「ゆずれない想い」 (Yuzurenai Omoi)
“I Can’t Lose”
Damn, hard to believe it’s been a whole season already. Thirteen episodes of Miyuki gone mad – or, well, some variation of it since Yuutousei has been far from Miyuki only if I’m being honest. This finale certainly reverts to the (expected) mean though, as it was all about giving the princess time to shine. Time she most definitely did not waste. Crushing the competition; crushing hearts; having her own
fantasies dreams nearly crushed in return – oh yes, Yuutousei proved the Shiba doesn’t fall far from the tree. Nothing at all surprising here in the end, but damn was it a nice way of wrapping up matters and even leaving room for more if the situation allows. For a Mahouka spinoff I dare say you cannot ask for more – anyways, impressions time!
Yuutousei in hindsight is intriguing for what it didn’t do as much as it did. Being the spinoff of a very popular light novel franchise it’s no surprise a lot of hope – if not outright expectations – were placed on it to do what Rettousei couldn’t, opinions which in the close likely tarnish the series more than it probably deserves. Yuutousei is far from being the ideal continuation of Mahouka’s collection of stories, but it’s certainly not the worst.
Part of the challenge in approaching Yuutousei is accepting it’s not Mahouka’s Railgun. Back at the beginning I brought up that descriptor in part because of the structural similarity: you have a parent story receiving coverage of a character not as touched on originally. While Miyuki is no Misaka (she’s the titular main in Rettousei compared to Biribiri’s largely secondary status in Index) it’s a good comparison at face value, yet falls apart once you dig down. The problem for Yuutousei is that it doesn’t play strongly into the alternate reference points for its main story arcs; we get to see the likes of Blanche and the No Head Dragons play out through the eyes of others, but it’s material which doesn’t really feature new or interesting tidbits. Outside of a few points and the Nine Schools competition in general it’s the Rettousei pacing on steroids, stripping out a lot of the premise and explanations in favour of letting the audience fill in the blanks. This is fine for Mahouka fans or prior viewers of Rettousei, but hurts badly anyone coming into franchise blind with Yuutousei as their entry. Whether one loves or hates Railgun, there’s no denying that’s a series which can stand alone.
Conversely, however, Yuutousei’s approach does work if you’re one of those aforementioned viewers/fans. What Yuutousei lacks in plot details it more than makes up for in character features, taking multiple minor cast members only seen in passing in Rettousei’s first season and giving them plenty of time in the sun. Irritated Honoka and Shizuku barely came up before? Wanted to see more of Eimi? Needed more presidential shenanigans? You’ve got your fill and then some here. Yuutousei may lack in overt Miyuki focus, but it accomplished what I long hoped Rettousei would do in fleshing out its secondary characters, many whom possess interesting desires, motivations, or just plain fun personalities which rarely received attention before. While what we got was imperfect (owing in part to Miyuki’s immediate cohort being emphasized over the likes of Erika or Mizuki), it was a treat for any Mahouka fan and provides a very good outlet for what Rettousei often lacks. Let Tatsuya do his Magic Jesus thing in Rettousei, so long as I can get the girls doing cute and funny in Yuutousei I don’t think I’ll have much a problem with what Mahouka comes up with next overall. Well, mostly.
In the end, Yuutousei is a show whose value and watchability will heavily come down to the interest one has in its parent story. You like Mahouka and want to see more of its characters in actions? Definitely give this one a go. Weren’t a fan or coming to this series blind? Might want to hold off or see how well Rettousei first tickles your fancy. Yuutousei will ultimately be made or broken by how much interest you personally have in the trials and tribulations of its eponymous Shiba duo – but so long as you’re interested and like what’s on tap, you certainly won’t go wrong giving this one a spin.