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.