Mahouka Koukou / Irregular at Magic High School: An Ode to Meritocracy!

I’ve warned people. I told them it’d be bad. I told them there’s a reason the messages in this show trouble me so. They thought I was just being overly sensitive. Well, episode 4 happened, so let’s talk about it.

Introducion: Weaponized Light Novels, Handle With Extreme Caution:

Plenty of media pieces convey opinions I don’t share. It’s not bad, it’s an opinion. An unexplored political opinion, a “normative message” (“this is how things should be”) is harmful. You can pick it up, but you should be aware of what its ramifications are, you should look clearly at what it’s actually saying.

Light Novels often contain an underlying subtext that is at best naïve and divorced from reality, and at worst poisonous. A lot of it can be chalked up to “wishful thinking” or “fantasies”, whether they are power fantasies where we get to do as we wish with our power, or ones where we’re smarter than everyone else and they despise us for it, or even where our moral superiority over others should give us more rights, affirming our deeply-felt belief that we are somehow better than those around us, who do not acknowledge us.

Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei anime / The Irregular at Magic High School anime - Shiba Tatsuya is Dark Flame Master!

Many light novels and anime works, heck, many films, video games, etc. are appreciated not in spite of the subtext, but because of it. We all watch and play stuff for the fantasies they empower and engender within us; that’s fine. If anything, it’s the opposite of escapism, tackling things we cannot handle in life on our terms.

And then we have messages such as the ones in Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei, that seem benign, but are deeply insidious and had even caused much harm in the real world, and which make me shake my head mightily and cry out, “No. This is not fine.

Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei begins with the usual stuff: Presenting a picture of a world where we are glorious, but others just fail to see it, and when they do they flock to us, without us needing to actually do anything about it ourselves.

But then the show takes it further, and argues that people who seek more equality, or dare to oppose the benevolent rule of Capitalism are defeatists who blame others, those who argue for “false equality”, and even terrorists, while trying to present its “Rule of the Inherited Might” as not just benevolent, but “fair”, while it is anything but.

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Mekakucity Actors Episode 3 Notes – In the Land of the Blind, Keep Your Eyes Open

(Note: Episodic notes are still mostly to be found on the Episodics Notes’ page, but up to a couple every week will have their write-up appear on the main page, when I think they warrant it. For those who don’t know, I take the notes as I watch the episode, and merely re-order them afterwards.)

So first we had a NEET getting too much attention from his genki-girl AI, and then we had his sister(?) who is sort of an airhead, who gets too much attention, and is an idol, even though she doesn’t wish to be, in order to support her family. The episodes of this series have too much dead time, too much dead chatter. I talked about it at length in my weekly overview for last week, but hey, we should finally get some tied plot with the “Colour Hood Gang” (that’s my name, not official), so let’s see where we’re going with this. I sure hope we’re getting somewhere.

Thoughts and Notes:

1) Attention is Everything:

Mekakucity Actors Episode 3 anime notes - Kido Tsubomi strikes a pose

1) Hm, with all those ridiculous poses and lines, Mekakucity Actors has more than its semblance of resemblance to JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure! More to the point, huzzah! Continuity! Picking up where last episode ended!

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Spring 2014 Week 3 Impressions – (Anime Power Ranking)

Shows in order of my enjoyment of the latest episode, not the show as a while.

I’m actually dropping/putting on hold a few shows. Finally cutting down on some write-ups (I hope I can!) link are to relevant blog-posts, and only for shows I thought the write-up was good or lengthy enough. First impressions for M3: Sono Kuroki Hagane, extra long write-ups for Isshuukan Friends, M3, and Mekakucity Actors.

1) Ping Pong episode 2

Ping Pong the Animation episode 2 overview - Tsukimoto Makoto / Smile has a face-off with coach Koizumi Jou

From APR – Ping Pong Episode 2 takes what the first episode had done and kicks it to overdrive. The characters which were basic are actually built. The interactions are charming, the characters are all “known” and nothing is new, but they still have depth and convince you of their reality, as their quirky natures rise to the top. A loveable cast, solid acting, and solid direction. The “duel” being narrated from the sides, discussing the other’s personality, the flicks to the butterfly… this ping pong duel had been directed and narrated as a samurai show fight, straight out of a samurai manga, and it’s one of the best such duels I’ve watched or read in a long while.

Verdict: Kept, full write-ups.

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LUFTRAUSERS – The Most Important Button is the One You Don’t Press

LUFTRAUSERS is a shoot’em up, or an aerial dogfighting game, where you get to make a plane out of 3 parts (weapon, body, engine) making up 125 combinations, each with a different audio track (I assume they have 3 layers/parts, for each bit) – I personally like the nuke body (where you blow up when you die, but take extra damage from collisions) the best.

LUFTRAUSERS video game review

This game is elegant, there are a total of four buttons you can click: Right, left, up (accelerate) and “Shoot”. Nothing else. Actually, the game has 6 buttons. Right, left, pressing on accelerate, not-pressing on accelerate, pressing to shoot, and not-pressing to shoot. While it seems weird for me to note these, as we don’t talk of “not shooting” as a button in most games, there the choice is often what to shoot, or how else to circumvent an enemy (Stealth games).

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M3 The Dark Metal / M3 Sono Kuroki Hagane Episode 1 – Better Die than Face the Past

(Note: Episodic notes are still mostly to be found on the Episodics Notes’ page, but up to a couple every week will have their write-up appear on the main page, when I think they warrant it. For those who don’t know, I take the notes as I watch the episode, and merely re-order them afterwards.)

A bunch of kids, mecha, dark. Mari Okada at the helm. Neon Genesis Evangelion is a show about its characters, about their psychological make-up. The fights are an extra on top. Mari Okada is good at characters and relationships, even if she’s not the best at “convoluted plots”. I hope she focuses on her strengths. Her other show this season, the “Madoka Mari Okada” (Selector Infected WIXOSS) is less than impressing me currently.

Thoughts and Notes:

1) The Orderly World:

M3 The Dark Metal / M3 Sono Kuroki Hagane Episode 1 Notes anime - Kasumi Raika and the stupid teacher

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Mekakucity Actors Episode 2 Notes – “You’re All Style and No Substance!” – Akiyuki Shinbou

(Note: Episodic notes are still mostly to be found on the Episodics Notes’ page, but up to a couple every week will have their write-up appear on the main page, when I think they warrant it. For those who don’t know, I take the notes as I watch the episode, and merely re-order them afterwards.)

Real talk. Last episode had been pretty, and interesting, but also self-indulgent as all hell. However much you wanted to get us to understand Ene, this was just giving her more time than was necessary, for fun. Or perhaps because you didn’t have enough material, so you wanted to drag it along. As a result, regardless of whether Ene was loveable or annoying, very little actually happened last week.

And although that episode was filled with nearly non-stop chatter, very little of consequence was actually said.

We’ve got a big cast, and I suspect each episode will be quite different tonally. Well, an episode without Ene is bound to feel different, so let’s see what we’ve got on our hands.

Thoughts and Notes:

1) Meet Momo. Silly and Loveable. Our Idol!:

Mekakucity Actors Episode 2 anime notes - Kisaragi Momo doesn't want to repeat a class

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Spring 2014 Week 2 Impressions – (Anime Power Ranking)

Another week! Most of the weak shows actually improved, some even did so dramatically! Also covering first impressions for the following shows: Ping Pong, Hitsugi no Chaika (Chaika the Coffin Princess), Mekakucity Actors, and Knights of Sidonia (Sidonia no Kishi).

Each episode’s title links to my full episodic notes for the episode in question, in case you’d like my in-depth reactions. Shows are listed in the order of my enjoyment of the relevant episodes, not the show as a whole. Some shows are listed higher than others though I consider them worse, because I’ve enjoyed this week’s episode more.

1) Mushishi S2 episode 2

Mushishi second season episode 2 anime overview

 From APR – Last week’s Mushishi was “Mushishi good”, which means it was very good, and small, that it didn’t scream its existence to the world. This episode though had been great even by Mushishi standards. We’ve had a case where the Mushishi situation reflects the situation of the humans, /twice over/. We had small sad moments, we had moments that had been down to earth, and moments where the supernatural had been allowed to shine in all of its glory. I have the feeling most of the voice actors in Mushishi aren’t professional full-time actors, and if anything, it makes things feel so much more real. May every episode be like this.

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