The Irregular at Magic High School

Alt titles: Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei

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roriconfan's avatar By on May 11, 2014

Damn anime fandom, when will you finally realize that light novels are trash and you need to stop hyping them?

Mahouka (short version of the title) was the next in line to be considered the best LN ever made, claims made by the same type of fans who two years ago were saying the exact same things for Sword Art Online (SAO for short). And once again it is proven how retarded and tasteless they all are, since the anime proved to be just as bad. In fact, it proved to be even worse than SAO! But more on that later.

This is where the first grip of the show begins. The main conflict regards the discrimination students have in that school, as they are separated into castes depending on their magic powers. The privileged ones are having all the fun, while the less fortunate by genes are treated like errant boys. It looks interesting at first but then you realize that Tatsuya, the protagonist, is OVERPOWERED AS HELL! They try to make him seem like his magic potential is low and thus belongs to the lower caste, but he has mastered so many types of martial arts and magical combinations that he can LITERALLY defeat anyone in half a second.

Just like most light novels do, the protagonist is basically wish fulfillment for introverts. We are special, we are awesome, but our society doesn’t appreciate us, everybody is against us, so we will show them what we can do, and win all the time, and have all the girls call us awesome. Taken to the extremes in Mahouka, Tatsuya begins as a new guy who is supposed to be just another Weed (lower caste), that all the Blooms (higher caste) make fun of. But in just a few seconds worth of conflict, he obliterates his bullies, and makes his classmates to be amazed with him. And that seems to be ok as far as teen empowerment goes, but the problem is that there is no real threat to make us believe he achieved something worthy of our praise.

Having an OP main character is the death of any story, period. There is nothing the rest of the cast can do if he is around and in this case HE IS AROUND ALL THE TIME. Just imagine that in an episode we are allowed to have a duel between two girls, just because Tatsuya didn't bother to capture the bad girl himself in a fraction of a second. Other stories will try to make it seem like the MC can die, or focus on other characters for awhile, or at least not make it seem like it’s all too easy. But not here. Here it is all about Tatsuya doing everything effortlessly and everybody being amazed with him. So no matter whatever the plot is about, there is no tension or exploration of themes, since you know exactly what will happen. Tatsuya will go in, and win effortlessly.

The first arc is about terrorists who want equality attacking the school. Because equality is evil all of a sudden. After the super awesome protagonist wipes them all out without even bothering to smirk, the police arrives, arrests everybody, and he returns to his normal school life like nothing much has happened. We can’t have him being rewarded, that would end the story. So what is the second arc about? A school contest! We literally moved from a terrorist attack to teenagers playing sports where they of course need to be explaining every little thing they make. That is plain insufferable. So what happens there? They do games for honor and bullshit, and again the awesome protagonist wipes them all out without even bothering to smirk. Third arc, evil China invades good Japan for livberty or some bullshit. The awesome protagonist wipes them all out without even bothering to smirk. Do you see a pattern here?

Even though the notorious SAO shares the same bad writing, bad exposition, bad characterization, and bad EVERYTHING when it comes to light novels, it at least fools you for awhile to think there is danger in its setting. The characters there were average people trapped in a deadly environment, cut off from their house and family, having to fight monsters in order to survive. Mahouka doesn’t have that; it is just a school where pampered high school kids with super magical skills gather and act like jerks to each other, while teachers and parents pay for their rent and luxury. So the only thing you get in this show is a guy effortlessly brushing off a few school bullies, under the surveillance of the teachers. There is literally nothing to feel excited about.

School settings in general are sapping away all tension and ruin the atmosphere. They are supposed to be there to offer a haven and familiarity for teenagers but at the same time raise endless questions of the sort “Why does everything happen the way it does, and why the adults don't do anything to stop it?” And the answer is a simple “because adults are terrible people who create unjust societies, and only we, the hormone-crazy teenagers, can do the right thing by smacking the crap out of everything.”

Furthermore, the themes are not even presented properly. For a society that runs on meritocracy, the mages of that school are all rare and gifted. There is little reason for the Weeds to feel bad, if they have powers that place them above every other mundane person. And even the most gifted of them, the Blooms, are acting like they are constantly threatened by the Weeds, as if their position can be snatched away if the errant boys try really hard and surpass them. If they really are superior, they shouldn’t feel threatened. And if hard work can indeed make Weeds surpass Blooms, then they shouldn’t have casts to begin with. These double standards are very easy to spot and because there is a lack of an actually threatening conflict, you are not even distracted from realizing that. This is what makes this plain bad fantasy empowerment.

What adds oil to the fire is the sister of the protagonist. She is TOTALLY obsessed with her brother, to the point she repeats the word “onii-sama” (translated as super awesome revered brother) at least a dozen times per episode. She is basically stalking him and doesn’t want any other girl near him, or any other boy to antagonize him. She is so obsessed to the point he has the hots for him. It is cringe-worthy if you are not into that, and yet it is one of the running gags of the show. IT NEVER GOES AWAY! Sadly the ones who hyped this title were all into the exact same things I and many others don't like in the show. It is teen escapism in its most basic and silly of forms. And it works for those who want all the girls to love them for being special and introverts. Sisters included.

Another thing that makes the show bad is its lack of action. For a setting that is all about mages and battles, there is very little actual fighting going on in it. The plot is almost entirely about talking and explaining than showing motion. For example, there is a scene where we have a duel. The battle lasts about 3 seconds, as Tatsuya is as OP as it gets. The next 15 minutes are spent on explaining how he did it by combining spells and martial arts. It may seem like that makes it strategic and smart, but what practically happens is you watching people standing still and talking with weird terminology just to explain how that battle was over before it even began. It is simply not fun. It is boring, anti-climactic, and it ends with everybody saying how awesome the protagonist is for winning effortlessly.

I understand how that can work much better in text form. The passing of time is very relevant when you read something, and from what I understand, the descriptions in the novels are using fancy terminology to make everything seem complicating and smart. This doesn't show in the adaptation, where we can tell how much time it takes to say something, as well as not using a narrator to simply infodump everything in third person. The closest effect to what could have happened if they had included it, would be internal monologues of the sort we see in Bakemonogatari, or Tatami Galaxy, or Haruhi. But even that demands for a first person narration, while the novels are mostly in third. In other words, it is bad storytelling, masked with fancy words, appealing to easily satisfied teenagers, which doesn’t translate well when adapted to tv format.

The saddest part is that the budget is actually very high. Madhouse is the king of anime, and yet not even that could save the show from being bad. If you want to watch it just for the pretty visuals and the teen empowerment, at least it is satisfactory on a superficial level. But if you watch it for any sort of depth or good characterization, you will be greatly disappointed. There is nothing particularly good in Mahouka, and only manages to further prove how pre-airing hype only exists to mutate the reputation of what could have been a forgettable mediocre title, to that of an abomination we will always be using as an example of what a bad anime is all about.

Hello Mahouka, how are you? Here, sit next to your best friend, SAO. Feeling comfortable enough? Yes? Ok… GUYS GAG THEM! GRAB THEIR FEET! WATCH OUT, HE IS TRYING TO GET AWAY! WHERE IS THE ROPE? BRING THE TAR!

3/10 story
8/10 animation
7/10 sound
3/10 characters
3.5/10 overall
Kaltos's avatar By on Jul 21, 2014

So, it's been a long time since I did my last review and I felt I should do one series that I got incredibly hyped up on at first, thought this series had the potential to go somewhere, got excited and really intensely, passionate about this series...only to have it fall through the roof, like so many others such as Attack on Titan, Sword Art Online, and the most recent Black Bullet. Wait, sorry, I lied...let's be honest, Black Bullet was never really going anywhere in the first place. 

Like some other reviewer has said *ahem* roriconfan *ahem* Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei was an anime adapted from a light novel series by Sato Tsutomu, who shall be referred to as You-know-who from now on, his name should be blighted from the heavens. Of course, I disagree with the aforesaid reviewer that all light novels are crap, there are some very good ones such as Fate/Zero that are quite splendid in all things. However, as I so often disagree with this reviewer, here is the one point upon which I agree with him...the Irregular at Magic High School seems merely like You-know-who wrote this series merely for wish fulfillment, and isn't really getting any sense of any plots or ideas on how to go about this. Usually, as an author or if you're intending to write a book, it is best to bang out an outline before, that way you can work out your plot and see what if anything will go wrong, and fix it in the outline. Trust me, it's easier to rewrite four pages of an outline than rewrite hundreds of pages of books in order to save yourself then. 

Because that's what You-know-who would have to do to save this series. 

And now on to the review. Schazzam! 

Story: 4/10 

So, the premise is based on this boy, 15 year old Tatsuya Shiba who with his younger bro-con sister Miyuki Shiba decides to enroll in one of the state funded alchemical research facilites to work as a state alchemist for a dictatorship that funds the research of its' alchemist in return for their services as weapons....Oh, I'm sorry, it looks I misplaced this synopsis with Fullmetal Alchemist. But essentially insert magicians in the place of alchemist and a highschool in Japan as the site of the magic research facility at the behest of the government, and you essentially have what it turns out to be. Hell, you even have the most blatantly relaxing and comforting sense of persecution I've ever seen. There is this whole conept of Weeds and Blooms, where as the Blooms are the course 1 students who are given actual human teachers and expected to succeed while the Weeds are the course 2 students who have to learn everything from a computer and are never really expected to amount to much...further excacerbated by the arrogant bias of the Blooms that they are better than the Weeds. Now, add into this the mix that our dear Miyuki Shiba (who was a delight until you figure out she's essentially a bolt on for Tatsuyas' prompt) is a bloom and Tatsuya's a Weed, you have the potential for some lovely chemistry and melodrama there. That is never expanded on. 

The show instead sidesteps the whole lovely issue of persecution and repression by merely making Tatsuya overpowered as anything. Oh, and by the way, he is technically supposed to be classified and not use certain techniques in public, so why let him outside and why not lock him up in some forsaken research facility like every other sensible government? No? Let's send him off to high school, where it's clear he doesn't have the common sense to keep a low profile and so all in the same time manages to make himself stand out. And he also doesn't really act proactively: he just reacts to everything, like some stupid shounen hero and always manages to show up to save the day with his overpowered abilities, while no one else can do anything. 

Also, the reasoning and logic in all of these characters is flawed: if this character is not a cardboard cut out, that means usually they are going to become one or are going to disappear and not expanded upon in any way. They do not act to anything, and it is only Tatsuya doing some rather inconsequential scenes that really tick me off and add nothing to the story. 

Several characters also act out of character, and do not progress the story in any way even though what would be a natural reaction for them is not expanded upon. 

SPOILERS IN BOLD

So, to expound on my last sentence, Tatsuyas' sister Miyuki is threatened by the Yotsuba clan of magicians whom is their clan, but their collective existence is bound by the clan. So, as Tatsuya is the Guardian of Miyuki and should be defending her with his life since she is his only one true passion, he should be taking small steps right now to fight against the Yotsuba, like a Lelouch and Nunnally sort of thing. Yet, all Tatsuya is content to do is let the Yotsuba run rampantly and control his sisters' life while he sits there and knowingly does nothing. Doesn't make any sense when you square it with this idea that he loves and cherishes his sister above all else, and would do anything for her. Anyone right now would be taking steps to protect her in his position. Also his whole repressed emotions due to brain damage/operations thing would not guarantee him the whole placid as a stone wall thing...he would get embarrassed, flustered, nervous, and all the other regular normal emotions like highschoolers, just without anger, rage, lust, hate, happiness, love, bliss, or pride. So, he would have women he likes or feel the need to date or stuff, just not like marry. Yet, he never shows any of this, which either means that the damage is more extensive than anyone thought, or the author is making an oopsy. I think You-know-who made a big oopsy. 

spoilers end

So, at times also you notice they give large explanations for the magic and techniques and science that really disrupt the flow of the story, and make some characters seem dumber than they are jus to provide explanation. Third years in a magic high school should know what some basic techniques first years can use, and not have everything explained to them. Especially the daughter of the head of one of the Ten Master Clans and a Student Council President, for Christs' sake. It's funny how sake and sake (the drink) are spelled the same way.

So, the story is really bad, and doesn't go anywhere, acts like a normal shounen, and provides some lovely horrible cognitive dissonance by throwing in horrible scientific explanations in the middle of a battle scene that disrupt the battle or character development.

Animation: 10/10 

Ishida Kana did a wonderful animating and designing these characters, and I applaud their wonderful work they did. I look forward to seeing whatever they do again, and I sincerely hope they do more.

The animation was smooth, clean, and flawless, and I really liked it. However, for all the hyping up of these battles, they felt and looked certainly more disappointing than I felt they were in the light novels, which is always pretty bad.

Sound:7/10 


So, yeah, the sound wasn't amazing. Motoyama Satoshi I feel didn't really put his best effort for this, as I heard the same techno soundtracks over and over often times when I felt a more orchestral or quieter, lullaby like piece would have worked and his openings and endings weren't exactly wowing either. I mean, they weren't exactly Aldnoah.Zeros' Heavenly light by Kalafina, so I wasn't really impressed. 

Characters:5/10

The characters were honestly, at the end, rather okay. They weren't really much to write home about, as you had all the typical types that typically conglomerate within highschool anime, such as the bookish, glasses characters, the outgoing wild tsundere? type, the dull and bland protagonist who is hyped up, and the slightly idiotic muscle for brains characters, and the bro-con imouto. Everything is all there, and any real potential these characters is lost among the sea and waves of pointlessly making Tatsuya look awesome, to the point several characters are forced out of characters to look so. 

SO, all in all, the characters could be better, but if you like cliches and the taste of cardboard, which is not all that charming after eating the equivalent in hospital food, then you might like this. 

Overall:4/10


Eh, Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei or the Irregular at Magic High School certainly deserves a look if you're down on your luck for want of better anime, but this certainly not the best by any stretch of the imagination. If you want something worth investing time and money in this season, check out so far Zankyou no Terror, Tokyo Ghouls, or even the aforementioned Aldnoah Zero seems to be of worthier time than this. BUt, if you are of the gentler pursuits in life, then I must recommend Glasslip which seems to be so far cultured towards those of the more peaceful variety. 

4/10 story
10/10 animation
7/10 sound
5/10 characters
4/10 overall
SAsaad's avatar By on Apr 21, 2015

The anime has 3 arcs the first 2 arcs are awesome but the third arc and the ending was disappointing. The anime lacked the background story because of which you will not understand few thing. I really recommend people who like watch action packed anime this will be a worth watching anime and I believe the main character is sooo overpowered that he can beat Goku you will really enjoying watching the main character as he is as intelligent as L and more powerful than any character I have ever seen.

The series really have alot of potential and I really hope they dont mess up in its second season.

6/10 story
9/10 animation
9/10 sound
8/10 characters
7.5/10 overall
staffordshire's avatar By on Dec 21, 2014

This one started very well, good amount of action and fighting. but half way through it got very slow and hard to watch. It picked up some pace at the end but still the story is unfinished like most of the animes.

For me, anime that has a cool self confident main character and enough action in the story is the best. I like that there are no awkward slow and almost dead characters that are shaking all the time and can bearly talk.

There is no romance in this anime (despite awkward brother and sister relationship) and no ecchi scenes. also no emotional scenes. 

All in all this anime is ok.  animations are very good, story is ok.

7/10 story
9/10 animation
9/10 sound
10/10 characters
8/10 overall
Roksi's avatar By on Oct 17, 2014

This is not really a show as much as it is an adaptation. I haven't read the original novel, but this show cuts corners. Big time.

The world is vast and deep. The characters are great, except for a few minor annoyances. Most characters are relateable on some level, and even with this big of a cast, most have distinct personalities. Even the main plots are interesting and captivating. The animation is above average, as is the voice acting.

However, it ends up being one of the most anticlimatic shows, most likely due to scriptwriting or directing. Adapting a vast story into an anime like this definitely requires dropping stuff out, but this show drops exactly the wrong aspects. They left in excessive amounts of bro-conning and technical mumbojumbo. I expect that in the novel, the cast isnt actually immortal like in the show. There is absolutely no worrying over these people, even while being cool, it isn't thrilling. It's obvious that the cast, even being shot at, wont die. Even if they get killed, they wont die. Even if the whole freaking world was banished, they'd probably find a way to survive that, in two seconds.

Great story told badly.

4/10 story
8/10 animation
8/10 sound
8/10 characters
6/10 overall