In the dawn of the 21st century, magic, long thought to be folklore and fairy tales, has become a systematized technology and is taught as a technical skill. In First High School, the institution for magicians, students are segregated into two groups based on their entrance exam scores: "Blooms," those who receive high scores, are assigned to the First Course, while "Weeds" are reserve students assigned to the Second Course.
Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei follows the siblings, Tatsuya and Miyuki Shiba, who are enrolled in First High School. Upon taking the exam, the prodigious Miyuki is placed in the First Course, while Tatsuya is relegated to the Second Course. Though his practical test scores and status as a "Weed" show him to be magically inept, he possesses extraordinary technical knowledge, physical combat capabilities, and unique magic techniques—making Tatsuya the irregular at a magical high school.
I'm not entirely sure why I watched all of Mahouka. At some point it was a scholarly interest in why this was the latest hottest thing in light novels. It might have been because people said it gets better in the novels later and I wondered at what stage that would be. At another point it was purely to see if I could finish it as a personal challenge. If I could keep watching I might be able to find something good about this anime. Something that at the end of the day I could say "sure it was mostly
bad, but there was this one thing about the show that was enjoyable".
I never found that thing. I can find nothing to recommend about Mahouka. It is bad on pretty much every level.
The first point it fails at, and the main point that drags down the entire show, is the main character. Tatsuya Shiba is a highly talented magician who has been placed in the crappy kids class. He's there because he is bad at pushing a square inch wooden block across a floor with his mind. This is the only thing he is bad at in the world of magic. He is a master magician who can cancel out other magicians magic. He's baffling intelligent to the point that he can calculate mind-bogglingly complex magical problems in milliseconds. In his spare time he's the world's greatest engineer, fronting as the mysterious Silver creating the best magical equipment in the world. He solves magical problems that the rest of the world have been struggling with for years. He creates the power of flight on a whim. He can see through walls. He can take down an entire platoon of terrorists by himself. He can detonate the power equivalent of an atomic bomb over anywhere in the world. He can heal all wounds instantly. He can raise the dead. But he is not very good at pushing a square inch block across a floor so clearly he's a flawed character.
When your main character is as perfect as this, there is no tension. There is no struggle. Any problem presented to Tatsuya can be solved with no issue. Yet the show likes to pretend he genuinely has factors against him. It's purely lipservice though that has no practical limitations on his capability to do literally anything. Whenever the show tries to make me feel like Tatsuya is inconvenienced, it ends up flipping around and making me feel like I should be on the side of the people against Tatsuya. It got to the point that for long periods of the show I found it easier to treat Tatsuya like he was the villain.
You know that big Darwinian speech given by Charles Vi Brittania from Code Geass where he goes on about how the strong will destroy and subjugate the weak and that's why everyone will bow down to Brittania and all hail Brrrrrrrrritannia? That's Tatsuya's, and by extension the author's outlook on life. Except when Charles delivers his speech about the myth of equality, it's by Norio Wakamoto hamming it up to 11 as the most evil character in the world. In Mahouka it's Tatsuya delivering the speech about how equality is a bad thing and we should destroy those who seek to change that, and we're supposed to agree with his outlook.
The weird thing is, Tatsuya would make a pretty great supervillain. His calm attitude and dangerous intelligence is perfect Bond villain material. He's a cold-blooded killer who wipes out several thousand people without remorse during the show. You can totally do villain as protagonist thing. Light Yagami did a pretty good job of it as a similar smart person with dangerous beliefs and phenomenal power. Tatsuya though is always presented as the hero. All the villains are terrorists, more terrorists, and the Chinese, none of whom are presented as anything other than cardboard cutouts of villains. The first episode shows that the school has a dumb system where less magically talented kids are treated like shit by the upper class of magical students. But instead of coming to the conclusion that the whole system is dumb because it creates a class system, the show comes to the conclusion that the system is bad because it didn't rate Tatsuya highly.
So we have unstable foundations from which to build this show on, but what about the more superficial presentation angle. Are the magical fights fun? No.
Technobabble. Magical sequences in the show are interrupted by long explanations of the magical theory behind them. Characters would sit in the cafe and discuss magic. Tatsuya would move a block across a room then launch into a lengthy explanation why this was difficult for him. Tatsuya would explain why wizards flying is really difficult for most of an episode and then proceed to solve it a minute later accompanied by another explanation. I got a pretty good grasp on the world's magic system by the end of the show, but these scenes are all excruciatingly boring even with that knowledge. Eyes glaze over as they talk about oscillating magical frequencies and squiddidly heebijeebies and whatnot. What was even more frustrating is you could use none of this knowledge to enjoy the show more. None of the explanations helped the viewer understanding what was going on in a battle better or let you work out what was going on yourself. Even with the knowledge of magic I gained, it never became useful to know for anything else. It wasn't building lore either since it felt mostly like reading from a highly boring textbook. So what was the point of these lengthy magical explanations?
The explanation is pretty easy really. You know in Kill la Kill one of the characters would have an explanation as to why Matoi Ryuko gained this incredible power of hers, delving into theories about life fibres and so on, until Mako would burst in and yell "so what you're saying is Ryuko has awesome powers", turning the entire previous conversation into a hilarious joke that outlined that none of it was really important? That's Mahouka's magical explanations except it's explaining why Tatsuya is totally awesome. Also it's not played as a joke.
What these magical explanations also do is make Mahouka very dull to look at. The vast majority of the show is talking heads with no artistry put into their presentation. The magical fights are equally pretty dull with no interesting fight choreography. In general Mahouka is pretty bland visually and doesn't have great animation either. The music, since I'm on the subject of production values, is also pretty bland. A bunch of generic jpop for OP/ED and insert songs is the most it can muster. The pacing is also awful, in particular during the middle and boringest arc, and again I can attribute this mostly to these Tatsuya-appealing sessions of lengthy magical explanations that ultimately lead to no conclusion beyond Mako yelling "so what you're saying is Tatsuya is totally awesome right".
There's also a whole load of nitpicky problems. One that bugged me was the show's weirdly conservative treatment of women. Tatsuya's sister is madly in love with him, but oddly that didn't bother me too much because it's just another method the show uses to appeal to Tatsuya. No what I'm referring to is the weird way anytime a woman would wear something other than the most skin-covering clothing, a character would comment on how they should cover up and stop being such a dirty whore. Usually by Tatsuya, because he's a gentleman *tips fedora*. All while the camera pans lovingly up the underdressed woman's skin and makes their boobs really shiny. It's a small thing, but it compounds with lots of other little things that make me really start to resent the author.
I really tried scraping through my memory banks to find something I liked about the show, but I could come up with nothing. I mostly just found more and more nitpicky problems the further I probed. The character designs are bland to the point that I kept mixing up characters. It has too many characters in general and there were a large chunk of them for whom I didn't understand their purpose. That one episode where the student council leader gave a speech during a debate that solved nothing but somehow their opposition thought they were defeated by this incredibly speech. How boring the presentation of the magical sports were and how bloody long they kept showing them. Perhaps the closest I can think of as a good thing about Mahouka is how, by the end, Tatsuya's power goes beyond the point of even self-parody. So what, one wry smile from the whole show, and even that is an ironic one?
Here's a suggestion for you if you're thinking of watching Mahouka. Puff your cheeks out. Now stick your tongue out slightly. Now blow air out of your mouth so it escapes under your tongue. This should cause your tongue to make a rasping noise, not dissimilar to that of a fart. Congratulations. You have now done something more fun that watching Mahouka with about as much artistic merit.
Alright, despite giving a score of 9, allow me to make this perfectly clear, THIS SHOULD NOT BE WATCHED BY EVERYONE!!! There are three very crucial aspects to this show that form a fissure among the viewers. If you are able to tolerate or enjoy these aspects, watch this show. If you find these elements unbearable then you should definitely walk away because they are ubiquitous throughout the entirety of the 26 episodes.
I: An over-powered protagonist. When I say over-powered I mean it in the most literal sense possible. This guy does not lose, ever. He's a genius with combat capabilities surpassing every other person
we encounter within the show. This world practically made him a god. Someone tell Kira to take notes because becoming this guy is how you really conquer the world. You will never have to ponder who will emerge the victor, the contest was won as soon as our hero decided to make his appearance. If this aspect will bother you, DO NOT WATCH THIS SHOW!!! This never proved bothersome to me. I accepted the simple fact that this narrative would have a god in the driver's seat and just enjoyed watching the moments when the other characters realized the true power our protagonist held.
II: Exposition heavy dialogue. The dialogue can be said to bore some people to tears with the snail-like pace it moves at. In this story it's not just that magic exists, no, there is a system to it. This system that is more akin to science than the traditional wizards and wands style. The specifics of this system of magic, it's integration into society, the social standing of those who can use magic, all of it is explored through the dialogue. A fight with magic will occur and the next 10 minutes will be a discussion of the fight. History, politics, and a magic that behaves as science are all explored in heavy detail. If that sounds monotonous, pass on this title. Personally, I found this fascinating. I loved that the author took time to craft a world filled with detail and societal nuances.
III: Hints towards an incestuous relationship between the two main characters. With the main characters being an elder brother and sister who are very close, incestuous hints are littered throughout their interactions and thoughts. This never impacted my enjoyment in the slightest, it's a work of fiction, not myself. I can separate my own actions from that of the characters. Not to mention the simple fact that I could not think of any reason as to why incest is fundamentally wrong (potential genetic issues in offspring irrelevant, reproduction not mutually inclusive), but I digress. If you dislike seeing siblings with a relationship that seems to go beyond the standard definition of a sibling relationship, then do not click play on that first episode.
For all of you who find yourselves unperturbed by the aforementioned elements then by all means, keep reading. Now, onto the standard format for reviewing on this site:
This story is far from unique. Two new students showing up to a school and taking an ax to the beliefs and perceptions of the entire student body is nothing new. These siblings arrive and the foundations that everyone believed to be stable are shifted. That being said, I loved the execution of this concept in the world the author created. In my exposition portion I mentioned that this world has an incredible amount of detail to it. Said detail is exactly why I love the idea of shaking the roots society stands upon. The school has a very discriminate social standing that our main characters are able to shatter.
Outside of the school itself we also have the governmental structure of Japan, foreign nations and terrorist groups, etc, etc. These components were all stacked together to build a world that felt real.
The narrative of this show is arc-based. This shouldn't be surprising given that light novels serve as the source material. The arcs follow a logical sequence of time and progression, so a drastic disconnect between the episodes never seemed to exist.
The animation was fantastic. Madhouse once again came through in extraordinary fashion. The movement was fluid which was especially noticeable in the combat scenes. The back-drops were pleasant and the color palette was rich without feeling exceedingly vibrant.
The character designs are also something I found particularly nice. It's an absolute fact that most men are going to be larger than women. Greater height, broader shoulders, simple size and body mass. Yet all too often this fundamental truth is all but forgotten in the world of anime. But not in this series, no, the characters in this series are for the most part correctly proportioned. This also applies to females in the sense that they weren't erroneously sized in their bust. Not being a fan-service show that may seem to be normal, but even then this show felt real in regards to how the characters were built. The remainder of the character designs (faces, hair, etc, etc) were also pleasant. You won't find exceedingly wacky hair styles or colors. The majority of the main and supporting cast were fairly individualistic in design, but there are a few noticeable exceptions where two characters will appear to be carbon copies of one another.
Oh, and a special note: Coolest school uniforms ever. The end.
There's not too much I can say in this department. The OST was good, but at the same time it wasn't particularly special. Featuring a lot of techno music each scene was complimented well.
The voice acting was also solid. The respective actors managed to express the unique qualities of their characters. Their performances weren't too stand-out or deserving of excessive praise, but at the end of the day I could say they did a good job.
This score is probably pretty surprising. I mean, with an over-powered main character there's no way he could actually be a good character, right? Well, this is where I disagree with many people. I am not one to say that "over-powered" and "bad character" are mutually inclusive terms. They can be synonymous, sure, but no subjective thought could ever be set in stone. Tatsuya Shiba, or as I like to call him - Japan's lord and savior, is a 16 year old genius who comes across as very calm and apathetic. He possesses almost no magical affinity but still shows up at the magic high-school to study as an engineer. His combat capabilities aside, I think Tatsuya is a good character. He may come across as just a boring lump of clay with a sister-complex, but as we come to learn of his dry humor, logical manner of thinking, and direct mannerisms, my perception of him as a character was altered. He never undergoes any sort of development, but we do get insight into his past, learning why he is who he is, discovering why he holds his sister so close to his heart. His emotionless attitude becomes sympathetic, bordering on tragic.
Then we have his sister, Miyuki Shiba. Her character can be summed up as this: "Onii-sama". (And get used to that name, you'll hear it a lot.) I kid, I kid, Miyuki harbors extreme love for her brother (so much so that it might as well he obsession), but she does have a few additional aspects that make up her personality. (The name still stands, though. Many, many times will "Onii-sama" grace your auditory glands). Miyuki is in part the ideal daughter. She's intelligent, capable, well-spoken, beautiful, her genetics and upbringing ensured she would be nothing but the best. She's also a girl who holds a great deal of resentment towards her family, simultaneously feeling extreme gratitude towards her brother. She has a massive brother complex and most of her actions are taken in an attempt to help her brother or make him proud of her. However, I do think that I am in the minority for finding Miyuki to be an interesting character. The large majority of those who watch this show find her to be bothersome and annoying. But fear not if you happen to be one of those who find her irksome, her initial presentation in the first few episodes changes slightly, accompanied by less screen time as the episodes progress.
The supporting cast is fairly large. You have the respective councils within the school, the normal students, military personnel, family members of students, etc. None of the supporting cast are particularly deep characters, but I wouldn't classify them as complete cliches either. On first glance these characters will seem to fall into a general archetype. Contrary to that initial perception, however, these characters do not fall into the pitfall that is stereotyping. As I said though, they are lacking in depth. Whilst walking the path of a character, Mahouka's managed to get past the trap of cliches, but stopped short of the bridge of development. One element I loved about the cast on the whole was their perception and strength. Tatsuya will definitely steal the spot-light, but these characters are all skilled in their own regards Some fights they will manage alone, some explanations will come from their own lips. Tatsuya is ultimately the one who will save the day, but prior to his arrival we witness the remarkably adept capabilities of the cast.
A special shout-out for the best girl that is Mayumi Saegusa. The adorable student council president and the only character capable of trolling Tatsuya to the same caliber he trolls others.
I won't lie, I initially turned this show on after looking up shows with a bad-ass protagonist. I had watched one too many series with a weak male that had to be protected. One too many series where the protagonist was the only character to over-react to a situation. This show was a fulfillment of my wish to not watch a spiky-haired pansy get his ass kicked. I never expected an emotional narrative with compelling themes and deep symbolism, I just wanted a protagonist that would kick ass in a spectacular fashion, and this show delivered. The copious exposition was just a bonus for me who loves detailed world building.
I loved this show. The sheer amount of "Holy shit that was awesome" moments made this show great. From the first episode I never looked to see who would win, I just wanted to see how many jaws Tatsuya could drop when he showed the world how he won.
All in all, if you want to watch two siblings who love each other very much kick some ass, accompanied by friends that talk about how the two siblings just kicked ass, watch this immediately.
The conception of "perfection" we previously had is going to change, because after watching Shiba Tatsuya (the protagonists show) in action, the word we used to describe the type of character which is sightly too powerful among his peers, overpowered, is going to be "Onii-sama" from now on. With Shiba Tatsuya, better known as Onii-sama, we reach a level of perfection never seen before in the anime industry, characters we reputed as OP, notable recent examples such as Kirigaya Kazuto (Sword Art Online) or Gilgamesh (Fate/Zero), are practically nothing next to our glorious Onii-sama, capable of turning the Impossible into something actually possible.
> Is a
problem an OP character as main then?
To that question I reply: "not necessary", since an overpowered main character isn't a big iceberg enough to sink an entire ship, we have plot development and side characters after all; and overpowered isn't a synonymous of " Bad", sometimes is good to watch a main character that isn't completely a weakling, but problems comes when the plot's development is nothing more than a series of events made to emphasize the greatness of our main characters, plural, because Onii-sama didn't descended from Heaven alone, there is his sister, the main female protagonist, Shiba Miyuki, another example of absolute perfection, to accompany him in his journeys.
> So this is an anime about these perfect couple of siblings and nothing more?
We aren't that far to describe this show with that phrase up here, but actually there isn't a better phrase to describe this show neither, since the anime I'll now introduce you is going to be the anime with the most perfect main protagonist I've seen in my whole life, and as you've probably noted, the word 'perfect' isn't used with a positive tone in this review. I'll now claim that I haven't read the LN, this is going to be my judgement from what I've seen in this adaptation.
This show is set on the year 2095 d.c, after the conclusion of the Third World War and the introduction of the Magic System, magician isn't a term anymore related to fairy tails, Science and Technology converged into what we now call Magic. Society developed itself around this new form of Science, and this lead the necessity to create new generations of youngsters capable of crafting this new kind of science, so Magic High Schools were born. This show follows a particular brother and sister, fresh enrolled in the First Magic High School (there are only 9 in the country) at the beginning of the first episode.
"We're not the same"
As everything that isn't "uniform" in the Society, it creates a fracture between the population, racism in few words, and Magic is not the exception. Some individuals are more capable of others, that is a fact, and so is also related to Magic. People who show an incredible magic ability form the Course 1 in the High School, and the others, less capable, form the Course 2. Somehow Onii-sama sucked at the enrollment test score and ended in the Course 2, the so called "Weed" course, meanwhile Miyuki ended in the Course 1, the "Bloom" course. How a perfect being such as Onii-sama ended in the course 2?, that will be explained through the show, something I'll not reveal, let's keep going. Funny fact that actually all Onii-sama's friends, course 2 people, are above the course 1 students in matters of skill combat and magic. This is the classic shounen pattern where all the protagonist's friends are better than everyone else and save the world, with the difference that only Onii-sama is able to save the day here, the rest aren't of any use actually.
In this 26 episodes adaptation from the best-seller Light Novel, there are adapted three arcs, each of them, naturally, revolving around Onii-sama and his friends dealing with an unexpected conflict, unnaturally always is Onii-sama the center of everything that happens in this show, leading the viewers to ask themselves a such basic question as:
> "If Onii-sama doesn't want his true identity being revealed, why does he keep trying everything to be in the spotlights every time?"
Such a million dollar question sadly didnt get an answer, events just keep happening and Onii-sama always saving the day, in the most perfect possible way. And that just seem to be irony, since a characteristic of this show is that of explaining EVERYTHING, well...at least the things related to magic spells, magic sequences and effects. Practically a huge time was spent on explaining things that aren't real and somewhat irrelevant for the development of the story, time that surely could have been spend in a more useful and productive way.
The cast of characters was surely wide, we have practically a character for every kind of stereotype. There's the glasses girl, the tomboy, the cute and moe girl, the silent girl, the tusndere, the Student Council President, the best protagonist's friend, the bad guy who didn't accept the protagonist but later he accepts him, the rival, ect ect ect. Actually none of them had an important role in this show, since its all about Onii-sama, but we're able to find something in common between them, possibly the only reason why the author decided to create side characters for this show, and that would be: "to praise Onii-sama and his sister". Actually that may sound like a joke but believe me when I tell you it isn't, every single side character in every single episode, when they aren't wasting time explaining Magic related things, that remaining time is spend on praising Onii-sama for x, y and z reason, a fact that I found overly above the ridiculous level.
By the other side there's no need to spend a lot of words for our sibling protagonists, there's only a word capable of containing all their essences, 'Perfect'. Onii-sama is good at everything possible imaginable, every presented female character falls for him but he doesn't have eyes for any of them, because Onii-sama cares a lot about his sister, and that was stated several times through the show. Meanwhile Miyuki is his female counterpart, a beautiful young girl which excels in Magic and in everything she does, I'll just end here to write about them, since my writing skills are way too far of being perfect to describe this pair of siblings in the proper way.
When it comes to Animation and Sound, at least, this anime isn't mediocre, animation is made by Madhouse, characteristic trademark of this studio is the high quality animation of its adaptations. The actions scenes were quite fluid and very well done, camera angles and sudden zoom ins and zoom outs were coordinated very well, as well as the OST fitting them, electric-rock oriented, we can't say its perfect as our protagonists but we can say its done quite well, above average for sure. OPs and EDs were quite nice, Rising Hope by LiSA was by far my favorite song from this show.
At some point of this show I couldn't take seriously anything that was happening, too much perfection, events emphasized to show how great the Shiba siblings were, too much useless explanations, pathetic side characters, and a lot of details I didn't mention because they're spoilers, overall is a quite interesting anime that shows how would be to have a perfect MC gaining the praise for each side character presented, something completely original I must say, nothing that I've seen come close to what I've seen in this anime but this is not surely something I would feel to recommend to people.
Set in 2095, magic is now a form of technology and science. After the 3rd world war, magic wielders were high in demand in the world to defend their individual countries from further chaos. Mahouka follows two siblings, Tatsuya and Miyuki Shiba, who are enrolled in Fist High School. Based on enrolment test scores, the brother becomes a Weed, a presumed low-achieving magician, while his little sister becomes a Bloom, a presumed high-achiever in magic. However, there's more to these two siblings than as first thought. And school life at First High School will no longer be the same...
And thus, the most anticipated, but highly
controversial, anime of the spring season has reached its conclusion. Controversial in the fact that this series ranged from "Mahouka is the best anime ever!" to "Wow, this series is complete BS." So how did it truly turn out? Was it as good as the die-hard fans claim it was? What about the opinions of the critics who truly despise this series? I find that Mahouka truly fits in between the two; it's neither really good, nor really bad. It was nonetheless a somewhat enjoyable anime series that I didn't regret watching.
Before I begin, I will say that there's a high chance that you may end up being in either of the aforementioned polarizing sides. To make things a bit easier, for those who really like and would only watch a huge action-packed series with an adventurous plot, non-stop fight scenes, and emotional characters like some shounens have, you probably want to stop reading this review and find another anime series. The relatively slow-paced Mahouka will actually bore you really fast, and would DEFINITELY not be for you. I probably weeded out a few of you, and you'll thank me for it. Now, I can't guarantee that this review will be spoiler free, but let's dwell a bit further into this series, shall we?
Mahouka focuses on two main leads, who are the Shiba siblings, Tatsuya and Miyuki. The series is split into three arcs, each having a specific school event attached to them (enrolment, a school competition, and a thesis competition). The general idea of Mahouka is that conflict arises, usually from a specialized group having ulterior motives for magic, preventing these school events from going as calm and smoothly as planned, and the students from First High School and other acquaintances will have to deal with them. Conflict doesn't happen immediately, however; everything is set up with loads of dialogue and explanations. Unfortunately, the huge amount of set up can turn stale for some viewers.
The biggest problem about Mahouka is definitely its pacing. Some would find this series to be incredibly slow due to all the explanations and dialogue used to set up a conflict, especially as a shounen anime. This is highly prominent in the first arc. Later, the events in the story became extremely rushed, which happened most often in the second arc. Most magic was no longer explained in its entirety, and some prior background have been omitted at times. I ended up consulting light novel readers a few times of what I just witnessed. Regardless of your opinion on Mahouka, this is easily the biggest flaw. I like to turn that around and use it as a way to say that this series is unpredictable in nature because of this pacing. You don't know what will Mahouka bring the next episode, but even this can be a relatively frustrating process, especially considering that the plot had very good potential to be great. In all, the story was executed well to a certain extent, but it definitely could of been better. Viewers will have to acknowledge this imminent flaw should they decide to take the plunge to this series.
However, each arc does have some pretty interesting perks in the story. There were very well thought out concepts for all the arcs, but the 3rd arc of the series (Episodes 18-26) was easily my favourite. Of course, I won't say what happens then, but for me, the final arc made the series a worthwhile watch. It might be frustrating to have to consult LN readers at times to know some background facts that Madhouse has omitted, as well as a lot of confusing bits here and there, but it's flushed out enough to at least give a small sense of satisfaction at the end to the typical anime watcher such as myself. 6/10
No complaints here. The art style is very typical of shounen anime, and instances where the animation quality gets noticeably bad is extremely rare. Action scenes are fluid and flashy, while the character designs are very cool and slick. Honestly, those are some pretty badass school uniforms. There's nothing about the art and animation that really stands out compared to other series, but it gets the job done, and does the job well. I really give Madhouse credit for the great animation quality of this series. 8/10
Another one of the better points of this anime. Mahouka has a huge cast of characters (which will be explained later), and Madhouse pretty much recruited the best of the best to voice them. No character sounds awkward or out of place, as most match their individual character's personality very well. I mean, it's like a dream team of all-star seiyuus, including Yuichi Nakamura (Tatsuya), Saori Hayami (Miyuki), and Kana Hanazawa (Mayumi), just to name a few. A job well done to all the voice actors and actresses involved in this series.
LiSA's “Rising Hope” is arguably one of, if not, THE best opening song of Spring Anime 2014, while GARDiNELiA's “grilletto” stands up as one of the better opening songs for Summer 2014. The ending themes are decent too, but sometimes, the ending scene of an episode does not transition well into the song, especially when suspense was attempted to be made. Mahouka's OST is good in general, and definitely sounds very shounen-like. A good plus side of the series. 9/10
Now, this is the second category that many individuals critic about Mahouka. The story focuses on Tatsuya Shiba and Miyuki Shiba, two characters that are, for some reason, really hated by a lot of people out there. Do the Shiba siblings make or break the series? For some, there is that chance. So I'll explain the pair to the best of my abilities, alongside the other characters of series, and note the places where some people hate about them.
Tatsuya is enrolled into the First High School as a weed. This would mean that he's presumably weak in magic, right? Wrong. Rather, this guy is seriously overpowered. We definitely can question how on earth was he determined to be an inferior weed in the first place due to these placement tests. The problem some people have over Tatsuya is that he is claimed to be just another “Gary Stu”. He only seems to get more and more OP as the series progresses, making him pretty much the “perfect” protagonist. I personally don't think he's completely perfect; he comes at the cost that he rarely develops emotionally. Tatsuya in a sense doesn't feel human, which does make it difficult for him to fit with his classmates and live a perfectly normal school life with his little sister. His lack of human emotions is definitely a conflict that he must always go through, and is something that is explored throughout the series.
Tatsuya's mysterious nature definitely creates some suspense in Mahouka. We know Tatsuya is great, but just HOW good he is? What skills will be pull off next? The enigma that is Tatsuya really makes viewers wonder just who the hell he really is. How many things he can pull of his sleeve is pretty damn incredible. Heck, his classmates don't really know who he really is as well later. Tatsuya is an enigmatic character, but whether this is an enjoyable trait is definitely up to the viewer.
Miyuki is the other main character, who is perhaps as controversial as his older brother. Miyuki is your beautiful, smart and kind female character that many look up to. However, her personality and ideals in general, like Tatsuya, are very simple. Some may argue that it's even bland. Oh, and she may have a slight bro-con for Tatsuya. I'm pretty sure all the complaints that Madhouse got over her cries of "Onii-sama" ended up having her get less screen time later in the series. Now, it definitely isn't as black and white as this; however, Madhouse unfortunately does not dwell into this further, which is something that I'll be looking into in the light novels. I do like Miyuki, mostly because of her sincerity and well-mannered demeanour, while getting notable roles in the story as well. However, I'll note that both Tatsuya and Miyuki barely undergo development throughout the series, at least emotionally and a character as a whole. If you get frustrated about characters who really only develop in terms of OPness, then this probably won't be the series for you. For others who don't mind, you're in for a treat.
The supporting cast is very cool, but they are the supporting cast for a reason. After all, Mahouka centres around Tatsuya and Miyuki the most, who are relatively mysterious but simple individuals in the first place. Some characters appear in episodes to glue some parts of the story together, but they don't get quite enough spotlight to have them fully develop. Again, a lack of character development may be a flaw of this series for some viewers, but that would be way too much to put in a 26-episode series, especially considering that some parts were already feeling rushed. There's at least enough of a blueprint for all the supporting characters to be able to pick a favourite. I personally love the student council president Mayumi myself, but I was slightly disappointed that she didn't get that much time to develop as a character. Overall, this huge cast of characters is nice, but unfortunate sacrifices had to be made in order to prevent these 3 arcs from stretching over 40 episodes. 7/10
This series is flawed, yes. The pacing of the story is my biggest concern, with a somewhat lack of character development being another. But I did have the motivation to continue and look forward for the next episode. I personally found the series to be quite enlightening, and there was enough substance for me to be intrigued to continue in watching, even if I know there was quite a few things wrong about it. The concept of Mahouka is very nice, although Madhouse may have not brought it out to its full potential. I do look forward to reading the light novels and continue the series from there. 8/10
On a completely realistic overview, character and story must be weighed more than the art and sound of an anime series. The former may be the weaker points of the series, but it definitely isn't AS bad as some people say it is, nor you should write if off just because of the flaws I've listed above. This is a series where you really have to see it to give a proper opinion on it. Don't inflate your expectations, or you will be disappointed. If you are interested enough after the first few episodes, I'll say that you'll be on the road to watching a pretty nice series. Will it blow you away? No. Will this be a waste of your time? Mostly likely no as well. All in all, despite some flaws, it has been a pleasure watching Mahouka, and I hope some of you will consider watching this series as well!
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