The Spring 2014 Anime Preview Guide
The Irregular at Magic High School
Review: Irregular has one very regular setting, at least for a magical-action anime. It's set at the end of the century, after an encroaching ice age and a world war have decimated the human population. Magic was instrumental in the war, and the remaining nations are now in the midst of a magical weapons race. Naturally this means dedicated magic schools, where the magically weak (“Weeds”) and the magically strong (“Blooms”) are separated and inequality is not only tolerated but institutionalized and encouraged.
As ugh as that sounds, the show handles its generic content quite well. The war colors everything that happens, darkening the tone nicely and adding an edge of danger to the main characters’ education. Placing the two leads—Irish twins Miyuki and Tatsuya—on different sides of the school's ingrained social divide also allows the series to explore the sometimes nasty attitudes that have grown up around differences in magical ability. The series parlays those attitudes into nice, tense conflicts—in this episode, between Tatsuya's scrappy new Weed friends and Miyuki's snooty Bloom hangers-on.
And that's pretty much the pattern. Irregular does most everything right while avoiding all the worst possibilities of its terminally anime-ish set-up. Tatsuya is a “Weed” of course, but he's no harem loser. He's smart, good in a fight, and perceptive enough to defuse most situations before they get out of hand. Miyuki loves her brother waaay too much, but in a way that's cute and funny—and occasionally touching—rather than creepy. The action is expertly assembled and appropriately slick, with Tatsuya and his friends’ magical weakness adding a good measure of risk and an even better measure of root-for-the-underdog satisfaction. Even the inevitable magical mysteries are handled well, hinted at in passing but not over-obfuscated or thrown in our faces. It is, all in all, just an attractive, intelligent, and put-together kind of show.
Rating: 1 (out of 5)
After World War Three, magic was developed as a sort of science, and like other sciences, some people are better at it than others. Some of them attend the requisite prestigious Japanese high school (is there any other kind?), either as members of course 1 (blooms) or as members of course 2 (weeds). The blooms are irrationally prejudiced against the weeds, something apparently encouraged by what must be terrible administration, and the school year has barely begun before a group of blooms is set on separating newly enrolled course 1 student Miyuki from her course 2 brother, Tatsuya. The siblings seem to have a closer than is healthy relationship, and one gets the impression that Miyuki was afraid that this would happen, as the show opens with her fretting about her brother being a weed, and not because she's unwilling to associate with him. It's also clear that Tatsuya has hidden talents that he wants to keep hidden, although why that is we don't know.
This show irritated me to an irrational level. I have a very low tolerance for bullying, and that other students would think that it was acceptable to separate siblings because of their perceived differences was annoying. Add to that the fact that this episode moves very slowly, that Tatsuya speaks in a near monotone, and that random flocks of girls are gravitating towards him for no good reason, and you can color me unimpressed. The only really nice visual touch here is the filmy drape that most girls have on their uniforms – presumably to indicate their magical specialty – with everything else being very bland and not especially well animated. In short, this is one that I think can be skipped. It doesn't have enough plot, fanservice, or artistry to keep things moving and that adds up to a half hour of nothing special.
The Irregular at Magic High School is available streaming on Crunchyroll.
Review: The first episode of this show is called "Enrollment Part 1," and that's pretty much all that happens in it. The Irregular at Magical High School is just that boring. The entire episode is nothing but one dull dude and his flock of hot ladies wandering around school talking about the history of magical warfare and hinting that maybe eventually one of the girls will bone him or some guy will fight him, but it's not even goofy or lewd enough, (and it certainly doesn't have the budget,) to be a fanservice show or action show. It's a stream of terrible derivative worldbuilding exposition from cardboard character cliches for 22 unbearable minutes, with only the reprieve of a sort-of competent but pointless fight scene in the middle. Also, the MC's super-possessive sister wants him biblically and he isn't picking up on it, ha ha ha kill me.
Obviously, with all the yippy-yappy-as-you-know-ing and unintelligible non-plot present, this was adapted from a light novel. Still, in all the confusing and pointless chaff that gets adapted from light novels these days, usually I can find some drop of appeal, some place from which interest must have blossomed. The Irregular at Magic High School is, as its generic title portends, so unoriginal and unintelligible that I can't imagine how anyone reading it made it through a single chapter, much less how it got greenlit for adaptation into this lifeless slog of a nothing anime. I can't even remember the last time I saw something with not a single redeeming factor or thing to recommend about it at all. Now I can, but I don't think I'll be remembering The Irregular at ohgodmakeitstop for very long.
The Irregular at Magic High School is available streaming at Crunchyroll.com.
Rating: 2 (of 5)
Review: As the prologue explains to us, in the setting of this new light novel-based series magic was quantified by technology in the early 21st century. That led to the rise in prominence of magic engineers and their crucial role in a World War which resulted in 2145. 50 years later the National Magic University Affiliated First High School is the elite institution for those with magical abilities, but even within such an august institution there are two distinct levels of ability: the elite Blooms and the lesser-talented Weeds. Despite impressive fighting skills, Tatsuya Shiba only made it in as a Weed because his practical magical ability is far less than that of his sister Miyuki, who is entering as a Bloom (though the first episode strongly implies that his actual ability in certain circumstances is far greater). Them being in different strata of the school creates some awkward situations as Tatsuya meets the school's student President and some of his new classmates and leads to conflict when his classmates don't take kindly to being looked down upon by some Blooms, conflict which Tatsuya might have to step in and interrupt.
The most surprising thing about The Irregular is that, unlike Demon King Daimao (which is also set in a high school for magic-users), it plays its concept completely straight and serious and may even be intended as a drama. Through the end of the episode it shows only a single attempt at a joke, no fan service, and no hint of going in a harem direction. Tatsuya is not some soft male lead, either; he is a hard-edged figure who is clearly keeping secrets and unquestionably has the dominant role in his sibling relationship. The Tatsuya/Miyuki relationship seems a little too close to be just a normal brother/sister connection, too; several scenes raise red flags, including the fact that they are apparently rooming with each other at the school.
The problem is that the first episode does not go much of anywhere with this beyond introducing what will presumably be the core cast and establishing the class conflicts. It also expends entirely too much time info-dumping; the introductory narration is fine, but too many other times characters sound like they are explaining things only for the viewer's benefit. Solid but not exceptional artistic and technical merits do not distinguish the series, either, and the school uniforms for the girls are weird and seemingly impractical designs more suited for singing performances than day-to-day school wear. The more tech-based magic system has some promise, but we do not see enough of it in action here – and really, no other good hook has been thrown out so far.
The Irregular at Magic High School is not necessarily bad, but so far it looks eminently skippable.
The Irregular at Magic High School is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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