Watching Mahou Sensou (Magical Warfare) is like finding out you just got arrested for something you didn’t even do and get put for jail for it. Confusion is the first word that will come to mind but then comes the anger phase and regret. The term ‘regret’ isn’t for feeling sorry for yourself but rather as how could a show with a tolerable premise can sink to a defiled piece of work. Not that expectations were high coming into this show but Mahou Sensou is an excuse of a damnation.
Mahou Sensou translates to Magical Warfare. As the name implies, the series adapts magical themes involving various spells in an ongoing war. The war involves a group of magicians going against beings known as Ghost Trailer from another world. We learn from the first episode that Takeshi Nanase has some sort of mysterious power that allows him to fight on par against some of the magicians in his world. Of course, this doesn’t happen after his life gets turned around forever. Nonetheless, he gets caught in the frenzy when a young girl named Mui became a target by the Ghost Trailers. It’s probable to guess what happens next as Takeshi tries to play the role of a hero and attempts to save her. Not only does this sounds like a trite formula of a typical magical series, it makes little sense at first. Everything happens too quickly as well as all at once. As time goes on, the series attempts to explain itself regarding both worlds, its histories, characters, and everything else in a fashion to hopefully draw viewers in. Unfortunately, it just doesn’t fit right.
The plus side is that the initial episodes blasts off in a quick fashion with the action and drama with little time to waste. Not only does it immediately get to the point with the conflict but it also brings together most of the main characters together in a dilemma that ties with the premise. But here’s the main problem: the pacing. It’s not just rushed but also inadequate. How would you explain a normal boy who resents his family for unknown reasons at first able to fend off a guy nearly twice his size with a large sword? From minute one to the credits proves the show is gimmicky clustered with cliches, gags, and senseless characters. It’s like a hornet nest with everything dancing and flying at once.
Characters in this series ranges from the typical small girl Mui to the more fashioned beauty known as Kurumi Isoshima. The latter is known as a stunning beauty at school but more importantly as Takeshi’s ‘fake girlfriend’. Despite the two pretending to be a couple, it’s obvious that Kurumi might have genuine feelings for her “boyfriend”. There’s also the best friend of the main protagonist, Kazumi Ida, a stereotypical delinquent that comes with the spiky hair, tough personality, and carefree attitude. None of these characters appeal to each other in any way. The worst of them might be Takeshi Nanase who sees to possess no personality. On the surface, he is a caring friend but often is indecisive over various matters. Only does trouble comes will he resent to dramatic action. Trouble comes from the Ghost Trailers whom serves as the main antagonists. They are presented as the epitome of stereotypes with their crafty looks, egoistic attitudes, and cheesy ambitions. Forget characterization. The Ghost Trailers don’t have a ghost of a chance for admirable attributes.
Drama takes in the form of family affairs and conflicts. It serves as a degeneration of a happy relationship because of circumstances. For Takeshi, it’s related to his younger brother Gekkou. Through flashbacks, there’s a clear problem with the boy because of his obsession towards a certain character. It’s an establishment for a bomb to explode soon between family manners. And of course, it does through actions in the way of magic. The way the series progresses this also lacks depth because of its basis. It’s clear as day why Gekkou’s behavior is seemingly justified by his actions. The show doesn’t even need to explain itself because of its clichéd angles. It’s saturated with lifeless emotions because of the weak persona through its characters. The characterization of the main magicians also lacks depth with their purpose. Everything just feels if they need to be there with no sense of morality. It fails to make its point with its collection of platitudes.
As with the concepts itself, mechanics of this show demonstrates some credibility. This is set by the standard of Subaru Magical Academy where students learn magic. It’s a place where characters like Takeshi, Mui, Kurumi and others train to perfect their skill as magicians. On the surface, it touches the basics of magic at a fundamental level. However, everything feels like it progresses far too quickly with its generics. The way magic is acquired is explained in simplicity despite the complex nature of some spells. From the first episode, we witness how our main characters acquire their magic with a taste of fan service involving Kurumi’s enhanced breasts. Besides catching the attention of others, the magic itself is only attractive by its effects rather than its execution. What I mean here is the way how some spells seems be blend to the core with their usage. On a more bright side, the series does focus on training sessions including a magical examination. In essence, it does maintain some degree of trustfulness with this show’s product.
Unfortunately, the romance aspect remains almost tasteless. There’s a lack of chemistry between the main characters. This mainly is focused on the love triangle going on between Kurumi, Mui and Takeshi. It follows an endless cycle of stages with the first stage being misunderstanding, the second stage explanation, and the third seemingly nowhere. Kurumi also gets herself involve with other male characters. We don’t see much progressing between her and them because of her own insecurities. Again, the pacing issue of a one-cour show also plays a role in downgrading Kurumi’s relationships. Furthermore, the chemistry she has with any of the characters just seems lackluster. She’s like a Barbie doll that everyone wants to buy. Her Ken is Takeshi.
Other flaws in the show includes a weak building structure connection both the real world and the magic world. Although it explains itself somewhat with the past and ancestries, the show neglects to explore them in depth. For fantasy writers, a show should demonstrate a decent degree of its world qualities. Unfortunately, this show is not one to serve as an example of that. However, this show does show examples of fan service. Although it doesn’t reach ecchi levels, the clichés reaches its point with swimsuits, compromising positions, and clothes torn by battle damages. The construction of its premise also hardly sounds original with the stereotypical Big Bad wanting to conquer the world and purify its worthless inhabitants. Wait, I heard that somewhere before…
The artwork would be appealing if it demonstrated an imaginative atmosphere. A world with magic and fighting wars between each other sounds attractive but the artwork is not. Character designs are blend and focused mainly on their stereotypes rather than who they actually are. The Ghost Trailers are hardly charismatic either with their lack of personalities. Everything feels forced with their lifeless expressions. Background artwork offers some degrees of admiration although it only ties in with its main themes. The only artistic attributes I find are perhaps the spells as they do offer degrees of diversity. They connect with the magical themes of this show with some degree of limited thought.
Out of all the technical aspects, soundtrack is probably the strongest factor coming from this show. To say the least, the OST is catchy with its hard rock tone and techno-like sensation. It actually connects with the dramatic scenes involved with the battles. Characters also demonstrates their voice mannerisms decently whether it’s feelings of anguish, fear, happiness, regret, solitude, or egoistic. The OP song also has its mood done right despite some of the magnetic movements. Focus should be bought forward to this show’s soundtrack aspects if you decide to get into this show. On the other hand, characters such as Takeshi lacks enthusiasm with his voice while others just feels lifeless.
Mahou Sensou is not just an underwhelming show but is exactly what you’ll expect. Its predictable plot is almost laughable with rushed scenarios, weak characterization, and conglomeration of cliches. It’s shameful that a show with the concept of magic can turn into this cluster of weak thoughtlessness. What you may expect is what you will get in the form of poor writing, romance cliches, thoughtless characterization, and farcical development. Despite the way this show originally set its family feuds into motion with darker aspects, its executions is stale and atrocious. Rather than evoking excitement, it spawns boredom with no redemption. If you really want to check out this show, then be prepared for a magical tale of mediocrity.