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Mashle: Magic and Muscles
Episode 6

by Christopher Farris,

How would you rate episode 6 of
Mashle: Magic and Muscles ?
Community score: 4.2

Okay, I guess I got a little confused in the last episode of Mashle. That squad of mini-bosses we glimpsed last week were not in fact the Divine Visionaries, but a different crew from the Lang dorm conspiring to take control of the organization for their own magical-elitist purposes. This gang is actually known as the Magia Lupus, and I think I'm going to excuse my mistake by siding with Mash here: Not only am I not going to prioritize keeping all this goofy Hogwarts lore 100% straight, but the name of that squad sounds like something a middle schooler scribbles in his notebook thinking it's super cool. This episode wholly culminates on the irreverent vacillations that Mashle has always traded in, featuring these Gotei 13 wannabes portentously enacting their stock villain schemings while Mash sits on the other side of their evil clubroom trying to remember how doors work.

Getting a handle on how Mash actually measures up to these escalating evil enactments is what this episode is overall about. Compared to recruited rival Lance or the near-immediately integrated Dot, bully-of-the-week Silva here is an unapologetic enemy. And as Lance notes, the guy represents a caliber of opponent that Mash might not be able to just Saitama through in a single punchline. Up to Mash directly confronting Silva in this standoff, we might have been thinking our lovable lunkhead would be able to just tank his hits and go home, but then Silva's initial attack is actually enough to nick Mash, which sells the possibility of a real threat level at hand here.

It makes Dot's efforts in the lead-up even more impressive in hindsight. Firmly confirmed as it is that Dot isn't anything approaching an antagonist for this story, that guy gets to go all-in on proving those principles he stood up for last week. Beyond trying to look cool for the girl we know is actually manipulating him, he even opts to take Mash's hits from Silva, reasoning that Mash has little to do with this situation. Dot is still consumed by his belief that he's the central character in this narrative, despite being played by Silva and knowing as we do that he's just the opening act for Mash. But it's a more noble application of that self-centered belief system than Silva or even Lance in his initial appearance. If you're going to believe yourself to be the protagonist, you ought to at least try to be the hero as well.

It clashes with the power-based belief of meritocracy that Silva and his Magia Lupus bosses insist on abiding by. Theirs embodies the ideal that strength and the achievement of victory itself signify righteousness, that they must be the central leads of this story on account of being the only ones left standing. Mash challenges that supposed order because, even though he winds up standing above them through his strength, it's a kind of strength that exists outside their calculations of numerical face-line power levels and color-coded combat mage systems. It's not that Mash proves that anybody besides these elites can be strong, it's that he proves that anybody can be strong in different ways, and if your society is built on sorting people according to a single superiority statistic, it cannot abide that kind of diversified potential. This is signified even in this episode's goofier asides, like the flashback to Mash absolutely breaking the metrics off of the dorm-deciding Sorting Unicorn, which just had to guess as to which house a cream-puffed-up punch machine like Mash ought to be in. That's the main point: Mash straight-up breaks the system.

It's an enjoyably expanded exploration of Mashle's themes, and it comes alongside the simpler pleasures of the show stepping up as well. The climactic moment of Mash's fight with Silva is a high point for the anime so far, as the bully's dialed-up threat level necessitates our boy, and the visuals, making some of their most impressive moves yet. The scene of Mash punching his way through Silva's magic rocks has a sense of effort behind its rendering, which in turn sells the efforts Mash is putting forward. It's a smoothly animated sequence that culminates with a brilliantly rendered set of shots of Mash punching through to Silva, their faces reflected in the shattering debris as Silva's notions about his strength and place in this world are themselves shattered.

It's just a splash of a slightly serious take on magic action before things settle into being so very Mashle as usual. So we still get laughs out of things like Mash nonchalantly offhanding a giant magic scorpion, or catching that magical manipulator girl off-guard by seeming to go for a hug only to suplex her instead. It's a simple resolution via Mash's strength that still sets up for the likes of Lance to explain that this is all only the beginning of a broader attack by Magia Lupus. Sure, they seem creepy and ominous now, but their door gets yanked off its hinges by Mash same as any other, so it's probably only a matter of time before the cream-puff-fueled engine of chaos is the one forcing them to reconsider their place in this narrative.


Mashle: Magic and Muscles is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

Chris is keeping busy keeping up with the new anime season and is excited to have you along. You can also find him writing about other stuff over on his blog, as well as spamming fanart retweets on his Twitter, for however much longer that lasts.

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