OP Sequence

OP: 「閃光のPRISONER」 (Senkou no Prisoner) by 南里 侑香 (Nanri Yuuka)

「真夏の魔法少女」 (Manatsu no Mahou Shoujo)
“Midsummer Magical Girl”

After watching this first episode, I must say that Mahou Sensou’s introduction leaves much to be desired. There is potential here—the first and last few minutes demonstrate this—but when a majority of the episode ends up lacking in one way or another, you’re going to be fighting an uphill battle in terms of overall impressions.

Indeed, the episode does start off on the right note. The premise previously stated that our main character possesses a dark past of some sort, and the wordless exchange we see between Nanase Takeshi and the rest of his family manages to capture that vibe quite well. We see right off the bat that things aren’t right between him and his family and the subsequent dialogue supports this notion as well. There’s an air of mystery that engages you off the bat and Aiba Mui just falling out of a door put a slightly freaky twist on the generic “boy meets girl” moment we usually get in introductory episodes like these. Sadly however, subsequent developments end up hampered by a variety of issues.

First and foremost, the was animation was a hit and miss. I’m not sure if it’s just because of the style they decided to go with here, but there were a fair amount of scenes throughout that ended up looking bland (or outright terrible), which is something that doesn’t bode too well for an action/fantasy series such as this. To top things off, the action itself didn’t do much in terms of engagement either. The group of bad guys that end up chasing Aiba Mui to the “Living World” were underwhelming power-wise, and ended up being walk-overs instead of the “badasses” they seemed like they should’ve been. This is explained in part by the fact that they can’t use magic unless they’re in the alternate “Magical World,” and it’s compounded by the fact that Takeshi ends up receiving abilities of his own… but this doesn’t change the fact that it’s anticlimactic when two of the three bad guys essentially beat themselves and the third one ends up being defeated by a mere beam of light.

It also takes a bit of disbelief to get over the fact that a kendo sword is capable of fending off a steel one, and while it possibly could be explained by “magic,” it would be one of many things with convenient explanations here in this first episode. Exposure to magic just so happens to turn normal humans into magicians, usage of magic in the “Living World” just so happens to cause you to lose all your magic (if you’re fighting other magicians*), it just so happens that Aiba Mui’s original gunshot doesn’t trigger this effect because Takashi wasn’t a magician yet at the time—the list goes on. That said, these aren’t big issues in the long run—I can accept these explanations because they do make logical sense—but it feels like the explanations aren’t so much here to establish Mahou Sensou’s world as it was the other way around. That is, it feels more so that the world was created based around the sequence of events written for this introduction, rather than the other way around. It’s just too convenient, and that’s what ends up irking me about the whole thing—especially the bit where the enemies actually state themselves that they should not use magic, yet end up using it anyway. Not only that, but this contradictory choice end ups up causing them to self-destruct AND gives the rest of our main cast magical powers. It’s not great writing, and many of the developments (and characters) end up noticeably generic as well.

With that said, I do have to note that again, there is potential here. I know I’ve spent a vast majority of this post pointing out things I perceived as flaws, but I do know that at least a portion of the qualms I had were subjective nit-pickings that not everyone will feel, and there were a few bits the show did do well. As such, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t watch this show. It just means that one shouldn’t read too much into this first episode. At the same time, one should also be sure to temper one’s expectations here with this show, because it’s highly unlikely that we’ll be getting a masterpiece. It could however, end up being another kind of Strike the Blood or Tokyo Ravens, which wouldn’t be bad at all. Both are solid series with generic elements that do a good job within its given medium, and it’s possible that Mahou Sensou ends up that way as well. It just has a bit more of an uphill climb than the other two had. Oh yeah, did I ever mention how much I love nano OP/ED themes?


ED Sequence

ED: 「Born to be」 by nano



  1. Your post pretty accurately sums up my feelings after this first episode. The premise has potential to be interesting if a bit generic, but seemingly endless line of coincidences and nonsensical actions on the part of our foes really hurts the delivery.

    Here’s to hoping that it will be only the set-up that is executed so clumsily, and that once things get going they do so in a bit more immersive and believable fashion.

  2. Gotta say the first episode for this series really impressed me and made me want more. I’m definitely looking forward to the next one. Now if getting magic powers was that easy I wished it would happen to me lol.

    Nanase power was pretty bad ass and epic and even without his powers he was still kicking ass. He has some serious swordplay skill.
    I do wish that they would of showed Ida taking on that girl but did he get his powers from her or was it from being around Mui and friends?
    Isoshima magic = plot not that Im complaining lol

    Also the way they look when they lose their magic is really graphic and sick but you know what I loved it! xD

  3. I think I’m going to continue watching the show. I like the premise of magic and though of course how the story was told was kind of odd, I felt entertained and relaxed.

    And Zephyr I think some of your points accurately described how there are notable flaws with the show; however, the show did a adequate job explaining plot points like how magicians can’t hurt other magicians with magic(in which they have to rely on their skills rather than just depend on magic). Generally, the shows is kind of unbalanced with its development and pace, but it does a fair amount toward giving the rough idea how their world works and the purpose of the Ghost Trailers.

    *Not a well-done introduction, but in my opinion, enjoyable to watch and I like the concept of their magic

  4. A slight correction.

    It’s not that magic can’t be used in the Living World, period (otherwise Takeshi and the others would’ve instantly lost their newly-gained magic powers the moment they were inadvertently used), but that a magician can’t use their magic to attack another magician in the Living World, which is what that one guy did (his magical insect-style attack hitting Mui, the magician, and Kurumi), hence, he lost all his magic as a result.

    It’s why Mui didn’t lose her magic when she shot at Takeshi; Takeshi wasn’t a magician when she did (but became one afterwards by being exposed to her magic).

    It’s also probably why Takeshi and Mui were able to do what they did at the end; Takeshi’s Evasive Magic simply allowing him to dodge attacks, not actually do any attacking himself, and Mui’s shot being just a blinding flash of light that gave Takeshi the opening to finish the fight, but not actually any sort of “attack” in itself.

    Though, I do wonder in terms of Hotaru being passed out. The explanation seemed way too short and simple to buy. I mean, she attacks the friend and she just “suddenly passed out”? Unless we get an explanation then…yeah…unless the friend was already a magician (he certainly LOOKS like someone who could be one) and his surprise at magic being just an act, which would explain Hotaru being passed out; using her magic to attack him, unknowing that he was a magician, thus lost her magic as a result.

    But otherwise, yeah, the whole bit with Takeshi fighting with a kendo sword against a large steel one was really WTF for me too as not only was there real sharpness, but also weight (both the sword AND the guy wielding it) behind the strikes. I can’t even accept it being magic unless there was someone (hidden and) reinforcing it with magic or something given Takeshi still had no real clue about magic, much less how to use and control it. It just felt like some lame attempt to make him seem cooler and more important (plot-armor).

    1. Ah yeah, I put the magicians lose powers thing and the exception together in the same sentence, but I guess it does come off a bit unclear. Lemme go add in “versus magicians” for more clarification. But yeah, I felt that the latter “flash of light” wasn’t exactly offensive magic, which is why it gets an exception.

      Again though, the fact that that’s an exception too, and the fact that Hotaru’s explanation doesn’t make sense unless he’s a magician too… then it’s just too darn convenient. It really does seem like the rules were just made up based on something already written for this episode, and the world came secondary. Or they just conjured up rules that wouldn’t violate what they already established to try and fit it here in this intro. I wouldn’t be surprised if they never end up returning to the Living World and exploring these rules and these exceptions again.

    2. AFA, the fight goes, I see it as the right idea, wrong tools. I agree that a shinai isn’t going to stand up against that blade (whatever it’s supposed to be), but a katana, against a wooded weapon, can be defeated. For example, here and here. The side of the katana is it’s weak point and can be bent or broken with the right strike.

      1. when I first saw him take up the shinai, I was hoping he’d do more parries cause that would make sense. except he blocks full on against a weapon heavier than a katana as you described. so this fight was a bit of a turn off for me but I’m with Zephyr on overall impressions for now. hopefully less nonsensical and convenient things happening.

      2. daikama
  5. Hopefully this anime doesn’t fall off. As you mentioned, there is a ton of potential and we’ll probably have a better idea of the anime at that point. On another note, Nano – Born to Be <3333333 and power to increase the size of her bust? YES!

  6. Not the best first episode I’ve watched this season…but good enough to keep me around at least another 1 or 2 episodes. Agree that this show has some potential. Hopefully we’ll see more of that next episode and the remainder of the season.

  7. I thought that the mage-girl in the preview was pretty funny, because she was asking the viewers what they thought of the show, waited, and then aacted as if the audience answered her question. What is she, Dora the freaking Explorer? Incidentally, my answer on whether I enjoyed it was ‘yes, but for all the wrong reasons’.

    Because, really, so many elements of this show came off as contrived, dumb and just plain badly written (you list quite a bunch of them already) that I had a blast of a time riffing the whole thing. It’s so generic you could make a drinking game out of recognizing the cliché’s, and for some reason I just burst into laughing the moment I saw the dude with the Final Fantasy sword show up. Nice OP and ED though.

    So I honestly couldn’t say I was bored, and I might stick with this. If the show does magically turn better, then yay for me. If not, well, at least I can’t be dissapointed.

  8. The difference between this first episode of this show and the first episodes of Strike the Blood and Tokyo Ravens was that I, like Zephyr noted as well, ended up noticing the small flaws in the story instead of being drawn into the world and being pleasantly surprised like I was with the latter two shows’ premiers last season. I still liked it enough to keep watching, so I’ll give it a chance. Hopefully they can recover from a somewhat shaky first episode.

  9. Definitely the only show with ultra dumb villains of the season. If you know that you can lose you magic power by attacking civilians, why risk it? And i freaking want to know why the main dude’s bamboo sword capable of parrying metal blade o easily.

  10. usage of magic in the living world just so happens to cause you to lose all your magic

    It’s actually not the usage itself that causes them to lose their magic, it’s using it against a fellow magician. That’s why Mui chastised her brother because she thought he was aiming for her and why he brushed her off with saying he was only blocking her exit. I would assume this is some kind of safety measure to ensure magic users don’t go off to the normal world to settle fights with each other so they can do it in secret or something.

    It was an okay start to the series I suppose. One thing that boggles my mind is that this is supposed to be an action series and yet… the opening is just horrendously bland. The music’s alright, but those visuals… I expected more of Madhouse.

    But then the ending kicked in and all was right with the world once again. F*ck yeah! Nano!

  11. I think by far the oddest moment for me was when Mui pulls out a gun and shoots at Takeshi, and he barely reacts. I mean, it’s not like he would think it’s a fake gun. There was a bang, and an enormous crater with a hole in the center appeared in the wall behind him. You would expect some shock and fear, but for all I could tell he’s perfectly used to people trying to kill him.

    That happened about six minutes in, and I couldn’t let go of his weird lack of reaction the entire rest of the episode.

  12. Cramming entire volume in one episode, fucked up character designs and voice acting, removed any sort of character interactions and explanations as well.

    With “quality” by Madhouse, this is one of the worst series to air for this Winter.

    For anime-only viewers, don’t even waste your time on this junk.

  13. Seems like everything was too convenient. Fighting against magical baddies? Don’t worry, some little girl will accidentally give you magic powers. What’s more convenient is that the magic she gave you will help you beat the baddies and won’t make you break the rule of using magic against magicians. Then 2 stupid magicians who knows the rule turns your friend and girlfriend into magicians and stupidly uses magic against them and self destructs.

    Well, 3 episode rule.

    P.S. This seems very similar to Strike the Blood in terms of characters. A semi Loli underclassman, a cute innocent looking girlfriend (classmate in Strike the Blood), and a passive “calm and cool” MC.

    The Story You Don't Know
  14. I at least like the fact that the MC had a girlfriend already, which gives it a far better chance of going the love triangle/one relationship route instead of the neverending harem that Strike the Blood has.

    I agree completely that on its own (even with the generic shounen parts we’ve seen far too often) that it should easily be entertaining enough to watch. Most shounen fantasy/action shows are generic, but at least good enough to watch each week. This doesn’t feel too much like Strike the Blood in terms of characters, and it does seem to have a central story that strike the blood is missing. Maybe more Kyoukai no Kanata (which prob isn’t the best thing for it to be). Strike the blood feels way too much like a To aru majutsu no index rip off: way too large of a harem which the MC is absurdly oblivious of, different enemies to fight every 4-6 episodes that are essentially unrelated, while you can sense a plot in the background in general its far too slow moving to be anything but a series of new random villains to face off with in order to gain another harem member, MC gets verbally/physically abused by his harem for ridiculous misunderstandings (not to mention labeled a pervert), and it all started when a younger girl decided to insert herself into his life. Not that I didn’t enjoy Index as a show, but it left a lot to be desired in the plot advancement department. (Though I think it’s bc it ended before the parts of the LN that actually answer the questions that fighting the first bunch of enemies brought up.

    Hopefully Mahou Sensou doesn’t go that route and we can get a real story and not just action/harem which makes most fantasy shows so mediocre.

  15. Perhaps I am too cynical but all I could think was “What a bunch of crap” during Mui’s tearful lamentation in the middle of the episode. She knew the consequences of using magic near “muggles” yet still chose to point and fire her gun at someone… Even if she didn’t know if he was magician or not, shooting blindly is still an idiotic decision because of the whole “lose your magic if you attack another magician in the normal world” thing. I guess the show wants the viewers to sympathize with her but I find it incredibly hard to do so when she is clinging to the idiot ball with all her might. Then again, there seems to be a large surplus of idiot balls which the “villains” are completely happy to pick up.

  16. Oh god! It’s so bland, the only thing that seriously made me react were:

    1. SAO-like OP
    2. The steel-like bamboo sword(as tough as real Japanese katana, bamboo folded over 1000-times, can block metal swords and cause sparks like a metal sword does)
    3. Boobs magic!

    The OP seriously spoiled the part where everyone gets magic as well. This show has potential but episode one is a fail no matter how you cut it.

    5/10, I’m giving this the 3 episode rule hoping it gets better.

  17. So one episode in and the main character has already murdered someone?

    I mean a hit straight to the throat like that likely just collapsed the sword guys trachea, especially considering he coughed up so much blood afterward. They left him slowly suffocating in his own blood.

    Most main characters would have gone for a less lethal kind of knock out…

  18. “It also takes a bit of disbelief to get over the fact that a kendo sword is capable of fending off a steel one”

    i guess you forget or dont know about Gintoki’s bokuto (Gintama)

  19. Man, I always tell myself to not expect much from most series, and it has worked, but why does anime have to mess around with me when I actually do keep my expectation, I was thinking this was going to a hell of a ride, and although it was interesting and shows some promise, it just kinda missed the mark for me. the setting is one thing that looks like it looks pretty interesting and I kinda want to see how the anime is going to use this to the fullest, but the plot and story telling was definitely lacking. I mean they had a 4v2 and the villains just went brain dead and said hey let’s 1v1 them when we could easily overpower them 4v2 and bamboo sword vs real sword, don’t get me started. and what happened to her brother, the 3 magician were defeated and the brother is nowhere to be found. and also, how convenient is it to receive magic so easily without even a little injury (except the girl) and the villains, why would they use magic when they know what’s going to happen and they will lose their magic? overall, I just felt the progressions in the first episode felt too convenient, although I am usually lax on most convenient progression, not sure why this appeared to bother me, but too many logic flaws. animation wise, I don’t know if it’s just me but I felt it was off, especially coming from madhouse(I’m assuming seeing their logo in the ending) and it felt rather low on budget or just the style looked awkward with all really weird and stiff animations. overall, I’m giving this series a chance like most anime, but I know to set my expectation lower now :3

  20. I would definitely not recommend these as ways to break the ice however.
    Unfortunately Nora Ephron recently passed away, but she left us with some of our most endearing romantic comedies of all
    time — from “When Harry Met Sally” to “Sleepless in Seattle” and “You’ve got Mail. Whether these are taken live – while you are doing a real gig – or whether you have them done on a false stage, will depend on you.

  21. Nanase = Kira Yamato
    Mui = Alice
    Isoshima = Fumino Serizawa
    Ida = Gilgamesh
    Mui’s brother = Rokudou Mukurou
    Guy with sword = Lancer
    Guy with suitcase = Mido Ban

    Anyone have other comparisons?

    Also he used reinforcement magic on the bamboo sword, how else would it stand against the guy with the sword aka Lancer? Lol


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