I have read several posts from many websites claiming the main character, Tatsuya, is a cool character. It was one of the reasons that prompted my interest in this anime. It is certain, he is a cool character. He also wonderfully lacks many of the most annoying traits so frequently seen in practically EVERY other anime, such as: perversion, stupiditiy, immaturity, harem, constant whining, being too small or feminine looking (I am not being biased, but this point gets a bit tedious when seen so freaking often), or weak, or too isolated (yet technically he is but his charisma carries him out of this natural tendency), or having annoying best friends or childhood friends. Pretty much all of the most repeated main character traits so boringly seen in so many anime as if it were not some imaginative quality but a standard rule. He breaks the mold from many of the most common lead characters. There is a bit of a bro complex desire exibited by his sister but he never demonstrates any weakness or desire to take her up on her seemingly innocent attempts to make passes or seduction. Then again, Miyuki, the sister, although she seems infatuated with her big brother constantly denies any interest beyond sibling love.
This however is one of the minor downsides to this story. The constant morally bankrupt obsession with so many studios to include overt or subtle incestuous behaviors is a bit annoying and appalling. Given that, this show at least attempts to keep it closer to a admiration sort of infatuation that though hinted at is never delved into which gives it a bit more of a innocent though admittedly slightly unhealthy and obsessive quality. Her love is so strange that she thinks of him as perhaps a adoptive father as well as a brother since she listens to anything he says or even orders of her and she often even waits for his orders. Though you might think this is a bit strange as well, it is somewhat understandable given the distance the two were pushed from their family following a tragedy.
Other characters give it plenty of that merry men feel to it without resorting to the usual but dull set of pre manufactured personalities that most other animes are more than guilty of doing. Though there are still some manufactured like elements to the characters what makes them stand out most is the lack of the most sterotypical ones such as a pervy best friend. Humor and jokes in many animes often resort to subtle or overtly adult themes with strong sexual suggestions or with strong harem overtures. Though there is a slight harem-esque mood presented here, it is only in the sense that his charisma attracts the interest of many ladies rather so much as every female character becoming so obsessed with the main that even sharing him with every other lady would be ok with them. That is not only unrealistic, but more than a bit sexist and insulting to women as well as boring because of how often this sort of set up is used in anime. That is where this show does that sort of thing right. You only get the sense that women are generally attracted to him because of his appealing characteristics rather than unreasonable and illogical obsession with no basis in reality of nearly every human to ever live.
The commraderie in general is also one of the shows strong points. The mood is fairly light, friendly, open, close knit, trusting, honest, and genuine. It feels far more natural than what I usually see in a typical anime. Characters also play off each others strengths and aid the weaknesses more than expected as well which is also a big plus.
1. There is a strong and cool central character who carries himself well and seems to always be ready to address virtually any problem yet he is not without some weaknesses which you also get to see. This makes him a well balanced lead character. He has pretty much none of the annoying stereotype lead teenage-ish male character that so many other anime shows and many mangas have. He is a far stronger, balanced, and true character. All people have their issues but the way things are so often presented as stereotypes all sense of connection to reality is frequently lost, but not here. There is just enough implied subtle hints about the background to give you a fairly strong footing and foundation to understand the story. More clues are frequently dropped through out the show such as when the commander refers to Yanagi.
2. Strong enemies that are usually hidden in a veil of secrecy. This is both a strong point and in some respects a weak point. It is a good way to present antagonists in the story but every story arc seems to follow the same pattern. There are just enough variation that it is not so clear they are really all that similar so it maybe forgiveable. There are plenty of enemies to come across but the biggest and main enemy that is constently hinted at is as yet presented in any story arc as the enemy. Though some clues are revealed as to why and how this antagonist came to be an antagonist, it is as yet unclear completely. Enemies's strengths are usually built heavily upon the discretion of their actions so that they are a good match no matter how good Shiba and his friends are. There are plenty of other types of enemies too most of which are presented in the last story arc. Even to a degree some of his friends are antagonistic at first. And here is another slight distinction, many animes often turn enemies into allies, which is in some respects fine and dandy, but here it is a bit more realistic because they are more like rivals for benevolent goals. Enemies that cross certain lines and turned to allies is a bit harder to swallow with some rare exceptions however, and it is used a bit too often in the same anime story. There is a little of that here but mostly it is as said before classmates who are either biased or rivals for attention and success, so it is not quite the same caliber which makes it a bit more unique.
3. The way things are carried from one episode to the next and one story arc to the next are pretty inspiring. There are a few little points that cross and connect one story arc to the next and one episode to the next to give it sort of a seemless like story telling feel to it.
4. The underrated also have plenty of ability. Nothing strikes a cord quite as sharply for many of us as prejudice and biases. The clash between course 1 and course 2 students is pretty hostile and you can feel the tensions oozing from under the surface from the very first show. The efforts the hero does to alleviate this are perhaps too successful even to the hero's own dismay as he did not want to stand out too much and you are often reminded of that fact. It is not really that he does not want to stand out, but that he can not stand out lest he incurs the wrath of his enemies for which he is not prepared for yet. The underdog angle is always a good way to get attention in a story because almost everyone roots for an underdog. It reveals a realistic social disarray still felt in much of the world. Then again maybe it might inspire hope that someday there will be no prejudices.
5. There is always some great climax to every story to look forward toward. Even before that, the action oriented build up with plenty of intrigue and intelligent tactical thinking plying against the forces of hostiity make for some gripping entertainment. For a man who has supposedly has no emotion to get angry enough to attack an enemy you just know that that enemy has gone too far. Perhaps his lack of emotions is a ploy or maybe he just has reduced sensitivity to them. Whatever the deal is with him and emotions, he is much harder to get any rise out of let alone anger so when you do incur his wrath you just know it will be a force to be reckoned with.
6. Strong support cast. Though some of you may debate this point. The friendly banter bounced around among the most important characters certainly gives off a fairly genuine friendship feel. Though most are course two students, there are a few course one students and staff and others who offer a friendly hand as well. The ninja teacher is probably the most pervy but two things make that not such a big deal. One, is he is a fairly minor character and not so central to the group of the most important characters. Two, he is not a total pervert. His occasional jabs at perverted behavior is not an absolute since he does not take every oppornity to act like a fool like other perverted characters. Maya (I think that was her name), or Shiba's aunt, has a bit too much mystery about her. She is one of the weaker characters at this point because of that. There are only a few hints in the series about who she is and what she is capable of doing. His father is even more of a mystery and shows up only once and very breifly at that. Leo and Chiba are almost like a comedy duo couple with implications that they act like a married couple. Miki and Crystal Eyes are more the shy introverted types and oddly enough their personalities match well to the point they compliment each other. However, Miki's social ineptness mostly comes from a single event in his past that shook his nerves and his confidence and gave rise to the person he is now.
7. Magic is not everything. Though magic is portrayed as the ultimate abilty most coveted by all the world, Shiba for one, shows that magic alone does not mean someone is bettter and that you can succeed even without it. There are more than a few other characters like Chiba that can support this argument. Chiba does perhaps the best job right in the first episode when she nearly beats the crap out of a course 1 student for insulting her. This can be extrapolated to mean other things that people think are the only or most important thing needed to succeed in life such as luck or money. I do not know if this is meant as a reference to that sort of thinking but anyone could easily infer it does.
8. Martial Arts and Ninjas. Not everyone likes fantasy or magic elements of a story which is another way this series stands out a little. Not only are there feats of martial arts and some good action close quarters combat fighting but it is revealed that some martial arts such as ninjitsu have their own form of magic that can be mastered. Shiba is apprently an expert at not just conventional military magic and magic engineering and hand to hand combat but ancient ninjitsu magic as well. This could sure be clarified a bit more however since it is left a bit fuzzy.
9. Cool under fire. Shiba never seems to lose his cool well at least when there is danger. He does seem to get a bit shaken under some social issues which he struggles to understand and sometimes dealing with the finer points of women. However when his or his friends' lives are on the line no one is more calm and collected than he is unless you were using a combat android of some type or some sort alien like a Vulcan. This fact alone makes him a pretty serious and dangerous opponent in any situation.
10. Early notoriaty. This may not seem like a big deal but because things sort of heat up pretty quickly there is little to wait for before the viewer has a good idea what he or she is in for. Within the first 3 or 4 episodes, Shiba goes from a fairly non descript unknown freshmen in the backwater known as the course 2 student body to one of the most well known and admired students in the school. He very early on shakes the very foundation that made the discriminitory atmosphere among course 1 and 2 students possible and he does it with pizzaz. When he is nominated for the displinary committee what he does to disuade protests to his nomination really sets the tone for the story. He stands out despite not wanting to just by being himself. It is almost as if, even if he did far less to get this fame, he would still achieve it. His personality simply clashes too much with immorality and social injustice such that he is automatically squared off against said challenges.
1. The single biggest downside, is the show is and certainly feels unfinished. There are far too many things and questions left lingering not to mention there is no demonstration of the aftermath as might be expected after such an epic type of tale such as seen for example in the celebration scene in Star Wars IV. With a show like this and say for example Nura, I well more than expect to see some hint of what changes among the society, culture, or among friends for the lead character or characters after their saga-esque trial. One of the reasons it is in fact expected is because both shows frequently dropped hints that there were things lingering and it is implied they would be resolved in the end but were not or not yet.
2. Some of the so called logic and pseudo-magical science really makes little to no sense such as the limit of 5 types of command. Not only that but it really does not make alot of sense how or why it should affect any other ability let alone the ability to use other magic. He clearly has a great deal of power, and probably more than anyone could ever guess or perhaps even compete against. This is also more than a bit countered more illogically by the fact that the CAD devices actually are responsible for said commands so, he would theoretically not even need to worry about 5 commands or more or less since the so called devices are supposed to handle it. It would benefit the writers and the audience a great deal more if far more thought than was put into this so that it would not sound like a conjumbled mess of political jargon. Sure he supposedly has several spells memorized but the scale or scope of what he supposedly knows measured against the full capacity of any human brain let alone one as smart as his, fails to balance out with respect to the reasoning for those limitations. Lets say, he has memorized say 10,000 spells word for word, that at least would give us, the viewer, a reasonable baseline that makes more sense than the handful of spells so far implied. Even that though realistically would not necessarily mean the limits would be full proof as logic. But that is way better than the murky understanding presented. If you said no one memorizes spells or maybe only 10, and he has 10,000, then it would have a much better and clearer indication of where he and his skills stand compared to other magic powered characters. Still, it does not add up very clearly that he would not know more common spells or be able to use them.
3. The bro-complex incestuous overtures are another low point though not as bad as some animes. To have such a thing at all is a bit odd for such a other wise good and well balanced story. The other negative point is that it is one of those things used too often and suggests a lack of creativity. We get that she loves her brother but do we really need such obvious over the top lovey dovey eyes or comments or motions every other scene they share? You can express silbling or family love just as well without going over the top or beyond certain bounderies real or implied. Though in this case they are all implied.
4. Some of the sports at the nine schools event do not make sense and seem a bit laughable and haphazardly created such as using guns to play tennis.
5. Tarus Silver's a genius but it is a pen name of not one but at least two people, or is it? This is sort of unclear. What is clear however is that Shiba owns and runs his own company which makes his character seem far more mature and in fact well older than a high school student. This disparity is confusing and nothing is offered to explain this situation satisfactorily. From this part of the story, I get the strong sense that Shiba had either already gone through high school and college or that he tested out of high school or skipped grades. It also feels like he is in fact about 27 or 28 years old. This is not only due to his relative physique but his attitude, maturity, mannerisms, speech, experience, and so on. The fact he is a military veteran also belies the reality of him being a high schooler and yes I have seen underage soldiers in many an anime (which is frankly pretty dumb and unrealistic in many ways), but it is far less likely especially in cultures like modern day Japan. There is little connection to reality when this sort of thing is unveiled. Yes there are and have been child soldiers, but they are usually the exception not the rule and they are pretty much non existant in rich first world cultures like the west and Japan. This is part of a strange system of overfocus on underage people. Bottom line is, he does not seem like a high schooler and nothing about him matches that premise so it feels like the audience is being lied to or played a fool for. They could do much to clarify this problem as well. Perhaps he is like Jon Cryer when he played a witness under witness protection whose life was put in danger so he pretended to be a high school student to hide. That angle or something similar makes much more sense for Shiba and fits him far better.
6. Romance is downplayed too much. Sure this guy is low on emotion though to say nonexistent is probably false despite his denial that he has any or only one. I know it is not really needed but there is enough hints that it should happen that you end up expecting it. It is hard to say who his true partner, significant other, and future wife is for sure, but it appears most likely to be the student body president Saegusa (not sure of spelling). The problem is, it is left hanging a bit too much to get a feel that there is anything there. It is pretty certain that Saegusa at least on her part likes Shiba, but how much is not totally clear as there is just not enough to go on. On the trip to the nine schools event, there is a implied suggestion that she blushes or something when one of her friends mentions his name. I do not need a total rewrite or something so blatant to totally change the genre to romance but if you are gonna hint at it enough to make the viewers wonder, then do not keep them in suspense for too long and throw more hints and a bit more romantic feelers into it so that we do not feel they were only teasing the viewers.
This is so close to getting a ten that it is difficult to rate. The things that hold it back however are the things it gets wrong like the bizzare bro con thing, the half hearted way powers are explained and why he can not do common magic, but most of all because it is an unifinsihed story with far too many factors left hanging in the air. Other wise it is one of the most intriguing animations I have come across. It is good enough to watch several times and still not get bored. Other top class animes I reviewed sometimes have little flaws that make watching them repeatedly a bit more challenging. The biggest thing is perhaps the strong central character and his aspiring character traits seen in few if any other story anywhere. He is almost too well put together and so perfect that you may think he is an illusion. It is not totally true he does have a few human qualities and flaws that bring him back down but you will only see them after you got to know him well enough to be awestruck by all his positive qualities. It is both nice and refreshing to see a lead character that doesn't feel like he fell off the luny bin paddy wagon before reaching the mental ward. If you seen enough animes, then you know what I mean. Alot of shows have too many flaws in the main character that it is hard to like him or her at all.