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ThatAnimeSnob

  • Thessaloniki, Greece
  • Joined Dec 22, 2011
  • 42 / M

LIGHT NOVELS ARE GARBAGE

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 the anime fandom refuses to accept light novels as the garbage they are, and on top of that keeps hyping them as masterpieces.

TROLL PREMISE

The first failure comes from the premise itself, which keeps telling you it’s about discrimination. For a society that runs on meritocracy, all mages are 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.

TROLL PROTAGONIST

The same thing happens with the main character, who is considered to be weak and useless, thus disliked by everybody… only to contradict this statement a hundred times throughout the show by making him OVERPOWERED AS HELL! They try to make him seem like his magic potential is low and thus belongs in the lower caste, because magic evaluations are not done properly. We are supposed to feel sorry for the guy, and cheer for him as he tries his best to improve and gain everybody’s respect. And then we find out he has mastered so many types of martial arts and magical combinations that he can LITERALLY defeat anyone in half a second, while LITERALLY resurrecting and rebuilding anything he likes. He doesn’t even gradually learn most of these powers; he begins right away by having mastered everything. The sympathy we are supposed to show for the underdog is a troll.

EMPOWERMENT FANTASY

This is explained as Tatsuya being essentially wish fulfillment for introverts. The audience is supposed to feel something like this: “We are special and awesome, but our society doesn’t appreciate us, and 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.” The problem with this concept, is that there is no build up to the conflicts. If the threats are so easy to overcome, then there is no tension, and no reason to praise the protagonist. He doesn’t achieve something, as much as simply doing it without trying. His opponents never stand a chance, and thus you feel they are the victims, and Tatsuya is the bully. And yet I have seen thousands of people praising such a terrible thing, because it is basically swapping the roles of the bully with that of the bullied, and passes like a twisted type of empowerment fantasy, where you are punishing the bullies with their own medicine.

BORING PROTAGONIST

Even if you try to see it that way, it is still very hard to like the whole thing, since it is boring to have an OP character that wins all the time. Other stories will try to make it seem like the MC can die, 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 what the plot is about, there is no emotional investment, since you know exactly what will happen, and you are simply waiting to see how it will happen.

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.”

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 liberty or some bullshit. The awesome protagonist wipes them all out without even bothering to smirk. Do you see a pattern here?

UNRELATABLE PROTAGONIST

It is also impossible to get to like him. He has no emotions whatsoever, and the only time he has fun, is when he wants to make incest jokes about his sister. What kind of a madman would like that sort of a character? And apparently the anime community is full of madmen because there are thousands who love this unbeatable incestuous robot.

TECHNOBABBLING NONESENSE

But wait, there is more to it. This show is supposed to appeal to pretentious overthinkers as well, since there is a lot of technobabble about the magic system used in the show. They have a lot of terminology that is supposed to be making sense of what never makes sense, because it’s magic. And even if you find cool all the pseudo scientific stuff they say regarding that, there are still two major problems.

DON’T TALK, SHOW IT

First, explanations take up a ridiculous amount of time and bore you to death. For a setting that is all about mages and battles, there is very little actual fighting going on in it. Every battle is essentially a few seconds long, followed by half an hour of people standing still and infodumping stuff about what happened. Where is the fun in that? I understand that it works much better in text form, since time stands still when you read something. This doesn't work in the adaptation because we can tell how much time it takes to say something.

TROLL LIMITATIONS

And second, even if you manage to stay awake through the explanations, you will just have Tatsuya breaking the rules and doing stuff nobody else can. Why do you think he is unbeatable? Because he uses strategy? No, it’s because he cheats the very system they waste hours explaining. There is nothing strategic or smart about whatever he is doing.

OVERSHADOWED CAST

These issues expand like a plague and damage other aspects of the show. Since half of what you see is people explaining stuff, only to be broken ten minutes later by Tatsuya, and the other half is Tatsuya casually wiping out anybody who stands in his way, there is no time left for fleshing out any of the other characters, and there sure is nothing they can do that Tatsuya can’t do himself, faster and better. The only moments a character other than Tatsuya is able to speak or fight, are the only moments Tatsuya is bored, or not around.

INCESTUOUS SISTER

The only other character that gets some spotlight other than Tatsuya, is his sister, and only because she is constantly next to him, making incest jokes that are not meant to be taken seriously, but we all end up imagining hentai out of them regardless. She is TOTALLY obsessed with him, repeating the word “onii-sama” at least a dozen times per episode. She doesn’t want any other girl near to him, and attacks other boys who antagonize him. She is also constantly presented as the perfect girl every male would want as his girlfriend. Meaning, she becomes waifu bait, and exists to fuel the empowerment fantasies even further.

MEANINGLESS DRAMA

Holy shit light novel authors, you are making people who are not into that crap to cringe, you know? I understand that you want your protagonists to be a perfect self insert all girls want to bang. But their sisters as well? And no, throwing in some drama about the magic families treating badly their children doesn’t fix the problem; because down to it we are here to see Tatsuya kicking ass, and his sister stalking him before she eventually seduces him and they have lots of deformed demigod babies.

IN CONCLUSION

The saddest part is that the budget is actually very high. Madhouse is the king of anime studios, and yet not even that could save the show from being bad. If you want to watch it just for the pretty colors and the teen empowerment, it is satisfactory on a very 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, into an abomination we will always be using as an example of what a bad anime is all about.

P.S.

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

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CyanRyanN64 Jul 5, 2023

I'm sick of your trash ass reviews like damn

SaganKhajiit May 10, 2022

Dude. Who hurt you?

RibenDeguoHePutaoya Oct 12, 2020

While I can definitely agree on some of the points you make here I feel this review has a major flaw that needs addressing.

This may be a flaw in the computer system assigning the review to all related material or it might not be, but to apply a review discussing the merits and demerits of a LN to an anime is ridiculous, as is the reverse. While they may be reviewed equally poorly there will always be differences that may make the key distinction between one being acceptable and one being worthless. 

I also rather enjoy this ANIME because while the points you discuss are generally true, the purpose in this show is not focused on the protagonist's mental or physical development, but his emotional struggles and ultimately the conflict he faces with his origins. I think they make it very clear that he is basically trapped in the control of people who only desire to use him for their personal gain. This story is focusing on his overcoming that control to remain an individual rather than a tool. Without the overpowered origins he would not be able to fulfill this role.

As far as the "unnecessary" cast system goes you have in essence established that the protagonist is a unique and overwhelming figure compared to his peers. As a point his creativity and intellect are most certainly considered genius. When put in this light the other students have generally shown thus far that they cannot compare with their better tested peers. It is not their lack of potential but their lack of fulfilling their potential that has created the system. The great revelation of this discrepancy is first demonstrated by the protagonist, but if it were only him then it would chalk up to an unexpected outlier. Thus the plot of him basically handing out the guidance that his fellow weeds need to attain their potential  and reveal the system's flaw. It's purpose is also to mirror reality, as despite claims otherwise there continue to be castes established based on flawed principles that will eventually lead to discrimination. If I'm not mistaken there are Japanese schools in very similar circumstances to those presented here. The intention was never to create turmoil but note those who had greater potential based on the focus of their tests. However there is no possible way to fairly test all possible skills and rank a group of individuals accordingly and any attempt to do so will inevitably lead to discriminatory prejudice of one form or another.

Artrain Aug 10, 2020

Haha I can't believe you'd reviewed this anime so long ago. I guess I expected something like this to be beneath your notice. Your reviews are generally bang on and this one's no different. Love it.

Sadly, I actually liked this anime and got sucked into the whole LN business. Until it dragged on to the point there I hated it (that was when the incestuous bit stopped being a joke and became a reality). I was like "what the fuck are writers thinking these days? Blatant incest pandering?! This is just fucking crazy for anything thats not hentai".

Anyway that happened at v.16, but just to go on this show alone, I loved it. Personally I love overpowered characters. And I love characters that show little emotion. And this had both put together in one! The shows that do something like that are something I can count on one hand (well, also considering the genre of anime that I like).

Are overpowered emotionless "robot" main characters really bad? This is something that I hear a lot in book reviews also. "Oh that character is too powerful!" "Oh he's just too calm in front of danger, there's no feeling of tension!" I guess fiction is a different sort of drug to different people, but I never watch or read fiction to feel tension or anxiety or any of that shit. I generally watch and read something because I want to stumble across something new. Something I hadn't thought of or seen before. I want to be amazed. I want to be inspired. And thats why I hate ordinary characters in any story. Whats the point of them? An ordinary person has nothing to teach me. He lives or dies I don't care. Sure there'll be tension and apprehension because I don't know if he'll succeed or fail, but that to me is just momentary feeling. A cheap thrill if you will. What will stay with me much longer is if he shows a path to success that I hadn't considered before.

Sure you'll say that Tatsuya isn't showing us any path, he's just breaking all the rules and hacking his way out of danger, and thats true on the "magical" level. But being physically fit, being emotionally stable and unprovokable, those are things I find I aspire to, lazy bastard that I am. Its only characters like these who can give me the "kick" I need no matter how much others resent them (incestuous inclinations aside).

Anyway I just went on a rant there to bring in my point of view of why ultrapowerful emotionless characters are not bad per se in response of your strong criticism of them. I feel like trashing them is like listening to Chopin play and saying "whats the fun in that? The guy can fucking play anything! I'd rather listen to someone who screws up the notes cause it'd feel more exciting and realistic!"

crosszess Jul 24, 2020

your review is shitty.