The Irregular at Magic High School: Visitor Arc
by Richard Eisenbeis,
How would you rate episode 7 of
The Irregular at Magic High School: Visitor Arc ?
“In which a lovelorn girl's wishes have unanticipated side effects.”
This episode, taking place the day after our last one, is broken pretty cleanly into two parts. The first half deals with the parasite from episode 5. After the battle with Tatsuya and everyone else, Mia's parasite was able to hide in Pixie's robotic body in a dormant state—likely because Pixie didn't have any personality to merge with. However, last episode, the parasite was awakened by Honoka's unrequited love for Tatsuya—specifically, her desire to be needed by him—during their Valentine's Day gift exchange. It then used these feelings to build a core personality for itself.
As the following conversation reveals, this is pretty much what happens when any parasite bonds with a human. The parasites don't control you—they don't have any goals of their own. Rather, they just alter you so you focus on obtaining your deepest, purest desire. The problem is, your focus becomes so obsessive that you ignore the moral and social constructs that normally hold you back; put it another way, they basically make you a psychopath.
While the parasite is not inhabiting Honoka, Pixie is, for all intents and purposes, what Honoka would be like if she were possessed. She cares only about being needed by Tatsuya and so is willing to do anything he asks without any restraint—including divulging everything she knows about parasites.
So now we know that parasites were pulled into our world during the black hole breach—they didn't come willingly. But more than that, we learn that while the parasites retain general knowledge when they swap bodies, specific memories are not preserved. Thus, the parasite is able to converse, reason, and discuss advanced concepts through Pixie—but it has no recollection of what it was doing when bonded with Mia.
All this adds a new layer of complexity to everything that has happened so far. While before it appeared that the parasites were controlling people, forcing them to murder in pursuit of a plan to find more hosts, it now seems that there was something rotten at the core of the infested individuals which the parasites only compounded. Or perhaps it's that the bonded individuals, now free from moral constraints, are being used by someone who has promised to grant them their obsessive desires. Either way, it re-contextualizes everything we've learned so far and sets up a solid mystery for the back half of the series.
The second half of the episode is filled with far more action; unfortunately, it is also far more frustrating to watch. After a surprise visit from Colonel Balance, Lina is ordered to ignore the parasites and instead focus on her “original mission”—i.e., the smokescreen used to get her into Japan without the parasite-infected soldiers realizing why she was there. She's to A) steal the Material Burst WMD spell, B) kidnap its user, or C) kill said user if the first two options fail. And Colonel Balance makes it clear that they are going to assume that Tatsuya is their target.
What follows is a fight scene that would be cool if its implications weren't so moronic. Lina's Stars team attacks Tatsuya in public as he kills time in a café. The fight then spills over into the streets before ending in a nearby park.
This entire operation is insane from an in-universe standpoint—especially as it is done in full view of the public. A US special ops team has invaded a sovereign nation to kill one of its soldiers/steal their WMD weapons. This is far different from a squad hunting down their own AWOL soldiers who have escaped to a foreign nation; the latter is a diplomatic incident, the former is a quick and surefire start to a war. Hell, the last time a foreign nation's army attacked Japanese magicians on Japanese soil, Japan responded with a WMD attack, and while we know that Tatsuya is the only one capable of using Material Burst WMD magic at the moment, the USNA does not. They don't even know for sure if Tatsuya can cast such magic. If they are wrong in targeting him, then there is a very real chance that the USNA will be the next country to receive a Material Burst of their very own—on the receiving end that is.
It's such a dumb decision in context that I have to assume it's the anime's way of showing us that either Colonel Balance is a parasite or her bosses are—or that some yet-unseen enemy is playing puppet master behind the scenes and is trying to instigate war. That said, Tatsuya plays things off in a clever way. While his Material Burst is terrifying, it's not the most powerful magic he has: that would be his healing abilities. In the world of The irregular at magic high school, rather than assume your grievous wounds were healed by magic, it's more logical to assume that an illusionist is at fault. Instead of actually being hurt, your injuries were only in your head—put there by a skilled mental magician.
To proliferate this idea, Tatsuya heals Lina's injuries but leaves his own more minor wounds unhealed—implying that his missing arm was an illusion but not the other damage he took in their fight. All this would make it appear that Tatsuya is not actually the Material Burst caster but a decoy drawing attention away from the real caster—making Tatsuya no longer a target and forcing the USNA to back off as they have no idea who they are actually looking for.
Of course, there is one problem with this plan. For Lina's mistaken revelation to have any effect, she's got to be able to pass it on to her comrades—all of whom have disappeared without a trace.
DUN DUN DUUUUN!
• So all the other USNA personnel are gone. While I joked about it above, I'm not sure how I am supposed to read that scene. Are we supposed to assume that Tatsuya vaporized them all? Or did the Yotsuba's do some cleanup after Tatsuya's call? Or was it the Saegusas? Or the parasites?
• Does Colonel Balance even have the right to give orders to Lina? I mean, yes, rank-wise a Lt. Colonel is lower than a full Colonel but Lina isn't a member of the internal affairs division. She gets her orders directly from the Joint Chiefs so she should be in a different chain of command, right?
• This episode gives us the first chronological use of Heavy Metal Burst—though as a beam and not in its far more destructive raw form. Honestly, if the US has Lina and Heavy Metal Burst, they have their own WMD magic and thus have a mutually assured destruction system set up that should deter the US and Japan from messing with each other like this.
• At this point Honoka is almost a non-character. Beyond her crush on Tatsuya, we know little about her. I can't even say that I like or dislike her. I don't know enough to form an opinion.
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