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.

Introduction: 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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Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei – Books 1-11 and Adaptation Thoughts

Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei / The Irregular At Magic High School - Shiba Tatsuya, Shiba MiyukiMahouka Koukou no Rettousei, known as “The Irregular at Magic High School” in English is a series of light novels written by Tsutomu Satō, and is the high profile (shounen action) adaptation of the season, poised to receive the most hype, and perhaps garner the same sort of attention as its peers in the last couple of years – Attack on Titan (Shingeki no Kyojin) in 2013, and Sword Art Online in 2012. The first 11 books cover the first year in highschool, of the two main characters, so we’ll discuss that. Book 12 is the first book of their second year.

I’ve actually had numerous friends suggest this series to me over the past year or two, especially as I’ve been a big fan of Sword Art Online. Well,with it airing this season (tomorrow, actually), I thought it’d be a good opportunity to sit down and read it (though I dunno why, I prefer coming to material new, why consume it twice?). I wasn’t as enthused as my friends had led me to believe I’d be, and the series shares and exemplifies the woes I write of in my piece about LNs’ writing style, but I actually think the adaptation might be better than the book-series, and more fun, so don’t rule it out.

I’m going to try and avoid spoiling or describing the series in-depth, that’s never been of much interest to me, and I doubt it’d be very useful to you, as you can simply read the books or watch the series. I’m going to discuss the themes of the series, arc by arc, and things which stood out to me. I will also discuss some thoughts on the upcoming adaptations, which are only guesses and predictions, naturally.

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