Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei – 03
「入学編III」 (Nyuugaku-hen III)
“Enrollment Part III”
More was explained, Tatsuya showed more emotions, and some great fights were had. I’d call this a great episode, except for that one scene.
This episode started out with some much appreciated exposition, which isn’t a statement you’ll find people saying often. I’m becoming more familiar with the terminology of this series, so I’m starting to get a better understanding of what’s going on. I can’t help but think it’s unnecessarily complicated sometimes though, when in reality most of what they’re doing can be directly translated to traditional magical terms (mana (psions), spells, casting times (Spell Invocation Speed), wands/focus devices (CADs), chain casting (Loop Cast System), etc). Compared to No Game No Life and Sidonia, I feel like this show suffers from not having a fish out of water character, because everyone is tossing around these specialized terms when I have no idea what they mean! Equivocation: It would be easy to explain all of this in narration, which we don’t get in anime (or aren’t getting in this one) but would in written form like in, say, a light novel. The characters using all these terms also does a good job of making it clear how skilled and knowledgeable they are, instead of them explaining things that all of them rightfully should know. I just wish they could integrate all the information into the story without making the characters seem dumb, because right now what they’re doing is making me feel dumb.
To be honest though, I feel like this is 90% symptom of this having been the Tsutomu-sensei’s first novel. It probably needed more editing to smooth things out, but since it found success anyway (likely because the later volumes were stronger, from what I’ve been hearing from some of you), it didn’t end up scuttling the whole thing. I still get that feeling of frustration sometimes though, where I can’t quite grasp what the hell they’re talking about, and that’s unpleasant.
I feel like I’m going to regret this whole section later on if I don’t add one thing – I understand how hard this is. Describing a sophisticated magic system is difficult, especially when you haven’t had a lot of practice. Trust me Tsutomu-sensei, I totally understand.
When Tests Don’t Reflect Your True Abilities
I feel like most of us have experienced this frustration before, of when you know you know something, but the test results don’t bear that story out. For some of us that’s just the occasional test – you know the subject and thought your paper was good, and it turns out it was a stinker – while for others it’s systemic. Sometimes there are individuals so unique that the system doesn’t know what to make of them, and apparently Tatsuya is one of those.
It’s not that he’s not good, it’s that he’s good at weird things they don’t test for. They test for Spell Invocation Speed (casting speed), the scale of the Magic Sequence (I’m guessing power?), and Target Data Rewriting Strength (no fuckin’ clue), all of which he’s shite at. He can read spells as they’re being cast (super rare and difficult to do), kick people’s asses with pure martial arts, and that whole thing with how he chain casted spells. As near as I understood, loop casting should only allow you to chain cast the same spell, but he was able to do it with three different spells (determined by the oscillation of psion waves, i.e. the wavelengths of pure mana) by treating the oscillation as a variable of a single spell. So it’s like casting Fireball 1, Fireball 2, and Fireball 3, which would normally be three different spells, but he was able to cast Fireball 1 three times and then modify the power of two of them on the fly to give them the effect of a Fireball 2 and Fireball 3. I think I got that. Maybe sort of perhaps. See what I mean?
Here’s the thing – it’s clear that Tatsuya is good, and it’s clear that the system doesn’t know what to do with him, and whatever the details, I very much like that message. Tests are everything – they’re flawed measurements for something else, and when we confuse the test with what its testing, we get in trouble. The tests are supposed to test a magicians strength, just as scholastic tests are supposed to test a student’s intelligence and ability, but they don’t always do that though? There are high school dropouts who have started million dollar companies, and Tatsuya is at the bottom of the school but can kick ass up and down the halls. I think this is a great theme to see in anime, especially for test-crazed Japan. It’s good to be reminded that tests don’t always mean a lot, it’s what you can truly do when the shit hits the fan that matters.
Fortunately, some people don’t care, like Mayumi, Mari, and those disciplinary committee sempai, at least eventually. And bonus points go for Mari for realizing that the tests aren’t everything, and wanting to squelch people’s annoying senses of superiority or inferiority. Good! Those are mistakes that need to be stamped out.
Suddenly, Super Incest Time!?
The episode started off shaky, got better, and then dipped hard before ending strong. This was the dip. What the fuck was all of that!? Miyuki just takes off her clothes, stands there blushing, Tatsuya stares like a creeper, and then she goes full brocon and I think kills(?) him, forcing a restart? (Plus maybe a memory wipe? I’m not sure.) I get that they’re showing that Tatsuya has some sort of auto-repair function, but that entire scene was weird, uncomfortable, and felt like it came out of nowhere. Someone who has read the LNs is going to have to explain to me what was going on there, because that was weeeeird.
Tatsuya Really Does Have Emotions
Super incest time aside, I found myself liking Tatsuya more this time because I started to see more evidence of emotions. He was actually surprised when he heard about Morisaki Shun (Oohara Takashi) joining the disciplinary committee, and he even seemed hurt by his I-will-never-acknowledge-you crap. He was also definitely surprised during super incest time, and when he got a glimpse of Erika’s oppai, he was definitely surprised. Bonus points: Tatsuya actually admitted he saw and apologized rather than lying to her! That’s the proper thing to do, anime-gentlemen. Liars never prosper.
I feel like we have a bit of a Mikakunin de Shinkoukei situation going on here, where, like with Hakuya, Tatsuya starts to work better the more time we spend with him. I hope they keep showing us hints of emotion from him so I can actually care about the big lug as more than a vehicle for punishing self righteous assholes.
Tatsuya the Anti-Mage
Speaking of, combat time! To my eyes, Tatsuya’s combat style is a combination of three things: Shirou of Fate/stay Night, Batman, and any anti-mage you care to choose. He’s a stoic martial arts master with specialized preparations (that’s Batman), he’s not good at most things but he’s very good at certain specialized things (Shirou), and the things he happens to be good at appear to be shutting down magicians. Which I love! The idea of an anti-mage main character in amid a bunch of magicians is great, because he may be weaker than them in a lot of ways, but he’s specifically tooled and trained to kick their asses. From being able to cast with two CADs at once to making his opponent’s spells fizzle, and then laying on the martial arts mastery, I reeeeally enjoyed watching Tatsuya fight. That’s the kind of full-contact magic I like, and it means he should be very good at his disciplinary committee job.
I haven’t a clue what’s next, but it looks like the enrollment arc isn’t quite over yet, so there will be at least one more episode of settling in. As for whether I’m picking this up or not, to be honest I went into this episode thinking I was going to, and then super incest time appeared and I was like fuuuuuuck. But you know what? It’s still an interesting show to write about, so I guess I’ll trust you guys. Series picked up. B-but it’s not like I’m not doing this for you or anything!
That’s a lie. I’m totally doing this for you. Be grateful! Even if it ends up delaying my book longer (I’m so slow and baaaad ;_;), I’ll blog this for you guys. N-Not that I really care about you or anything. *tsuuun!*
tl;dr: @StiltsOutLoud – Explanations were had & Tatsuya showed more emotion, plus the combat was good! If not for super incest time… #mahouka 03
- I forgot to mention exactly how Tatsuya beat Hanzo: basically he used a shun-po to get behind him, pumped raw mana into him on three different wavelengths, and that disoriented Hanzo because of his magic-sense, which knocked him out.
- Also, on Hanzo – good to see that he apologized to Miyuki after Tatsuya whooped his ass. That makes him less of a two-dimensional character, which is nice.
- Azusa-chan is so kawaii when she’s being all magic nerdy!
- By the way, this is how I feel all the time. And it is awesome ^^
- I feel like nine disciplinary committee members aren’t enough for this job, considering there was sort of a case of attempted murder this episode. I’m surprised there aren’t bodies being tossed out the front gates every week.
- Kirihara is the least interesting Sugita Tomokazu character I’ve seen in a long time. I don’t know, he just doesn’t do small-minded antagonist to me. His voice is too awesome for that!
- Disclaimer: Please do not post spoilers in the comments. If you want to talk about something that’s going to happen later, make sure to both enclose it in spoiler tags and identify (without spoiling) what it’s about beforehand, so other readers know whether to click on it or not. Also, if I ask any questions in posts, assume they’re hypothetical unless specifically noted otherwise. I don’t want to be spoiled, I just think out loud sometimes. Thank you for your understanding.
- Also, please note that I’ll be somewhat more lax on my usual post-things-as-super-fast-as-possible policy. Saturdays are still bad days for me to be blogging, so the earliest my post will come out is late Saturday night, and if I’m busy I’ll push it back to Sunday night or Monday. Basically, expect a post by Sunday night, and you’ll occasionally get it earlier or later. Thanks once again for your understanding.