I can’t remember when was the last time I got THIS excited and hyped up about a new anime, enough for me to want to dig up any information I can about it and to share it here with everyone! After last season’s Mahou Sensou, I feel determined to review yet another magic-high-school series because honestly, I’m sure this team can do a much better job.
Reason to be hyped up #1: Production Staff
Director – Ono Manabu
He’s done a variety of work as a director both series and episode, storyboard and key animation. With his latest work being the series director behind Log Horizon, also another light novel adaptation, it’s safe to say Mahouka’s in safe hands here with a guy who knows how to bring the various elements of making an anime together because in spite of the mangas, it’s a very tall order for anyone to translate words into animation. With the proven record of Log Horizon (second season this autumn yay!!), Ono Manabu’s the go-to man of the moment for light novel adaptations.
Character design/Chief Animation – Ishida Kana
Often times we focus on the director, studio, seiyuus, music composer and unwittingly leave out one of the most important staff member in a show. The character designer is principle in, as the name goes, designing the look of our characters. It’s an important role because throughout the animation process, these designs are the the foundations used for animating and bringing characters to life. Best part for Mahouka is that Ishida is well versed in key animation as well so we’re bound to have solid, fluid graphics and effects. With credentials spanning many popular works such as Aquarion Evol, Code Geass, the first FMA series, Gundam 00 and Sword of the Stranger (beautiful, stoic movie), Mahouka’s bound to be well executed and visually stunning.
Music – Iwasaki Taku
Hot off composing Winter 2014’s Noragami OST (さすが岩崎さま！) the composer of the Black Butler series, Rurouni Kenshin OVAs and Guren Lagaan is in charge of music for Mahouka. He’s done wonderfully emotive compositions for shows ranging from the samurai-machoism types to the occult so with a show that’s essentially about an age old tradition of magic but set in the future, I’m betting this OST will be another one for keeps.
Studio – Madhouse
So they screwed up with Mahou Sensou big time. With Mahouka trailing in Spring 2014, I’m starting to suspect the former was just unfortunate in that most of the studio’s resources were probably reserved for Mahouka. Madhouse has done plenty of great works so far (and assisted Ghibli) – Claymore, Devil May Cry, Paradise Kiss, Kami inai Nichiyoubi, Trinity Blood etc. You get the point. They’ve been around and have done a wide repertoire of works. So fingers crossed, Madhouse will come around to delivering a good enough production so we can all bury the hatchet about Mahou Sensou.
Reason to be hyped up #2: Seiyuu Cast
In the lead is Nakamura Yuuichi turning in his iconic stoic voice (my favourite) and Hayami Saori, one of the few female seiyuu who has the ability to NOT annoy viewers in spite of playing annoying characters. She’s done quite a few memorable roles but which perhaps have yet to catapult her to the ranks of Kugimiya Rie and Hanazawa Kana. Mahouka might just be it for her, seeing as how she’s voicing a character who’s mood swings depending on whether her oniisan is involved or not. It’ll be a challenge for her to voice someone with a massive brother complex and not overdo it so that’s worth looking out for.
Other supporting cast members include Kimura Ryohei, Matsuoka Yoshitsugu, Terashima Takuma, Sugita Tomokazu, Suwabe Junichi, Hanazawa Kana, Inoue Marina, Satou Satomi, Tomatsu Haruka etc. Sold yet? :)
Reason to be hyped up #3: Story
Like Mahou Sensou, Mahouka is a light novel adaptation with currently 12 such novels published and an adaptation spanning 5 mangas thus far. It’s only natural that the Mahouka universe expands into anime and with the light novels being bestsellers having sold a whopping total of 3,150,000 copies, the story is pretty much guaranteed (for perspective, SAO sold around 4 million copies before the anime began).
As mentioned earlier, Mahouka’s about magic but set in the future. Magic is no longer in the form of spells and chants (take a hint Tokyo Ravens) and is actually incorporated into technology through complicated devices (I’m guessing it’s similar to Magi‘s Magnostadd City). So the premise itself is more interesting than the usual magic anime deploys.
Mahouka’s set in a high school because these magicians have to go somewhere to hone their skills and presumably become useful members of society, but this high school is cruel enough to separate the “blooms” 「優等生」from the “weeds”「劣等生」based on the entrance exam. How much more obvious can the school be in classifying its students according to their abilities from day one? Because of this, I expect some self-esteem issues in our characters and we all know those are always filled with drama but are the ones that lead to the most character development. It’s a commonly used set-up in anime but it works every time anyway.
Our lead characters are the Shiba siblings. Younger sister Miyuki has a brother complex and is also the top student in Year 1. Older brother Tatsuya does not have a sister complex (none that I’ve read from the official website anyway) and although he’s scored the highest in the school’s record in the theory component, he failed miserably in the practical course thus rendering him a weed. The dynamics between the polarising siblings should make for much comedic effect and possibly scenarios where it’s the little sister who comes along to save oniisan.
Be warned that there are many supporting characters in the form of fellow first years, senpais and even first years from a sister school (there are 9 branches around Japan). I’m guessing the male students will be into Miyuki, who will probably brush them off nonchalantly seeing as how she only has eyes for her dear oniisan – flag for tsundere character. With Sugita Tomokazu‘s message to anticipating fans in relation to the anime release made most likely on behalf of all male viewers, ‘please entrust your sister to me! お兄さん！妹さんを僕に下さい！！’, Mahouka might be a hit or a miss, depending on said Miyuki. But with an experienced staff at the helm and a galore of seiyuus to translate the light novels into animation (drama cds feature the same cast), I’m very hyped up for Mahouka and hopefully it’ll meet expectations! With 26 episodes, there’s plenty of room to flesh out most of the characters as well as build a proper magic universe.
Official website: http://mahouka.jp/