The Honor Student at Magic High School
by Richard Eisenbeis,
How would you rate episode 13 of
The Honor Student at Magic High School ?
So here we are at the end of the series, and the climatic showdown between our young magical rivals with the entire tournament on the line. Except there's just one problem: the winner is a foregone conclusion.
To be clear, I'm not talking about this in a meta sense. (It goes without saying that if you've watched the original The Irregular at Magic High School you know how this is going to end.) Rather, the characters in the story are all aware that Miyuki has a lock on victory—even Airi herself. Everyone having access to the flight spell means little when no one, not even a prodigy like Airi, can master an entirely new form of magic in a single evening.
So as the event starts, there is little excitement. As the various girls take to the skies and burn through their MP, Miyuki simply out-flies them. One by one, the other girls completely run out of magic, leaving only Airi and Miyuki.
It's here that the setup for an actual, exciting climax becomes possible—we even get a never-before-mentioned half-time to the event where the characters have the chance to talk it over and build tension for the coming face-off. After all, without all the other girls getting in her way, Airi could potentially go back to her original strategy—a strategy that allowed her to outscore Miyuki in the preliminaries.
However, despite this perfect setup, the other characters dissipate the tension rather than build it up. It is made perfectly clear that there is no reason to do the second half at all, and that even if Airi went out there solo, Miyuki would still win. This is baffling, especially when the scoreboard shows that Airi is trailing a mere nine points, and I can't help but wonder if this is an animation mistake (It wouldn't be the first in this series); perhaps instead of the score being 49-40 in Miyuki's favor, it was supposed to be 94-40. (After all, in the original series, Miyuki finishes with 99 points total.) As it stands now, the idea that Airi couldn't score 9 points unopposed seems ridiculous.
Thematically, on the other hand, the climax fares much better. Airi learns that there are always bigger fish in the sea—but that that isn't a bad thing. Being pushed to her limits, Airi is able to discover what is truly important to her (her friends and family) and is able to explore magical possibilities she wouldn't have even considered before. Simply put, competition breeds excellence.
Miyuki, on the other hand, gets what she truly wanted: a mixture of a “normal” high school life and the opportunity to show off just how brilliant her brother is (even if the world is unaware that he is Taurus Silver). But more than that, she gets the opportunity to live up to the expectations of all those counting on her. While in the first episode, it was her and Tatsuya against the world, she has now gained lifelong friends and wants to do right by them. She has found a measure of happiness that seemed far outside of her grasp only a few scant months before.
All in all, this episode exemplifies all the best and worst qualities of the series. It is at its best when it tries to cut its own path—especially with the Third High trio—and falters whenever it simply repeats what we have seen before in the previous anime. In some ways, it even manages to outshine the original, fixing certain plot holes and errors to make things more consistent with who the characters will become as the story progresses. Or to put it another way, it is a mixed bag of an ending to a mixed bag of a series.
• This episode covers the events of episode 17 and 18 of The Irregular at Magic High School.
• In the original series, Third High didn't even get second place in the Mirage Bat event. The Third High competitor, Chihiro Hasegawa, got fourth.
• I really enjoyed how Airi's flight path has sharp points while Miyuki's is all curves (due to their different ways of using flight magic).
• Is that really the origin of the “blooms” and “weeds” system? Some dumbass ordered the uniforms incorrectly? And then all the teachers and parents were just down with the second class status of half the student population? What a crummy institution.
• This actually makes me wonder, as this sounds like a First High specific problem, whether “weeds” exist at all in the other magic high schools?
• Wait. So in this version of the story, neither Ichijo nor Honoka got their dances with Miyuki and Tatsuya respectively? That's really sad.
• I actually did wonder why, in the original, Miyuki came to find Tatsuya before they had their dance. I didn't consider that it was in order to do some BL cock-blocking, though.
• Touko, without a CAD or magical talismans, is able to summon a water dragon to torment the other girls. She is so stupidly powerful that I can't believe none of the Ten Families haven't rushed to get her married to their heir.
• Is it too late to ship Touko and Homura?
• So, I guess all of Miyuki's rivals have blond hair and drill curls.
• If they ever make a second season, I hope they focus almost entirely on the Third High girls as they deserve to have their own, original adventures. That said, I'd love to see how they reacted to the attack on the Thesis Competition.
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