「九校戦編V」 (Kyuukou Sen Hen V)
“Nine Schools Competition Part V”
An accident, an investigation, a gamble, and a lot of talking.
Now We Have Some Tension
Mari’s Battle Board match was perhaps the most interesting part of the episode, as long as we ignore the fact that Tatsuya is apparently a better paramedic than professional paramedics are. It’s hard, but I’m really trying to ignore that. Really trying here. Give me a minute.
Anywho, it had some action, it had some tension, and they were showing rather than telling when the outside interference messed up Mari or the Seventh High girl who slammed into her. All ending with both of them laid out…finally, we have some tension in this competition!
Assumptions & Guesses Treated As Facts
Let me be blunt: investigations do not work that way. Tatsuya’s analysis led to the (seemingly logical) assumption that someone tampered with Mari’s board from within the water – okay, that makes sense. It dodges the cameras, the guards, etc. That’s an assumption I can get behind. But the rest of them? He immediately leaps from assumption to assumption and treats them like facts. He says it must have been someone other than a human. What if it was a human who bribed the committee? What if the committee is running a betting scheme and needed Mari and Seventh High to go down to make a lot of money? What if some fool hid in the water and got just lucky enough to not get caught? What if they used something mechanical, either to disrupt the water or hide themselves?
There are a hundred possible reasons why things could have happened like they did. That’s why the police don’t jump to right-seeming conclusions and then start arresting people based on that. They look for facts and evidence. This trips across a pet peeve of mine, as typified by many Sherlock Holmes-type characters who analyze things in a split-second and are somehow always right (trope!). What a disservice that does to our world! It ignores the manifold possibilities of reality in favor of treating it like an equation that could be broken down and solved absolutely, often by treating a 51% chance like it’s 100%. I’m sorry, this triggered a pet peeve of mine, but it’s an egregious one to my eyes. Reality is complex and messy, and while Mahouka has spent a lot of time trying to convey that complexity, it all becomes too clean when Tatsuya gets involved. If you’re going to turn this into some kind of mystery anime, do it properly; don’t skip out on all the messy details and expect it to work. That’s just the author pulling things out of his ass by having Tatsuya pull things out of his.
Going For Gold
I heartily approve of their decision to put Miyuki in Mari’s place for the official Mirage Bat competition. It could end up biting them in the asses if they lose both, but I think it’s better to go for the gold than play it safe and risk losing due to insufficient spine. Plus, they know that Tatsuya is there, and he knows how to
manipulate deal with his imouto like a pro. She’ll try her best, if nothing else.
Shizuku’s Time To Shine
Shizuku’s preliminary match was interesting for a number of reasons. There was her mention of [her family] offering Tatsuya a job; they actually took the time to explain the magic Shizuku used; they spent enough time on it that I got that thrill of “I hope she wins, but maybe this is setting her up to lose!”. All fairly good. The explanation was still dry as hell, and struck me as clever for this event but potentially useless in real life, because when are you going to be able to keep the distance and relative positions constant in combat? But as a stepping stone it was fine. The main thing lacking was, when they noted that Shizuku/Tatsuya’s Active Air Mine was the exact opposite of Mayumi’s magic. That’s really cool guys, but you never explained what Mayumi’s magic was, so…thanks? It’s the Mahouka anime’s old problem again, of mistakes earlier coming back to poison the effectiveness of events that take place later on.
But what annoyed me the most was that, when Shizuku stepped up to compete, the older girls were talking about finally getting to see Tatsuya’s work. What about Shizuku’s skills? She’s the one actually competing! This is mollified somewhat by what a cooperative situation these games have ended up being – it’s almost a knight/begleiter situation they’ve got going. Yet it still annoyed me that they were focusing on Tatsuya’s engineering skills over Shizuku’s, even though she was the one actually competing. It struck me as one of the (many) annoying double standards (for instance, trope!) that are so common in fiction (and life). One caveat: this could easily have come down to time constraints, if the older girls talked about Shizuku and Tatsuya in the LNs and they just didn’t have time to do both in the anime, since Tatsuya is the more plot-critical character. That would be understandable, though it still rubbed me the wrong way at the time.
Looking Ahead – Looking Back
I said last week that this would probably be the last episode I would cover, and though I considered going up to ep14, when this arc is apparently going to end, I honestly can’t summon up the willpower to get that far. Plus, I pride myself on posting quickly in order to extend an episode’s magic for just a few minutes longer, but when I don’t feel any magic and I’m having to force myself to blog the show every single week, it hurts my professionalism as a blogger. Better to step away than do something badly, I feel.
To clarify, I don’t think the Mahouka source material is bad, though I have a feeling it’s probably too dry for me – exposition and world-building are delicate things, and while I love them when they’re woven organically into a story, reading what amounts to a made-up tech manual isn’t my idea of a good time. I’m a fiddly marketer/liberal arts/writer-type, not a scientist/programmer/engineering-type, so wrapping my head around this world is too much (and too unintuitive of) work for me to enjoy. The anime exacerbates this by not even being a good tech manual, because it’s hard to understand something when they leave gaping sections out. And cutting all the fun character interactions that we saw so seldom, even though they were invariably one of the best parts of the series.
So consider this show dropped from weekly coverage. I finished (most) of a season, and that’s enough for me. Time-willing, I’ll try to return and do an END post after the second cour is finished, but I can’t promise that – I’ll be going on a big overseas vacation right around that time, which may make it difficult enough to finish the other shows I’ll be blogging next season.
tl;dr: @StiltsOutLoud – An accident, an investigation, a gamble, Tatsuya having all the answers, and a lot of damn talking. So, business as usual #mahouka 12
- I wonder if that sword Leo was playing with can hit things with the middle part? Because otherwise it would be a very weird sword to use. Go to block attacks like you would with a normal sword and oops–there’s a giant section missing in the middle. Hello enemy’s weapon to the FACE!
- Spreadsheets again AHHHHHHH! It’s still the weekend, I don’t want to do work right now NOOOOO!!
- One other reason why Tatsuya may get so much love – all of the other First High boys (except Jyuumonji and Hanzo, barely) are apparently pretty worthless. It seems like every time we get an update, they’ve all lost their matches. Girl power!
- Once last blushing Mari for the road.
- 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: On the lookout for ideas, Make it worthwhile, Neil Gaiman’s Eight Rules of Writing, and I don’t want you to succeed.