Sometimes, I pretend to be really deep an informed about what’s happening in America and new ways of thinking. Other times, I watch anime at four in the morning. But that’s not to say that we can’t take a deeper look at both things, we can be critical of more than one medium. Thus I present a reaction/synopsis of the first episode of The Irregular at Magic High School.
Short version: don’t waste your time.
Okay, some anime can be really good. As in, well made and written. Well drawn with memorable characters and a deep and interesting story. I think that might be my first problem with the Pouty Guy at the Best High School Ever; it’s a little deceiving in its presentation. The animation style, although not super original, isn’t bad. It’s well drawn and the characters don’t look too strange. The design is interesting and there’s a nice blend between CGI and traditional styles that isn’t distracting. Most of the time, the art style is what gets me to watch an anime in the first place. So it’s such a shame when you see something so well drawn and it turns out to be predictable garbage, there was such potential here.
The premise is thus. It’s the future, after WWIII apparently and magic and technology have become synonymous, or blended together in many aspects of normal life. After the war, and a large number of the population is reduced (I don’t know why this has to happen in so many animes. Are the Japanese so worried about overpopulation that they have to kill a bunch of people so when it’s the future the audience doesn’t think there would be too many people? Idk), and people go to school to learn magic. The story takes place at an elite academy for magic users, and like so many other schools in anime, there’s some ridiculous hierarchy between the students that are too cool for school and the other losers that just show up. Cool kids are Blooms, losers are Weeds, I suppose because the Blooms are more powerful and the Weeds have yet to come into their own or some shit, it’s not explained all that well. It just kind of exists, so roll with it.
The premise is silly, I’ll grant, but it’s not the worst setup for an anime I’ve ever heard, certainly there’s been worse. But right out the gate, the anime starts throwing inconsistencies to its own rules and a bunch of other extra things that hamper the “cool” tone of the show. The style is supposed to be “cool”, or really invigorating to watch, with smooth fight scenes and explosions and whatever. Well none of that happens in the first episode other than a ninja attack (I wish I was kidding). So the first episode is mostly just the characters walking around, meeting each other and talking about status or nothing at all, just introducing people we need to know later.
But no one really stands out. Sure the designs are unique to some extent, but you can guess all of the characters just by the way they’re drawn. Booby lady, check. Spunky red-head and glasses friend who are obviously in lesbians with each other, check. Serious glasses character with bad boy character who are obviously gay for each other, check. Overly broody main character with a much to innocent sister, check. It’s all pretty uninspired. We mostly follow the main character around as he broods about his position at the school, being one of the Weeds while his sister is a Bloom. Yet apparently he’s also super powerful at magic and is actually really awesome?
You don’t get to have both. It feels like something I would have written back in High School about myself. I wanted to be the cool one, so I dreamed of being amazing while also not being a part of the cool kids because they obviously don’t understand how deep and complicated I am and HOLY GOD who thought this was interesting? Give your character some strife other than whatever self imposed puberty pain he’s dealing with. Make him suck at magic. Or make him really powerful but have crappy social skills so he’s having to learn how to be a Bloom when he doesn’t think he belongs. Something more inspired than this.
And there’s this elephant in the room that we need to address. There’s this heavily implied sexual tension between the main character and his almost-twin sister, and it’s really distracting. There’s a lot of “Oni-Sama ~~” or whatever and she always blushes when he touches her. She even outright asks him if he thinks she’s cute or if they have a “special connection” and the other characters play along with it too. That’s not endearing for the characters. I know that Japan sometimes does this, but it really doesn’t make the characters anymore likable or memorable. Just really creepy and off-putting. My OTP is not going to be between a brother and sister, that’s not something you can make me ship. Knock it off.
Most importantly is that the main character is a Gary Stu. People don’t trust him and look down on him. They immediately call him a Weed even though he’s just arrived to this school. Yet he has intimate knowledge of the how the system works and understands that’s his place or whatever. And then he’s good at everything. He’s apparently good at magic, he’s a smooth talker to the teachers, he’s a skilled martial artist (Why do you need martial arts when you can use the magic? The fuck?). The whole first episode is just him noticing things, dictating how the school is so polarized and then brooding about it, while still being amazing at everything. It doesn’t make any sense, and it’s the kind of self-insertion crap I’m sure I wrote when I was that age.
I get it, there’s an audience for this stuff. I would have watched this when I was fifteen and thought, “Oh shit this show gets me. That’s totally me right there.” As an adult, watching a children’s cartoon, I strive for more complicated themes. This doesn’t set a good example, and it doesn’t make me want to watch anymore. On a scale of 1-10, I give it an “Axe smothered boys locker room”.