Why isn’t this a “First Impressions” post? ‘Cause I already know I’m going to blog this show from start to finish. Now, let’s see why everyone’s creaming their pants over our latest offering from Madhouse, who, as we all know, has just been doing an amazing job with their adaptations lately.
• The episode starts off by telling us what magic is and how it came to be. It then goes on to tell us how magic saved everyone from the brink of nuclear destruction. Whoa whoa whoa, I downloaded those three introduction videos a week ago for a reason, buddy! And that was so that you wouldn’t have to bog down the very start of the first episode with this kind of stuff! So what is this? I feel… I feel betrayed!
• Eventually, we are introduced to our two main characters of the show. Naturally, it’s a brother and sister duo:
Tatsuya, the oniichan, is a “Weed.” On the other hand, Miyuki, the imouto, is a “Bloom” even though she readily admits that her brother is more talented at magic than she is. That’s right, at this school, students refer to each other with denigrating terms like “Bloom” and “Weed.” Why? The first intro video sort of touches on this — I’m tellin’ ya I did watch them! — but not really: “…magic is an extremely rare talent. Perhaps the system reflects the pride of those gifted with such talent.” That doesn’t explain whatsoever why the school and its adult teachers would condone such “blatant classism.” I don’t know how much the school and its administrators condones the students’ behavior, but I do know they condone it enough to give their students different uniforms to easily distinguish the Blooms from the Weeds.
• Oh boy, head pats!
• Tatsuya tells his imouto that he truly cares about her and what she does even if he can be short with her at times. Miyuki starts getting all giddy over this, and our hero wonders if she’s misunderstood his intentions. That’s right! Incest again! Hey, hey, don’t be so close-minded! Incest magically morphs into sunshine and rainbows when it crosses over into Japan.
• Like at every school in every anime ever, your classmates openly talk shit about you as you walk by them. This time, a pair of girls make fun of the fact that Tatsuya is already on campus even though he’s just a Weed. Like I know we want to portray them as bullies, but shit, that doesn’t even make sense: “Heh, you’re not very smart, so what are you even doing at school so early, dummy?”
• Tatsuya eventually comes across the Student Council President, and she seems polite enough on the surface. So far, our hero towers over every girl he’s met:
I can’t tell if he’s a giant or the girls are just all midgets. Probably the latter.
• Tatsuya: “No one’s more aware of discrimination than the ones being discriminated against, huh?” I feel ya, bro. But look on the bright side: all the cool kids sit in the back.
• So far, he’s met four girls in a row and not a single guy. Hmm.
• It was such a great speech, the anime faded to black.
• Our siblings are not twins. He was born in April, and Miyuki was born in March. So was he held back a year or what?
• Mizuki wonders if Miyuki is our hero’s sister. Tatsuya confirms it, then says to Mizuki, “Still, I’m impressed you made the connection.” Uh, why? He just said he’s supposed to meet up with his sister. He and the incoming class’s representative both have the same family name. Therefore, this “impressive connection” would seem like a pretty natural inference for anyone to make, Weed or otherwise. But it turns out Mizuki can notice people’s auras or some shit like that, and this totally freaks our protagonist out. He doesn’t want her to discover his secret, whatever it is. Hm.
• We finally see a male classmate who isn’t just an extra in the background, and he immediately grimaces when he sees Blooms and Weeds consorting as if they’re buddies. Boy, the story’s really playing up this discrimination angle, isn’t it? Just for good measure, he grimaces at our hero once more before walking away. Haha, c’mon. Y’know, this discrimination angle is really getting to be one-dimensional. Everyone’s just like, “Heh, you suck so I hate you,” which, let’s be honest, isn’t very interesting. And why be so one-dimensional when discrimination in the real world is so multi-faceted and complex? Discrimination is generally caused by greater oppression. For example, racism against blacks during the 1700s and 1800s emerged as a convenient justification for the already-existing and massively profitable slave trade. So far in Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei, however, all I’m seeing is, “Wow, you suck at magic more than me even though we both technically belong in the top 1% of the country when it comes to having magical talent… you’re a piece of shit and I hate you!”
• Tatsuya then brushes his imouto’s cheek, which causes soft music to play and Mizuki’s face to turn bright red:
This is going to be a running gag, isn’t it?
• At home, Miyuki discovers that while her father and mother had called to congratulate her for getting into such a prestigious high school, they did no such thing for her oniichan. Apparently, Tatsuya had opted to attend high school over helping with his father’s company, so family relations are a little frigid at the moment. There’s a pattern here where the whole world is against our poor, misunderstood protagonist (He’s truly smart and talented! He just bombed the Practical Exam!) except for a select few. And for the moment, that select few happens to be all girls. And of course, leading the charge for that select few is his very own kawaii imouto. Hm.
• The brief moment where Tatsuya uses magic to run as fast as his imouto even though she’s on her (magical) roller skates was kinda cool, I guess. Hey, that seems pretty practical!
• Our siblings then arrive at a temple where a bunch of similar-looking monks attack Tatsuya all at “once,” i.e. one at a time but just play along. This kinda reminds me of Neo’s fight against the numerous Agent Smiths in the second Matrix movie, but obviously not on the same scale. Our protagonist is in all black for some reason. Seems like these days, protagonists from light novels adaptations only like to dress in all black clothing.
• Meanwhile, Miyuki’s talking to a sensei off to the side, and the teacher claims to be a modern practitioner of ninjutsu. Sure, man. He then proceeds to skeeve on her and her uniform.
• So, uh, when is anything exciting going to happen? So far, we’ve spent more than thirteen minutes introducing characters and beating the dead discriminatory horse. Oh yeah, the incestuous undertones. Gosh, how could I almost forget about that?
• The sensei and our cool, hip oniichan then briefly spar with each other. Obviously, Madhouse still has their animating chops when they really want to show it off, and this duel looks suitably choreographed. But meh, it’s just a random duel between two friends.
• We finally make our way back to school where everyone marvels over Tatsuya’s ability to type super fast. What is he doing? Programming? Hacking a government network? Nope, just “[c]onfirming the curriculum, and registering for classes.”
• Finally, we meet a male character at the school who isn’t an asshole (yet). Leo introduces himself to our protagonist, then asks Tatsuya what his signature spell is. Tatsuya claims that he has no signature spell ’cause he’s bad at using magic in a practical way. As a result, he hopes to be a magical engineer.
• Then we cut to the characters having lunch. Miyuki wants to join them, but guess what? Blooms shouldn’t be eating with weeds! Cause they suck at magic and we hate them! Yawn.
• Some dude who we’ll never see again: “We need to draw the line between Course 1 and Course 2.” Yeah, ’cause calling people Bloom and Weed is too subtle.
• But this really gets Leo’s goat, so he stands up from his lunch tray, and you know that means business. Unfortunately, our too-cool-for-school oniichan is just like, “Yo, let’s ditch this place, sis.” As a result, the discrimination thing that has been played up all episode long doesn’t even boil over. It just continues to simmer in its own repetitive juices.
• Every single time someone says something slightly suggestive about the relationship between Miyuki and her brother, she starts blushing and smiling to the point that it’s almost like she’s winking at the audience.
• And simmer it does as the argument carries over to the flag pole after school. Naw, there’s no flag pole, but the rest of the Blooms are outright furious that Miyuki would want to walk home with her own brother. Outright furious! Both sides almost fight. Almost. But then the Student Council President and a member of the Disciplinary Committee show up. The calm and collected Tatsuya then casually defuses the situation even though it doesn’t look like the Bloom asshole appreciates it one bit.
• So y’see, even though our hero isn’t good at practical spells, he’s got this idiot savant-like ability to tell what spells other people are going to use before the spell actually comes out. Ahahaha. Basically, he’s the mastermind that’s always one step ahead of his opponent.
Look, man, nothing happened. I’m not saying that a boring first episode means that the rest of the anime will be boring. I’m not even judging any of the main characters yet, though the incest thing already leaves a bad taste in my mouth (when does it not?). I’m just saying… this episode and this episode alone was boring as fuck. And before anyone goes, “They had to introduce the character and the setting and the concepts and the…,” I just think back to the first episode of PSYCHO-PASS. That was also a show with a slew of characters, a slightly tweaked modern setting, and a host of futuristic concepts to introduce to its audience. And you want to know what happened in PSYCHO-PASS‘s first episode? A guy kidnaps a woman, rapes her, uses her as a hostage as he gets chased by Enforcers, then gets blown the fuck up. Now look, I’m not asking for violence, sex, and gore in Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei. If you immediately jump to that conclusion, you’re an idiot. I’m just saying you can’t use complexity as an excuse to have an introduction where nothing fucking happens. And it’s not like either Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei or PSYCHO-PASS are even particularly complex, so what gives?