“In the dawn of the 21st century, magic, long thought to be folklore and fairy tales, has become a systematized technology and is taught as a technical skill. In First High School, the institution for magicians, students are segregated into two groups based on their entrance exam scores: “Blooms,” those who receive high scores, are assigned to the First Course, while “Weeds” are reserve students assigned to the Second Course.
Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei follows the siblings, Tatsuya and Miyuki Shiba, who are enrolled in First High School. Upon taking the exam, the prodigious Miyuki is placed in the First Course, while Tatsuya is relegated to the Second Course. Though his practical test scores and status as a “Weed” show him to be magically inept, he possesses extraordinary technical knowledge, physical combat capabilities, and unique magic techniques—making Tatsuya the irregular at a magical high school.” – MAL Synopsis
The Irregular at Magic High school is a show in a genre that I like to call power fantasy. Misfit of Demon King Academy, SAO, Mob Pyscho 100, and One Punch Man are birds of the same feather to some extent. Now, this genre of the show is very fun and interesting when done right. Mob Psycho, One Punch Man, and Misfit of Demon King Academy wear the genre on their sleeve and incorporate a lot of comedy and heartfelt moments to make us empathize with the characters. SAO takes a more serious route, which isn’t bad but can definitely rub people the wrong way. The main complaint about this genre is: “If the main character is op. Then there are no stakes. So why should I care?” While a very valid point these shows can (keyword here cause they don’t always) offer a lot more. In the case of Irregular at Magic High, it doesn’t really offer that much more to start but as it progresses, this show starts to show a fair amount of promise.
For starters, the animation is something that can make or break a show and for this one, it ranges from pretty good most of the time to “wow that actually looked great” to “ew that CGI is so bad.” Mundane interactions and scenes are animated pretty well, it looks good and is fluid. There is a major fight scene in the second arc that looks great and some other minor fights look pretty good. On the other hand, there are a handful of bad CGI moments that randomly pop up, which are quite jarring. The last arc of the show does have some solid CGI action scenes so ill give it that. The Magic animation is pretty solid if not kind of generic. My main gripe with the visuals in this show, outside of the jarring at times CGI, is the overuse of very bright whites and blues. It seriously looks like there’s just a blanket white filter over everything constantly for no rhyme or reason. Overall pretty solid animation-wise except for the holy light filter.
Moving on to the characters, I’ll be completely honest, this show is pretty weak in terms of this department. Our main character Tatsuya and his sister Miyuki have an uh, unique relationship (I’ll get to them later). Side characters just lack interesting motivations and characteristics. Outside of two minor character, we get introduced to in the second arc which I won’t spoil. There just isn’t anything that really caught my interest about Tatsuya’s friend group or peers sadly.
Tatsuya and Miyuki have a very unique and borderline incestuous relationship. Now now now, while I know most will get turned off by this and Miyuki’s constant “onii-sama” barrage. Their relationship is one of the best aspects of the show. As it progresses and more is revealed about why Tatsuya is the way he is, their relationship goes from “ew this is gross” to more of an “eww this is still gross BUT kinda sad and tragic.” I could definitely do without her jealous freak-outs over girls admiring Tatsuya in the early parts of the show but that gag goes away after the first arc and the show is definitely better off for it. The show raised some questions to me early on as to whether or not they were actually related by blood at all. I mean in the first episode they’re both first years but he says he’s only a few months older than her (kinda weird). But all those doubts go away and it’s confirmed that they are in fact blood-related and I couldn’t tell you if it would be better if they actually weren’t siblings by blood but it definitely would’ve been intriguing nonetheless.
A strength of the show is the main plot points in every arc and the overarching story. The first arc is just flat-out boring. Dealing with a lot of the basic and overused class system prejudice in a class environment storyline. It’s boring, it’s basic and I barely remember it. The second arc is a sort of tournament arc with a lot of cool events, animation, and some espionage sprinkled in for a nice touch. Definitely the best arc of the show, and home to its most iconic scene. Both of the minor characters I like to get introduced in this arc and some cool reveals happen that set up for future events. The final arc deals with another school event and adds a lot more espionage which is always fun, but this arc is where a lot of shit hits the fan and culminates to a great final 5 episodes and Tatsuya getting unleashed in all his OP glory. It was enjoyable and the ending sets up well for a season two, which somehow took until this fall to come out. Overall the three main arcs kept my attention despite the lackluster characters. The overarching story and global implications of a lot of actions that are taken make for a pretty good story.
I have very little to say about the power system in this show. Cool concept executed well. A science-based magic power system, while confusing just seems to work. There are a lot of explanations as to how stuff works that people a lot smarter than me might have an issue with (or it might enhance their enjoyment) but since I’m not one of those people I can just nod my head and go with it. I will say that magicians in this show are intriguing as an entity. What we’re shown is that magic is very powerful and there is definitely an elitist thought process in the ranks of magicians as well as the Ten Master Clans having a lot of power in the world. What we are told though is that for the most part magicians are just used as tools for war and things alike. I think it’s a cool parallel that should’ve been explored more and the last episode definitely sets it up to be. So cheers hoping season two delves deeper into that dynamic.
All in all, Irregular at Magic High School is a power fantasy with a cool power system, lackluster characters, overall good animation, and some very cool moments with implications that make them even more interesting. I’m looking forward to season two hoping it builds upon everything that made this show good and also brings more life to the cast of characters (also please don’t use the holy spirit light filter over the whole show again please and thank you.) Irregular at Magic High School is a 7/10.