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It sucks to be better than everyone else.
That’s what Tatsuya Shiba, who is the irregular at First High School, is finding out. Tatsuya is cursed with the dreadful fate of being smarter than everyone around him, being better than magic than everyone around him (even though he’stechnically bad with magic), smoother-talking than everyone around him and also better at attracting girls than anyone else. And, as is wont to happen when you’re an übermensch, people end up resenting your very existence. Fortunately, Tatsuya is too gracious and too excellent to mind the discrimination he faces. After all, it’s not his fault that he turned out this way.
This is, although somewhat exaggerated, the premise of The Irregular at Magic High School, this season’s entry into the high schoolers and magic genre by Madhouse, the same studio that brought you last season’s smash-hit high schoolers and magic show Magical Warfare. The two shows share some striking similarities: a fantastic OP and ED song, respectively (LiSA’s “Rising Hope” and nano’s “Born to Be“); a similar dull pastel-y color palate; cool, if over-explained, magical systems; weirdly constructed political dynamics; and, most importantly to me, proud collections of hilariously bad line: “I am incompetent,” says the epitome of competence.
It’s these kind of internal contradictions that has made Mahouka a supremely entertaining watch for a writer like myself. It’s not admirable, I’ll admit, but I find a certain amount of fun in giggling as the omnipotent Tatsuya compares bloomers to brooms without a shred of self-awareness or irony.
That is, I think, a good summary of Mahouka. It’s a very silly show that thinks it’s entirely serious. From the complicated political subtexts and in-show debates to the oppressively long explanations about loop-casting, feedback resonance, Casting Assistant Devices, artificially articulated anti-matter ion metapsion convergence-timed fission to the deadpan manner in which Tatsuya verbally or physically dismantles anyone who gets in his way,Mahouka seems convinced that it is grown-up show for grown-up people. But, the sad fact is that rambling on and on about about politics and systems of magic that are entirely contained in the world doesn’t make a show any smarter. If anything, it simply highlights the fact the Mahouka wants to play with the big boys, but just doesn’t know how to do it.