It’s official. Mahou Sensou has shown that with this last episode, it’s beyond redemption as an anime adaptation.
The show hasn’t been promising from the very beginning what with choppy storylines haphazardly sliced together, character developments that take one step forward, 2 steps back and to top things off, the visuals and effects weren’t even that good. Things took a slight turn for the better as we approached the last arc in ep. 09 and with new characters and the promise of a final showdown between the good and bad guys, it looked like Mahou Sensou could redeem itself a little in its finale. Unfortunately, episode 12 did none of that.
More questions than answers were raised in the final episode and while that’s not necessarily a bad thing in anime, it was here. We got the fight between Wizard Brace and others vs the Trailers. I don’t even know who the other are! Or who riled and banded everyone together! We also got the crucial fight between brothers Takeshi vs Gekko, especially since it’s hinted that Gekko has killed their mother, in spite of Takeshi’s premonition magic abilities… Going back to the fights, they just weren’t epic final showdowns (not even that final blast from the Principal could persuade me) and were brief, if anything at all. No one went all out!
That’s what episode 12 felt like – brief. It’s as though the anime team decided to throw its hands in the air and just give up, happy that it’s all over. From day one, the show felt forced and pushed itself onto viewers by utilising various anime tropes. It seemed as though Madhouse didn’t want to do this adaptation at all – looking at director Sato Yuzo’s resume, I’d bet he was either forced to take on this project or challenged to do so; Madhouse is famous for being a reliable studio effects-wise and yet during the Takeshi-Gekko fight scenes, someone switched the lighting down a notch! Why??? Not all light novels get anime adaptations, only the good ones that sell well do. While most light novel adaptations aim to pique more interest among the anime-only viewers to then go buy the light novels, the same can’t be said for Mahou Sensou. For me it’s served the opposite purpose and if I were to want to read the light novels, it’ll only be because I want to see how badly the production team screwed things up for us.
How did Isoshima get back into the picture and does she know some sort of high-speed flying spell to save Takeshi in time? At least be convincing people! How did the school principal just turn up at the fight when she was missing for the last 2 episodes? Where did she come from? Wasn’t she off fighting Washizu? When did they get back? And no one’s explained why Kazuma had to sleep 17 years just to wait for this 2nd war to start. What does he mean by the future can be changed? Is he related to Takeshi and Gekko? Or is he actually Takeshi (Miyano Mamoru and Namikawa Daisuke do have a similar tone of voice)? Is the reason the factions are at war to do with how powerful Takeshi and Gekko supposedly are? Why does Kazuma have a picture of Isoshima? Is Isoshima = V? Why does magical warfare encroached on the normal world not incite some sort of widespread panic? Even if this weren’t that type of show, a single scene of innocent civilians running for their lives would’ve exemplified the gravity of this war more than magic soldiers incinerating each another. Is that the only way to kill other magicians? What’s the repertoire of spells again? Oh yeah, no one bothered explaining context. In fact, there is NO context. We’re thrown into this world as ridiculously as Takeshi was in episode 01. We’re left as lost as Takeshi is in the final moments of episode 12 – will he even make it back to his own time? By the way, we’ve lost Ida’s little sister permanently too since no one’s bothered to mention her at all.
With 7 published light novels as source material, I expected much much more and deservedly so. Mahou Sensou has been the most disappointing of magic high school animes in a long time because it actually had the potential. It had the right elements but they were all isolated from one another so everything seemed all over the place and nothing gelled coherently to form the solid show it could’ve been. It even had the stellar cast of seiyuus backing it and a dependable production house working on it. I could read up more to find out what went wrong with the show – was it the studio execs, inexperienced director/series composition or too soon an adaptation (manga just started in 2013)? But I won’t. Because this show has just left such a bad taste that I can’t be bothered to rationalise it anymore.
I’d recommend you watch this only if you’re a diehard fan of Miyano Mamoru who has done a consistently good job with Takeshi in spite of eveything. The rest of the cast is amazing as well but with that many characters, there’s little air time to justify you watching. The only other reason to watch this is if you want a masterclass in how an anime could go so wrong. Guilty Crown did that albeit in the last quarter of the show but Mahou Sensou trumps it with a start-to-end of what NOT to do in anime.