(Note: Episodic notes are still mostly to be found on the Episodics Notes’ page, this write-up spends some time explaining explanations glossed over in the anime, and talking about basic story-structure, which this narrative doesn’t execute well.)
Well, the first arc is finally over! The second arc is here, and it’s going to be fun, and have action! Just as soon as we finish preparing for the Nine Schools Competition and swallow some more magic jargon :P
1) Highschool Comedy:
1) “BS Magicians” always made me laugh – “They’re such “BS Magicians!” (Bullshit, for those not familiar with this acronym). Referring to magicians with a special inborn talent.
2) It’s important to Haruka to note she became a secret investigator after becoming a counselor – she’s really a counselor, not an agent posing as one. She truly cares about the students, and it also explains her poor skills in interrogating Tatsuya. Not that anyone could outsmart him, of course.
Haruka, with her childish voice, with “I don’t like being referred to that way” said in a childish manner, she keeps being reduced to the stature of a child, rather than being an adult with social standing and poise. This is the world of the kids, and the magically gifted.
Also note how she enters a give and take with a student, and will give him confidential information – not for him giving her confidential information, but in exchange for him basically blackmailing her…
3) It’s funny, or perhaps sad, but this short soccer match? It’s the most action we’ve had in this show in one continuous sequence, except perhaps when Tatsuya dodged 10 people at once in the Kendo versus Kenjutsu showdown which was cut in the middle. Well, this is the second arc, so it should improve on the action quotient!
4) The bloomers bit truly is hilarious – they sort of skipped it, but one of the causes for World War 3 and the world losing most of its population was the world’s temperature fell (“Global warming is a lie!”) which led to food shortages. More practically, it meant people got used to wearing longer sleeves. Yes, there’s more than a bit of a puritan underpinning here, so I wonder, is this a sci-fi treatment of how what is modern these days can seem otherworldly, drawing attention to the “moral situation of the world is in tatters” as Leo put it, or just draw attention to the already somewhat titillated nature of bloomers in otaku culture?
2) Tatsuya Needs His Spotlight:
1) Yes, another point for Shiba to shine! He’ll not get to participate as an athlete, but he’ll still be there as an engineer! Not only that, but he’ll be the first First Year student to be one, ever. He looks so put upon, hedid try to escape the room, after all.
2) “Precedents were made to be overturned” – That’s not just Tatsuya, but that’s essentially what most protagonists or stories are about – having a status quo, and then upsetting it. But he’s basically the embodiment of said idea.
3) Oh my, the euphemisms! Please A-chan, stop rubbing the phallic object as you speak of its curve :P
4) I remember reading this sequence in the books, “Shiba, what kind of person do you think Taurus Silver is?”It seemed so random, almost too random, but then I coupled it with Miyuki’s “blunder”. And Tatsuya’s answer “He might be a Japanese youth just like you or me.”
Yeah. I’ve read too many YA books by that point.
5) Something glossed over, to help explain the flying magic bit – to change a magic you need to do the same thing as if you’re trying to cancel it – which is overwrite it, meaning you have to apply an interference power stronger than the one originally used. And each time you need more and more. It actually reminds me of the ancient Greek philosophers’ view of the world, they thought an item is in a certain form, and if you change anything about it, then it’s not the same object.
This is prior to the “determinacy/consistency of objects”, so, if for example a tree’s green leaves became red, then it was to them a different tree. Same here, a magic you change the parameters of is essentially a new spell, rather than the old one that’s been alternated.
“The British scholars who planned that experiment must have misunderstood the nature of anti-magic.” – They’re accomplished scholars, but young Tatsuya knows best! Well, he has an innate talent at anti-magic, so he also has more knowledge on this issue.
In case you’re not following, just as you can’t keep changing a spell, casting and then casting again still has residual spell energy, because you cast over the old spell – so the British magicians tried to use anti-magic to wipe out the old spell before casting the new one – but interference power increases each time you cast a spell over the old one, and in this sense “Anti-magic” is also magic, adding more interference power requirement to the next cast.
3) Practical Magic:
1) “They can’t see how great Tatsuya is!” – Sure seems like a common refrain. Those two girls, Mitsui Honoka and Kitayama Shizuku are the two girls who apologized to Tatsuya after the course 1 and course 2 standoff in episode 2. The anime skipped it, but they’re Miyuki’s close friends.
2) “If the tuning is sub-par, injury will be the least of your problems!” – Sounds ominous. Juumonji is the king of common sense though – they don’t trust Tatsuya? They need to show his skills? Then have him actually do what will be required of him!
3) Hattori Hanzo (that name!) might not like Tatsuya, but as he said in his squabble with Miyuki and Tatsuya, he believes in accepting reality as it is to be of utmost importance for a magician. He will say things as he sees them, without holding back condemnation or praise. Reality must be spoken as it is, or at least as he perceives it. No emotional blinders for him.
4) This bit makes a lot of sense to me, and did from the get-go, while some people complain about how “Far-fetched” it is. It’s just like Harry Potter. Blanche was controlled by an international power, and this crime syndicate is also international. While you can have things only located within school, it can be more exciting to expand the scale and scope to the national, and even global levels. Makes sense from a narrative perspective, that is.
And yes, he’s a secret officer of the military. Considering his skills, it’s only natural they’d want to pick him up.
4) Mr. Impossible!
1) “Once again brother, you’ve made the impossible possible!” – Yes, that spell that stumped the British scholars, and which is considered impossible? Tatsuya cracked it! To be honest, having a super-accomplished protagonist is nice. But in most stories, after something is said to be impossible, we see the hero struggle before succeeding at it, fight and overcome obstacles.. and time passes.
Here? We were just told of it being “impossible”, and then immediately after had been shown Tatsuya succeeding. Something was set up as “impossible” just so we could move straight away to how “amazing” Tatsuya is. This isn’t us being shown, but essentially told. They could’ve just shown us from the get-go Tatsuya flying and Miyuki saying how he did something thought to be impossible. It’s not an impossible task, but just a way to prove a point. Just as Tatsuya is 2nd Course just so he could “overcome” this “obstacle” that had never truly been an obstacle – it’s more akin to a foot-high obstacle being dubbed as “impossible to jump over” and then everyone marveling when someone succeeds.
The obstacles in this show aren’t overcome – they’re only there in order to be immediately smashed through. Once or twice, or if fueled with determination and ideals would be one thing – but this is the pattern the show goes through, the only way it knows to do things. It might be supposed to be “exciting”, but it ends up as flat and boring, because nothing is at stake, nothing is ever at question.
2) Tatsuya, the best big brother a girl could have! It’s a mode of thought I am not fond of, but some people think that way, and it’s also how we treat athletes in The Olympics, “Our country won” – as if we did something, sharing the glory of someone else.
3) Miyuki flying is pretty cool. They sold us well on the fun and sense of freedom being able to fly engender :)
Post Episode Thoughts:
This episode had some fun bits! Lots of magical info-dumps, including some things barely mentioned that might be relevant in the far-future.
The action was even somewhat solid, we got introduced to another classmate of Tatsuya that will matter, and saw two of Miyuki’s friends that had been ignored thus far.
The bits with how Tatsuya is oh-so-perfect had been quite heavy-handed, they don’t even let him try, they only present “obstacles” for them to be immediately demolished, which actually robs the show of the potential of being exciting, due to lack of any form of tension.
Miyuki training for Mirage Bat though, reminds one of Quidditch, eh? Can’t have a magical high school without a flying sport! Time for athletic combat competitions, at least it’ll be fun and flashy, I hope!
P.S. Breaking down a popcorn shounen to its components is way too easy. I usually try to not think too much while watching these shows. I hope I can stop soon. But with all the talking and theory, and having already read the story, my mind can’t stop spinning its cogwheels.