(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.)
With every episode, we move towards episodes that don’t have less info-dumps, but where the non-infodump section is actually action, or where the infodumps are about action, rather than just theory! So close!
Yeah, last episode was bad in a different way, it had clearly shown that the author does not know what invests conflicts with weight, and how to make a conflict feel meaningful, and overcoming it a success. Well, new week, so new chances to impress us, right? Welp.
(It turns out I took 42 screenshots this episode. I have no idea how it happened. Here’s the album.)
Thoughts and Notes:
1) King Tatsuya Assumes His Natural Position:
There are no photos of “The Chief” in the LN. I was sure he’d look older, somewhat short, and chubby. I can’t be bothered to check if they describe his physique in all of the books, but hey, doesn’t really matter.
No wonder Tatsuya commanded Haruka, an adult secret agent and his counselor – he’s used to commanding experienced adults as par the course. The whole world is his plaything, acquiescing to his wills. That is of course, if only they are smart enough to realize how much better than they are he is, at everything.
Miyuki is naturally ecstatic at the natural order of the world being as it should, for once. It also mirrors her lines from last week – “It’s my honour to be your little sister!” – “It’s an honour for us to be able to work under you.” – Some of it is the normal way you address your elders, as part of being polite, and even moreso in Japan, but it seems 100% straight and sincere here.
Well, at least we see it’s a partnership, Tatsuya isn’t Taurus Silver, only half. The intellectual half, who lets Mr. Taurus do the mundane things, spending time making his ideas a reality. Mind over matter is very much Tatsuya’s position here. But when you think of it, that’s what magic is all about – the ability to affect change in the world through one’s will and mind.
Shaking the camera to show us the foundations of the world shaking? Shaking the camera to show us the intensity of “Mr. Taurus”, even though his acting isn’t selling it? Dunno, but it’s giving me a headache >.>
The bit above about “History being made” isn’t random, even reading the novel when I came to see the tester saying how he’s “I’m walking through the air.. No, I’m flying!” and I couldn’t shake off the feeling it’s a reference to “A small step for man, a giant leap for Mankind” from the moon-landing.
2) Born to Rule:
Magic and technology will set you free! Now we just need to be magicians, and to be able to buy said technologies. Well, it’s not that different from our world, where life can be made easier via technology, provided you have the funds. Ah, yes, except for the whole “only a select few can make use of it, due to a genetic advantage.” – That’s an aside, the anime does sell you well on the joy of flying, and how the other testers, when they see their flying friend, take to the air without any prompts or receiving some instruction to test particular things – They want to fly, dammit!
Psions are important – see, here is something in which Tatsuya and Miyuki both outstrip most magicians, and would you know it? It’s genetic. It was sort of discussed in the chibi short intros, but it hadn’t been mentioned much, so I’ll explain. Pushions are “emotional” particles, that’s what Mizuki with the eyeglasses sees. Psions are “information” particles, or magic particles. Magicians pour them into their Activation Sequences to perform magic.
Most magicians don’t have that much, but it’s ok. It just means they need to shape them efficiently. It does mean they won’t be able to use a lot of magic continuously, but for most purposes, it’s sufficient. Tatsuya is inefficient in how he shapes his Psions, but he still has a lot of them. That’s why Tatsuya using “normal magic” is a case of using brute force, rather than finesse.
They are trying to make the CAD efficient for most mages, but until they do, what the CAD does is take Psions and helps shape them. Tatsuya with a CAD is a force to be reckoned with, as it removes much of his downside, while it helps other magicians pick up speed closer to what he is capable of. But until they optimize the CAD, to keep the flight spell going requires them to keep “casting spells”, so they run out, while Tatsuya wouldn’t. Miyuki has the best of both worlds going for her, as she has a lot of Psions and is effective at using them, so she can use big spells one after the other.
Yes, Tatsuya has an advantage now, an inborn one, but that doesn’t do much for commercial products, so they’re going to work at eliminating his advantage from making a difference here.
It’s not really relevant to the series, and I think they already skipped it from the LNs, but how do they sell something then, if only a tiny percentage of the population can buy it? The government subsidizes about 90% of the cost of magical tools, such as CADs. Not very “Libertarian”, but it fits a world that revolves around magicians, and where you want to keep them progressing. Why not make it free? They need reason to keep working, silly!
3) Whose Honour is It, Anyway?
Miyuki is all sorts of “How dare you ignore my brother?” – I wonder, is Tatsuya being ignored supposed to be an obstacle for Tatsuya’s character, or to Miyuki’s?
Miyuki, possible successor to one of the two strongest families of magicians! And Tatsuya is her bodyguard, even though he is older. The cat’s out of the sack. Then again, their family situation certainly doesn’t seem enjoyable, with these cool relations with their father, and how they spoke of their aunt before.
“Heartless bogus magician” – Oh boy, you showed him, you showed him good, Mr. Butler! But see, as above – it’s not Tatsuya that sees this as a challenge that must be answered, but Miyuki. I wonder, as it relates to “It’s my honour being your little sister!” – Miyuki had made Tatsuya’s honour into her own, is she angry in his stead so his honour won’t be besmirched, or her own? It’s also part of the problem with fandom – if you make something into part of your identity, you take criticism of it as criticism of your own – and no one is a bigger fan of Tatsuya’s than Miyuki.
So, is she defending her brother, or herself?
And so, Tatsuya joins the long line of anime main characters who had been experimented on by his own parents. Quite a life. An artificial magician, but rather than be recognized and exalted, he’s treated as a failure, as a shame to be hidden. This will be relevant to the show’s main theme, going forward.
Man, this butler character is such a caricature. This scene, in case you hadn’t realized, is an attempt by the author to try and bring up things naturally, to show, rather than tell us on Tatsuya and Miyuki’s family situation, and to go alongside his position as FTL, and him as a secret agent, to complete our knowledge of Tatsuya’s position, powers, and nature. No, of course there are still things for us to find out, but this is the big picture.
“You shouldn’t speak ill of your mother, even if your hatred of her is warranted.” – Just a really interesting line, in all sorts of ways. Family respect in a family-based society structure. The nature of families and parents, and what sort of life must lead you to utter such a line to your son.
“I don’t hate mother, because my heart is incapable of feeling hatred.” – Part of what was meant by calling him “Heartless”, but is he heartless, or merely wise? For he did not say it out loud, letting his father be comforted knowing his son doesn’t hate his mother, or rather, that his son doesn’t feel resentment. Though that’d be an assumption, as it wasn’t said, and we already know from the broadcasting room incident that Tatsuya is very particular with his phrasings.
More shared honour! Tatsuya is a Weed and first year, but he’s been made into an Engineer – that gives honour to his fellow classmates, for sharing his class, his state as a Weed, and his grade! That’s also a form of nationalism that is often considered healthy, as when your country’s team at sports wins, you feel as if you won, or that the victory reflects on you. Well, in the case of Tatsuya’s classmates it helps show them that they have the potential as well! If only they too had been blessed with “Strongest Family” genetics, eh?
4) Amidst the Plebeians:
“It can’t be helped, jealousy isn’t based on reason, after all.” – It’s actually important, the implications to this little chat. All athletes are Course 1 students. Course 1 students dislike Tatsuya and don’t trust him. That seems reasonable enough, right? Well, last episode during his selection as Engineer we’ve been told that not trusting the engineer who handles your CAD can be dangerous. Tatsuya had still been picked, to at least handle his sister and Mari’s CADs, because that’d still make it easier for the rest of the engineers.
This is the happiest moment in Miyuki’s life! Her brother has a coat with the petal of a Course 1 student on it, and she adorns it with a pin of yet another petal! Of course, it’s only because they’ve never had a Course 2 member, so they never prepared uniforms without said petals. Now Tatsuya just needs to sleep with Miyuki and her life would be complete.
Weak Tatsuya needs girls to stand up to him! And all girls who are so eager to stand up for him want his, erm, CAD-tuning skills, yes, that’s it.
“Is he your boyfriend? ” Blush! – They cut it out of the anime, but Honoka and Shizuku became good friends of Miyuki’s after the confrontation at the beginning of the 2nd episode, so being around both Tatsuya and Miyuki it makes sense to use first names. Then again, Kirihara calls him “Shiba-ani” as in “Older Brother Shiba”, so still.
Tatsuya tires of this VN-style drivel! Of course, it’d be much better if you cut away the godawful VN-style (or elevator-style) music.
A little harem, with Mizuki waiting in the wings. I don’t remember it from the LNs, but I could’ve forgotten.
5) Blush and Save – Tatsuya and the (Creepy) LNs:
Mizuki, with her heightened senses, notices something is awry, and goes to investigate, as all characters in YA fiction would. Never mind her frightened nature. Mikihiko looks like some sort of mad scientist.
So, Tatsuya was just with the girls, all the way down at the track field, and yet he got here alongside Mizuki to save her, wot? He also changed from his PE outfit to his regular outfit.
Mikihiko was going to react instinctively with killing intent at someone who intruded on him using magic at school.Sounds very smart, and entirely “blame-free”. Right, Tatsuya? He uses magic somewhere others are, and when he’s disrupted he doesn’t think the ones who might disrupt him would be either teachers or fellow students, on whom he can’t use violence.
In case you’re wondering, he set up a barrier so people will instinctively be turned away, but Mizuki’s eyes enabled her to bypass the misdirection. And Tatsuya managed to do so as well. Still, he’s doing it in school.
Mikihiko’s surprised expression at Tatsuya knowing his magic is Ancient Magic of the Spirit Control type! What’s the purpose of secret knowledge if Tatsuya knows it all anyway? Well, it wouldn’t be impressive for Tatsuya to know it unless no one else does, either due to it being “Secret” (like Spirit magic) or due to him being the only one to figure it out (Flight-type magic), would it now?
“If it’s consensual, then I’m out of here, but if not, we might have a problem.” – Smoooooth. Also, Mikihiko sure fits this world of using others. No interest in Mizuki thus far, who is his classmate, but the moment she possesses knowledge he (and even Tatsuya!) doesn’t, then he wants to possess her. Mikihiko is very driven about his magic.
Yes, the relationships in this show are more or less all standard anime-level blushy misunderstandings and lack of forward-drive. At best.
6) Unconsidered Info-Dumps:
“Mikihiko, you’ve used a new technical term for the first time, would you mind explaining?” – Infodumps for the infodump god!
Spirit Magicians analyse their spirits through inference! Or through subtraction! I bet the author read that up, as that’s the only way we can “see” some sub-atomic particles, or could in the past. You can’t measure them directly, so you measure things they interact with. I’m actually fine with it, thought it’s clever.
Yes, this is very much post-Kantian – the mind shapes what one sees, so even if the vibrations of fire spirits aren’t “red”, they have been conditioned to think of them as such. But now Mizuki can see the spirits, and see that it’s indeed the case. Honestly, considering both Mizuki and the leader of the Kendo club have these eyes, that the various schools of Spirit Magic hadn’t found such a person and asked them to lend a hand seems ridiculous, no two ways about it. They know of such eyes, and even gave them names, but somehow Mikihiko acts as if what she’s doing now, truly seeing whether the colours they picked matched or not is something that had never been done before…
But here we go, Mikihiko wishes to possess Mizuki’s power, but even though the advancements in modern magic had been achieved by systemizing magic and sharing information, he won’t share the knowledge she even exists with other magicians – way to go, ancient magic! Also, they do know, in general, thus the name. Maaan. This is actually stupid.
You know, in the LN art, I sometimes had a hard time telling Mikihiko and Tatsuya apart. Both are broad shouldered, tall, magicians, who see other people as tools.
7) Miyuki is as Shallow as Tatsuya’s Shadow on a Hot Spring Day:
Mayumi in the spring. Trying to flirt with Tatsuya, but he sees she’s only trying to relieve her stress, and shoots her down. Yes, Mayumi isn’t actually interested in Tatsuya, and is only teasing him, or is that his misunderstanding? Well, they cut out most of Mayumi and Tatsuya’s interactions from the episodes thus far, but she has a personality that likes teasing and playing with others.
Miyuki and the guilt-trip, only thinking of her onii-sama – “I’m not thirsty, after all, unlike my brother, I wasn’t forced to stand outside in the heat for an hour and a half.” – Oh brother… pun intended.
Even Honoka and Shizuku realize that anything and everything makes Miyuki think of her brother. You can’t talk to Miyuki, you always talk to an extension of Tatsuya that thinks of Tatsuya. How can you be her friend, rather than a friend of Tatsuya’s? There’s very little individual personality to be seen. Yes, many characters are characterized by a small shtick, but for a main character like this?
“That’s what makes Tatsuya great, he sees every job to its conclusion, even if it’s something tedious like taking attendance.” Oooh, I forgot this line, which makes me think of something that’ll happen later. Heh. Tatsuya is great because his mind is faster than everyone else’s, but he doesn’t mind the tedious work, which is the mark of a true genius – both the ideas, and the ability to execute them.
“Not many people can do that.” – Being a genius? No. Waiting outside and do their job? Yes, they can. We call them “Adults”.
Yup, the best way to be Miyuki’s friend is just polish her ego, by speaking well of Tatsuya. Makes you wonder why you’d want to be her friend to begin with, unless you want to be a friend of the beautiful and the powerful, which most do, even instinctively.
And the flaming car, which will be the cause of massive info-dumps next episode, for stuff explained last episode. At least it’s an application of knowledge we still have, or at least you’d have if you read my explanation of why the Flight Magic was thought unfeasible last episode.
Post Episode Thoughts:
Did too much happen this episode, or not enough? It took me 1.5 hours to watch it, and as you can see I wrote quite a few notes, but I can’t help that feel this episode had been “empty”.
Too much of what happened had been “more of the same” – Miyuki seeing her brother’s honour as her own, everyone either hating Tatsuya or saying he’s the best ever…
We did learn a bit more of Tatsuya’s past, and saw just how great he is. Yes, it didn’t take us long to go from “I wonder who Taurus Silver is?” to seeing it’s Tatsuya, just like from us learning of Flight Magic to it being solved, but if you think of it, Silver Taurus was mentioned in the first couple of episodes, so that at least took some time.
We also saw a bit more of Tatsuya’s family situation and his “nature”, even if it hadn’t been spelled out yet. And we’ve got more infodumps at school.
I think it might be the infodumps that make 5 minutes feel like 20. Hm. But is there a better way to handle it? Or perhaps they should just skip what doesn’t matter? Mikihiko’s bashful nature and him saying he changed from a year ago mattered, but did we need that little creepy and objectifying chit-chat between him and Tatsuya? I wonder.