I’ll apply the 3-episode rule here. I’m no fan of the light novels, and I’m judging the anime as a separate entity from the source material here, which means it needs to make the pitch in the next 2 episodes. I highly doubt I’ll keep up with this though, because I see no way they can turn the MC into a compelling character.

Oh, the animation for this was good though. Top-tier stuff as expected from this being Madhouse’s next flagship project.

Possibility of Watching: Low
Possibility of Blogging: Vantage has definitely got this one covered, so no one will see me shit all over this. 

Vantage

I love cute things.

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6 Responses

  1. omoikane says:

    The Mahouka episode certainly fared better than I expected(or perhaps this is coming from someone who hasn’t seen a thrilling action packed light novel adaptation in a long while). And from what I have seen in this pilot episode, the sparring done by Tatsuya was rather impressive in fluidity and choreography. Perhaps it might be somewhat of an exaggeration, but from I have seen, I will eagerly anticipate the future fight scenes and Madhouse seems to be off to a good start with that. I must admit the imouto having a brocon as part of the standard LN character trope being a bit bothersome like you mentioned but it’s reassuring for an anime only watcher like me that you mentioned it never pervades persistently throughout the story. There is one thing that I quite worry about and it is as cool as it is to see Tatsuya being a badass, it’s certainly better that he doesn’t become “too” badass. The main protagonist devolving into a “Gary Stu” is a very realistic possibility for these types of storyand at this point in the story, Tatsuya does come off as a near omnipotent character(especially with his expert level “martial arts” skill and magic perceptiveness).

    • Vantage says:

      I’m glad Mahouka rose above your expectations. At the very least, I hope it’ll be much better than what Madhouse did with Mahou Sensou, which admittedly left me with some worries as to how seriously they’d take this adaptation. For the most part, those worries seem to be unfounded.

      Unfortunately, you’ve made a really astute observation – I’d be lying if I claimed that Tatsuya wouldn’t show any Gary Stu characteristics in the future. It’s one of the reasons why this show will draw parallels with SAO, though I hope he won’t irk people as much as I know Kirito does. With Tatsuya, it’s somewhat more justified and less flaunted, and he tries his best to keep under wraps the fact that he can make nuclear explosions like the one he did in the first scene.

  2. Pablo says:

    Thx for reviewing this series!

  3. Eva says:

    Man I am absolutely loving what we got so far. I think my favorite aspect is that Tatsuya and Miyuki actually have a good relationship as oppose to Miyuki being that overused stereotype of the tsundere bratty sister. And strangely enough I actually like her little crush on her brother because it’s cute to watch, especially when we know that her brother knows she is jumping to weird conclusions ahahaha. On top of that Tatsuya is a wickedly cool character. So mellow on the surface and calculative underneath. MADHOUSE did a fabulous job with the animation this episode, I am really excited for the bigger fights in the future! This is probably going to be my favourite show of the season.

    • Vantage says:

      Miyuki holds a positive sort of affection towards Tatsuya, who decides to play along most of the time – their relationship is more endearing than creepy, which helps to offset many of the negative connotations (perceived) incest usually has. And above all, there’s actually a reason for Miyuki’s brocon tendencies, which will be explored in a bit more depth in the future – they didn’t just decide to stick it in because why not.

      And thank god for Madhouse! If the OP sequence says anything about how they’re going to animate fights in the future, you’d better look forward to it!

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