「来訪者編ⅩⅢ」 (Raihou-sha-hen ⅩⅢ)
“Visitor Arc XIII”
You now, for a predictable finale, Mahouka’s season conclusion wasn’t that bad. While there’s plenty to be said (a lot of it the usual remarks) about Tatsuya doing Magic Jesus things, I’m not going to complain too much: the art was fun, the animation nice, and Miyuki likely deserves more of the credit for letting Tatsuya be himself. Also lack of appreciable Miyuki-isms, that never hurts either.
In the end, however, this arc did as I expected it would by largely serving as the bridge to Mahouka’s later material thanks to both introducing the NSF and their abilities alongside confirming Minami as Miyuki’s bodyguard. The reason and purpose of both are naturally ambiguous right now (especially the latter), but rest assured, we’ll be getting both explained in anime form before too long. Well, likely after that Miyuki side-story of course, because obviously we know who’s the best girl in this series (*inches closer to Erika*). Anyway, impressions time!
When looking back at Mahouka’s latest affair, there’s honestly little more to be added than has already been said on this very site. This is a series which probably represents the best and worst of light novel adaptations – and makes no qualms about featuring both aspects in noticeable quantity. It ain’t perfect, it’s fully deserving of all criticism, yet it’s also a decent romp when approached with the right sort of mentality as this season highlights.
The thing I like most about this season is without a doubt the narrative control. Outside of Tatsuya (a whole topic in of himself I won’t touch on here), Mahouka’s biggest issue is arguably its infodumps: they are long, they are dense, and usually featur more technobabble than a normal anime-only viewer is able to handle. While this season had a few, particularly a critical, plot-relevant one, they were remarkably constrained compared to before, helping to let Mahouka’s action-focused aspects shine. I wouldn’t go as far to say Mahouka fully embraced the “show not tell” approach for this sequel, but it often let its world mechanics speak for themselves and let the viewer fill in the blanks while the visuals did their thing. This for me let me enjoy the show more by actually being able to watch an episode from start to finish and never feel the need to rewind, rewatch, and read a wiki just to get the gist of a particular plot point. If Mahouka’s future seasons can keep this up going forward, I dare say it’s on the road to anime redemption.
Of course, not all is roses here, and the major issues as expected revolve around characters. Secondary cast and giving them an opportunity to strut their stuff without main character intervention remains a perennial problem (albeit a very subjective one), however, the larger problem is definitely Miyuki and the focus on her more possessive aspects. Compared to the first season, Miyuki’s brotherly love ramped up severely this time, reaching beyond the usual lines of acceptance to at times go all-in on Tatsuya obsession. While Miyuki and her desires are admittedly a part of why many like Mahouka (not to mention an aspect which only increases in importance as Mahouka’s plot kicks into high gear), they are conversely one of this series’ main anchors and part of what definitely could be handled better for the anime. Might just be my memory playing tricks, but if Mahouka handled Miyuki similar to say OreImo (at least in terms of blatancy), I think the problems would be less pronounced.
In the end though, Mahouka, outside of a few structural changes, offered no major surprises and kept on doing what it does best (or worst). Fans of the series will find plenty to love, critics won’t be changing their minds anytime soon, and we can all look forward to seeing what’s next in store for the veritable Magic Jesus and friends. I may not be in the camp of Mahouka adherents, but I’m certainly down to seeing just where this story and its characters decide to head next.