「九校戦編IV」 (Kyuukou Sen Hen IV)
“Nine Schools Competition Part IV”
There were multiple instances of characters working in what looked like Microsoft Excel. I believe that tells you everything you need to know about this show.
Erika & Mari-sempai
I know that Erika and Mari went to the same sword fighting school (or more specifically, Mari went to Erika’s family’s school), but it looks like the relationship between them isn’t too hot. Perhaps Erika just knows more about Mari than most, or they butted heads when they were younger (and necessarily more stupid…face it, we were all dumber when we were younger), but to my eyes it looks like Mari has a personality that Erika just can’t (or would prefer not to) handle. I would like to see more interaction between these two, if only to find out what the deal is.
Flirty Mayumi, I Think?
The exchange between Tatsuya and Mayumi was strange. I felt like they were going for more of that flirty Mayumi vibe, but the dialogue felt flaccid to me. Unlike with Honoka earlier, at least Tatsuya seemed to understand what Mayumi was going for (he complimented her, helped her up), but Tatsuya was so devoid of emotion that it sapped any pleasure out of Mayumi’s antics. And I do appreciate how this was sort of the point – Mayumi herself pointed out that Tatsuya doesn’t give her any special treatment, i.e. he doesn’t get flustered, nervous, distracted, etc. He doesn’t go all gaga over her, in other words. That doesn’t make up for the oddly lax pacing, though pouting Mayumi helped.
Oh No, They’re…Ahead?
Here’s a lesson in dramatic tension – it’s hard to get worried when the good guys are ahead. As First High’s excel spreadsheet shows (excel, in my anime? Kill me now. Real life has officially invaded my pastimes, and I’m pissed), our heroes are ahead by 90 points, and for some reason they have to win four of the next six matches and the rookies’ performances may decide the tournament? Does not compute. I’ve been looking forward to this arc because I love tournament arcs. Negima and FAIRY TAIL are two of my favorite manga, and they knew/know how to do a damn tournament arc. The odds are stacked against, tough enemies that are plotting specifically against our heroes, epic reversals and unexpected victories (or defeats)…damn they knew their stuff! It’s no fun when the protagonists are ahead though, at least not for long. Even Gaworare knew that. Pardon me if I remain puzzled until some organic tension appears.
Logic Over Emotion
I think I’ve figured out this series’ greatest strength, and why it’s not jiving for me. Now, part of this is certainly because this adaptation has been mishandled, so while I’m going to speak to the underlying source material, I could be totally wrong since I haven’t read it. You can tell me whether I’m on the right track or not.
This series is all about logic. The intricate magical system is designed so that, when you understand it in depth, all the drama and tension will make sense…even if it’s not organically there. You can see this in the competitions we saw this episode; I’m sure there’s some explanation for why the things Mari, Mayumi, and Kanon did were so impressive, but I didn’t feel any emotion from their wins. Okay, maybe a little from Kanon’s victory, but that’s because it was a far more simple setup based around the ideas of offense, defense, and Kanon’s decision to ignore the latter in favor of the former.
And this has repeated many times, from the “tension” this episode (despite the fact that they’re well ahead in rankings) to how Tatsuya’s development of magical flight was probably technically impressive (but didn’t feel like it), all the way back to Tatsuya’s duel against Hanzo. It very much fits in with the programming-esque ethos of the magic system, because I’ve known many a programmer and most of them prized themselves of being extremely logical people. Mahouka is an intellectual exercise as much as anything else, because once you “get it” – if you can get it – it all clicks together.
The problem is that a table with only one leg cannot support itself. Logic alone isn’t enough to support a story, at least in my eyes. Without emotional resonance, it ends up being as try as a technical manual, or perhaps an excel spreadsheet. I’d rather just read a history book, where the dry recitation of facts is standard. And to be clear, I don’t mind doing a lot of work to enjoy a story! Kyoukaisen took an unbelievable amount of work for me. It mixed both logic and emotion though, something I’ve never seen Mahouka do. I’m sure that works for some people, but it’s not grabbing a hold of me.
I can only assume more events will happen. Miyuki still has to compete, and it sounds like Tatsuya might get dragged into the ring as well.
Note: Me dropping this series is getting increasingly likely. I’ll still do episode 12, but unless something pretty special happens, that may be the last episode I cover. My apologies to any fans of this adaptation in advance.
tl;dr: @StiltsOutLoud – The competition gets under way, with First High cleaning up. So why are they acting like they’re behind? #mahouka 11
- Tatsuya is also Special Officer Ryuuya Ooguro, Strategic-class Magician. But of course, they didn’t explain what any of that means. I’m fine with that as far as the Ryuuya Ooguro bit, because that is foreshadowing that makes me wonder, but they probably should have explained what Strategic-class Magician means. Luckily, I have Google to fill in where this anime fails.
- Wait, did I hear correctly that Mizuki’s glasses protect her from the heat? o.O
- Magic skeet shooting, magic gun-tennis–wait, gun tennis? Weird.
- At least Leo is finally going to get to do something again. This show needs more Leo.
- 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: Neil Gaiman’s Eight Rules of Writing, I don’t want you to succeed, Movies are half credit, and Goals & expectations.