Disappointed is such a versatile word, and yet it always creeps up when I least expect it watching anime. As I watched through Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei, I went from being interested, to intrigued, to impressed, to indifferent, to finally settling on crippling disappointment. How can this be?
I’m going to borrow a RandomC paragraph to frame the context here:
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.
I probably should have taken Klaus’ advice from months ago and stayed away, but damn if I am not a glutton for punishment. The sad fact is, I was pretty okay with what I was getting for the first eighteen episodes, but as soon as that Nine Schools arc ended and the absurd Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone arc started up, I couldn’t help but think this was just the worst possible idea ever. That feeling was cemented in the final three episodes with the attack on the summit that was about as ham-fisted as my co-workers trying to figure out what to eat for lunch. If they were trying to accomplish the task of sticking it to the man, they need to go back to Redshirt GruntMcGruffin’s Academy for Not Getting Murdered by Magic in Sixty Seconds. Even the kids fighting back got too absurd after awhile. I get that they’re from an elite school, so they’re not going to be babbies about fighting, but you would think that most of them would have a more realistic reaction to watching people kill other people:
But it’s not like it was all bad. The universe is fairly open-ended, and given it’s an LN adaptation, the sky was the limit. Most people don’t like technical jargon in their fantasy, putting it more in the realm of science-fiction. It’s the difference between Trek and Wars fans. I like Trek for it’s engineering side, and certainly the initial draw I had to Tatsuya early on was that he was a modest student, and an aspiring engineer, things I wish I could go back in time and change, because working at NASA would beat fixing fucking printers all day. When reading RC’s take, I was forced to agree that the show really does not need Tatsuya and Miyuki. All of the side characters do enough to really carry the show well, and a lighter, more comedy-focused show on the side characters would have been a better way to bridge the enrollment arc and the nine schools arc cutting out all of that summit siege bullshit entirely. Tatsuya and Miyuki remind me of Shingeki no Kyojin’s Eren and Mikasa. Both female protags feed their male counterparts this awesome bullshit rhetoric that they’re just so awesome, and can’t be beat. But the actuality is, they’re stronger than their male counterparts, and far more resilient, yet are completely eclipsed every time. I’m no social justice warrior, but rather as someone who appreciates character development, it’s downright sad for me to see a character who is demonstrated to have enormous potential be shielded behind a white knight. You could have made that ending way better by having him get knocked the fuck out to where he can’t regen, and her picking up the giant gun and nuking the ship. Solutions!
The short of this is, besides the obvious elephant in the room that is never properly addressed, and we’re talking Jesus Silver Tatsuya BatSuperAquaManOriginalDoNotSteal, Mahouka simply ignores any premise it was accumulating to this point being a school days series on future magic, and going straight for the 24 Season Finale Angle. You could even throw in the timer cutscenes and it’d be near-perfect. Tatsuya Bauer saves the day from terrorists! But the few things Mahouka does right, is that it does a better job explaining how magic works in their universe where shows like Black Bullet or Mahou Sensou just charge forward with their uninspiring Gary Stus and their quest for magic harems. Compare this to Trinity Seven, which not only explains its magic, but injects more character into their male lead, proving to us that the DxD model of magical harems continues to reign supreme.
Watch Mahouka up to the end of the Nine Schools arc. Then just forget about it. Walk away. Nothing of value was lost.
Title: Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei
Sub Group I Watched: Crunchyroll
Rating (1-10): 7