「九校戦編III」 (Kyuukou Sen Hen III)
“Nine Schools Competition Part III”
More set up for the Nine Schools Competition arc. They’re at the hotel now!
For Exposition’s Sake
As a writer myself, I’ve struggled with exposition. How do you work it into the story without bending the narrative to give you excuses to spout exposition? I prefer it be done in one of two ways: woven naturally into the narrative, or flagrantly done outside of the narrative. DEATH NOTE is a good example of both of these. Most of the exposition (explaining the rules of the Death Notes) is uncovered as it becomes relevant and through the actions of the characters – natural exposition. But the anime also gave us extras (and reminders) via its commercial cuts – that’s flagrant exposition. With this in mind, how does Mahouka do with the suicide car scene?
Fails on both counts. (Though of course, these are my opinions on how exposition “should” be done, so your mileage may vary.) There was absolutely no tension in the scene when there were all of those powerful magicians on the bus, so the point of the scene was exposition – to talk about how disorderly launched spells can clash (explaining why there should have been exposition), bring up Tatsuya’s Gram Dispersion ability (which apparently cancels magical sequences), and even to lead to the discussion between Kirihara and Hanzo. I would have preferred they just infodump on us during the commercial cuts, but if not exposition needs to be woven more tightly into the narrative, not tied into a scene that seems so completely disjointed from the rest of the episode. Though I’m sure we’ll later find out it’s not, for reasons that are utterly unclear right now (other than the “Watch out for terrorists!” bit however many episodes ago).
Side note: If you’re going to do a suicide attack, try to suck less than this. It really felt like there was no chance the car would reach them.
The Magic-Future is Prudish
So wearing a knee-length skirt and tube top is considered scandalous in the magic-future? (I guess everyone has just gotten used to Erika. P.S. Those shoes are awesome!) Commenters mentioned this a while ago, so it’s nice to see it actually sort of mentioned in the story again…though once again, the reason wasn’t explained, so it still feels a bit odd. I have mixed feelings about this whole thing, fanservice aside. On the one hand, I like it when authors tweak basic cultural things in fantasy or sci-fi worlds, and the socially acceptable dress code is certainly one of them. On the other hand, it feels so weird when characters point it out since I’m sitting there going “Really? That’s inappropriate?” I guess I would prefer if everyone dressed more conservatively without comment, save for perhaps in a swimsuit episode. Like they did with the onsen scene later this episode. None of the typical anime onsen nudity, but it passed without comment, like it was the normal thing to do. Since it is, I felt that worked better. I still remain conflicted though.
Forced By Their Parents
Despite Erika being probably my favorite character in this series, I didn’t feel anything when she revealed how she and Mikihiko aren’t at school because they want to be, but because their parents forced them to. It smacks of first world problems. Once again, LN readers have been somewhat of a help here – I understand intellectually, thanks to some of your explanations, that magicians aren’t exactly the creme of the crop, and they are actually limited in their career choices because they’re magicians (though other LN readers refuted this, so maybe that’s not right). The problem is, even if that’s true, I don’t feel any of that. Because the anime glossed over all of that, it lacks the impact, so I found myself duly jotting that down as a note for this post and then moving on. I felt nothing. In fiction, that’s a grave error. About the best I can say is that Erika was cute in her waitress outfit, so at least there was that.
What’s Wrong With Your Eyes!?
What’s wrong with your
faaaace–I mean, eeeeyes? That aside, here we have exposition once again, and it was pretty flagrant, but I didn’t mind it. It told us something about this old guy’s character, that he likes to test people and he prizes creativity over power. But seriously, what’s wrong with his eyes? They’re just holes. That can’t be healthy. Are they made of Varanium? Get help!
This Is Not The Onsen Scene You’re Looking For
As previously noted, this was an onsen scene without fanservice (mostly). Which is fine! A little pointless overall, but fine. If I had to say anything, it’s that, without the fanservice, it became uncomfortably clear that what Eimi (Nishi Asuka) was trying to do to Honoka was, you know, sexual harassment (and almost sexual assault). No means no, girls! As morally suspect as it perhaps is, we viewers can ignore the dissonance when there’s fanservice to be had, just as comedic sociopathy (trope!) only works when the jokes are funny. When those elements are gone? A little awkward.
But the most interesting part of this scene was when Miyuki said:
“I’ve never thought of him [Tatsuya] as a potential love interest.”
That confirms what many LN readers have been saying for a while. I felt like she offered that up there a little too quickly, though that doesn’t necessarily mean she doesn’t mean it or anything. It does call into question why there has been so much subtext between Tatsuya and Miyuki if they’re only going to be platonic partners, considering how No Game No Life did that with barely any subtext at all. But I shouldn’t compare these two adaptations. It’s not fair to one of them.
Looking Ahead – Guh
Some people think hate is the opposite of love. They’re wrong. Apathy is the opposite of love. As the Capturing God would tell you, if you hate something, at least you feel something about it, and hate is a strong emotion that can even turn to love. Apathy, however, is the lack of emotion. It’s blah. For fiction, it’s far better to inspire hate than apathy, because at least you made an impression. Blah stories are forgotten.
I’m completely apathetic about Mahouka right now. I’m hoping this arc will solve that, but so far it’s still dragging along. Hopefully it will get better, because, though I’ve never left a series unfinished since I began blogging for RandomC, I’m not absolutely against it, and this show is testing my limits. We’ll see, we’ll see. I’ll be back next week – and for the rest of the spring season – at the very least. We’ll see after that.
tl;dr: @StiltsOutLoud – Awkward exposition, fumbling development & a tricky old man in the prudish magic-future. My apathy for this adaptation is rising #mahouka 10
- Apparently Tatsuya doesn’t like cosplay. I can’t relate to him anymore.
- Miyuki makes all the other girls gay. So that’s good for her? Not with Eimi around, apparently.
- To be clear: my apathy is primarily about this adaptation, not the underlying source material. The problem is that this adaptation is being fumbled so thoroughly that I’m losing my desire to ever check out the source. Adaptations have risks, and this is one of them.
- Disclaimer: Please do not post spoilers in the comments. If you want to talk about future events, make sure to both enclose your comment in spoiler tags and identify what the spoiler is about (without spoiling) so other readers know whether to click on it. Also, if I ask any questions in my posts, assume they’re hypothetical 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: Movies are half credit, Goals & expectations, Private accountability, and The root of procrastination.