The Honor Student at Magic High School
Episodes 1-3

by Richard Eisenbeis,

How would you rate episode 1 of
The Honor Student at Magic High School ?

How would you rate episode 2 of
The Honor Student at Magic High School ?

How would you rate episode 3 of
The Honor Student at Magic High School ?

(*Note: The review of the first episode is copy-pasted from when I reviewed it for The Summer 2021 Preview Guide—which also includes a review of this episode from another ANN reviewer. The episode 2 and 3 portion of the review is completely new.)

Episode 1:

We may be 39 episodes and a movie into the story of The irregular at magic high school, but this episode takes us back to the beginning. Actually, before the beginning as it turns out; set just days before Miyuki and Tatsuya's first day of magical high school, this episode follows the two as they spend the day together for Miyuki's birthday.

While the main series focuses on Tatsuya, this side-story finds him relegated to a supporting role. This is honestly a welcome change. Tatsuya seems to be able to do anything with little effort as the series goes on. And while his new ways of using magic are absolutely world-changing, it's important to remember that as far as traditional magic users go, Miyuki is among the strongest of them despite her young age (It's one of the main reasons her aunt is grooming her to take over the Yotsuba clan after all). So getting to see Miyuki in all her glory without her having to worry about what her brother would think is a welcome treat.

This episode also fits in little lore tidbits, explaining where Miyuki's hair accessory came from and why the student council was so interested in both her and Tatsuya from day one. We also see that the siblings' aunt was already aware of the terrorist group that would attack the magical high school just a few weeks into the school year. None of this is vital information or anything, but it does make the world of The irregular at magic high school feel a bit more fleshed out.

However, if there is one thing that I feel I have to mention to any prospective viewers, it's that there is an awful lot of fanservice of a 15-year-old girl in this one. Sure, part of it is plot-related—Miyuki very much has a crush on her brother and is unsure how to deal with those feelings—and it's likewise important to show that Miyuki finds herself the center of attention wherever she goes based on her looks alone. But all that doesn't mean that the camera doesn't take every opportunity to sexually objectify our 15-year-old heroine. Other than that, this episode is little more than a bit of beautiful-looking animated fun—a side-story that didn't need to be told but is enjoyable to experience nonetheless.

Rating:


Episode 2:

While the first episode focuses almost entirely on Miyuki, the second episode is centered around the other two Bloom students in Tatsuya's clique—Honoka and Shizuku. Set during episode one and two of The irregular at magic high school's first season, this episode does something I thought impossible: make Honoka likeable.

In the main series, Honoka is the “shy innocent”; she is constantly pining after Tatsuya while he is oblivious (or at least pretending to be oblivious) to her affections. Her entire personality boils down to her lovelorn nature—to the point where it is basically the driving force behind the climax of the second season.

However, in The Honor Student at Magic High School, Honoka is far less one-note. Rather than being purely Tatsuya-focused, we see that she is actually Miyuki-focused more than anything else. Despite being a top-class mage and a buxom beauty herself, she feels inferior to Miyuki. From the start, their friendship is an unequal one with Honoka forcing herself into the subservient role. It speaks of a deep-rooted insecurity and one that I eagerly await learning about.

The other thing we learn is that Honoka and Shizuku were every bit as elitist as the other Blooms heading into magic high school. They truly believed that being a Bloom made them better mages than the Weeds and reveled in that fact. However, the important distinction here is that they never thought themselves to be better overall people due to their powers. And when confronted with Tatsuya's obvious skill—and the pain that the Weeds/Blooms dichotomy is inflicting upon Miyuki—they are able to reflect on their misguided assumptions and grow as people.

And while the more antagonistic of the Blooms stubbornly double down on their superiority in the face of the walking contradiction that is Tatsuya, Honoka and Shizuku work to bridge the gap by humbling themselves and making a public display of interacting with Tatsuya's Weed friends. They are shown to be far more proactive than in the main story and the new focus on the nuances that drive them make the pair more relatable.

Rating:


Episode 3:

The third episode takes place during the third and fourth episodes of The irregular at magic high school's first season—and while it continues the following Honoka and Shizuku more than Miyuki, the point of the episode is to introduce a new main character, Eimi. Well, I say “new” but while Eimi isn't a part of Tatsuya's group, she has appeared in the main series as part of the freshman team for the Nine School's competition. That said, the mere handful of lines she has in the main series do nothing to prepare us for the righteous ball of energy that she turns out to be.

At the moment, we know little about Eimi other than that she has a prominent sense of justice and that she sees the Weed/Bloom dichotomy as the trash it is. However, it is what she represents in the overall setting that makes her unique.

The irregular at magic high school's world basically revolves around Tatsuya. He is at the center of every event and interpersonal relationship. (He is the main character after all.) Eimi is the first of Tatsuya's peers with any sizable screen time to buck this trend. She is not Tatsuya's friend—she hasn't even met him. She is Honoka and Shizuku's friend. She only cares about finding the identity of the person that attacked Tatsuya because Honoka and Shizuku are worried about it—well, and because solving a mystery like this seems like fun to her.

Having a character connected to the big events of the overall story but not the main character himself drastically improves the viewing experience. It makes the fictional world seem more realistic and less contrived. Eimi's existence also makes Honoka and Shizuku more developed characters by showing that they have a social life outside of Tatsuya's group. Or to put it another way, Eimi's exactly the kind of character this story needs.

Rating:

Random Thoughts:

• I wonder if the first time Eimi and Tatsuya meet face to face is the scene we see in Episode 9 of The irregular at magic high school, where he is introduced as her engineer and she complains that she'd rather have a female engineer instead.

• It never really occurred to me what would happen if Miyuki lost her temper and Tatsuya wasn't around to calm her down. I'm glad we got to see it.

• Not gonna lie, I'm excited to see what Eimi was up to during the terrorist attack on the school.

• Three episodes in and it's clear that this isn't being written as a stand-alone series—i.e., watching this without having already seen The irregular at magic high school is just going to leave you super confused as so many major events happen off-screen or in an abridged form. However, I don't think this is a negative in this case as it allows the story to do its own thing instead of uselessly retreading parts of the narrative already told before.

The Honor Student at Magic High School is currently streaming on Funimation.

Richard is an anime and video game journalist with over a decade of experience living and working in Japan. For more of his writings, check out his Twitter and blog.


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