「入学編II」 (Nyuugaku-hen II)
“Enrollment Part II”
I can see why Tatsuya gets on some people’s nerves. Here’s when he should, and where he works.
Tatsuya The Stoic
Tatsuya may be quite a badass, and he showed some of that this episode in his seemingly easy defeat of Student Council Vice President Hattori Gyobushojo Hanzo (Kimura Ryouhei), or as I think of him, angry Hachiken. (Sorry, couldn’t resist.) I don’t think that’s why people complain about him being overpowered, though. You don’t hear people complain about how, say, Alucard from Hellsing is overpowered, even though he’s waaaaay more overpowered than nearly every character I’ve ever seen. Why? Because Alucard has style. If a character is totally overpowered but they’re having a blast – Izayoi of Mondaiji or Sora & Shiro of No Game No Life – we don’t complain, because we’re having too much fun.
But that’s not who Tatsuya is. He’s the stoic (trope!), which works in certain situations, but doesn’t in others. (For students of philosophy, that’s little-s stoic, not capital-s Stoic. There’s a big difference.) Let’s take a Western example, the movie Gladiator. Russel Crowe’s character is a hulking mass of stoic determination, but it works because he’s under pressure the entire damn film, and it would take a stoic behemoth to not crack. But what about social situations? The lighter, school life situations that we find here in Mahouka?
There, it doesn’t work quite so well. That’s when Tatsuya comes off as a tiresome know-it-all, like when he points out that Mari must obviously cook because of her hands. First of all, that’s bullshit because I cook every damn day and I don’t cut up my hands all the time, but other than that, the stoic just isn’t interesting when there’s no pressure. Tatsuya can’t relax, and it’s no fun to see that in what should be a relaxing scene. He is better than many such characters, because A) He points out himself that he can’t get angry, which is why he’s glad that Miyuki does it for him – I respect and appreciate that self-awareness – and B) just when I’m starting to get down on him, he trolls brocon-mode Miyuki, and that’s hilarious to me. But the rest of the time he doesn’t work in relaxed situations. It’s like when he was in the magic experiment room, and he was frustrated, saying “Is this the best I can do?” I understand his frustration, but I don’t feel it, and that’s not how you get us invested in a character.
Then there are the situations where Tatsuya works. Back to my Gladiator comparison, when the pressure is on it’s fun to see Tatsuya badass his way through a bunch of fools. Hanzo was cruising for a bruising from the moment he made the idiotic assumption that no Weed could beat him – if he were smarter he would have realized that Tatsuya would have never challenged him unless he was pretty sure he would win, and that means he should have been a hell of a lot more wary – so it was great seeing Tatsuya doll the punishment out. Tatsuya is a weapon, and weapons have little place in polite company, but when the company starts getting rude and the situation turns sour, that’s what you want to have. I think that Tatsuya will be best when the tension is high. I just fear for what will happen the rest of the time. Shiroe (Log Horizon) and Toori (Kyoukaisen) had enough sheer personality to helm intricate sci-fi/fantasy worlds and work well in any situation needed, but Tatsuya doesn’t seem to have that much characters. Yet. Maybe.
Brocon Miyuki & Tatsuya’s STFU Face
I still don’t know what Tatsuya is up to here, but I’m pretty sure he wants to keep a low profile, and Miyuki constantly sticking her neck out and trying to push him to the fore doesn’t seem to be appreciated. I kept catching these STFU faces from Tatsuya, which were kind of funny to be honest. What I wish is that there would have been an earnest conversation between the two that gave us some hints into whatever the hell Tatsuya is up to, but instead all we got was him staying in faintly patronizing Onii-sama mode to reassure Miyuki. Once again, that stoic problem again. I wanted more honesty from him, more flaws, not him being strong for his imouto.
As for Miyuki, whether or not I’ll end up liking her may hinge greatly on what the meaning behind those glances she kept giving to Tatsuya. Was she asking for permission? Or is she privy to whatever Tatuya is up to and was inquiring whether her accepting would endanger his/their mission? (Don’t answer, LN readers. Remember, all questions are rhetorical.) If it’s the former, Miyuki is a weak-willed girl and I’ll be mostly done with her, so I hope it’s the latter. I like strong women, and Mahouka seems to have a lot of them – Disciplinary Chair Watanabe Mari (Inoue Marina) has already won her way into my esteem for that very reason – but Miyuki has me concerned. I want to see more steel in her spine. Seeking permission from a man isn’t cute, at least not in my book.
Last week I defended Mahouka somewhat for doing a decent job at introducing such an intricate world, but after watching the first episodes No Game No Life and Sidonia no Kishi, I’m more down on the job they’re doing here. Those two managed to smoothly integrate us into their worlds, whereas Mahouka still has unexplained exposition that’s just frustrating when you feel like you ought to know what’s going on. Now, I’m a veteran of the Kyoukaisen wars, so it hasn’t gotten even close to my tolerance level, but I understand where people’s frustration comes in here. Partially I think it’s a problem with adapting this particular source material – they would have to tweak a lot of things to introduce it more smoothly, and since a lot of the people who will buy the BD/DVDs will be LN readers, that’s not worth the time. (It’s all about the money, folks.) That doesn’t mean I’m not going to call them out on it, though. Hopefully this’ll end up as another “Once you get into it, it’s great!” stories, but it’s already lost out on the much more preferable “Watch it, it’s great!”
They left off on the most interesting part of the episode, right after Tatsuya owned Hanzo, so I’ll be looking forward to seeing them explain themselves there. Still not sure whether I’ll pick this up, but I’ll probably give Episode Three a blog and then decide. Thanks for bearing with me once again!
tl;dr: @StiltsOutLoud – Miyuki & Tatsuya get recruited, which ends with Tatsuya whooping the stuck up Vice Prez’s ass. Take that you pretentious bitch! #mahouka 02
- “Well, I do admit that it’s crossed my mind before. That if only we weren’t related by blood, I’d want her as my lover.” DUUUUUUDE, Tatsuya!! “Needless to say, I’m joking.” HAH! Well played, troll-oniisama. Well played.
- Mari is smart. If a population is always being policed by an “other” – whether it’s race, social class, or in this case, academic class – they’re going to resent them for it. They need to be policed by some of their own. That problem makes me feel right at home, unfortunately.
- I don’t know if this is correct, but I was getting Shirou (Fate/stay Night) vibes from Tatsuya’s combat abilities at the end there. If you can’t be good generally, get REALLY good at what you can do, and plan ahead/around your many weaknesses. Specialize to the hilt!
- Disclaimer: Please do not post spoilers in the comments. If you want to talk about ANY future events, make sure to both use spoiler tags and identify (without spoiling) what’s inside the tags, so other readers know whether they should click on it or not. Also, all questions asked in my post are rhetorical unless otherwise noted. Thank you for your understanding.
Check out my blog about storytelling and the novel I’m writing at stiltsoutloud.com. The last four posts: I’ll allow it; Useful lies; Missing the point; and You don’t get credit for the words you don’t write.
ED: 「ミレナリオ」 (Millenario) by ELISA