The Irregular at Magic High School: Visitor Arc
by Richard Eisenbeis,
How would you rate episode 9 of
The Irregular at Magic High School: Visitor Arc ?
“In which your humble reviewer dusts off his soapbox.”
At first glance, this episode of The Irregular at Magic High School seems to be par for the course. We have some action, some exposition, some technobabble, and a fair amount of setup for the show's impending climax. However, this episode has a major problem—one that has been present to a lesser degree in other episodes: major character decisions are dictated by upcoming plot points rather than the characters' established motivations and personalities. Or to put it another way, it's horribly contrived.
Last episode, Tatsuya, Honoka, and Miyuki used Pixie as bait to capture three of the parasites still at large in Japan. Now, here's the issue from a meta standpoint: for the plot to progress—and the standard big climactic battle at the end of the arc to occur—the parasites must not be taken in by Tatsuya and friends. They need to escape, be killed, or be kidnapped. However, there is a major roadblock to any of those things happening: Tatsuya himself.
This series has spent a lot of its runtime making Tatsuya seem unstoppable. He's beaten terrorists, crime lords, and even fully-trained soldiers. Heck, Lina, America's most powerful magic soldier, is unable to beat him one-on-one. So the idea that anyone could take the parasites from him by force is laughable, especially once you factor in that Miyuki is there as well (who we've also established is a match for Lina).
The obvious way to get out of this quandary is to have Tatsuya leave the scene and take Miyuki with him for good measure. The problem is that, in this episode, Tatsuya acts contrary to his established character—as do others. Tatsuya's rationale for leaving everything for his much less powerful friends to finish? Honoka and Pixie's tights are torn. Now, while Honoka might be a bit cold, she should be the first person to object to leaving. Her entire arc has been about trying to become someone able to support Tatsuya. Quitting halfway because of a wardrobe malfunction—and dragging Tatsuya away from completing his mission in the process—is exactly the opposite of what she should want. Pixie, on the other hand, is a robot. The cold means literally nothing to her.
Likewise, Tatsuya knows for a fact that there are other forces in the area waiting to ambush them at the station, and that they are likely being monitored. He knows how important capturing the parasites is and all the lives at stake. Yet, the girls have torn tights so it's best to just head home.
There's no in-world logic for why this happens. Why not wait a few minutes until everything is secure? Why don't they take the captured parasites in the self-driving cabs with them? Why didn't Erika come in a car (given all the men waiting in the cold for her last episode)? Why did no one have a plan beforehand about what to do with the parasites after they captured them? The answer to all these questions is the same: because then there'd be no way for the parasites to be kidnapped—and thus no way for the big climax to happen in an episode or two.
Likewise, once Tatsuya is gone, we get more nonsensical writing along these lines. How do we have Erika, Mikihiko and Leo lose without making them look weak? Equip the attacking force with special gear—even if it's gear that doesn't make sense unless you know that the people you're fighting don't have guns and aren't trying to kill you. Then you just use a blimp to grab the parasites with a giant claw straight out of a crane game (obviously with the most accurate aiming system and fastest winch ever created) and fly away.
Snide comments aside, this is the problem with contrived writing. You're basically writing backwards. You're so determined to get the characters from point A to point B that you don't even notice how little sense the journey makes on a character/logical level. You just give a flimsy justification and expect the audience to come along for the ride; after all, what they really want is a good climax so they probably won't even care how the story gets there.
As a viewer, I find this insulting not just to everyone watching the show, but also to the fictional world and characters the author has worked so hard to create. I want to love the world, the characters, and all the little details in it. An author ignoring all they have worked so hard to create in order to get to the next plot point is just lazy writing—and I hate it.
• But why a blimp I hear you ask? Why not a helicopter? Because shooting a blimp down would cause a Hindenburg-style disaster. I guess the Saegusas are all about taking the civilian populous of Japan hostages when performing their ops. (Seriously though, the reason it's a blimp is so that our heroes can't stop the kidnapping and derail what is to come.)
• The smoke bomb snatch and grab is a trope that bugs me in general. I always wonder how the baddies can see in the smoke if our heroes can't. Hell, this time the enemy soldiers aren't even wearing goggles or masks.
• What happened to the enemies that Mikihiko took out with lightning? They probably know where their base is.
• Did the enemy armor hold up against Erika's magic sword simply because she was trying to incapacitate them and not slice them in two?
• So, what happened to those armed dudes who were waiting out in the cold to go kick some ass with Erika last episode?
• Just because Tatsuya is largely emotionless doesn't mean he can't understand emotion on a logical level. The fact that he somehow can't figure out how Honoka, the hair ties, and Pixie are all connected is ridiculous—especially since he knows Pixie's origins.
• Pixie is basically a CAD. Honoka's emotions and magic provide the power, Pixie turns it into a spell. Cool concept.
• So the head of USNA's internal affairs division is working secretly with an agent of a foreign power? That's corruption at its finest.
• Tatsuya's pretty sure about Lina not being able to handle the job of an assassin. I'm not sure I 100% agree. She seems pretty good at keeping her life as “Angie” and life as “Lina” separate. That said, she clearly doesn't enjoy killing people—especially people that were once her allies.
• So seven random people have access to all information that passes through the internet. That doesn't really make sense since the internet is a globe-spanning network rather than a localized thing, but sure.
• The idea that magic can be banned due to social pressure is laughable. Even countries that ban guns equip their armies with them.
• Isn't it convenient that nearly all the crises that our heroes have faced up until this point were due to one man?
The Irregular at Magic High School: Visitor Arc is currently streaming on Funimation.
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