The Fall 2020 Preview Guide
The Irregular at Magic High School: Visitor Arc
How would you rate episode 1 of
The Irregular at Magic High School: Visitor Arc ?
What is this?
Miyuki Shiba's classmate Kitayama Shizuku is on her way to study abroad. For magicians, this is normally impossible, since allowing the genes of someone who can use magic outside their home country's borders is tantamount to giving up national secrets. But it's allowed to happen in one case—exchange programs. And that's how Angelina Kudou Shields, known as Lina, has arrived in Japan from the USNA to study at First High. Around the time Lina arrived in Japan, magicians began getting attacked by a mysterious being who leaves his victims drained of blood.
How was the first episode?
Out of all of the franchises featuring OP protagonists in a magic school setting, Mahouka easily has the most passionate defenders. I am not one of them. I find the franchise interesting for its technical approach to magic and tactical emphasis (which are the main reasons I eventually watched out the first TV season), but Tatsuya is too perfect, too invulnerable; his emotional limitations are not enough of a balancing factor. Put simply, nearly every character around him is more interesting than him. The weird quasi-romantic thing he has going on with his sister is a little off-putting, too.
Because of that, I was glad to see that this season is featuring an entirely new regular class member. Because she's American, Angelina is naturally a gorgeous blonde, and given this setting, of course she's a unit commander even though high school-aged. I did find it interesting that she uses magic to make herself appear older when on the job, and the way she totally misjudged Japanese fashion was cute. On the downside, absolutely nothing about her character or behavior makes her the slightest bit convincing as a commander, especially an apparently-respected one who's also one of America's top aces. This is just another case of audience appeal being prioritized over believability.
The plot here shows some potential. Angelina is being put out as the more obvious plant to learn about the person responsible for Scorched Halloween (Tatsuya's tactical spell used towards the end of the first series), while a second agent goes in under more convincing cover; whether Angelina realizes herself that she is as much decoy as covert agent here is unclear but seems doubtful. However, some unfinished business involving American terrorists has now made its way to Japan as well, and she is going to have to deal with them. Naturally Tatsuya and crew are eventually going to get wind of this, and Tatsuya, at least, already suspects who Angelina really is, so that means that he will shortly be getting involved as well. The only questions are how long Angelina is going to try to be coy about the truth and how long it will take for Angelina to become another Tatsuya admirer. As cynical as that may sound, she has enough in common with Tatsuya for it to be credible in this case.
The technical merits do not look like they have advanced any, but at least the artistry and animation have not dropped off, either. Overall, this should be a welcome continuation for franchise fans.
Whenever someone uses the phrase “OP” in reference to an anime protagonist, my mind immediately shoots to Tatsuya from The Irregular at Magic High School. That quality stands to get him in some trouble this season (or rather, more trouble) because he's now firmly in the sights of foreign powers who aren't sure they're comfortable with what he can do, and one of that group, the USNA, has sent over a top military magician to see if they can figure things out. She is, of course, the eponymous “visitor” of this arc.
At least, that's my assumption at this point, having fallen behind in the novels quite some time ago. It definitely seems like Lina, a high-ranking American, has made her entrance on the scene in a highly orchestrated move, one which saw Shizuku from Tatsuya and Miyuki's last-season friend group moved over to the USNA as part of a suspicious foreign exchange program – one which doubtless would not have come about had not the other government wanted to keep an eye on who it suspects to be responsible for the whole Scorched Halloween incident. Lina was chosen for her prowess in battle and her overall magical strength, and…that may not have been the best criteria to select covert operations personnel by.
The reason I say this is because Lina is almost laughably bad at her job. Yes, she did say that she had zero undercover training, but somehow she's worse than that would imply. Her fetishy outfit at hatsumode is one thing (and boy, is it ever a thing), but she drops clues to her real identity with all the subtlety of a skydiving elephant, reacting to virtually every single opportunity Tatsuya creates for her to give herself away and then having the gall to be shocked and/or hurt (emotionally) by his reactions to her. It's a good thing we saw just how good she is in a battle situation, because some of her actions in this episode made me seriously question who pulled what strings to get her her rank.
That said, there's a decent chance that she's intended to be something of a red herring. Already her mission is changing from “track Tatsuya” to “find the fugitives hiding in Yokohama,” and that may bring her over to Tatsuya and Miyuki's side fairly quickly. She's definitely gotten the bulk of the action in this opening episode (Miyuki barely does anything, never mind the rest of the gang), so that would seem to imply that she's got a greater role to play going forward. I can't say that I was desperate for another season of this show, but it is building up some decent intrigue, and if it can pull it off, it may turn out to be worth watching.
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