The Irregular at Magic High School: Visitor Arc
Episodes 1-3

by Richard Eisenbeis,

How would you rate episode 1 of
The Irregular at Magic High School: Visitor Arc ?

How would you rate episode 2 of
The Irregular at Magic High School: Visitor Arc ?

How would you rate episode 3 of
The Irregular at Magic High School: Visitor Arc ?

“In which we get a better hero than our protagonist.”

The Irregular at Magical High School: Visitor Arc picks up two months after the first anime as Tatsuya and Miyuki continue their freshman year of magical high school. However, the world itself is markedly different from the last time we saw it due to Tatsuya's use of WMD magic at the end of the first series.

The zeitgeist of the world has shifted. Before, both magicians and conventional weapons were vital but now the power of magic has vastly overtaken the power of technology. What's worse is that, up until now, magicians had been used largely as a deterrent—a form of mutually-assured destruction. Now, even that uneasy balance has been put into question.

This isn't like the Cold War where there is a delay between missile launch and impact that allows the other side to retaliate. Now a single magician can create the equivalent of a nuclear explosion anywhere and there's no way to predict it—much less prevent it. Hell, there's no way to even know who is responsible. Sure, it appears for the moment that only Japan has this power but it's just a matter of time until this magic (or a similarly destructive one) falls into the hands of other countries. Thus, the world itself seems to be holding its breath, waiting for what comes next.

Enter into this volatile situation Lina—head of a special ops team and one of America's most powerful magicians. She is ordered to attend Tatsuya's school undercover and figure out who is the person who used the “material burst” WMD spell. However, unbeknownst to her, this entire mission seems to be just a cover for another one: hunting down AWOL American magicians who are attacking—and draining the blood/magical essence from—random Japanese citizens. Moreover, each of the AWOL magicians seems to have powers far beyond what they should have, likely due to a magical parasite.

Thus these first three episodes are largely a three-way conflict between Tatsyuya and friends, Lina and her squad, and the AWOL American magicians. The mystery itself is a rather good one: how have these soldiers become “vampires” and why are they in Japan? It likewise gives our new heroine plenty of opportunities to interact with the core cast both as friend and enemy. Lina is a character sorely needed in The Irregular at Magical High School: a person who is not only a match for Tatsuya in life or death combat but Miyuki in raw magical strength. Moreover, she's a far more likeable and sympathetic character than Tatsuya.

This is largely because of how Tatsuya himself views the world. Tatsuya suffers from extreme Alexithymiais, making him unable to feel any emotions of his own and unable to empathize with the emotions of others—except when it comes to Miyuki. This means that everything he does is based on cold hard logic driven by his emotional need to keep Miyuki safe and happy. As such, Tatsuya doesn't really have “friends.” He has people he keeps nearby either because they can be used by him to further his goals or because Miyuki likes them. Personally, he cares nothing about any of the people he is surrounded by. So, while Tatsuya constantly does cool things, it's hard to root for him as a person because every personal relationship he has (save for one) is completely false.

Lina, on the other hand, can't lie to save her life—despite her magic that makes her appear as a different person while undertaking military operations. She is as powerful as Tatsuya, yet burdened by normal human emotions. So far in the series, we've seen her kill two of her former subordinates—companions she spent time with on the battlefield. She tries to give them a way out but when both turn it down, she is forced to kill them.

While she is committed to doing her duty, we see that doing so hurts her on an emotional level. Likewise, when she fights with our heroes, it's clear she is holding back—trying to disable rather than kill them. It's only when she is pressed by Tatsuya's unknown powers that she steps it up to lethal damage. This hesitation and restraint makes her a much more human character and makes you wonder who the real heroes are in this situation: Tatsuya and crew or Lina and her team—especially when you consider that Lina's team would have captured or killed the remaining AWOL magician twice if Tatsuya and his friends hadn't intervened.

All in all, the overall murder mystery and introduction of Lina have the new season off too a fantastic start. However, there is one looming negative—one that plagued the first season as well: an absurd amount of technobabble.

Not only is this series filled with proper nouns that you are expected to remember, but those proper nouns are then used to describe new proper nouns. This makes it difficult to understand the ins and outs of what is going on during a casual watch through. Despite rewatching both the first season and the movie only three weeks ago, I found myself having to rewatch each new episode and pause at certain expositional scenes to make sure I understood fully what is going on. I suspect this isn't as much of an issue in written form as the story only moves forward when you continue reading, but the anime waits for no man... well, unless you choose to pause it and in doing so interrupt the flow of the story, anyway.

Hopefully, with all the big plot setup done, we're finished with the technobabble for a while and can focus on the thrilling mystery and personal interactions—especially now that Tatsuya has exposed Lina's identity to her enemies, putting her civilian life in danger.


Random Notes:

• If I understand correctly, the “vampires” are both feeding on people (taking their magical energy) and trying to reproduce (taking their blood to search for compatibility).

• I like the idea that parasites are to humans as a spirit is to water or fire.

• It's very cool that Lina's magic creates such a good illusion that it makes her untargetable by magic—as spells just target the illusion instead of her body.

• When any character is told “you're the only person I can rely on,” I automatically assume they are a traitor.

• I love how basically every exchange student is a spy—because in a time of uncertainty like this of course they are. I'd be more shocked if they weren't all spies.

• The most interesting aspect of this season for me is its placement in the timeline. While this is Tatsuya's first encounter with Lina, anyone who's seen The Irregular at Magic High School The Movie: The Girl Who Summons the Stars (which is set three months after the start of this season) has already met her and knows the true extent of her powers.

• Considering every other girl's jacket-cape sports an element—and Lina's sports the stars and stripes—I guess it's safe to assume the five elements are Earth, Fire, Wind, Water, and America.

The Irregular at Magic High School: Visitor Arc 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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