Netflix has been stepping up their anime game in the last few years, and so I thought it was only right that I step up my sitting on my ass and watching shit game to match them. I have spent a lifetime working on this and I am not to be outdone! And so, most recently I watched an anime called The Irregular at Magic High School.
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Before we proceed, let it be known that Natehawke is a dude who sits at a desk and has opinions about things. They’re not very well informed and not totally thought through, but he has them and they are important damn it! The following are his ramblings which will be spoilerific as fuck, fairly poorly written, and definitely poorly thought through.
The Irregular at Magic High School
I was initially drawn to it because it has a pretty good look to it and with a name like the Irregular at Magic High School I was imagining a kid who wasn’t very magical at all and would cut school to smoke behind the bleachers at the football field. Maybe he’d have a crush on a cheerleader and have to join the magic football team to play magic football and clash with the magic star quarterback. He’d win and then take the cheerleader to magic prom and magic fingerbang her at magic makeout point afterwards. A good old-fashioned coming of age story!
Sadly, as it turns out that’s not what the Irregular at Magic High School is about AT ALL!
The Irregular at Magic High School (TIaMHS?) instead focuses on Tatsuya and his sister Miyuki, a pair of new students at First High, a school that trains magic users. As there aren’t many people with magical abilities in the world, they take all who have magical abilities but separate them based on magic potential into first and second class students. Miyuki is extraordinarily gifted and totally hot, so a first class student of course, while Tatsuya didn’t do well in his tests and has been designated as a second class student. Supposedly Tatsuya is super smart and awesome, but the tests were done in a way that glossed over his skills and focused on his faults. Biased testing in the school system? NO! Shocking!
Immediately we are introduced to the prejudice and discrimination that second class students face from their more powerful brethren, which is the focus of the first story arc of TIaMHS, as a fight is about to break out between first class students and weeds (derogatory slang for second class students), which Tatsuya breaks up.
This was pretty interesting actually. The second class students are all looked down upon and treated with scorn by the first class students. The second class students are bitter and angry about their treatment, but lack the power and influence to change things. This is good actually, this could make for some interesting stuff! This should have magic riots and magic police brutality going on in no time! It’d be interesting to see an anime take on prejudice, even if it’s magic prejudice.
Anyway, in order to break up this fight, Tatsuya used a curious sort of magic disruption technique that stops everyone in their tracks, which gets the attention of the disciplinary committee who recruits him. Also, I thought Tatsuya was supposed to suck at magic. What’s the dealio?
In any case, setup done, show gets going. At this point I’m down for this and excited to see where things are going!
The first major arc in TIaMHS focuses on the prejudice towards the weaker students, and on a grander scale, the uneasy relationship between the powered and un-powered populations in the world. Sadly it’s only really superficially explored. This all leads to rebellion and terrorism, bombs go off at the school and intruders attack, all of which Tatsuya and his newfound friends put a stop to fairly easily. For someone who didn’t do well in his magical tests, Tatsuya kicks all of the ass. He’s also getting really popular with the ladies, but no magic fingerbanging yet unfortunately.
This is also around the time that becomes clear that Tatsuya is a super secret magic soldier with magic ninja skills and magic combat training. He’s only in school to act as the magic bodyguard of Miyuki, his sister and the heiress of a powerful magic clan. I guess any hopes for my cold & flu capsule overdose induced fantasy of the plucky underdog who magic fingerbangs the cheerleader ends here.
But wait a minute! Tatsuya and Miyuki have a bit of a weird incest-y relationship, lots of longing stares, bit of groping, some hanging out in their magic underwear together. There’s definitely some magic Lannister action going on here. There is still hope!
Early on it’s also explained that Tatsuya feels no emotions. Being a magical badass also comes with being totally numb to everything apparently. He’s clearly a complete psychopath, as he fakes his way through the emotions of a high school student, trying to act out the things he thinks he’s supposed to feel and do in normal high school situations. The only thing he has any real feelings for is his sister he says. Sexy feelings that is, I hope.
The second arc of the show focuses on something called the Nine Schools competition, where the nine magic schools get together for a big old circle jerk to find out who’s the magicalest of them all.
Everyone is now totally cool with each other, the prejudice towards weeds, the less powered students, now seemingly forgotten. There’s nothing to make people feel better than to have some stuff blown up then kill the shit out of the ones who did it. That totally never leaves lingering issues. We cool bro.
Tatsuya is now renowned as a technical wiz and is recruited to create and adjust the competitors CAD’s. The CAD is basically an item that the user channels his magic through. A CAD can be anything, from an everyday item to a weapon, it just needs to be infused with the things that make it magical. Theoretically, you could have a magic dildo as your CAD.
The competition is then targeted by the triad, who has gambling related concerns and wants First High to lose. They try to interfere with the competition to rig it, but Tatsuya and his friends are too OP and keep winning anyway. Somehow they then decide that Tatsuya, the tech guy with supposedly poor magical abilities, has to take part in the only event in the competition that involves direct combat, because of course. And OMG – Tatsuya had to go 1on1 with the other school’s ace and got hurt! He’s hurt, WTF! Oh, okay, he can magically fix himself in the blink of an eye. No problem then. He then snaps his fingers and wins. Seriously, that’s literally what happens.
This story unfolds and Tatsuya figures everything out and then kicks everyone’s ass by himself. Light work, easy. The premise for this arc was kind of dumb to begin with, but I find myself checking out by the end as Tatsuya is having way too easy a time with all the badguys. At this point they’re just walking through all opposition.
The third and final arc of the first season kicks off with Tatsuya and Miyuki getting a visit from their aunt, who has a…something, a macguffin, in her possession that she wants Tatsuya to do the thing with. He intends to use it to create a nuclear reaction powered magical energy machine thingy and solve all of the worlds energy problems basically. And he can do this of course. At the same time, he is invited to join the school thesis competition, which is about this exact subject, of course. He joins and does the thing for them as well. Awesomely of course. Because Tatsuya is apparently the best. At everything.
In this arc we are introduced to a government agency from China, who has come to steal the macguffin and all of Tatsuya’s research. They’re pissed and they want to fuck up some magical bitches. We’re also introduced to their top agent, Lu Gonghu, The Devouring Tiger, who kills dudes with his bare hands. Finally, a threatening presence to create a bit of tension in this show. And of course, the first time we see him in battle, he gets his ass kicked by a couple of First High students. Not even Tatsuya, just his school friends. So much for setting this guy up as a badass.
Things all come to a head at the Thesis Competition, when Japan is invaded by China! Chinese special forces show up with battleships, tanks and mechs, ready to fuck shit up. Of course, they don’t, as Tatsuya and his friends beat the shit out of everything. Oh no, a few of his classmates got injured! OH SHIT – that guys leg got blown off! But no fear, Tatsuya can magically rewind time and bring them back to 100% health again in the press of a trigger. No problem then. Tatsuya and his friends spend about 4 episodes just completely fucking cleaning house, it’s not even fair, it’s a total blowout. At the end, Tatsuya reveals his ultimate weapon, a fucking magical nuke that he uses to destroy the fleeing Chinese battleship after they completely fucked up an entire Chinese army. And that’s the end of the season.
I’m left… frustrated. The Irregular at Magic High School has some good ideas. I liked the social turmoil aspect of things, how the presence of magically gifted individuals cause fear and upheaval in society. And I liked a few of the characters, Erika and Leo being my favourites. My problem is that Tatsuya (and his friends, but Tatsuya in particular) is ridiculously overpowered. Every time a new threat is introduced, a dangerous situation, a powerful enemy, Tatsuya would just unveil some new hidden superpower that he totally always had but hadn’t bothered to use, in order to easily defeat this new threat. He’s never under pressure, he’s never in danger of losing, he’s never faced with an opponent of overwhelming power that he can’t defeat. He just easily walks over everything that gets in his way.
It’s a constant annoyance that grows as the show goes on, and really comes to a head in the final episodes, which is basically just Tatusya and his friends butchering an entire army. A complete rout. It’s just 4 episodes worth of one-sided slaughter as Tatsuya ascends to borderline godlike status and just murderifies anything that dares to oppose him. There’s no tension or suspense whatsoever at that point, and the final arc, and the season itself, falls flat because of it. It’s a shame, as the setup for the first arc carries quite a lot of potential for interesting narratives, but in the end I’m bored and done with this show. There’s nothing worthwhile left here for me by the end of the first season.
The only interesting question left in The Irregular at Magic High School by the end of the season is whether Tatsuya should magic fingerbang his sister or not.
And the answer to that is yes.
Did I mention it was YES?
Why you make a convincing case, self. It seems you know exactly what to say!
When faced with this overwhelming evidence, there is only one thing to do…
- Poorly Thought Through Opinions: The Irregular at Magic High School - December 18, 2015
- Character Cosplay Focus: Yoko Littner - November 18, 2015