November 09, 2015

Thoughts - The Irregular Magic at High School

I finally finished watching the last six episodes of this series on Netflix last night and I come away from it with mixed feelings.  I liked a lot about the story and setting and it did many things right, but it had some missteps that really hurt it.  There might be lots of spoilers below, so read on at your own risk.
This series revolves around Tatsuya and Miyuki Shiba. adapted from of a novel and light novel series. It has beautiful clean animation. It is a very crisp science fiction world, and I loved every minute I watched the show.

Even more compelling was the depth they went into how magic worked. I originally started watching this about the same time I discovered a Korean webcomic called 'City of Dead Sorcerer' and I loved how both stories treated magic as a science. You could understand early on in the series why some people were better attuned to certain types of magic, or were more powerful in the use of magic than others. According to Brandon Sanderson's First Law of Magic :

  "An author’s ability to solve conflict with magic is DIRECTLY PROPORTIONAL to how well the reader understands said magic."

The early episodes in the show dealing with Tatsuya's lack of ability in practical magic became this tutorial for the basics of the CAD and magic, giving the viewer an excellent start.  The graphics for the magic also meshed well with the animation.  I don't know how the anime was produced, but it all worked well together and never left me feeling like an effect was put in after the fact or was out of place.

One of the downsides to the anime series is that there was always this feeling that Tatsuya had an answer to every single problem that came up.  While it fits, and I really like a protagonist that is smart, he felt almost too informed of the goings on around him.  I think this is more an issue with the conversion from a more verbose novel format to the half hour series format.  Clearly there are scenes of internal dialog where he is working things out as well as other communications that just don't work well for the anime, but it does hurt the show somewhat.  Tatsuya feels, plot-immune at times.  The Nine Schools competition arc does lessen this somewhat by putting him into situations where he does have to think on the fly.

A lot of my complaints really continue from this one.  There are political machinations going on between the Ten Families and within the Yotsuba Clan itself. We see little peeks and glimpses of this, but not much more.  There is just so much that we are expected to take at face value but needed explanation, whether it be an in depth conversation with a family member or narration.  

Also, there is a great set of secondary cast members that could have their own stories, but get little development.  Mizuki Shibata's Crystal Eyes could have been a bit more, but once she is a part of the main cast, she is simply someone who takes her glasses off now and then to look at something magical.  There's a hint of a romance but it is never developed.  This holds true for the large secondary cast.

Would I watch more?  Yes.  Would I rewatch it?  Maybe.  Most of the Yokohama arc really needs more than just Tatsuya always having an answer to each problem.  There is a glimmer of this, but it isn't enough.  The Entrance arc and Nine Schools Competition arcs both work well as written.  I don't know that I could solve the pacing problems the series has, but I would certainly recommend it to people wanting to see beautiful animation and great character designs.

Image Credit to Lori and GreenMaple

Posted by: Tom Tjarks at 07:06 AM | No Comments | Add Comment
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