Summary of Mahouka Koukou Rettousei Episode 1
- It is the start of a new year at First Magic High school and Tatsuya and his sister, Miyuki, are there for the opening ceremony. Miyuki goes off and Tatsuya wanders around, bumping into the student council president. After a brief talk, he goes to attend the opening ceremony and meets some of his classmates-to-be as well. Returning home after the day, they talk about their parents. The next day they head out to a shrine to have a showdown with an acquaintance who happens to be a shinobi master. After Tatsuya getting defeated, they head to school and make it through the second day, only to have it end in a fight between students belonging to different castes.
- I have to admit that I don’t generally like anime that involves magic and school. In this case, however, last year I stumbled upon the translation of the light novel this anime is based on and I was hooked; I read through the volume available on the net like wildfire devours a forest in drought. So when I saw in the Spring 2014 anime charts that this is going to get an adaptation, I got curious. As I have read on several sites anime-related, light novel adaptations generally tend to suck and people badmouth them all the time (I’m looking at you, Sword Art Online). I don’t really care though what preconceptions others may have about this series, I’m giving Mahouka a blank slate. I suppose I’ll highlight differences or similarities between the anime adaptation and the light novels when it’s of relevance, but that’s it. I’ll try to keep my posts spoiler-free.
- This opening episode was kinda slow. We got to meet some of the cast around our sibling pair, but not much of the world was introduced save for a brief skit about how magic put an end to World War III. Speaking about the political situation in our futuristic world, take a look at the map below (emphasis mine):
Most of the stuff is not so far-fetched, for example, African nations uniting or Russia annexing former members of the USSR, and so on. World War III (let’s hope it won’t happen in our lifetimes) is probably going to be focused on natural resources, and the opening sequence is using exactly this scenario. That was one of the things I liked about the novels – the explanations about various things felt realistic. Obviously the magic is not realistic no matter how much explanation you are willing to write to back it up, though the classification system the author invented is admittedly nice and thorough.
- There are quite a few students it seems, and we are introduced a caste system of more capable students called Blooms and less capable students nicknamed Weeds. Our protagonist – not surprisingly – falls into the latter category.
This didn’t come as surprising as lots of anime portray division of people or students or whatever into castes. What was surprising though is that Miyuki speaks to her brother with so much deference. I lost count of how many times she said oniisama. Thinking back about the novels I always had the feeling they stood on more (though not completely) equal footing. Some may think this is because of the clichéd portrayal of relationship between siblings and they might not be incorrect – Miyuki does show the usual signs of an imouto bearing forbidden affections toward her older brother.
And there is the scene where even Erika starts to question what is going on between those two.
I don’t really care about incestuous relationships, but there is more that meets the eye and I hope it will be explained in the coming episodes. I could do without the unnecessary blushing though.
- Speaking of clichés, there was this student council guy who hates the guts of Tatsuya for no apparent reason.
Come on, Madhouse, was this necessary? I can sort of predict that he’s bound to see the error of his ways sooner or later – probably after getting out of some difficult situation or having been forced to actually talk to Tatsuya and get to know him – and they reconcile and become inseparable friends or something like that.
- There are some deep family issues in the background, seeing how Miyuki refers to their parents as “those people”. Tatsuya decodes the reference as “Dad and Sayuri-san”, hinting at the existence of a stepmother (or a remarriage). It was interesting to see how Miyuki’s emotions get riled up when she confirms that her father ignores her brother as usual. She almost lost control of her mage powers and froze the entire kitchen. I don’t remember this scene in the novels as this emotional, but it was nicely done: we got a glimpse of their background and their current problems at the same time. Between the two of them, Miyuki is the emotional one and Tatsuya is the always cool and calculating type – or that’s how the anime should portray them anyway.
- There were quite a few unexplained things in this episode which I hope will be explained in detail in the next episodes: what a CAD is, what spirit particles are, the scene when they run uphill, and so on.
- Did I mention that the uniforms look ugly as hell? You’d think that at the end of the 21st Century function would prevail over form, but alas, that’s not the case here – evidenced by the school building itself. At least they could’ve gone with some other colour than turquoise which makes my eyes bleed.
- Tatsuya should be some kind of computer genius; even when at home, he’s happily hacking away at his laptop. When in school on the second day, he answers Leo’s question about why using the keyboard as “it’s faster this way”. Come on, if it’s really that fast, shouldn’t you be able to do it with a few keyboard shortcuts? There should be no need to continually type at your keyboard just to view what classes you’re going to have – and you should’ve confirmed it anyway when applying for school. So this scene seemed kind of pointless to me – its only purpose was to underline how much of an avid keyboard user he was! Oh, wait a minute… we get to meet Leo this way. I retract my previous statement: it did have some other, albeit convoluted purpose…
Not too surprisingly Leo and Erika get in a row. Yet another cliché. Two of the side characters must always be constantly bickering. I predict they’ll make a cute couple later on.
- The episode ends with all of them getting into a fight with students who are also in the first year, but in the advanced course (or First Course as they call it). Tatsuya, being able to analyze even the intentions of his enemy at a glance, predicts that something pretty bad will happen – the First Course students are going to use magic, despite invoking it is forbidden on school grounds. He doesn’t need to act though as the student council intervenes just in time and the conflict will be resolved, I guess, in the next installment of the series.
If I hadn’t read the novels beforehand, even I could’ve been able to guess that Tatsuya is hiding some awesome power up his sleeves. For example he gets really afraid of Mizuki when he notices her ability to see spirit particles. It remains to be seen what exactly is he capable of, but you bet it’s going to be awesome and an ultimate power.
- To sum it up, I’m not sure if I liked this introduction episode or not; I have very mixed feelings even after watching it a second time. The pacing somehow felt too slow and there were some elements that felt forced and out of place. Even though this is the first episode, the visuals were sometimes odd — for example Tatsuya’s head being way out of proportion when he scolds Miyuki before the ceremonial speech. There were, on the other hand, some things I liked: the quick-and-to-the-point introduction of the world this anime takes place in, the subtle hint at the siblings’ problems at home and Erika is a nice character to see. I hope Madhouse’s presentation of the story will improve in the coming episodes…