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!
What does it mean to be a good main character? Does it mean being weak and growing strong throughout the story? Or could it mean starting strong but learning how to overcome your weaknesses in order to continue growing? How about starting off absolutely perfect at everything other than noticing girls affection for you? Well, if you answered "no" to that last one, you should probably stay away from this show. If you answered "yes," let me show why I believe that is not the right way to create a protagonist.
Shiba Tatsuya is a new high school freshman at a prestigious magic academy in near-future
Japan. Magic is being studied like a science and used in order to gain an upper-hand in a long-lasting global conflict. Tatsuya and his twin sister Miyuki happen to be excellent at using magic. Despite that, due to some poorly explained reason, the absolutely-perfect-at-magic-in-every-way-ever-showed Tatsuya somehow ended up in the lower class at the school though Miyuki ended up in the upper class. Most of the students in the upper class look down on the other students as being inferior. Tatsuya soon breaks that boundary and forces his way (and is forced) into the student council by being absolutely perfect. Still, it will take more time than that to fully mend the broken relationship between the upper and lower students. That's just a bit of the stuff that happens at first in MKnR. The story is divided up into several arcs ranging from a few episodes to around ten episodes in length.
I'll go over the characters first since that really is the biggest downside to the show. There are way too many them. This show throws characters at you left and right with minimal explanation given for most of them, and almost zero back-stories for anyone, even the main duo. There is nothing to connect to these characters with emotionally (unless you can relate to having a brother complex). They are bland, two-dimensional characters who serve almost no purpose other than to further the plot, though most don't even do that much. Most characters' designs are so similar that they are easily confused with one another and made even more forgettable.
Now for the main duo, Tatsuya and Miyuki Shiba. They are twins from a wealthy and powerful family that is shown on a couple occasions but left out of the picture for 99% of the show. Tatsuya and Miyuki are both flawless with the exceptions being that Miyuki has a brother complex she cannot admit, and Tatsuya is terrible at noticing he has about a handful of girls with a crush on him. Tatsuya seemed like an interesting character in the first episode to me. He was looked down upon due to the class he was put in despite actually being quite skilled. However, the main reason (as I have said and will say many times) is his utter lack of any flaws. He doesn't even seem human. Similarly overpowered genius protagonists like Yagami Light from Death Note and Shiro from No Game No Life are far better than him for that reason. Despite being extremely cunning and seeming to win in basically every situation, they have flaws that make them seem like actual people. They have greed, lust, jealousy, emotions, goals, etc. Tatsuya just goes through this story beating everyone in his path without showing hardly any emotion at all. Even in unimportant situations like just hanging out with friends, he is stoic and emotionless and bland. He always says exactly what he needs to say and executes plans without any hitches. I really don't see why any other characters are necessary in this story since it seems like he could have done everything himself. Miyuki is also similarly strong, but ends up playing a damsel in distress role on one or two occasions making her not quite as perfect. She tends to be rather emotionless as well unless she is flustered romantically or embarrassed. She and Tatsuya together are just some of the most boring main characters I've ever seen.
The story is not much better. Given the huge character cast and boring main characters, the story tends to be slow paced and takes too long to explain things. 90% of MKnR is spent explaining. Almost every time an action scene occurs or a new magic is shown, the show stops and has the characters indirectly explain to the audience what happened even though I never really cared to know most of the time. There's no letting the viewer piece together events to figure out how things occurred. The information overload often makes you forget things as new info is poured into your brain faster than you can stop and think about anything that's been said. Plus most things that are explained are rather unimportant overall and make it hard to focus on the actual important information.
The animation is shoddily done. Created by the same group in Madhouse who did the failure that was Mahou Sensou, the animation really brings down the company's famous name in the anime industry. The characters' faces are devoid of expression throughout the majority of the show and everyone's design is so similar with nearly the same facial structure given to all characters. The backgrounds are not very detailed and the foreground images are sometimes noticeably poorly drawn. On the other hand, the action sequences have good choreography and are well thought out. Most of them involve group battles that involve strategy between fighters. This is also where the animation tends to be the best.
The soundtrack is mostly techno music with some rock music thrown in for some of the action scenes. The music does a good job of adding a nice calm, yet mysterious atmosphere to some of the scenes with explanations galore and makes them slightly better. There are many tracks that are used too often though, and many scenes are devoid of any music where some really should have been used. The second OP and ED are excellent despite the first ones not being anything out of the ordinary.
This show flops on nearly all aspects. The gigantic character cast with no personality or development was truly the biggest hindrance. Tatsuya is just so flawless that there is absolutely no tension created because you can be sure that he'll wrap everything up easily and move on to the next problem. This show could have been much better which is the most frustrating part. It had potential and an interesting premise but wasted it all on pointless or bad characters, poor animation, and an ending that politely asks for a second season without really offering anything worthy of receiving it.
When I first heard of Mahouka from a recommendation someone gave me, I thought I'd give it a try thinking it being something new to fill my boredom. With it's rave reviews from different sites, you can't help but think that this should be one of the favorites for 2014.
Unfortunately that is not to be and if I could sum up this series in one word, it would have to be "disappointing".
If BGM's were included with reviews, I know mine would play Public Enemy's "Don't Believe the Hype" as that's what's been running in my mind when I wrote this.
So getting back to why
I rate this series poorly:
Mahouka isn't original and if anything, tries to borrow a lot of settings/tropes which I've seemed to have come across already in manga and anime:
- You have the magic high school setting
- A 'Gary Stu' who for the most part feels like was written as pure fanfic wish-fulfillment ridden with plot armor
- A 'Mary Sue' little sister who for most of each series is pretty annoying with her "onii-sama this and onii-sama that"
- The stereotype society who looks down on said 'Gary Stu' for not being at 'their level'(even though he pretty much overpowers every character in the series so far)
- The stereotype friends who place said 'Gary Stu' on a pedestal
The series is bland in terms of animation and sound, and coming from a studio whom I actually like(Madhouse), I am pretty disappointed in regards to the overall outcome in which the series has been portrayed. The world building is one info dump after another and the pacing is as slow as my grandmother!
It's only because I've picked up the light novel that I've given the remaining series the benefit of the doubt, but considering we are 9 episodes in to the show(from when I wrote this) does not give the series any hope that it will be in the top 100 by the end of 2014.
So to wrap up this review; all I can say is that if you're a first-timer to anime(have seen around 5-10 series) this 'may' be a hit for you, but if you've seen a fair few series like me then be prepared for a snorefest.
"Onii-sama", these words are the very heights of the human spirit, they are the essence of a male soul. It is the light that will guide a man during his darkest hour. Make your imouto recite these holy words exactly 167 times over the span of 10 hours and you will be granted what your heart truly desires, my child.
Mahouka is like solidifying the shit your dog left on your mattress with liquid nitrogen then dipping it into gold and expecting people to buy it just because it's shiny. And well, people buy it. Apparently. ...Well, actually, that's not quite the case. Mahouka should have
been just another forgettable fighting magic school themed story adapted from a novel, except for some inexplicable reason, it gets popular. Mahouka is really just boring op-magic-imouto-harem garbage that adopts a not-quite-so-distasteful complexity within it's written dialog. About the only positive thing that I can really say in it's defense is that it somehow manages not to be torture. — Ah, yes! This is proof that the otaku culture is truly a bliss!
Every damn magic spell is accompanied by long winded explanations and technobabble. None of which is used for world building, characterization, or whatever else that it could possibly be used for. Zip, zero, nada. The "intelligence" in the script is just there for the author to stroke himself — or I should say Tatsuya Stuba's dick, technically?— Perhaps it's actually an abstract form of fanservice, it follows this sort of mentality of "the more complicated the vocabulary the more depth the character has", uguu! It's similar to the intelligence-fetihization of a loli in the whatever plethora of lolicon tittles I couldn't be bothered to mention. Hey, I would even go as far as to say that the whole series was built around this technobabble. I mean, if you're going for needless complexity in such volumes, why not go all the way and write a pseudo-political thriller a la Code Geass instead? We already have Spinzaku here, and Tatsuya is pretty much scumbag Jesus anyway. At least that would have been more eventful than all of the nothing that happens in the twenty-six episode run of this anime. Something else I should mention, they try to incorporate this idea of discrimination but they don't do anything with it. They had actually tried to justify the puerility of these teenagers pretending to be mature just to rather quickly brush it off with an empty speech. Funny because, this whole issue of "labels" could have stopped Mahouka's script from further plunging itself down the drain. The script is actually pretty terrible whenever you aren't being bombarded by technobabble. It's either harem garbage, hue hue not-really-incest heh heh heh heh, or indirectly stroking Tatsuya's dick. The action scenes can also reach irksome levels, almost as bad as what you see in hollywood movies. The Incompetence displayed by the terrorists can be described as simply sad. You would think that being equipped with sub-machine guns and RPGs one could be able to at the very least kill one person in a considerably populated school.
"There's no one who can possibly defeat my brother." - Miyuki.
Repeat the above piece of dialog thirty-or-so times with slightly different variations and you can begin to see the quality of writing in Mahouka, if you haven't already. Also, yup, what Tatsuya has isn't just any piece of armor, what he has is reinforced plot armor that's heavier and thicker than a whales hide.
Suffering several bone fractures, damaged organs and massive hemorrhaging? Not a problem, he'll just magically restore himself back to perfect health. Getting shot through the heart? Barely so much as tips him off balance a bit. Catching bullets with his bare hands? You betcha~ — There's absolutely no tension when a character is this powerful. And that isn't even the worst of it, the biggest offender of all happens in the last episode. It speaks for itself really.
No, better still is his ability to make girls drop their panties faster than you can say "bullshit". He does this in his usual inhumanly calm demeanor without so much as lifting a finger. No, he doesn't even flirt with the girls, the reason for this being because imouto pussy is best pussy. Just about every female subconsciously gravitates towards him and instinctively want to have his babies because they just know that he has superior mating capabilities.
No, wait, wait, wait, wait!! Tatsuya is a deconstruction of the Gary Stu archetype as he's actually a pathetic fatass okatu in a show that's actually a clever self parody.— Just an instance of Mahouka's brilliant comedy, when a high-school girl whose been hiding behind a tree gets her position compromised, she escapes her pursuers in the most dramatic way possible: by getting on a cheap looking scooter that actually takes off with two jet engines. You just have to see it for yourself, I'm clearly not writing it down correctly.— Tatsuya may not look like a fatass with an imouto fetish... but that's because you're already under his spell, see? Yeah, it's a spell of his that affects all your senses so you can't tell. When Miyuki asks if she looks weird in the new apron she bought for him to see her in, he replies with "You look lovely. So much so that I want to secretly display you in a glass case just for me." See? This is proof that he's a fatass basement dweller. It simply won't do you any good to deny facts.
Oh, wait, how could I forget? Whenever these two say anything incestuous it's just a joke.
Final verdict: 0/10 Nowhere near racist enough, needs more propaganda.
I thought this anime was going to be really good. I watched the first episode and thought maybe it gets better later (which I was told happened in the Light Novels). Sadly it didn't. I really wanted this anime to succeed, with my friend introducing it to me. However it's not what it's lacking is the problem, it's what it does too much of.
-I gave it a 5 because I hardly could get into the story. When it introduced a school setting, alarms already started going off in my head. 'Oh no, this isn't going to be one of those convoluted teenage identity crisis dramas
is it?'. Thankfully it wasn't. Unfortunately it was something else just as bad. Seriously what is it with this "Blooms and Weed" classification of the students? This really doesn't make sense because it's just another little path for the Gary-Stu of a main character to completely trample like he does everything else. A little action here and there, mostly exposition, almost NO development of plot or character. Utter bore.
-It's not too shabby. The fight scenes are nice with the magical effects and what not. Only problem is, the fights last like what? Less than a second? No seriously that happens. It's foolish. The reasoning behind it is even more so. However it is decent, passable.
-Same here, although the droning of the main character doesn't help. Not much to say honestly because it's just that: fair. Nothing great but at the same time nothing bad to point out.
-Oh boy here we go. Like I said: the MC was emotionless for a reason which was extremely stupid. The relationship between the MC and his little sister is just iffy. Why does it exist? Is the creator trying to tease at some sort of incestuous relationship? Is he trying to induce some sort of comedic value (since it is only hinted at). Besides that little sister is just plain soulless like every other character in the show. She's only there to make the older brother look good like some sick fantasy of a wish-fulfillment type story. Without him? She's absolutely NOTHING. At least the other characters have some sort of niche trope to fill although still laughable since the main character is just so good at everything. (stu stu stew stoo)
-Interesting AT FIRST because I was hyped to see this "magic" in action. I saw the first fight. I tried to be forgiving, watching it recapped in the second episode. Disappointment. All this show did was talk about something. Nobody ever said "I FEEL this" or "This makes me want to do X". And there's the problem right there. Almost little to no expression. And if these characters are so unwilling to show some real emotion? Why should I? Oh yeah like I could feel sorry for that samurai girl when she was an idiot for mistaking her senior's words a few years ago. Honestly, there was nothing to pull me in. Nothing to say: 'Watch this anime, it's interesting for this reason!'. But there is no reason. Do I want to see triumph after triumph? No. I want to see development, feeling, action. Some substance to this lifeless anime.
-It was bad:
-Story was boring. It was a generic school setting with generic student barriers with a generic unbalanced ratio between female and male student characters. Yeah, you know where I'm going with this.
-Art was Ok
-Sound was Ok
-Boring characters with little to no substance. The MC was boring and never made anything interesting. His little sister is a damn barbie doll. Everyone else is there to make our robot of an MC look good.
-Nigh enjoyable, unless you like to jump on hype trains, see Gary-Stus just do boring stuff because of self-projection unto characters FTW.
It could have been good. It really could have. Removing the little sister because she provides nothing but a pseudo goal for the main character would have immensely improved the story because then it would have been fun seeing a robot own everything and then do some exposition for the hell of it. Giving the characters more substance because: seriously... what are their names again? Anyways, not much to say but don't blame me, blame a boring anime. Cheers.
I just found out about this website... It's pretty neat. I'm going to try writing a review on here for an anime I really enjoyed: Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei.
So, for the story part of this anime, I have to say that it's really cool. First half of the show takes place in a Magic School, where people learn magic. But not like wizardry magic, but a futuristic technology that allows people to use magic. There's a lot of dialogue that may annoy people, but I personally found the dialogue really interesting. There's a school magic competition, and multiple magic schools compete in it. Pretty fun
to watch. The second half gets even better. It's about another organization trying to sabotage the Magic High competition, and it goes even further than that. The ass-kicking that goes on in the 2nd half was the best.
The art and the music are the best parts of the show. The art was perfect HD-level beauty. The opening and ending songs to the show are one of my favorites ever.
The characters of the show, oh man. This was spectacular, there are so many great characters. But I'll start with my favorite anime character ever, Shiba Tatsuya, the main character. He is so overpowered and badass, it was a beaut to see. Furthermore, my name is Tatsuya! We have the connection! But really, all the characters were awesome, except for Shiba Miyuki, whose love for her older brother was sort of disturbing.
I enjoyed this anime so much, and I'm guessing that this is where I recommend this anime to people. I definitely recommend this anime to anyone that likes magic and badass main characters, and can sit through some dialogue that I know a lot of people will dislike.
There is a reason why anime with a setting that revolves around a high school rarely becomes successful. Because it is to me one of the most overused settings for the last few years and only once in a while does it work out particularly well like in the case of the Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya. Now with this show there is a lot of hype around due to the proclaimed success of its light novels. I personally haven't read them myself so I can't say for sure how good it is. But after viewing six episodes I feel I can give my unbiased review
of this show that was adapted. For starters it brings up a topic that's been been shoved down our throuts since any of us as children started school. bullying and discrimination. Yes it tackles this issue head on as the issue many people in this story face comes in one of three types. The oppressed victims who see no way out, The overconfident and biased opressors, and the realists who realize true equality can't exist but can be made better. I feel that part of the reason this show got so popular in the first place was because of how relatable it's premise is because everyone at some point in their life has either been bullied or was the bully for the sake of popularity. Now in this show that reasoning for the bullying or harassment has simply been about perceived intelligence due to grades. Because this show separates people in two classes with outfits that easily distinguish them "course 1" the honor students, and "course 2" the remedial class students". The general idea in this school is that if you are in course 1 then for some reason you get the right to be a complete dick to everyone in course 2. They even have a different, more straightforward but offensive term for the course 2 students and have called them "Weeds" while course 1 are "blooms" due to their potential as magic users and weeds percieved inability to grow. Now that we got the premise here the main character is something that contradicts this class based system. There's Tatsuya Shiba, he is a course 2 student with skills that are in practical use, far superior then even those of course 1 but this is due to how the school evaluates certain qualities in students way more then others which is pretty realistic given how they work. His personality as a character is to be cool an reserved and his motivations are simple. Get the diploma from magic high school and become a magic scientist. Now I know what you are thinking, why did I give this show a 7 out of 10? Because there are some serious faults when it comes to this show.
List of problems
#1 the main character has a blood-related sister who loves him and the relationship is one sided and extremely echhii. I don't understand the big deal with brother-sister relationships in anime and can be extremely off-putting if not in the right light. I have seen this work many times like with attack on titan with Mikasa and Eren and even the show currently airing Hitsugi no Chaika makes it work because they aren't echhii or blood related. If they didn't put too much focus on this I'd probably have a a better time watching this show.
#2 Too big a cast of supporting characters and not enough variation in character designs. There are way way way too many people in this show to make this work for a 26 episode anime, so many that I highly doubt that you can remember half of them as their character introductions are also very short and abrupt and they also all wear essentially the same uniform with the only two things that can possibly make them different are the flower or grey shoulder patch or the the pattern on the blouse for females. It's made it so I can only focus on the main character and what his main focus is for the time being. Because of this I can't feel like I should care about most of this supporting cast as they more or less take up space.
#3 the main protagonist gets all da bitches. Yes just like in sword art online literally every girl in the school is interested in Tatsuya for no real reason. This is serious wish fulfillment right here as some of these girls from course 1 should be shrugging him off but instead are flocking toward him. And that brings me to the final problem
#4 easily distinguished class structure. If a school wants to make honor and remedial classes, that's fine, if they want to categorize these classes, that is also fine, but whoever was the genius to that decided that giving kids uniforms that clearly differentiated their grade level from one another wouldn't cause discrimination has got to the biggest idiot on the planet and isn't realistic as to how schools are ran.
So with that I give this show a 7 out of 10, it can be an interesting show when the magic starts flying around but don't get your hopes up too high
Honestly, I thought this anime was schlock. Literally the only things I enjoyed about it were the art direction (some of the magic looked really cool, surprisingly) and the premise behind it was intriguing enough to give it a shot.
After 10 episodes, I'm done. I can't do anymore, and i can't in good conscious recommend anyone else follows this show.
The characters are paper thin. Tatsuya Shiba has no emotional depth or complexity in any real or meaningful way. And were that intentional, were the anime to demonstrate how dangerous divorcing oneself from emotion and refusing to empathize with others can be, that would
be fine, I suppose. But the prime means by which it could manage this is through his sister. And when presented with this opportunity, the show basically goes "Fuck that, instead she wants to sleep with him." She's used as a means of propping up how great he is, rather than a humanizing element of a show in desperate need of it. Every single character is sterile, boring, serving their plot purpose with no real humanization behind them. Nearly every single female character swoons over Tatsuya, to the detriment of their own character, which is annoying as hell too.
The plot is garbage, but I could have lived with a garbage plot! I would have been fine with just a schlocky, terribly plotted-and-paced show with cool fight scenes, were it not THIS bad. There are multiple instances in the beginning that basically go "hey so you know how these people face oppression and a societal system that continually treats them as lesser? FUCK 'EM, IT'S THEIR OWN FAULT." Rather than attempting to take a complex look at a system where people are disproportionately privileged, it chooses a hyper-simplistic route, saying, in essence, that the reason people are less privileged is because they don't deserve it.
That's not an exaggeration, by the way. There's literally a scene in which they discuss a terrorist organization and Tatsuya basically goes "Oh well, their main issue is with the disproportionate median income, but you see, magicians DESERVE to be richer, they just work that much harder and they're that much more important."
What I saw of this series left a bad taste in my mouth. Decent looking animation and some mildly cool magic and concepts don't make up for terrible plot, worse characters, and generally gross Author Preaching coming from the characters. If you could send somebody around to give me a severe enough concussion that I forget everything I know about this anime, that would be fantastic.
Mahouka is the worst anime of all time. It's the twisted dream of a hateful lunatic who shuts out the outside world. The impression it gives of itself is of something highly paranoid and self-righteous, designed to feed into the delusions of people who want to imagine themselves as silent martyrs.
The central character, Tatsuya, is a superman, who is impossible to defeat in combat, portrayed as more intelligent than every other character, and is found attractive by every female character in the show. The argument has been made that he is, in fact, an antihero, because he uses these abilities to do things that are
traditionally considered morally bad. To this I would say:
- Even when Tatsuya’s actions are portrayed as morally ambiguous or even morally wrong, he’s still framed as the victim. He’s had his strong emotions removed, and is therefore the show refuses to hold him responsible for anything he does that he really shouldn’t do.
- The show frames him as morally superior to all of the characters who are his enemies, be they foreign terrorists or other students who mistreat him.
- Many of the villains in the show are motivated by jealousy toward Tatsuya.
The first point is the important one. Tatsuya is treated as a victim at every turn. His sister, essentially the secondary main character of the show, is completely defined by guilt over the fact that Tatsuya had his strong emotions stripped for the sake of protecting her. She becomes a mouthpiece that the show uses to point out when we are supposed to feel bad for Tatsuya, with no agency of her own beyond a profound desire to be subservient to him. It’s not even possible to say that her perceptions of his suffering are just a part of her subjective experience as a character, because what she says is shown to make the other characters agree with her.
A corollary to the victimization of Tatsuya is that other characters in the show who would be victims are blamed for their own suffering. Everything Tatsuya is put through he endures without ever complaining. The people who do complain are framed poorly because of it. The first arc of the show involves tension at the school because the Course 2 students, who did not score well on the entrance exam and were therefore denied instruction, are constantly bullied and mistreated by the others. They want to end this, so they protest by occupying areas of the school. This is nonviolent civil disobedience, which is not inherently bad - there is nothing wrong with breaking the rules when you've exhausted every other measure of making people listen to you. However, the show demonizes the Course 2 students for doing this. After their protest is shut down, they are given an audience with the student council to talk about what they think could be changed in school. However, when they come to the negotiations, the Course 2 students did not have any coherent demands. According to the show, they did this because they wanted and expected the student council to do all the work for them. Already it frames these people as lazy and unintelligent; they were given a pre-arranged meeting, and yet they did not come prepared with any points to make. This is simply ludicrous, an obvious strawman. It follows this with a debate between the student council president and a representative of the Course 2 students. The debate goes that every point made by the Course 2 student was outright false, and the student council president gave a speech. The lengths the show goes to to portray the Course 2 students as stupid or lazy are absurd; the Course 2 representative was so demonstrably wrong in everything he said that we wonder how he even came up with his points in the first place. Then, in her speech, she said the Course 2 students were to blame for their own mistreatment because they didn’t stand up for themselves. At the same time, she chastises the Course 2 students who did stand up for themselves for not doing so in a way that respected the rules - the rules that have so far failed to prevent Course 1 students from trying to literally decapitate Course 2 students. She also said that while she did not think discrimination against Course 2 students was acceptable, she did not want “new discriminatory practices” to be put in place. This, of course, is a logical inconsistency; the Course 2 students never did or said anything to give the impression that they would cause new discrimination. To say that they did is inconsistent with the show’s internal logic, as it was clearly stated within the same episode that the Course 2 students had no demands or ideas. But the show runs with this strawman. Her speech is accompanied by shots of Course 2 students hanging their heads in shame, and is followed by applause from the whole student body while a golden light glows from behind her.
So, Mahouka resolved its first story arc by blaming the victims of discrimination for their own suffering because they didn’t stand up for themselves, but also blamed the victims who did stand up for themselves for not doing it in the right way. It did the latter by presenting a completely fabricated strawman argument and acting as though it were sound. The conclusion was that those who lack power have only themselves to blame, and should just respect the status quo in the hope that those who do have power will magnanimously decide to give them rights.
Meanwhile, Tatsuya has also been a victim of discrimination. He was wrongly classified as a Course 2 student, and the (male) Course 1 students treat him poorly for it until he gets the chance to prove himself. He was granted a chance by the system, whose rules he obeyed, and he took it. So, it would be unfair to say that Mahouka totally denies the Course 2 students the chance to make themselves look better; it’s much more insidious than that. It says that the way to make oneself look better is to hold to old-fashioned values, which Tatsuya does, but as the show goes on the real ugliness of those values comes to light.
The morality to which the show subscribes is rooted in a persecution complex. Tatsuya is portrayed as a stronger and more credible person than any character who actually acts on their own suffering because he endures it all. He is a silent martyr, one who never complains, operating under the assumption that all people who mistreat him are either too evil or too stupid to respond to protest, and that protest is therefore pointless. It also says that such stoic victims like him are heroes, because they’re able to take on suffering other characters can’t endure. Even if you would argue that the casual way he kills people in the show is meant to paint him as an antihero or even a villain, the dialogue later in the show clearly states that he is the real victim and that the only reason what he does seems horrible is because he does things normal people need done, but can’t handle, and that this is why he is the only one fit to carry great power. And yes, the point is that he is the only one: There is a scene in which another character is moved to take action, inspired by Tatsuya's success - only to be stopped by Tatsuya because he can't take it.
The entire show has a military mentality, as if every single aspect of life should be treated as a war. Some people will agree with this. Those people are fascists. Because of this mentality, it doesn't matter that Tatsuya isn't good at moving eggs across a table with magic when he's immortal, can fly, can destroy an entire country from his living room, and can vaporize people from a distance.
If his defining character trait is that he suffers quietly, then several other characters are defined by their jealousy of him. They have all gone through suffering, and never see him appear to suffer. The problem with this is that even if it were admirable to take every transgression without complaining, that is no justification for demonizing people who express their pain or break the rules when the system has only hurt them and done nothing to help them.
The main message of the show comes across as this: The way the world SHOULD be is that those in power are people who can tolerate hardship better than others, and that other people should either learn to suffer silently or know their place so as not to get in the way. It’s completely one-sided in favor of the powerful. You could argue that the show is critical of people in power because they’re the ones who are victimizing Tatsuya, but those are people who do not take suffering as well as he does, and the conflict of the story is that they should not be in power; rather, Tatsuya, Jumonji, Ichijo, and the student council president are the people who should have power, the current people in power are not strong enough to be in power, and everyone else is weak and in need of protection, and therefore civil disobedience is biting the hand that feeds. The problem with this is not even that it's inherently untrue, but that it romanticizes the struggle of people in power (people who don't need romanticizing) and denies the importance of the people under them, treating them only as a burden and another source of suffering.
Apparently disjointed from all of this is the show’s attitude toward women. In one scene, the camera lingers on a woman’s breasts in the middle of a serious conversation. This is already bad; what business does the camera have doing that in those circumstances? But what makes it worse is that immediately after this, Tatsuya criticizes the woman for dressing too revealingly. Nothing about this is OK; it gives the impression that what she was wearing was so important that it warranted interrupting a serious discussion, and it makes it so that the previous shot wasn’t just the camera perving at her but trying to frame her in a negative light at the same time. And another thing: Her clothes weren’t actually revealing at all. This happens more than once; that isn’t the only time a character is called out for dressing in “revealing” clothing. In another episode a character wears an outfit that lacks sleeves. It’s a completely innocuous outfit that wouldn’t look out of the ordinary to any reasonable person, but another character takes one look at her and says “Oh my, that’s rather revealing.”
Obviously it should make no difference whether the outfit is revealing or not, but the fact that the show decides to draw attention to it, especially when using the descriptor “revealing” is outright false, is absolutely Victorian. The only character who dresses in revealing clothing and isn’t called out for it is Tatsuya’s sister, and she never does it in public; she only does it to please Tatsuya.
The show also draws attention to the women’s outfits during the interschool sports tournament, in which it dismissively labels a sport in which female students participate as something they only do to show off the costumes they wear while doing it. All this is less egregious than the show having a one-off joke about a male student saying he would force himself on a female student before pairing them off as teammates for the rest of the story. Not to mention it was Tatsuya's idea that they should be together.
On the sports tournament, the show’s second arc that lasts eight episodes: Everything that happens in it is devoid of tension and entirely irrelevant. First High School wins every sporting event in a total blowout, leaving no excitement because you always know from the start that they’re going to win. Also, all their success is attributed to Tatsuya. What’s more, the entire arc, all eight episodes, is almost completely empty of anything significant, offering no substance at all except more glorification of Tatsuya at the expense of other characters. It doesn't have any relevance to the main plot, either, which wouldn't be a problem if it contained any interesting matieral, but it doesn't. It’s one long, boring tangent.
And yes, the word boring is actually another good way to describe this show. The vast majority of the dialogue consists of explanations of why the different magic spells used in the show worked. This information is completely worthless; there's no reason why we should need to know all this. Extensive "worldbuilding," in better shows, can be used to discuss a real-life concept, to produce something visually interesting, or even elevate the entire setting into the realm of symbolism. None of this happens in Mahouka. It is one of the least visually interesting shows available outside of a couple action scenes, the extensive explanations of magic aren't even relevant to the show's own plot (let alone real life), and it doesn't reflect the show's ideology. It just creates an artificial veneer of "complexity" that doesn't relate to the rest of the show.
By the end of the show, Tatsuya's powers suck all potential conflict out of the story. That’s when Mahouka becomes a total non-narrative. It’s just a long delusion designed to gratify people who see themselves as being similar to Tatsuya; people who believe that if only other people would notice how great they really are, they would be recognized, and who take pride in the fact that they feel bad all the time but never complain about it. Ultimately the antihero argument doesn’t hold up because the cinematic direction of the anime glorifies him, he never does anything bad to anyone who didn’t deserve it (usually in some overblown evil fashion), and he is never held fully responsible for the bad things he does. Even if he was, the speech given in episode 4 is indefensible, and tilts the rest of the show entirely in Tatsuya's favor no matter how hard it may try to frame him as an antihero.
The Irregular at the magical school........Frankly the title alone was a bit misleading, since the main character-in this case Tatsuya was more like a overly protective brother to Miyuki. Whether it is an anime, light novel or manga, we can't deny that this anime is a combination with bits and pieces from "Harry Potter" and James Bond sagas, and frankly, the series' combination of Sci-fi with magic wasn't bad except that it lacks one thing........and yes, it lacks a formidable antagonist, also there is the geo-political thing added to this anime where it indirectly concerns Japan's current conflict with China. But enough of that
as I present my ratings for this anime:
Story: Fair 6.
Ok, high rating is for the anime's story plot where from the first arc involves the conflict between the Blooms and the weeds, where I like the part that them "Blooms" got owned by a weed in Tatsuya, however, as the first arc ends the second arc wasn't a bit exciting because the main character become one of the blooms and all of the sudden the conflict between the weeds and the blooms were forgotten. Another thing about the story plot was the fact that it has that geopolitical theme that was present on the last two arc where it indirectly concerns Japan's current conflict with China as I've mentioned, as if writer Tsutomu Satō was trying to put his nationalist thought into it in which in my opinion is unbecoming of the latter. Ok, so I do enjoy this anime's action-combine with magic and sci-fi, however I just couldn't fathom the fact that in this series where magic is turn into rocket science, which is not bad except that more emphasis was given to most of the blooms and little for them weeds, which is the reason why this part should be fair enough co'z it ain't that good but ain't that bad either.
Art: Pathetic 1.
Ok, so my question is what's up with the granny dress that them First High schools were wearing? Now, this is probably the only anime where there isn't much moe in it, where the schools girls wear what can be describe as nun- attire and the boys who wears nerdish coat, generally speaking I just don't like the school attire that the characters wore.
Sound: Good 7.
Basically, the score is for the closing theme in the last arc and the 1st opening theme that I like.
Character: Poor 3.
Whether it is an anime, light novel or manga, on thing is for sure.....that everything was put on the siblings and they are not other than Tatsuya and Miyuki, frankly the two obviously have an incest relationship and there is no denying it. I gave this part a poor score since at first, Tatsuya being able to owned them blooms was exciting, however he becomes a disappointment when he becomes one of the blooms despite of being a weed, though, for him to be this top dog isn't bad, but, he lacks one thing and yes he lacks a formidable opponent and I'm talking about an antagonist who has the capability to kick him hard and make him suffer, unfortunately his portrayal as an protagonist who is the best was seemingly a one side affair where it gets boring when he can kick his enemy's ass like hot knife to butter. It isn't just limited to him where it also includes the entire student council as well who also have their share of being able to defeated an enemy in a snap that also adds to the boring stuff, however the only consultation here is Miyuki whose allure and sweetness keeps ones boredom of this anime at bay.
Enjoyment: Decent 4.
Despite of the predictability that the protagonist can defeat the antagonist in a snap, it was still enjoyable enough to finish it up to the last episode, but only barely.l
Overall: Poor 3.
IMO, writer Tsutomu Satō should have not put any geopolitical theme in this series, also, since the latter didn't put his main character in such hard predicament and by making him have such godlike abilities really proves to be a drag which is why this anime deserves a poor score. Another reason why this anime (including the manga and the LN) should have a 3 was the fact that the title alone as I've mention was misleading, since how the heck can the main character (Tatsuya) be an irregular when he is suppose to be high school student and not someone working a part-time job in some cafe or restaurant, also it wasn't clear as how writer Tsutomu Sato defines 'Irregular" in his work title,which is one more reason why I gave this anime a low score.
Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei (translated as The Irregular at Magic High School) isn’t entirely what I see as irregular. Nothing too irrational happens throughout the course of the show and the majority of the cast doesn’t have that “it” factor. Rather, Mahouka does have something we won’t see regularly because of there is magic at high school, or more specifically the Private Magic University Affiliated High School. It’s here where we meet the main characters and siblings - Tatsuya Shiba and his sister Miyuki Shiba. And with their enrollment sets forth this story at an irregular high school where regular things happen and sometimes does
Adapted from the light novel of the same name written by Tsutomu Sato, the series takes place in a more advanced future in the year of 2095. In this world, magic exists as a sort of technology for both utility and weapons of war. Essentially, the series depicts the setup of the prequel with the aftermath of a world war. And now, magic reigns as dominant source of power. In fact, its concept is held so high in regard that students are separated into classes based on their scores, performances, and skills based on their magic. But hey, it’s a school so students still attend it regularly but with magic as an additional element. Yet, Mahouka has an irrational pacing when adapting its story. By irrational, I don’t mean it as inconsistency but rather by execution. It doesn’t fully come to life when it tells the story and unfortunately lacks a bite to take in what people may expect.
The first episode doesn’t blast off well. It lacks any sort of wow factor and feels lifeless at hand. Instead, what you get is a mass amount of info dumping regarding the setting and some basic concepts of the series. Rather than telling though, the series explains it in packages. This first arc (known as the Enrollment Part 1 adapted from volume 1 of the light novel) is more like a genre mashup with an overly emphasis that almost forces the viewers to understand every piece of the premise. And to do it that way, they also introduce the majority of the main characters. Besides the Shiba siblings, a host of other characters including ones from the student council make their debut. We don’t know much about them besides their position, some bits of their personality, and in essence a weak general perspective of how we might be interested in them. Then, there’s the weak world building in the first arc with a mass amount of exposition of the mechanics involving the series’ generics. While generic is fine, the show fails to deliver this with comedy. It could have been humorous or at least tried with some attempt at jokes. Even fan service could’ve helped here in some respect. Instead, what you get is pseudo-incest undertones between the siblings. Actually, looking at it from a more perspective angle, it’s often Miyuki that takes the initiative to please her “oniisama”.
I wouldn’t say the show is about a cast of characters learning magic. In fact, the series’ story arcs adapt them and give each character some sort of role. However on many occasions, their roles chokes up the plot with their gimmicks. Besides Miyuki’s borderline obsession with her beloved brother, she literally has little to no personality. We don’t learn much about her past either as characterization is fairly weak throughout the entire series. And since the show doesn’t adapt a specific volume from the light novel, we don’t see much else about her from a personal perspective. Regardless, the siblings’ relationship is polarizing as they lack chemistry. Their personalities aren’t compatible and it’s hard to relate to them by any term of realism. In fact, a viewer could easily dictate the duo as a couple. It’s indirectly implied that Miyuki does have forbidden feelings for her brother. Not to mention the fact, many characters makes jokes about their couple-like status. And when that happens, Miyuki’s cliché denial and Tatsuya’s indifference obliterates any sort of humor from itself. As for Tatusya though, he has a strict personality with sometimes an authoritative tone when he speaks to others. His commanding presence feels unwelcoming on occasions and can be seen as a man of few words. The way he behaves around others suggests that he lacks an ability to feel strong emotions towards others. (this is in fact true as revealed) However, all of these factors aren’t what’s noticeable about Tatsuya. What Tatsuya brings into the show is in fact his overpowered abilities and skills as a student. Despite failing a practical exam and his inability to use unconventional magic, he has several traits that makes him stand out on a technical basis. The show reveals this during certain situations that becomes obvious as he shows more and more of his skills. Unfortunately, his lack of characterization makes Tatsuya as more of a stale character. There’s little development or focus on him as a person rather than his roles during each arc. In retrospect, Tatsuya is a character that some people might admire for his abilities but hard to appreciate or understand.
Based on a light novel, there’s a certain incentive to adapt everything that fans will be eager to see. As a light novel reader, I can only say that it barely reaches moderate levels when it comes to adaptation. It does adapt some of its main concepts well but fails to reach entertainment levels. The prominent “Nine Schools Competition Arc” (NSC) stretches over 10 episodes and introduces many new concepts and characters. While it explores the concepts in their world quite well by actually showing on occasions, it doesn’t do well when it comes with more of its dynamic moments. Most of the games feels relatively fast with the basics and predictable outcomes. Only certain characters stand out despite their already established reputations. Of course, Miyuki and Tatsuya are key players. Other characters that earned a spotlight includes Erika Chiba, Mizuki Shibata, Shizuku Kitayama, and Katsuto Jyumonji. However, their spotlights doesn’t last enough and some are easily forgettable. In essence, their lack of characterization makes them look flat and 1-dimesional with little hope of development. At the same time, don’t forget competition. When it comes to competition, Tatsuya is the epitome of power that only seems to rivaled by a member of another school by the name of Masaki Ichijo. Unfortunately, it’s hard to appreciate their rivalry since the buildup is weak with poorly constructed tropes such as Masaki’s crush on Tatusya’s sister. (no, it’s not even a love triangle since none of the three has any sort of chemistry). It’s just probably best to take it to face value with what the competition as to offer when it focuses on the games themselves. The positive is that there are various games that are offered with interesting concepts during this NSC arc. Not only that but there is also bits of outside jeopardy that becomes intertwined with events of this arc in which viewers might be interested. Similarly, the final arc of the series also has more mature themes with a serious feeling. This should be taken for granted though since the show does take itself seriously. There’s little room for jokes whether it tries die-hardly or not on most occasions.
One thing to praise Mahouka is perhaps the amount of mechanics are explored. The basis of the CAD (Casting Assistant Device) is presented with great depth throughout the course of the show in various ways. The Nine School Competitions Arc focuses more on its show’s mechanics with new forms of magic such as flight. At its core, Mahouka deals fairly well with its technical aspects. The info dump answers many of the series’ questions whether it relates to spells, classification of magic, Japanese change in culture, and various political topics. There is also a distinctive form of rivalry when it comes to the “blooms” and “weeds. The blooms are the top 50% of the class while the weeds makes up the latter half. The sense of rivalry reaches to antagonistic levels on most times that may keep viewers at their seats to see what to expect. Finally, while the show has oddly placed comedy, there are moments to laud for when it embraces on its subcultural context. This could be expanded upon its mechanics throughout the show that can be creatively intriguing.
Animation production falls into the hands of Madhouse. For most parts, the visuals makes sense with the general setting and its tropes. Despite being generic, characters does stand out especially for characters of the student council. Miyuki can also be presented as an ice beauty of sorts. The female characters of the series also wear veils to add a bit of cosmetic design to their outfits. On the other hand, most of the characters’ uniforms looks stale and nothing really memorable. There’s also nothing memorable about Tatsuya’s character design for his stoicism. Beyond that, the school’s design itself is fairly regular despite the series’ title. The only other exceptions includes some of the more detailed and enhanced technology later on throughout the show. Background visuals fills its purpose though when it comes to credibility for its setting. Otherwise, there’s nothing praising about the visuals besides the fact that it makes sense on most parts.
Soundtrack stands out as a more noticeable feature. Just be aware that the voices can be a sting for the ears when you hear ONIISAMA being said over 10 or 15 times during some episodes. However, certain characters has a well-balanced voice that fits his or her personality. The OP and ED songs of the series is also catchy with some foreshadowing and gags. The OST also has a pleasant tone with what is to offer despite some of it being overused or placed at awkward moments. However, the dialogues of the series is cheesy during the majority course of the show. Not even magic can salvage that.
After over prioritizing the mechanics of its setting and magic shenanigans, Mahouka will in the end be an average series vacuumed with its even more mediocre cast of characters. What the show has is this interesting premise but it decides to add toppings on toppings of gimmicks until becomes insufferable. Not that the show is entirely terrible though since a few of the arcs has moments that outshines itself with the competition. But with a lack of appreciable comedy and pseudo-incest tendencies, one has to wonder what the purpose of this show is really about. Maybe it’s not trying to communicate that message since some of the episodes are mindless entertainment with the usual gags. If Michael Bay was to direct this series, the entertainment level would skyrocket through the roofs. In the end, Mahouka wastes a promising premise and cast of characters for what it may be worth.
I watched the whole thing... why did I waste my time? It was most likely the next hot thing when I first saw it probably...
Well, it's terrible and here's why.
I've read the LN as well, won't add it to my list as I don't wanna see it there.
It's bad as well.
The only good thing about it was the concept behind the magic being scientific. But if it ain't executed right, does it matter? lol.
The thing that drags the entire show is the terrible as hell main character.
First of all, it doesn't miss a single moment to pamper the main protagonist.
Without even trying I already have
about 9-10 times they repeated ''how great he is''... ''what a prodigy he is'' ''How capable he is'' ''He's the strongest in the world'' in mind.
Yet they also love to victimize him at the same time so he is sympathetic as well... well it doesn't work when he's probably the definition of perfect.
He's overpowered as fuck. A talented magician placed in a crappy kids class. He’s there because he is bad at pushing some block on a floor with his mind. Surely they will not judge his capabilities solely based on that and will give him other tests? Nah, dude... why would they? -__-
He is a brilliant magician and can cancel any other magician's attack and he’s stupidly intelligent to the point that he can solve the world's hardest magical problems in less than a second. When he has some free time he is an engineer, going by the name of the oh so mysterious Silver creating the best magical gear 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 just cause he suddenly thought of doing that. He has a freaking X-ray vision. He can take down an entire team 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 you're main character's as perfect as this, there's no tension.
Tatsuya resolves problems without any effort and without any trouble. Any danger that is presented in the series is meaningless as he overcomes it with ease.
Mahouka likes to fake danger, like it has some factors against him. It doesn't.
That's just meaningless words that mean nothing at the end of the day.
The anime loves to over-explain every little thing. The Light Novel is so riddled with this issue to the point that there are pages upon pages of explanation of something he did like 10-15 pages ago.
Characters constantly discuss magic and barely anything else, there's no chemistry between any character cause of that. Every single character interaction feels forced.
Hell, Tatuya would walk about 2 meters and go into a massive explanation of why it was sooo hard for him. The show loves to make it seem like he sacrifices something for everything he does or that he puts negative effects on his body. But as I said, that's all just words. It's not like that, he doesn't act like anything negative affects him and in the end it doesn't affect him or anything else around him thus it means they're just pointless words.
And you know what's appaling? All these huuuge info dumps do not build anything about the lore.
They're like gigantic text books that teach you the magic... come the f*ck on, that's something the character should learn, not me, go on with the freaking story.
What these magical explanations also do is make Mahouka very dull to look at. The vast majority of the show is still frames of talking with no artistic quality put into their presentation. The magical fights are just as boring and dull and have no choreography whatsoever.
Not only is Mahouka extremely bland visually, it doesn't have good animation either but the music is forgettable as hell.
The whole thing is boring and extremely flawed... and all of countless flaws derive from only 1 character... and that's the protagonist. That means they're going to be present forever until the protagonist somehow magically changes.
Are you all wondering why I barely mentioned any plot progression? THERE IS NONE! THE PLOT BARELY PROGRESSES! ALL THESE INFO DUMPS MAKE IT SEEM LIKE ALOT OF IMPORTANT DIALOGUE HAS BEEN SAID BUT NOTHING OF THAT SHIT IS IMPORTANT.
The explanations for their powers are non-sensical. Doesn't matter how much you try to make it seem scientifically possible... it's not. SO GO ON QUICKLY ABOUT IT AND STOP WASTING MY TME!
Maybe I should mention something about the other characters?
THEY'RE ALL STUPID ARCHETYPES USED IN EVERY LIGHT NOVEL.
A character is usually that, an archetype who is made unique by having many more traits besides the archetype he/she is.
Now let's say that the characters in Mahouka are just the archetype, without any of the additional traits. That's how bad the characters are. I didn't care about any of them and completely forgot about some even.
Oh, also, his sister is also in love with him, that's to further imply how incredibly awesome he is. -_-
(I based this review of 5camp's really good review, because of that some sentences might be strikingly similar but I also gave some of my opinions on why I hate this piece of ass anime).
Overall this show is bad in every possible way and I give it 2/10.
EDIT: Reposted after being taken down by MAL for technical reasons.
1. Gratification of a desire.
2. In psychoanalytic theory, the satisfaction of a desire, need, or impulse through a dream, fantasy, or other exercise of the imagination."
I've never written a review before, so I hope this proves helpful to ya'll! For this review, I'm going to be talking about an anime that I watched for quite a different reason than probably most other people. To explore this, I'm gonna go over all the major categories - hopefully, by the end of this review, you'll have a helpful understanding of the pros and cons of
this anime! Please keep in mind that I've watched the anime up to it's most recent episode (14), and I've not read the LN, although I have looked up some info on the wiki to clarify some points. I'll do my best to keep this spoiler free.
By itself, the story isn't bad. In fact, if you were to remove the male and female MCs, the story would probably shine. However, story and character are inevitablely inseparable, and thus must be judged in light of each other.
I personally found the story to be engaging. The first arc flowed well enough, and the second one is also doing a fair job of keeping my attention. People have said there are pacing issues, but I haven't really found this to be the case. Worldbuilding (especially the magic system) has been done really well - it's very obvious that a lot of care and detail went into the world to make it work so logically and tacitly. The lore is very interesting, and I genuinely want to know more about the world of Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei as the show goes on. Then again, there are a HUGE number of plot holes as well. A lot of the show seems to have been made up for the purpose of plot and convenience, and so a lot of things don't make sense. Here's a short list:
1) Why does First High have a First and Second Course program? Only the Firsts get magic trainers, but to enroll at the magic-oriented university in the first place, you have to be exceptionally good at magic. That's like saying a typical university takes only people who get 35s and 36s on the ACT, but only provides classes and instructors to those who got the 36s, and everyone else gets to take Shop classes forever.
2) Why is the Bloom and Weed discrimination only perpetuated by a few of the cardboard cutout characters (which is discussed below)? I thought it was supposed to be a school-wide problem?
3) Why even HAVE a Nine Schools Competition when First High has the absolute best magicians? Like, this isn't a matter of subjective opinion - First High only accepts the absolute best. This competition is desperately trying to mimic the Tri-Wizard Tournament from Harry Potter, but in HP, it made sense. After all, the British magic people went to the British school, the French magic people went to the French school, etc. In Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei, this is not the case. And indeed, as we see, First High can only lose due to repeated (um, where are the referees?) sabotage due to hostile third parties.
Furthermore, a HUGE problem is that there is nothing at stake in the story. Since both the male and female MCs are so insanely good at pretty much everything they do (with a few exceptions), nothing is being risked at any point. There's no uncertainty over what'll happen, there's no fear for the MCs' safety, and more unfortunately, there's no unpredictability. Everything is painfully obvious from the get-go. While other animes with OP MCs will at least throw them into some peril, this is absolutely not the case in Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei. Fights are over in under ten seconds each (which isn't bad, but there's no emotional involvement as a result, especially since the MCs always win), and dangerous situations happen to others or are also resolved in under ten seconds.
Suspension of disbelief is one thing, but when I know what's gonna go down even before the episode happens, then there's no reason to care much for what's going to happen. This is due to the MCs, which I'll discuss in a little bit.
This, honestly, is one of the show's two strongest points. Everything is gorgeous, the magic looks fantastic, and the animation never dips even when action is scarce. A lot of love went into making this world look and feel fantastic, and the vibrancy of the world is truly a pleasure to behold.
Many people seem to judge a show on the OP and ED, but I personally skip OPs and EDs to avoid spoilers, so I'll be judging Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei by the actual sound. Which is fantastic as well. All of the effects are crisp and visceral - the pops pop deliciously, the crackles crackle with fervor, and overall, the sound does a phenomenal job of bringing the world to life.
This brings me to the biggest problem of the anime, and the reason for my original dictionary quote at the beginning of this review. Every. Single. Character. Is flatter than a sheet of paper. And while the male MC does have an intricate backstory, his overwhelming ability annihilates any interest I might have in him. But even worse than this is the way everyone treats him. As a writer myself, it's very hard to avoid making a Gary Stu; due to the fact that we as writers want to write what is most natural to us (ourselves), and we want to live adventures that are only possible for our characters. So writing yourself into a super awesome character is very easy to do.
This does not make it excusable.
EVERY. SINGLE. PERSON. In the anime absolutely ADORES the male MC (except for his rivals, of course). And they take EVERY. SINGLE. OPPORTUNITY. To tell him how awesome he is. I'm not exaggerating on this. The MC gets complimented (and I don't mean a "good job" kind of compliment, but a "you are so amazing I wish I were dating you or better friends with you or more like you" type of compliment) OVER and OVER and OVER and OVER and OVER. At least 2-5 times per episode. And yes, the male MC is superpowered, but that doesn't justify the kind of foot-worshiping we see in this anime.
On a base level, this becomes aggravating and wearying very, very quickly. But on a deeper level, it takes an unfortunate chunk out of the story. Without giving away too much, there's one point in the anime where the male MC does something absolutely extraordinary by completely revolutionizing a concept previously thought impossible. In any other anime, this would be grounds for the MC to be amazing and for your admiration of that MC to grow. However, due to the constant barrage of incredible feats the male MC consistently performs in Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei, this major revolution comes across as flat. Stale. Uninteresting. There's no room for significant praise when such praise has been unendingly heaped on the male MC from episode 1. This is a very clear example of severe wish fulfillment.
Moving on to the female MC, she's about as deep a character as a puddle of water. And she has about the same amount of charm too. Her main purpose, aside from PWNING N00BS, is to ceaselessly praise and talk up to the male MC. Like, ALL the time. In the second episode, she is given a great honor, but instead of accepting it graciously, she throws a fit that the male MC isn't being recognized for his awesomeness instead. And actually, she does that in episode 1 too. And in other episodes. This female MC only backs down when given a commanding nod from the male MC, which clearly means he is her superior in every regard. This is also a very bad case of wish fulfillment.
This wouldn't be so bad if she was a servant or indebted to the male MC somehow, but the kicker is that she's... his sister. His younger sister. I get that sibling relationships are supposed to be good, but the male MC is clearly the female MC's idol. I'm not even gonna talk about the incest between them, which this anime clearly is in favor of. Such incest is a design choice, and so I'm willing to accept it as part of the story. But the female MC's foot-licking toward her older brother comes off as possessive and creepy.
People relate to characters who have flaws, and despite the desperate assertions of Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei, neither of the MCs have any real flaws. The male MC's absolute lack of emotions could be considered a flaw, but the fact that everyone still loves him regardless means that it really isn't a flaw. The male MC's lack of skill in a certain area of magic could be considered a flaw, but the fact that he still is insanely OP means that it really isn't a flaw. The male MC's social aloofness could be considered a flaw, but the fact that he's described as absurdly handsome and a chick-magnet means that it really isn't a flaw. Etc.
As for every other character, I genuinely can't remember a single name of anybody else. And I'm usually pretty good with names. The only exception would be Ririka (or something like that - I could look it up, but then again, this is a great example of how underdeveloped the other characters are) - she actually comes off as interesting and slightly multifaceted compared to the other characters. Then again, that's not saying much in this anime, but regardless, she serves as a breath of fresh air in an otherwise lifeless and stale list of cardboard cutout characters whose only purpose is to populate the much more interesting world of Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei.
Oh, and the villains are overwhelmingly under-established. They have poor motivations, awful direction, and almost no planning. What were the villains up to in the first section of this anime? Something about magic and equality? Something relating to terrorism? I'm not quite sure. And as for the villains in the second part? That hasn't been revealed yet, so I honestly can't comment. But it seems like a persona vendetta against the MCs' school, which also doesn't make sense.
But I've gone on this for long enough.
I really, really wanted to like this. I very much did. The magic system is remarkable and impressive, and the world itself is interesting and engaging. But absolutely abysmal characters, non-existent character development, and a mundanely routine plot served to detract sharply from any charm the world might have had on its own. What truly sinks the ship, however, is the flattery of the male MC. While this might seem as nitpicking, it happens on such an exaggerated and persistent level that it honestly causes me to literally moan aloud every time the male MC is worshiped by his fans (which happens multiple times per episode). It's so forced and jarring that it kills any immersive qualities Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei might otherwise have, and it causes me to constantly look to see how much more of the episode is left to go. If the ridiculous and never-ending compliments were removed, as well as the obsessive sister MC, this show would be much, much, much, much, much more enjoyable.
The art is awesome, and the sound is phenomenal. But the awful and wooden characters, the lack of any character development whatsoever, and the completely predictable story serve to tank what could have otherwise been an impressive and fun anime. Overall, all the ingredients for success are found here, but absolutely nothing good is done with them. Instead, negative elements are thrown in - meaning that in the end, like with an uncooked cake, all you have left to eat is a soppy, flower and sugar and egg goop that has been further poisoned with toxic nuclear waste. An extreme statement, I know, but hey - at least it's on par with the compliments given to the male MC, albeit in a negative manner instead of a worshipful one.
Ah Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei (hereafter Mahouka). I'm going to start off this review by saying this is the worst anime ever created - this is THE worst anime ever created. Don't worry though, while the review will be largely negative, I'll hopefully be able to convey why I think this is the case with as little bias as possible.
Mahouka's story follows Tatsuya Shiba and his sister Miyuki. They're in their first year of First High, which is the top school in the country for magicians. This is it. There isn't really much of a story, but rather several story arcs which don't really connect
in any way. This lack of overarching story isn't technically an issue. Some of my favourite shows also lack an overarching story - Lupin III, SoreMachi and so on. The problem with Mahouka is that none of the story arcs really contribute to anything. They kinda just tell a story (albeit very slowly) and finish. The first story arc was introduced us to discriminatory practices within the school. It was just extremely silly considering all students that go to First High are the top 1% in Japan, yet the top half discriminates against the bottom half. They don't provide much characterisation beyond what we know already about the characters nor do they end with anything that'd help us learn more about the world our characters inhabit.
Which leads me to the characters. In a word: boring. In a few more: none of them really develop. Again, not developing characters is totally fine, but in this case, your characters need to be interesting. Unfortunately none of Mahouka's characters are particularly compelling. Tatsuya is a Gary Stu - he's the strongest character in the show by far and puts no effort into achieving anything. He's the smartest and strongest character in the show. If another character dares to achieve something in world of Mahouka, they will attribute their success to Tatsuya helping them out as seen about a dozen times in the second story arc when some girls in the school win some sporting events. Even in shows like No Game No Life or Sword Art Online, the Gary Stu still looks like he has to put effort into achieving their goals - Tatsuya never breaks a sweat, even against enemies that are hyped up to be extremely powerful. To be fair, Tatsuya is so perfect that he was pretty fun to watch in the first episode - his ability to flirt with girls and his overall charming personality. But this got old fast and it was never really as good as how it was done in episode 1. The rest of the characters are just there to tell us how awesome Tatsuya is. Seriously, I'm not exaggerating. Every single episode has at least one mention of how good Tatsuya is at something. The character who does this the most is his sister Miyuki, who I should mention, is in love with him. Therefore I don't believe any of the other characters are really worth mentioning. There's a whole heap of them, but none of them are really distinguishable from each other.
Which leads us to the visual side of things. The character designs are rather generic. I think Tatsuya looks kinda cool despite that, but the rest of the characters look like they could've been lifted from any other magic school show. The art isn't too bad, but there's nothing very standout about it. Animation is where we have problems. This show is made by Studio Madhouse who are well known for their great animation. We're given glimpses of this animation quality early on in the show with some decent fight choreography in episode 1. It's disappointing then, that this all goes downhill. The animation has no personality in it. For example, when we're shown the school bus driving down the road, there are no other cars on the road. It's just an empty road. Or when our characters are out on the streets, there are no people hanging around. There is very little action in the show, but even when there is, it has very little animation, but rather is an amalgamation of still shots, flashes, close ups and looped animation. The animation gets progressively worse as the show goes on. Even the cinematography is rather weak. In a dialogue heavy show, cinematography is somewhat important so we don't get bored. The new iteration of Fate/Stay Night understands this to some extent, but Mahouka doesn't. The majority of the show is thus a head talking to the camera.
Still with me? So let's get to why this is the worst show ever created despite already looking pretty bad with the above. The show is all talking. Now now, talking again is not inherently a bad thing. If the characters are talking about interesting things (like philosophy, or details about the world), or giving us background information to set things up for later, that's totally fine (in most cases). However, the characters in this show talk non-stop about magic. When magic is cast, one of the characters needs to explain how the magic works in full detail. This can take anywhere from 1 to 5 minutes or even longer, depending on how complicated the magic being used is. This is incredibly poor storytelling. Not only does our knowledge of how this magic works not important to the story, it's incredibly boring to sit through a mini lecture on things that don't really exist. Boring is one thing, but if it doesn't contribute to anything later on, what is the point of telling us how the magic works? If the explanation for why Tatsuya can run super fast is because he can strengthen his legs with magic, I'm sure no one would complain - that's a satisfying enough explanation. However, an explanation the show gives us would include talking about the absolute fundamentals of what Tatsuya does - creating psion waves which are the basic forms of magical energy and shifting them to the feet where waves of energy are released upon the foot's contact with the ground at a 45 degree angle - I'm sure you understand by now. The explanations are just too long and unnecessary, especially when they're not crucial for our enjoyment of the show.
Despite wanting to be taken seriously, the show can't help but have it's fair share of generic high school hijinks. Mahouka is a harem. None of the male characters get any significant screen time except for Tatsuya, and all other female characters are either in love, or appear to be in love with Tatsuya. As a result, you get silly little moments like walking into a girl changing clothes, girls being embarrassed when they themselves wear skimpy outfits (skimpy used in the loosest sense of the word), inability to convey feelings and so on and so forth. These moments aren't even done as well as other series that have them. If you're looking for fanservice, you're not even going to get that, unless you think close ups clothed boobs are better than close ups half naked ones. One interesting point does derive from this however and that is some of Miyuki and Tatsuya's flirting. I personally found some of it pretty funny because of how sarcastic the flirting was. Apart from this, all other attempts at humour fall so short, it never passes the starting line.
As a general rule, I would urge everyone to stay away from this show. I've seen my fair share of bad anime and Mahouka takes the cake. Why then did I finish the show? It was a morbid curiosity with how bad an anime really can be. This is the sort of show that isn't so bad it's funny. This is the sort of show that is so bad it's boring. If you have 26 episodes worth of time to waste, I'd recommend giving this a shot. If you'd rather not waste that time, I'd give another anime a go because Mahouka is not satisfying in any way whatsoever.
Light novels are a shift media, as they mass produce the same tasteless product for the mass appeal, as we anime critics just sit there, and are forced with casual opinions into the face.
21XX it is the magical century, a century in which magic has been advanced into extreme levels of power has become the Earths main source of power, research, finances, health (etc.) and because its a Light Novel Adaptation, highchools. We centre around two siblings, Tetsuya and Miyuki in a near incest relationship who are dealing with such current affairs, trying to adapt to the changes of there world and have Your
typical high school light novel adaptation “Fun”.
Lets start of with one of the most obnoxiously large crowds of cloned opinions in the Anime Comunity, “Tetsuya” he is this amazing magician who can utterly achieve anything without looking like a downfall, and is the one most OP character in the series. My problem?
The show tries to have mysterious situations, foreshadowings and plot holes to keep You invested from the bigger picture in which is trying to build tension, but Tetsuya is so OP and so omnicient, and always looks like he too barely to no effort takes so much away of the tension and what the Anime is trying to pull.
At least the writers were clearly having fun with how OP Sora was in No Game No Life, or how the JoJo's did it with style, and how Loenghram had a very sensitive emotional double-edge and not just being one of the smartest fleet admiral in history. But in Tetsuya's case, he is near to emotionless and drops all sense of tension, mystery because he is so OP that he can almost do anything like its the back of his hand!
Every time the writers finally decided to give the probability of Tetsy losing a battle, its like the writers all of sudden pull out plot armor out of there buttocks! (as if he isn't OP enough, even the director had to make him more OP to milk the fans) Like how Tetsuya gotten shot from the chest by a sniper, he turns back time when before he was shot and it clearly looked like Tetsuya was dead since the bullet shot through he's heart!
Tetsuya even lack the character appeal of having barely to know personality as a pseudo three dimensional character, being this completely empty persona and whose only existent emotion was he's sister.
If there was anything that I truly hate between the differences of a lightnovel and an Anime, its when they use there conventions WAY too often, we have the quiet girl, the tsundere, the tomboy, the kind spirit, the cool president, used about a 100 times in an Anime, and a 1000 times in a Light Novel. There are a few male characters, but pffft who care about them? Its not like they have there very own fan club or fan base!
All what the audience truly cares about is this pseudo three dimensional character beating all competition as the most predictable outcome ever. No need for such horror to be placed under the plot if such character has powers on par with an alternative and superior being!
The plot is just being pretensous by having all of these small details of how the powers work, and a very super in-depth explanation about them to somehow make them look cooler since this is magic and science being combined and jazz, though it may sound cool on paper it can become rather tiresome for a while as the explanations start to feel more boring, more confusing and convoluted as it feels more like a boring science lesson that seems to draaag. Even if You somehow managed to like it, You may still feel the fact that You may have forgotten of such knowledge and when they revisit other pieces of science, it can become even more confusing as they leave plot holes feel unanswered, like whats with the CAD? Whats with these psion waves? And why the hell is pushing ever became so flipping complicated?! I see it, then forget it.
By this point, I don't even care about the show since it was so horrible to begin with, I don't care if Tatsuya dies permanently, I don't care if there school gets destroyed and I definitely do not care if Miyuki gets raped by main villain.
Ever since Death Note, it became a true demonstration on what Mad House can really do with there computers. And Mahouka seems no different, though time for this kind of Animation no longer feels as impact full or as strong as it is back then. It feels like an upgraded version of Your regular animation which I commend around a 5 or a 6 for, it has better lighting, shading, models, backgrounds, colour schemes, action scenes etc. Character designs feel pretty generic, but its super easy to tell who is which.
The only gripe I can give for such a style, would be that it feels a little too reliant on its CGI to make quality backgrounds, and it can sometimes feel rather artificial at times. There were moments when it really stood out, like how they made ice to be so threatening, and cool at close ups. Though moments like these are far from between, the budget feels very consistent!
There's nothing too special about the music, all what I really remember was a nice piece of dubstep whenever Tatsuya does something super cool. The first opening gets me super hype every time, (despite the show being so bad) and screw the second Opening! First and second ED were pretty boring for the most part, so just skip it actually.
This is like every Light Novel Adaptation, the only difference is the occasional emotionless OP protagonist to spice things up, when in reality its failing. If You ask any similar Anime or light novel for Mahouka, then its every single 21st century Light Novels that have ever been made.
3/10- For mass cloned characters, and badly written protagonist
2.5/10- Uses basic techniques, but explanations become far too convoluted and tension? There is no tension.
7.510- Mad House is simply MAGICAL.
6.5/10- Above average with an awesome first Opening.
Pop Quiz: What happens when you take a giant sturdy, steel block and throw rocks at it to try and move it?
It won't move right? The rocks will all crumble, right? And doing it repeatedly will get frustratingly boring, right? Well that experience would still be more thrilling than watching 26 episodes of The Irregular at Magic High School.
Based on the light novel series of the same name, and animated by Studio Madhouse, Irregular at Magic High School, also known as Mahouka is what happens when a writer completely gives up making an interesting story or cast and instead tries to make their main
character, Tatsuya Shiba in the case, be on top of things in every situation imaginable. Since so many of Mahouka's problems exist because of this character, and his existence massively drags down any interesting elements the show might have going for it, let's talk about Tatsuya first.
Tatsuya AKA Onii Sama AKA Jesus kun mk 3 times infinity, is completely overpowered in every way possible. The show literally says that: "there's nobody can surpass you in either studies or martial arts" in the very first episode. But it gets worse.
He never loses any fight, never shows any signs of emotional weakness, can weaponize magic to be able to fly before anyone else, has a countermeasure for his opponents moves before they even attack, can take a sniper wound head on and heal instantly, can destroy a magic raven just by looking at it, invade people's psyche, can catch and dissolve multiple bullets shot directly at him, develop new technology for their society in secret/make flawless weapons for everyone at his school, has a radar to see where any person comes from, never misses with his weapon, takes down a terrorist organization from the inside singlehandedly, BRINGS PEOPLE BACK FROM THE DEAD, and most painfully, gets nearly every single one of the many girls in the series, including his sister, to never stop talking about him or even falling for him because of how "cool" he is.
The worst part (no, the worst part is a HORRIBLE plot point that comes out of nowhere in the last three episodes, but the second worst part) is that the show's way of justifying all of this overpoweredness is by saying he does SLIGHTLY worse at moving a heavy block across the floor with his mind than anyone else. This "weakness" is only brought up in a vain attempt to convince the audience that God Almighty is not overpowered, and it's never mentioned past this or used as an obstacle in any fight he enters.
What Mahouka doesn't get is that intelligent audiences won't think a character who always wins is "cool". A character is admired for trying, and then eventually succeeding with more effort. Pixar's first rule of storytelling is "You admire a character for trying more than their successes", so in turn, a character who always succeeds gives you no reason to admire them or be invested in their growth. Some of anime's most beloved protagonists like Guts from Berserk, Simon from Gurren Lagann, Edward Elric from Fullmetal Alchemist or Lelouch from Code Geass are ones who don't always succeed, and have to learn to overcome their physical and emotional flaws to grow as people. Nothing of the sort happens with Tatsuya, he starts at Square Infinity and his feats keep growing from there.
Now, having an overpowered protagonist doesn't immediately make a show terrible. A writer could use their overpowered character as a joke and build the show around their strength (One Punch Man), you could make your character fun to watch personality wise (Sora from No Game No Life or Alucard from Hellsing) or have an interesting side cast to make up for the overpowered protagonist (again, Hellsing). But they don't take advantage. Mahouka is solemnly serious the whole show, Tatsuya has a dull expression on his face at all times and never truly emotes, and as I'll get into later, other characters have less character than the rocks thrown at the steel block and are made obsolete in the story.
When it comes to the story itself, it's suprisingly pretty shallow. In 2095, a sizable portion of the human population has died off, but those remaining learned how to use magic as technology and made schools that have competitions with it. Trite. Enter Tatsuya and his sister Miyuki. Because Tatsuya failed that square inch block test I mentioned earlier, he's put in the lower of the school's two classes, and the early parts of the series are all about Tatsuya being seen as the underdog just for being in the lower class because of that BS test method. There's only one other major character in the lower class, and she's taken out of the plot far too quickly. Tatsuya is far stronger than anyone in their world, let alone the upper class, so it gets really annoying.
Other elements of the story include various terrorist attacks, and a high school competition, and while some ideas for the competitions are creative like Magic Bat and the Surf Races, they aren't fun story wise because Tatsuya's overpoweredness transfers to everyone on his team at "First High School". Wow. What creativity there in the naming. One of the dumbest scenes in the show (and that says a lot) involves one girl in First High School crying her eyes out for losing in the finals of an event, which might've worked if it was against another school, but it's against the girl's own teammate! She has no reason to cry because their school wins anyway!
One interesting thing the show does attempt to do is create its very own magic system with lots of types and intricacies, but they also fail because their system of blending magic with technology is incredibly confusing or it's only used to justify Tatsuya winning a fight through technobabble and info dumping. It's unimportant and important in the same story which never works. Something like RWBY, where the characters have two magic powers a piece and their own technology makes it much more clear and practical. Aura for defense, Semblance for a unique power. Mahouka doesn't need such a complex and confusing magic system to make the fights interesting, and no matter how easy the system might've been, it doesn't matter because how strong Tatsuya and his team are compared to everyone else.
Nothing is interesting in the story beyond that. Even the various side character subplots brought to fill up the runtime mean nothing in terms of relevance or even development for most of them. How could you make a cool idea about military grade magic weapons into a cliche high school not-harem Jesus fantasy?! It's lazy, cheap, incredibly full of itself, frustrating and boring, and no amount of polished looking techno animation can save it.
Speaking of the animation, it's not bad, but really doesn't have much to work with. By Studio Madhouse, all of the character designs have a nice polish to them and unique faces with well inserted lips, and the character animation is fairly smooth and consistent. Even some of the technical explanations have very Tron-esque backgrounds that fit the style of the show well. But at the same time, it feels wasted on being given so little to work with. The backgrounds are, for the most part, very unoriginal and standard with little to distinguish them from other future city series, the choreography can occasionally be very flat (in one case literally being two characters walking at each other to shoot each other with guns really slowly), some character designs don't fit for their gender or feel unoriginal, and the flat directing leaves a lot of times where characters are positioned in rooms at very basic angles. Overall, the animation is good, but held back by the source material's lack of anything interesting to animate. Even Guilty Crown, bad as it was story wise, at least had some creative designs and ways to use their animation.
The sound is a similar story. Rising Hope is a solid OP, but it can't hold a candle to LiSA's other song Crossing Field. The first ED and second OP aren't very memorable, but the second ED is actually very nice. In the series, the OST mostly consists of techno and dubstep themes, which aren't really bad but very unmemorable. So overall an OK soundtrack, but what puts it at a 5 is the rather bland delivery from most of the voice actors, and Miyuki's constant need to say "Onii sama" over and over again in the dialogue. It gets rather annoying, even if that's more the fault of the script and her "character".
As as characters in Mahouka, everyone in this show is either bland, one note, or a missed opportunity. And there is 0.1% character development whatsoever in 26 episodes.
I've already talked enough abou Tatsuya, but I'd like to add that making him emotionless only feels like a lazy decision to not have him react to anything and not to actually show subtle character change (Oreki Houtarou from Hyouka). Now to everyone else.
Miyuki Shiba- Tatsuya's sister. Not only the worst character in this anime, but one of the worst characters in any anime ever. And this is coming from someone who watched Mirai Nikki and Guilty Crown. Her only character trait is incest. You heard that right, the ONLY character trait Miyuki has in 26 episodes is loving her brother, being clingy to him, and getting all rosy red cheeks every time he's nice to her. She even rolls around in her bed basically orgasming over him once. It's not even delved into. Even Sword Art Online did a better job handling an incest plot because we actually got to see Suguha's inner thoughts and how she learns to get over it. Here, it exists to be incest, and no other reason. She looks cute, loves her brother, and is the most pure, precious, literal special snowflake with her ice powers. Honestly she's a worse character than Tatsuya! Because at least with Tatsuya, we could understand why he acted the way he did, but with Miyuki we get nothing. The most memorable thing about her is her constantly saying "Onii-sama" over and over and over again nonstop. For being the second most important character in your show, this is absolutely pathetic.
Not-Suzaku- I'm serious, the show literally just stole his character design. Basically he's Tatsuya's rival as indicated by the OP. His first appearance had me curious about what type of character he would be as he stood in a room with blood all over the walls, and he had a weapon that kills people just like Kira in Jojo Part 4. I thought he would be some sort of Face of an Angel, Mind of a Demon type character who'd encounter Tatsuya many times and be some sort of diabolical mastermind but NOPE! Mets Tatsuya a grand total of once, fails like a chump, and then he turns into the most generic Pokémon rival possible, with whom Tatsuya lets his sister dance with. You had an interesting idea and then you completely forgot about it. WHY?!!!!
Erika Chiba- A tomboyish girl with a very teasing personality with a relationship to her brother and a mentor to another character. While by no means a good character, she's the ONLY character in Mahouka to have something resembling a personality and at points she was the most fun character to watch. That said, it's the difference between a two dimensional character with a cast of one dimensional characters, but an achievement for how little it may be.
Mibu Sayaka- I brought her up because she's the character who has that 0.1% of character development I mentioned earlier, by realizing that it wasn't right to turn against the High School for their class discrimination based on one test. She could've been a much better candidate for representing the underdog theme, but the show thought it was better to ignore her for the rest of the run save for one tiny moment later, and make Tatsuya the underdog in a laughably bad display. Just another missed opportunity by Mahouka...
No one else is even worth talking about. All of the other girls do is look cute, stick to an archtype and talk about how cool Tatsuya is. Heck, one girl terrorist literally tries to hack into the First High School system JUST to get Tatsuya to notice her. All the other guys do is make you wish any one of them was the protagonist instead of Tatsuya. The villains are absolutely pathetic, being nothing more than the most one dimensional terrorists and gang leaders and leaving NO impression.
In short, a horribly unmemorable and generic cast of characters, and those who are memorable aren't exactly well known for good reason.
After 26 episodes of watching Mahouka, the payoff was nothing more than a sigh of relief that it was finally over and I could add another series to my Completed list. So in conclusion,
+Overall smooth animation and polished character designs
+First OP and second ED (which aren't even because of the show itself)
+Cool Techno Sequences
+Some decent ideas for Magic Games
+Ends with a bang...courtesy of God Almighty
+Erika is passable but...
-AWFUL main characters: Tatsuya is invulnerable emotionless GOD and Miyuki has less character than a rock
-Horribly generic and unmemorable side characters with absolutely no development
-Fails at the underdog theme so hard that it's laughable
-All important information is given through info dumps
-Villains are the most generic terrorists possible
-Fanservice so pointless you wonder why it exists
-Incest for no reason besides Incest.
-Animation has very little to work with
-Side character plots that literally exist just to fill time
-Manages to be boring and frustrating at the same time
-Stupidly overcomplicated Magic System
-Wastes every good idea it has
-Completely tensionless at every point
It seems that for years now, there has been this trend of light novels receiving adaptations, and given a lot of these adaptations, this trend gets a bad rep. Yet, out of all the things in the trend, this has to be the worst of them all.
*SPOILERS FOR MAHOUKA KOUKOU NO RETTOUSEI. THIS REVIEW WILL BE TITANICALLY BIG. ALSO, DON`T WATCH THIS SHOW. IT IS NOT WORTH YOUR TIME*
So, many people hate light novel adaptations. Yet, this anime seems to not get the scorn shows like Absolute Duo, The Asterisk War, and other hated LN adaptations. Why is that? Why do people hate
these adaptations in general? Why does this deserve their hate? Well, we won`t find the answer to the first question, but the second one will get that treatment. So, let`s find out, shall we?
We begin with Tatsuya and his sister quarreling in a beautiful school environment in what feels like an emotional climax in your average shoujo high school manga, but lo and behold, the first signs of incest have arisen. Plus, this is an awkward way to start off the show, for reasons that I just went over. It is 2095, and magi-tech has taken over as our way of life, sports, and combat. Side note, this may be a bit pedantic, but this show needs to know the difference between regular magic and magi-tech. Literally everything here aside from recreational combat and hand-to-hand combat is magi-tech but they refuse to address it a such. The methods of magic usage are inconsistent. Also, sometimes they use the CADs to initiate magic, but other times, they do it on their own despite the fact that CADs are supposed to be the only way to use magic. No one makes this problem more apparent than Miyuki, Ichijou, and of course Tatsuya, and the final arc is where that becomes particularly egregious. Well, there are 3 arcs, one about introducing students and explaining how the hell stuff works, a sports tournament arc, and a school and military vs terrorists arc. None of which are particularly interesting at all. In fact, all of them suck donkey dick. Let this long ass story section go over why, starting with the fist 3 episodes.
Episode 1 is just combat and introductions, and aside from bad combat and shoving 5 combat system down our throats without explanation, it`s relatively lukewarm, albeit, it sets up things the show doesn't follow through well. It introduces the discrimination between magically adapt magicians and less skilled magicians, only for the rest of the show screw that up and then forget about it after episode 14. Now, for the problems of episode 2. At one point, the Student Council hound Tatsuya to join them. Tatsuya gives literally every single logical reason he shouldn't join the council, all of which are more than enough to make a reasonable person agree with him, but they egg him to join regardless, and of course, they get him. There is one major mistake in the fight in this episode. That being:Remember when one of the girls said "No weapons" as a rule of a magic duel? Then why the hell are they allowed to use guns? I shouldn't have to explain why this is wrong, since that is self-explanatory.
Episode 3 starts off with a long ass info dump to explain the episode 2 fight that ended instantly. Speaking of long info dumps (which are while standing and talking or sitting and talking),the info dumps are constant, and are the only way we learn information. This is not a good way for a show to make us understand the intricacies of its combat, magic, or tech, especially when they go on for minutes beyond end, amounting to nothing more than a glorified PowerPoint with far too much on each slide; the information is nigh-unobtainable due to the piss poor methods.so much of this series is just sitting/standing and talking while nothing is going on, even if there isn't an exposition dump. They do this at minimum twice per episode, always lasting at least 2 minutes each. This is the fastest way to consistently bore viewers, like, of course, myself. Like I said, it's bad enough that they do this during info dumps (which are already far too prevalent) but they do this when not much new is being presented, and coupled with ill-fitting music, this above all else, makes this goddamn abomination a chore to sit through.This episode is the one that introduces this issue to us, as well as another one.
When they DO explain info like in episode 3, it's in the form of boring and long exposition dumps post-battle that fail to properly engage, plus the fact that they often take too long to explain anything anyway. When things are proven impossible to justify, they shrug it off. Plus, sometimes, they take way too long to explain things that demand it in order to be acceptable. One such case is Tatsuya`s instantaneous self repair. Tatsuya's self-repair system is BS. Then again, that’s little more than a minor nuisance at this point given everything else in this armageddon to the integrity of the industry. How does one fail like this? Sure, there are other problems here, but they lie with the characters.
I could easily keep going, breaking down a lot of things that destroy every episode's logic, like how in episode 5 Mibu does a poor attempt at explaining her goals despite that the obvious examples being right there (like how the magically adapt students discriminate against those less fluent in magic and how the school is doing so little to help prevent that aside from sending out people to deal with brawls despite the fact that it is in direct violation of school rules) or how Kirihara’s revealed motivations in episode 6 for being despicable in episode 3 clash with his actions and demeanor in episode 3 completely, but not only do you get the point by now, but I would lose all sanity trying, even if there are notable exceptions I'll cover. Besides, there are plenty of other problems that deserve their own paragraphs to say the least.
Emotional climaxes like the one in episode 6 aren't given the proper buildup, weight, or execution they need for those moments to work. That one in particular would've been interesting if Mibu actually grew to realize her wrongs in her fight against Erika, and if the fight ended on a fair conclusion, while Mibu started remembering via this fight why she picked up her sword in the first place. Speaking of emotional climaxes, why does Shizuku (a nigh-emotionless loli, I`ll get to that generic point eventually) cry when she loses to Miyuki in episode 14? It makes no sense and wasn't even built up to be the emotional climax of the second arc. Also, I mentioned episode 1 and the combat, but here is a more detailed version of it.
They shove approximately 5 combat systems down our throats without any explanation into any intricacies or things that set them apart (I get that it's the first episode, but this is how you handle this kind of stuff poorly) making us demand explanation as to how this all works that way we're not completely lost. Plus, they keep introducing more in the first 2 episodes without explaining the previously established combat systems, and it takes forever to know how any of this works, like, again, with the Tatsuya regeneration BS. By the end of episode 5, we have 7 combat systems, and only two of them have any details shown to us. The 3 hand-to-hand systems aren't distinguished from one another, another one is military magi-tech, and the last one is regular military equipment, which you'd think they'd be down with given all the military magi-tech and other magi-tech that can be not only just as lethal, but more effective as well. By the end of all this, we mix it up with a goat robot and a way to use the dangerous magi-tech in regular, non-military combat, and it still sucks.
I'll touch on this in the character section, but Tatsuya is such a Gary Stu (nigh-infallible and OP AF) that it causes rage to anyone who tries to see the reason in anything here, especially since a lot of these moments make no sense no matter which way you look at it. The worst example of our protagonist being the world’s worst Gary Stu is in episode 9 where he reveals himself to be Taurus Silver.. Doesn't that mean that he was a super-duper magi-tech genius ever since he was about 6, and no one but Miyuki and Tatsuya's employees know about this, and he's been developing some of the world's finest magi-tech and CADs as well as military magi-tech ever since that age, and no one has caught on?! In the finale, they do an I do dump that's supposed to make Tatsuya look tragic because of his power, but it fails massively.
It`s pretty apparent that this piece of sh*t has a nigh-innumerable amount of problems so I clearly won`t get to all of them, but here are some other ones. The magic system is super complicated, and the info dumps and inconsistancies do not help here. RWBY and Fairy Tail had more comprehensive and consistant magic systems in place, and that is only one reason those shoes are better, but that isn`t entirely relevant here, much less, the point I was trying to make. The incest is obvious, and not funny, as they try to make it, yet they don`t even have the balls to go anywhere with it. Moments like the conflict about Hanzo vs Tatsuya are generic AF. onto the final few episodes. There is no sense of transition between any of the last 4 episodes, which messes with the pacing. Other stupidly random stuff (like mechs) are added because this show isn't stupid enough as it is. Plus, the pacing of the final 5 episodes is horrid, and the finale is rather bleh, as per usual with an average episode of this show. Also, before you blame the source material, multiple people have informed me that the source material was good and that the anime made so many awful omissions and changes (chief among them being Tatsuya becoming otherworldly in terms of OP-ness), so this was also terrible as an adaptation. Way to go, Mahouka. You suck even more!
And we`re nowhere near done with the buffet of grievances this show presents. I am running out of both patience and sanity right now.
There is almost nothing good about the cast of this goddamn show. Let`s start with Tatsuya, shall we? Tatsuya's personality is "Gary Stu + calm down Miyuki + blunt guy who doesn`t entirely understand jovial social queues. What’s worse, in the manga (or better yet, the original light novel before becoming a manga), apparently he’s an introspective character, meaning that our perception of him is more so due to his thoughts on certain situations rather than his demeanor, as his personality is expressed through his head. Such a shame that Madhouse took out that element for most part and made him boring as all hell, as it was the only interesting thing about Tatsuya. Hell, his Gary Stuness gets even worse the more we progress, like his physically impossible hacking skills, his random inventing of the flying spell overnight without any explanation as to how he did it, and surviving a fatal sniper shot and dispatching of him after shrugging it off in a matter of seconds, and even more BS! No, seriously, he is the ultimate Gary Stu. Kirito looks like Shinji by comparison, it is that bad. At least Kirito has struggles and even losses during his battles, but Tatsuya effortlessly cheeses almost single fight, sometimes instantaneously. Plus, he has his own harem too. Another bland and uninspired quality. It is really impossible to sit through this without questioning at least something, unless you like having a boring ass God Mode MC without a clear and defined personality, or you genuinely don't care about what you watch.
Next, *sigh* Miyuki. Miyuki's only traits are: I romantically love my awesome brother but don't feel comfy showing it, respect my brother otherwise I get furious, and I'm sorry for literally everything I say and do. The moment I lost all respect for her was when she flirted with her brother and then proceeded to attack him because he was having fun talking with other girls. Just, wow. Plus, she’s a Mary Sue, effortlessly trumping every opponent in every match as well. To think that someone as beautiful as her would be such a pathetic character. What. A. Shame. The other characters band and one note as hell. The only interesting ones are Kyouko (only relevant in arc 3 but is easily the hottest girl here), Kirihara (irrelevant past episode 7 until finally being a badass again in episode 25), Haruka (some relevance in each arc), and Mayumi (some relevance each arc, and gets some stuff done, more so than most non-Mary Sue protags.)
Other potentially interesting characters like Mibu are wasted due to poor decision making of them being shoved out of the limelight by the real protags who don't even have much development or fleshing out. Erika was one of the livelier ones, but she got progressively bitchy in the second arc, and episode 15, where she’s a complete and utter BITCH to her brother and to Mari, just so happened to be the episode where I lost any ounce of respect for her, until quickly trying to bring it back, to some semblance of effect. The Student Council vice-president, Hanzo is initially such a prick that goes out of his way to judge horribly based on class status, and be a complete hypocrite, that it's absurd how he was allowed to even be on the council. Then again, a surprising amount of them are assholes that hardly have a right to be here, like that one dude that is such a prick to Tatsuya and is all “us blooms are superior to you, Weed!” (he even gets a full conflict about it that goes nowhere). Sure, Hanzo mellows out, but he's just as uninteresting as the rest of them. Jumonji was meh for most part, but I do not take kindly to the not so subtle attack on those like me, who question a show when it violates it's logic and makes no sense, that he did in episode 18, to say the least.
The antagonists are your typical generic 95% off bargain bin brand baddies, like a lame manipulator that turns out to be a little bitch once his plans are foiled, and a bunch of old corporate dudes doing nefarious things for money while being boring and being in a circle (reminds me of those guys from Death Note episodes 18-25). The final antagonist, Maya, who was built up via OPs and dialogue doesn`t even show up until a cameo in the last few minutes of the finale for some lame ass sequel hook because of course this would be an incomplete adaptation, am I right? Doing that in a light novel adaptation seems to be all the rage, isn`t it?
I can hear you right now. "But Code!" you cry. "The art and animation is brilliant!" you continue. "Surely you aren`t that petty or blind, surely you jest, right?!" you passionately conclude. Well, you might be doing that about me ripping off Glass Reflection, but let me explain why the art and animation category has such a low score here. It`s not for the character art or the regular (and ok) animation itself, but for everything surrounding that.
The art is obnoxiously bright. Seriously, it's like they increased the brightness up to 11 here on their TV and decided that that would work for the show. There’s a time and place to light up a scene, and almost none of them exist here. Ufotable is the master at this, with Fate/Zero and UBW using this to excellent effect. Here, whenever it's used in a scene (since it's used in literally all of them minus one or two, one of which is where they use city lights, admittedly well I might add), the ratio of it working to not working is 1:99, no hyperbole included. It is very oversaturated, and that gets hard to deal with. It uses and overuses the type of bright lighting that would be used for an impactful moment. It gets to a point where occasionally, the characters don't look like they're part of the scene, looking like they were awkwardly plastered on there like bad CGI. Speaking of which, the rest of the CG is pretty bad too, except for the snowflakes and other actually well done effects in the EDs.
The backgrounds are horrendously blurry that coupled with the horrible CGI classmates that spawn often and the egregious lighting and bland character designs, it literally hurts my eyes to watch at times. The fights don't even have good choreography (especially most of the hand-to-hand combat scenes), except for episode 6’s sword fight, and a lot of them go by in a complete flash, leading to annoying anti-climaxes, like the fights in episodes 2 and 3. This, along with literally every other problem I have with the art makes every scene increasingly excruciating to watch. I have a hard time because it forces me to sometimes squint my eyes in order to handle the obscene brightness present in certain moments (especially Leo running in the OP).
They sorta butchered LiSA's song, Rising Hope (OP1), even if the song itself is good, even though they didn`t do the best job incorporating it here. OP 2, grilletto, by GARNiDELiA, is pretty awesome, except for the awkward battles in the OP (another knock against the art section) and for the fact that it doesn't ultimately fit. Why wasn't such great music on such a putrid show? ED 1 is generic and bleh. ED 2 is rather meh as well, so, whatever. The actual OST is F*CKING AWFUL!. The techno songs suck ass and get both annoying and over-played. Plus, some of it feels very out of place, like super pleasant music in a boring exposition scene about the Student Council or, again, the techno. Even potentially good music suffers from that issue, which is a travesty. Also, I DETEST the song with the GOD DAMN BEEPING!! It drives me of the frickin’ wall! Incessant ass beeping. Who the hell even out that as part of an OST? WHO THE HELL KEEPS ASSAULTING MY EARS LIKE THIS?!?! GYAAAAAAAAAAAHHHH!!!!
The show is so dull that the only other emotion I get is sheer frustration as literally everything else I mentioned above, and watching it fully made me realize that this is one of the worst shows ever made, no exaggeration. Each episode is as dull as the last, and in some cases, even more aggravating. I find it tiresome to question so many of these scenes but all i feel is bored, annoyed, and tired. This show drains you, especially with all of those info dumps and other moments of just talking without anything happen (each being around 3-5 minutes long and there being on average, approximately 2 per episode). Even the action is stupid and dull, along with basically everything else, when it isn`t laying down a particularly frustrating moment on me. I wasn`t even satisfied that it ended, it was that draining. Ironic how the art can be so bright but everything else can be so dull. When you make a show, you want to entertain, but it feels like they deliberately tried to do the opposite. The production feels spiteful, and I can feel them all not caring about this wasteful product. They didn't even come up with creative titles! Just (insert arc name here) part (insert Roman numeral here). No other show has done something so shameful and lazy, to my knowledge at least.The dialogue being robotic as hell (just listen to the first scene in episode 1 again for clarification) doesn`t help either. This show can rot in hell!
OVERALL: 1/10 RAW SCORE: 5/100
Over the course of this review, I mentioned several cliche aspects about this show that also permeate other generic light novel adaptations. The OP self-insert protagonist, the harem surrounding him, CGI robots, generic characters, incomplete adaptation, loli that either doesn`t show too much emotion (like in this particular case) or complains about puny chest size (lets her friend nearly get groped because the friend has bigger tits than her, so its sorta here too), a tsundere character that does it to at least one character, a character getting slapped for accidentally peeping on a girl in a nigh-fanservice scene. It`s all here! That`s the thing. It is an amalgamation of all of these cliched, annoying, tropes in all these shows we hate; a Frankenstein of these tropes and more! It is not only dull and stupid as hell, but it doesn`t even haver much of a true identity, much less a soul! Even Fairy Tail, as much as you can bash it for all its problems, has some life. It's a crime that it was allied to have nice animation put into the magic, OPs, and EDs, when the rest of the art sucks, the music sucks, and the rest of the show is irredeemable, top to bottom. This show is pathetic, a tumor that plagues the industry, embodying all that we hate about LN adaptations. That isn`t to say that LN adaptations can`t be good; Fate/Zero is downright amazing and it was a Light Novel adaptation. Still, I think you get all of my points, right? Before I bid you adieu as usual, I have one last quote to share that sums up my feelings for this show. Well, Goodbye.
"IT’S TIME TO STOP!! IT’S TIME TO STOP, OKAY?! NO MORE! This...this needs to stop! This needs to stop, now! THIS IS CANCER! This...is so much cancer that I can feel the tumors growing on my back, AND IT’S NOT OK!" -Francis of the Filth, 2015.