「入学編VII」 (Nyuugaku-hen VII)
“Enrollment Part VII”
Tatsuya & co break through the front door and mete out some justice. The action is still good and the pacing is better, but some of the thematic implications are troubling.
Breaking Down The Front Door
Once again, where Mahouka shines is in animation of the fight scenes. Look at the screen shots if you must, or just go back and watch those parts of the episode and you’ll see what I mean. As far as comments, I can only say that I appreciate how the mid-battle exposition wasn’t too heavy, and when it was used it was the let-me-explain-why-you-lose-villain way, which is satisfying, especially when the villain turns into a total bitch and runs away. I did find the Blanche leader to be extremely two-dimensional, which isn’t always bad, and since he’s a small-time villain, doesn’t really count against the series. I didn’t find him very interesting though, so I suspect I’ll be forgetting about him shortly.
It’s A Vigilante’s World
Talking about morals in an action series can get tricky, especially in the grittier ones like Mahouka. While in some series the main characters’ violence is officially sanctioned (ala Black Bullet, Sidnoia no Kishi, etc), in others it’s not, and it can be a delicate line to walk. What happened to, ya know, the police and stuff? Is it alright for a bunch of high school kids to waltz into a building and start dolling out extra-judicial justice? Should that be alright? In series with a lighter tone this is easier to swallow, or ones with a more fantastic setting, but Mahouka is largely serious and in many ways more similar to the real world (even the magic isn’t enough to make it a complete fantasy), so these questions are troubling.
For my part, it felt wrong to see Miyuki freeze, and possibly kill so many people, or for Kirihara to cut off a man’s arm because he was pissed. That dude could have bled out if not for Jyumonji’s magic! It shows that these characters are willing to get their hands dirty, and that’s good – it tells us better what kind of world we’re dealing with here, even if it makes the high school setting even stranger to me (if we’re going for a bloody dark action-fantasy, why the funny-funny high school setting? It clashes). It doesn’t exactly make me want to root for the main characters more, though. They’ve moved from being the good guys to perhaps the least bad guys, and now they have a dangerous quality to them that makes me want to keep them at arm’s length. Interesting, yes, and it does reveal character both in the characters and the world, but I’m not sure it’s a pleasant turn. Though then again, sometimes it’s good to take in stories (and ideas) that aren’t comfortable, because that’s how we grow as people.
I Despise Mind Control
Understand that the following section is going to be subjective as hell. It’s not that Mahouka used mind control badly, though it could have been done better – it was used as a justification for character’s uncharacteristic actions and a way to make the villain seem even more villanous, rather than mining it for drama, which is the only interesting facet of mind control I can imagine. It’s just that I despise mind control. It takes agency away from the characters, and makes them less interesting for it. It turned Mibu-sempai and the kendo captain into victims, rather than active (and flawed, and human) participants in their own lives and mistakes. People as tools is far less interesting than people as people, and mind control is the very definition of turning people into tools. I’ll be happy if that magic never appears again, though I suspect I won’t get my wish. Mind control sucks.
Here’s another thing: I know some of you had to hold your tongues (thanks, by the way) when I so harshly criticized the “misunderstanding” last episode, but this anime has been so rough that I didn’t even consider there was a good reason for that. I just assumed the story had done something stupid, and I think I was right to assume so. That’s a bad sign if nothing else. It hasn’t earned the benefit of the doubt.
Shipping Mibu x Kirihara & Tatsuya’s Sense of Humor
My favorite part of this episode was, surprisingly, not the action. It was when Erika was teasing Mibu x Kirihara, and we got another glimpse into Tatsuya’s twisted sense of humor. First of all, Erika – I love her for her teasing! She’s so much fun, and so much less serious than most of the characters, so I find myself enjoying her (and Leo, and I assume Mayumi, once she actually shows some of her character) more than the others. Plus she was doing exactly what I wanted to do, poking fun at the budding couple and getting them to blush! I can see what some of you LN readers have said, that the interaction between the characters can be quite good, we just haven’t gotten much of it. Which is a shame because there are entire series (slice-of-life) that are all character interactions like these, so I feel like they could have done well by taking more time to show us those. A short-sighted decision, if you ask me.
As for Tatsuya’s sense of humor, we really saw it twice, but the funniest was when he was confirming Kirihara’s feelings for Mibu. It really was obvious, after Kirihara got so angry about the Blanche leader tricking Mibu, but the way Tatsuya calmly talked about Kirihara’s “gallant figure” and how he “knew he had not chance against him as a man” was so hilarious! It’s fun to see Tatsuya’s twisted way of playing with people, it just takes development to give us the time to realize what he’s doing. They’re there now, at least for me, so I hope they’ll give us more of that and less sprinting-through-the-plot.
Looking Ahead – So I Guess He’s Kind Of A Big Deal
Next time is a new arc (finally), and apparently it will involve this Ichijou Masaki (Matsuoka Yoshitsugu) kid who’s such a big deal. (I assume. He was in the OP facing off against Tatsuya, after all.) (Ohandalso, scary bishie alert.) Hopefully they’ll take their time and do a good four episodes (at least) per LN volume from here on out, and then maybe this next arc will go over more smoothly. I can only hope.
tl;dr: @StiltsOutLoud – Lots of cool action, though the moral implications (I know, I know, I’m a giant nerd) are worrying. Also, scary bishie alert! #mahouka 07
- A lesson for all the villains of the world: If a badass calmly walks into the room with you and a bunch of your heavily armed friends, they’re probably badasses. They’re either that or totally insane, but it’s not often you get lucky enough to get this guy.
- Run after the bad guy or something Tatsuya, damn. At least pretend this is important.
- If it’s not a spoiler, anyone care to explain how antinite could only be produced by ancient civilizations? Or more correctly, how ancient we’re talking. If it’s pre-WWIII, okay, but lost technology (trope!) is yet another trope I’m not fond of, so trying to decide how I feel about this one.
- “It’s alright.” The fuck is alright, Tatsuya? Explain yourself dammit!
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