Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei 02 Review

“Enrolment Part II”「入学編II」

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After last week’s episode chock full of exposition and information, we get follow ups to 2 of the most important questions through Part II of the Enrolment arc – is Tatsuya secretly powerful he just can’t show it and the Shiba siblings, are they or aren’t they? 

First off, I know it’s only the second episode but I’m really enjoying the pacing of Mahouka already. It might go the way of Strike the Blood, neatly pacing the story out through arcs of 4 episodes each. It worked there and I do think it’ll work nicely for Mahouka too, especially since it’s got a meatier story to tell. The quality of production has thankfully remained the same and Iwasaki Taku has this one piano track that is simply keeping me intrigued in it as much as the Mahouka story is.

This week, we learn a bit more about Mahouka’s magic world. CAD (Casting Assistant Device) is what magicians use to cast their magic and it comes in various forms. Tatsuya uses a pre-loaded gun, Erika has a hollowed-out baton and some students like Vice President Hattori Gyobushoji Hanzo (love how the guy is embarrassed by his super long name – he is a teenager after all) use a watch-like wrist device. Spells are cast through activation sequences and use psions, particles that magicians accumulate into a CAD. In order to truly understand the casting of magic, one has to know how the OS (operating system) of a CAD works, the skills to tinker with it as Tatsuya does for Miyuki, and the data sequencing that goes into an activation sequence. Not easy stuff. Think of it as this – you may type really fast and accurately but may not know how coding works behind putting your typed words onto wordpress. This is the difference between the Blooms and the Weeds.

More accurately, we should be calling them students in Course 1 and those in Course 2. Course 1 students are excellent at practical skills, being able to activate their CADs to cast magic efficiently and effectively. Course 2 students aren’t as good at this, which can be quite the pinch situation to be in as casting needs to be inherently fast. That’s why the Blooms call them Weeds, reserves. That’s just what they are, back-up, reserves on the bench only to be called when course 1 magicians are exhausted/depleted. That’s probably why Course 2 students aim to be engineers etc. back room people rather than be front-line. Tatsuya’s not all secretly powerful. He has a problem with accumulating psions fast enough to activate a CAD, which explains why he uses pre-loaded guns. But as Watanabe has noticed, he has the brains and eyes to read activation sequences, which gives him the advantage of knowing what magic is about to be cast and how to not just avoid them but altogether defeat them. So do the blooms have a one-up on the weeds in this area too? No one does, and that’s probably Tatsuya’s true powers. Just a basic Essential Singularity-type activation sequence is loaded with data comprising at least 30,000 alphabets, and Tatsuya can read that in less than a split second?! Episode 03 will probably show the breakdown in how he does this in his simulation battle with Hanzo though if you recall, we got a glimpse of this at the end of the opening episode in the after-school fight. Ain’t the series composition for Mahouka neat?

Knowing this, it’s not difficult to understand why Tatsuya needs to keep his ability a secret. He has already shown how he can prevent a fight from happening and how to end one in a second. So imagine it falling into the wrong hands… Watanabe wants to recruit him because she can tell that no one is able to wriggle out of a disciplinary action with Tatsuya pointing out exactly what magic is going to be cast, which understandably makes Tatsuya wary. Speaking of Watanabe I really do like her and Student Council President Mayu. They’re cutting themselves out to be really calm and level-headed girls who don’t abuse their powers and genuinely want to contribute to the student population unlike the only guy in the council – Hanzo (Kimura Ryohei, whom I’m a fan, yet is able to annoy me successfully as Hanzo). The other reason for recruiting Tatsuya is because such students in power over others in the Student Council, are exclusively from Course 1. It’s not an unspoken rule but an actual school regulation! How is that not a discrimination? So Watanabe wants to recruit a Course 2 Tatsuya to help mend the rift between the 2 courses. I would, otherwise we’re talking about an all-out revolt from the most basic foundation of society (school) that could eventually escalate to the adults working in various magic agencies.

Hanzo’s vehemently (wants to keeping his harem to himself and) whines to not recruit a weed (derogatory term that the VP ought to know better than to use), which wouldn’t have happened if not for Miyuki’s nomination (and incessant need to be 24/7 with Tatsuya). So are they or aren’t they? She seems to be unable to go anywhere without her brother (after school, lunch, meeting with the student council when they really only want to talk to just her) and also looks to him in making her decisions! That’s quite a submissive portrayal of a younger sister right? Who does that? Even new characters from the student council Ichihana Suzune (Nakahara Mai) and Nakajo Azusa (Ogasawara Saki) blush in the presence of these siblings who behave more like lovers… which Tatsuya openly admitted he’d prefer if only they weren’t blood-related. WHAT?! 冗談です (just joking). I actually fell for that. Nakamura Yuuichi you sneaky seiyuu delivering such lines for Tatsuya with such a beguiling straight face!

Wait, hang on. They are born just 11 months apart so it’s pretty clear they’ve been stuck together ever since. They do depend on one another seeing as how both parents leave them to their own devices. Miyuki thinks she owes her life to Tatsuya and until we get to that arc (no doubt near the end), viewers should tread the bro-con narrative cautiously. I’m not a fan of sis/bro-con because having a sibling myself, I know it’s definitely not realistic and can’t imagine it to be. But I’m not a 15 year old starting out in a new school environment. Miyuki and Tatsuya may have been through some form of trauma 3 years ago so contextually, I’d cling to my dear oniisan too. Or if you just remember the first time you and a younger sibling went to a new playground with all these other stranger kids – didn’t they cling to you just by virtue of you being the oldest? The Shiba siblings are both at a new phase in life and as we can all recall, it’s that time when you slowly find your true self and thereafter, diverge from your comfort zone. If we get good character development, we’ll see Miyuki become more decisive and stand alone for herself. So far so good though, instead of just agreeing to be the first year rep in the council she’s turned around to nominate Tatsuya, much to the surprise of everyone including oniisan. So keep a lookout for this among so much that Mahouka has to offer!

** Thanks for making it to the end. I do hope to write shorter posts for future episodes and should be able to as we become more familiar with the Mahouka universe :) **

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