Descending down from heaven to wreck your shit. How exciting. Wee.
I’m going to piss some people off with that title, but I don’t care. It’s too much fun to pass up. Unlike this show.
Mahouka has the distinction of being the only anime I’ve ever dropped coverage for since I started writing for RandomC, so I felt honor bound to keep up with it for the monthly impressions, and write this post. That doesn’t mean I enjoyed watching it. That became exceedingly clear once I wasn’t bound to blog it every week.
For the longest time, I didn’t want to admit it. No—it wasn’t certain yet. A character can be powerful without sliding into that most awful of wish fulfillment failures, the Mary Sue. That died in recent arcs, along with every character who went against our protagonist-god. Where Tatsuya was once merely powerful, he’s now utterly broken. He can kill with a single shot, catch bullets, and even heal or resurrect his allies. Perfect offense, defense, and support. He is the one, the only, the everything. Tatsuya is not just a Gary Stu. Tatsuya is a living god. He’s Magic Jesus, and watching him do his thing has become a chore.
Mahouka isn’t all bad. There’s tremendous depth in the world, especially it’s magic system. It’s too dry for me, too technical—it’s an engineer’s magic system, more hard sci-fi than fantasy, and I’m a froofy words guy—but that doesn’t mean it’s bad. With more time to explain what exactly was going on—time I’ve been told the light novels gave it—it had the potential to suck you in, provided you could keep track of all the minutiae. Yes, anime isn’t the best medium for lectures, but it had potential at least.
The side characters were largely good as well—I would watch a magic high school action/romcom starring Erika, Leo, Mizuki, and Mikihiko in a heartbeat. They were all skilled, but not overly so, and there were interesting facets of their personalities. Ditto for many other characters. The women in particular were great, because while this could have easily been a chauvanistic endeavor like so many other stories, most of the female characters were strong, with as much steel in their spines as any man, and usually more.
Then comes Tatsuya and Miyuki. They are not good characters, at least how the anime portrays them. (I’ve been told that Miyuki was better in the light novels, but I’ve seen little of that here.) The onii-sama fawning brocon and her emotionally stunted god-aniki. Nothing can challenge Tatsuya but his family being a bunch of bitches, and Miyuki’s one-note onii-sama fetish wasn’t even enough to titillate. It was just boring. Add onto that weak enemies—I don’t remember who the enemies were for any of the arcs, including the one I finished fifteen minutes ago—and I was utterly bored any time these two were on the screen, save for the occasional snatch of witty dialogue. But that could always be traced back to other characters, not these two lead weights.
Off the top of my head, the only part I really enjoyed was when Tatsuya was going up against Masaki. That’s when powerful characters work—when they’re facing other powerful characters. A clash of the titans. Seeing him and his friends work together—even if it still largely hinged on Tatsuya—was a genuinely good moment. Everything since then has been a slog, and most before it. Tatsuya went from overpowered to a living god—Magic Jesus, but far more violent. More a natural disaster than a living god, and with all the emotions of the same.
I badly wanted this to be as good as people said. I wanted another Kyoukaisen, another impossible-to-adapt series that rewarded deep investment. Instead I realized how wise I was to drop coverage when it came time to do the monthly impressions. Every month, the post would be due in a day or two, and I hadn’t watched a single episode since the month before. Not a good sign.
So ends the Ballad of Magic Jesus. I can’t tell how much was bad adaptation and how much was a polarizing, niche source material that’s not for me, but I can’t honestly be said to care anymore. It’s been said (by me, and the Capturing God) that the opposite of love is not hate, it’s apathy. I don’t hate Mahouka. I’ve given up entirely. A Gary Sue numbs the viewer to any sense of danger or excitement, and Tatsuya is the most overpowered Gary Stu I’ve ever seen in a published work.
And I thought Kirito was bad, but he’s nothing next to Magic Mass Murdering Jesus.