Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei Ep. 5: Trans-Bloom

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Check your privilege, multiple-process spellcasting scum!

Episode Summary
Tatsuya turns down Sayaka’s request for him to join her cause. The very next day, Sayaka is part of a volunteer group that has taken over the school’s broadcasting system. In doing so, they announce their plans to eliminate discrimination at the school. Against the advice of her peers, Mayumi decides to open up a dialogue with the volunteer group. This results in an open forum in which Mayumi debates the protestors. She says some bullshit that is somehow inspiring to the student body, and thus receive cheers. But before everyone be too happy about the situation, terrorists attack the school!

• In the cold opening, our Gary Stu finally clears some silly test after three whole tries. Three! Seeing as how I’m a bona fide Gary Stu myself, I really feel for our hero! Let’s be real though: this is the most half-assed weakness ever. A lot of Gary Stus are just brazenly perfect, and in this, there’s almost a level of honesty that you could respect. Almost. With Tatsuya, however, the anime insists that he’s absolutely terrible with practical skills, and yet, have you seen him struggle even once in this entire anime as a result of his oh-so-subpar aptitude? Oh no, he couldn’t easily pass a simple test. Woe be to him. But seriously, even though he’s a part of the goddamn Disciplinary Committee, his inability to use his spellpower “practically” has yet to hinder him one bit. In fact, what is not practical about using two waves to cancel out magic spells? But I digress, because the arbitrariness of this universe is a whole ‘nother can of worms.

Anyway, the only thing of consequence here is that Tatsuya’s been unfairly — unfair, I say! — assigned to the Weeds when he should rightfully be with the Blooms! Oh, that’s the real injustice here! It’s not that our Weeds have been unfairly discriminated against. Most of them are lazy, bottom-feeding scum anyway!

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Our hero though… our hero is a Bloom in a Weed’s body. Oh God, why haven’t I realized this sooner? Tatsuya’s a trans-Bloom! That’s right, shitlords. You guys better recognize true oppression when you see it.

• Tatsuya: “Unexpected? Haven’t I already made my incompetence clear numerous times?” Wow, bitch, do you even listen?!

• Mizuki: “Well, yes, I did hear you say that… But I thought you were just being modest…” Heh, a modest Gary Stu…

• Tatsuya: “…if I were even average in practical skills, I probably wouldn’t be in this class.” I’m really a Bloom, y’know. I just can’t help the fact that I’ve been made this way. Whoops, my Gary Stu levels are running low. Better go impress a girl before I pass out!

• Mizuki correctly points out — as we have just done — that Tatsuya’s weakness ends up not being a weakness at all. In fact, he’s actually faster than everyone when it comes right down to it. This entire time, Mr. I-Have-No-Emotions is visibly bothered. I guess he just emotes when it’s convenient. In any case, Tatsuya is acting as though he’s got some super special secret that he must withhold from the dirty masses or something. They’re just not privileged enough to know what he knows.

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• For example, when you transform phenomena by moving an egg from BLARFGHSDFLAGGH–… ugh, sorry, I suddenly got an incredible urge to uncontrollably vomit out bullshit that nobody cares about.

• C’mon, all you’re saying here is that you’re faster than other people because you don’t have to care about the extraneous “processes.” That’s just common sense, isn’t it? Yes, I can move an egg from one location to another if I don’t care about breaking it! Wow, this really needed a long, drawn-out explanation! But I guess if we accompany yet another pretentious breakdown of spellcasting with CGI and a fucking floating egg, it ends up sounding really gosh darn smart!

• Somehow, Tatsuya telling Mizuki that he has his own goals in life is really, really inspiring to her. Somehow, it never occurred to her that you could study magic for any other reason than being a magician.

• Also, really stupid-sounding music plays during this scene.

• Tatsuya thinks to himself, “I was forced to become a magician even though I can’t use magic. It’s like a curse.” Oh woe to me, I have special powers! But I guess Tatsuya has been augmented by technology by some mysterious lady, and this is why he can use magic. In other words, we’re now dealing with transhumanist themes. Well, actually, that’s a rather generous assessment of what we’ve currently got here. More accurately, we’re dealing with a dude who’s angsty about the fact that he has been given special powers: “Master, why was I born to feel the pain of being so awesome?”

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• In another meeting with Sayaka, the girl boldly announces, “What we want is to demand that the school improve our conditions.” Wow, what a terrorist.

• According to Tatsuya, Course 1 students have a higher ratio of faculty members to students compared to the Course 2 students. Apparently, just by asking Sayaka whether or not she wants the school to hire more faculty members is somehow a refutation of her demands for equality. Even if you argue that gifted students need more care and attention to bring out their fullest potential, I’m sure the situation is much more nuanced than this. After all, who’s to say that certain Weeds wouldn’t end up “blooming” if they actually got more care and attention devoted to them? It’s a tricky situation that doesn’t simply boil down to, “Well, these students are smarter so they thus get all the resources.” The way the school is currently set-up is nothing more than a self-fulfilling prophecy where students who initially test poorly are given less resources, thus they end up finishing even further behind their peers.

• Tatsuya admits he’s disgruntled about the situation, but gosh darn it, there’s just nothing he wants to change about the school. He simply doesn’t really care about all that social justice stuff! Well, of course not. He’s a trans-Bloom, after all. Why would he want to upheave the status quo when he stands to benefit from it as soon as people finally recognize him for the true Bloom that he is! But on a more serious note, what Tatsuya is saying is akin to “I recognize the injustice here, but it doesn’t directly affect me or my goals, so I’m not going to take action.” Boy, this line of thinking sure does sound familiar. Oh, you know what I’m talking about. It’s as if inaction isn’t somehow tantamount to injustice.

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• This portrayal of Sayaka is also very biased. You basically take a representative of the opposition and portray her as nothing more than a clueless idiot who doesn’t even know exactly what she wants:

Tatsuya: “Specifically, what is it that you want them to improve?”
Sayaka: “Well… all aspects of the way we’re treated!”

Notice the way she stammers. She’s basically acting as a recruiter for her movement, yet we’re to believe that she has nothing but vague platitudes to offer as solutions. I’m reminded of how some “journalists” interviewed members of the Occupy Wall Street moment, and spliced together videos of a bunch of equally vague and clueless answers from a few college students. But let’s face it, any movement will have its fair share of idiots. As a result, you can’t discredit an entire movement from that and that alone. Well, you certainly can if you’ve got your own agenda to push like this anime.

• Tatsuya: “Not to mention, I’m not about to blame the school for the puerility of some of our classmates, who toss slurs at us expressly forbidden by the school itself.” This is so fucking stupid. It doesn’t matter what the school expressly forbids if the discrimination continues to occur. Not only that, the discrimination occurs openly. This shows that the school isn’t doing enough to create a safe learning environment for its students. This is so keenly obvious. This is like a government passing a law against race and sex discrimination, but doing nothing to enforce the law on a substantive level. There’s more to achieving justice than merely passing what you perceive to be the correct laws. Again, you actually have to enforce those laws.

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• Later in the story, a volunteer group has taken over the Broadcasting Room, There, they announce their intentions to eliminate discrimination at the school. Apparently, the Disciplinary Committee can’t enter the Broadcasting Room because the master key has been stolen… it’s not like we have magical powers or anything. Sure, Jumanji doesn’t want to destroy school property just to resolve the conflict, but are you telling me magical lock-picking skills don’t exist in this universe?

• Guys, what these people have done here is unlawful! Who cares what this group’s message is! All that’s important is that they’ve broken laws! Laws are important! They’re in the books for a reason!

On a more serious note, civil disobedience is sometimes necessarily in order to effect change in the world (yes, that’s right, effect). I certainly think discrimination is one of those cases where civil disobedience can be justified. Of course, no one will ever approve of outright murder, but I highly doubt barring yourself in the Broadcasting Room is some great offense. Then again, Tatsuya referred to Egalite and Blanche as terrorist organizations in last week’s episode, so I just can’t wait to see how far these equality-wanting fighters will supposedly escalate the violence.

• Even though Tatsuya is busy talking to a representative of this volunteer group in order to help diffuse the tense situation, the fact that he’s talking to a girl is enough to make Miyuki’s eyes twitch with anger and annoyance. This bullshit is so goddamn stupid. Even if you see nothing taboo with incest, why does the girl have to be so retardedly possessive of her brother? Should I flip out whenever my girlfriend even talks to another guy at her workplace? Is that romance? Is that cute? Or does that just make me a sick, pathetic individual?

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Even so, so many people are blinded by “OMG WINCEST” that they see nothing wrong with Miyuki’s behavior regardless of whether or not incest is even involved. Even if she wasn’t his sister, I’d still think her character is terribly written.

• Again with the biased portrayal as Miyuki explains, “They’re demanding equal treatment between Course 1 and 2 students. But they don’t seem to have figured out how they want to change things.” Few people would ever put themselves in such a precarious situation without having thought things through. If you really think this occurs in real life, you’re just not listening. And y’know what? That’s  because you don’t want to listen. Again, with the Occupy Wall Street movement, lots of people within it have plenty of specific, concrete ideas that they would like to implement to prevent the economic gap between the rich and the poor from widening even further. But let’s face it, the public in general doesn’t really want to open up a serious discourse about this. Instead, a lot of us just want to laugh at the idiots within the movement to get our jollies off. The movement is thereby discredited.

The same shit is happening here. Do you really think that none of the discriminated Course 2 students have thought about exactly what they want? Give me a fucking break. The story simply wants us to think that these students are all equally incompetent somehow, and that nobody even has a coherent answer to a very simple question: “What the fuck do you want?”

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Ultimately, It’s fairly evident what the story is going for. The implicit message here is that the Course 2 students are unqualified to save themselves. It’ll be up to one of the Course 1 elites to step in and save the dirty masses from their deplorable circumstance, i.e. the white man’s burden in a different guise. I’m guessing that this will end up being Mayumi’s role in the story seeing as how she prevented the volunteer group from being taken into “custody.” Case in point, Mayumi goes on to say, “If anything, I got the sense that they wanted the student council to come up with concrete plans.” Save us, great elites! Lift us up from our wretched condition.

• Later in the school day, Tatsuya spots Mizuki having a bit of trouble. Y’see, Glasses-Guy’s wants her to join his club for “students afflicted with… hyper-sensitivity,” i.e. this is the reason they wear glasses in a future where impaired eyesight is probably easily corrected. In any case, Mizuki has the sort of temperament where she has a difficult time turning people down and following through with it. Basically, she’s a giant wuss. Nevertheless, our hero suddenly launches into white-knight mode as he throws his status as a member of the Disciplinary Committee around. Jesus Christ, it’s just a conversation in a hallway. I’m sure Glasses-Guy will prove to be evil in the long run, but it’s not like he is holding Mizuki there against her will. If she doesn’t have the guts to just walk away from a conversation, that’s her fault.

• So Glasses-Guy’s name is Tsukasa Kinoe, and he’s got familial connections to Blanche. Yes, Blanche claims to be fighting for equality, but we also learn that the organization is full of “illegal activities.” Also, you can be sure that Kinoe has something evil planned for the open forum tomorrow. You can never trust the lower class to have a reasonable discussion. That’s why it’s a mistake to even talk to them!

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• Yakumo, Tatsuya’s priest friend, goes on to say, “Kinoe enrolling at First High School must have been Hajime Tsukasa’s doing.” Ugh, now they’re illegally infiltrating our schools! Soon, they’ll take our high-paying jobs that we want so, so much! We then see students of the volunteer group, which includes Sayaka, each receiving a ring from some evil-looking individual. Can’t they see him grinning maliciously as he hands the rings out! That’s a terrorist if I ever saw one!

• At the open forum, Mayumi defends the school when her opponent suggests that magic-using clubs are receiving preferential treatment. Even if she is correct, this anime really gives off the impression that it’s hellbent on absolving the school of any responsibility. By forcing the opposition to mount such futile arguments, the story can adamantly insist that only the people are bad, and as such, the government can’t be held responsible for the people’s actions. In the end, this really is just an attempt to disempower those who are being discriminated against. After all, who are you supposed to protest if the government keeps claiming that they are not at fault? Even if the government isn’t directly responsible for any discrimination that occurs within the society that it governs, its job is to nevertheless protect its citizens. Likewise, a school’s job is to protect its students. It thus seems really pointless to needlessly debate whether the school has or hasn’t given preferential treatment to any specific group. In having the debate constantly revisit this particular talking point, both sides are missing the point entirely, but that’s a given. After all, the anime is interested in guiding the narrative towards a specific conclusion, so it doesn’t really need to portray a good debate.

• Mayumi: “It’s not just Course 1 students. Among the Course 2 students, there are those who despise themselves as Weeds, and are resigned as well as accepting of it.” Y’all are racist against yourselves!

• She then goes on to say, “Yes, such a lamentable culture does exist here. … But that’s not something that should be resolved by creating new discriminatory practices.” Who’s even asking to create “new discriminatory practices?” Isn’t she debating the people who are actually demanding equality? Are you telling me they want “new discriminatory practices” by asking for equal treatment?

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• The follow-up is the best: “Every one of us, from Course 1 and Course 2, are students of this school… And the time we spend here as students of this school… for each of us, these three years are irreplaceable…” Aaaaand that’s it. People actually start clapping. I’m sorry, but what did she even say that is so fucking profound? “Uguu, high school rules…” “Aw man, you said it, Prez!” /clap

• In the end, Mayumi’s only concrete concession is to change the fact that only Course 1 students are allowed to serve as student council members. Oh boy! She goes on to say, “…I plan to make as many improvements as I can in all other areas.” Where are the specifics now, huh? What exactly do you want to change, huh? Oh, you haven’t thought it through yet? Gosh.

• Mayumi: “People’s hearts cannot be changed by force.” How do yo define ‘force?’ That’s the crux of the issue here. This anime seems to think of force in terms of terrorism-inspired actions, which, of course, is bullshit.

• Immediately, an explosion rocks the campus. Gas bombs are shot through the windows of the auditorium. Fucking terrorists!

• In the middle of all of this, one of the male Blooms — they all look the fucking same to me — literally collects all of the dangerous gas up into a tiny ball and hurls it out the window. Our Gary Stu then has the time to praise this awesome move, in which the Bloom looks at him and acts all tsundere about it.

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Nevertheless, Tatsuya smiles at him as if to say, “Gosh, I sure am glad I’ve got such talented Blooms like yourself on my side when the dirty masses attack!”

• Masked intruders then break into the auditorium, but Mari subdues them easily. Tatsuya takes the time to sit there and explain to us just exactly what Mari had done. Like holy shit, even during an action scene, we aren’t spared the technical mumbo-jumbo. Like really, we have to know how she choked the intruders. After all, I just can’t appreciate the story unless I understand the blithering explanation for why these faceless nobodies collapsed to the floor while holding their necks. I dunno, maybe Mari made bananas materialize in each of the intruders’ throats! Unless the anime says otherwise, you can’t deny that this theory is plausible! Uguu, how can I enjoy the anime when I just don’t know whether or not a banana choked them…?

• But elsewhere, we see that the evil Blanche organization has now resorted to using automatic rifles and bazookas. Wow, such terrorism! Our siblings then announce their desire to investigate the explosion, and the episode ends there. Whee.


18 Replies to “Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei Ep. 5: Trans-Bloom”

  1. Holy crap I wonder if the maker of this show realizes how stupid his show is and how fudged up the message he is sending is. This is just grade A terrible stuff like this is why I love this blog.

    1. I suspect he doesn’t. He’s not smart enough to write a smart protagonist, so he makes everyone else a bumbling fool. He’s not smart enough to write convincing arguments, so his “logical champion” uses appeals to emotions, after defeating the flimsiest strawmen ever – “We want X! And we want you to think how to get it done, even though we can see all our arguments are stupid!”

      You’d think he’d realize with his inability to write anything intelligent, he’d write a lot of action, and yet, he started with two novels full of info-dumping. It’s… amazing, almost.

      1. Mahouka shouldn’t even have been set in a High School. It’s a freaking waste, the high school, with all it’s baggage and stupid tropes was the worst place to explore the core premise of Mahouka that distinguishes it from the faceless mass of generic LNs.(magic becomes a Science, Gary Stu in Dystopia, Transhumanism).

        You know, I think somewhere along the line, the author realized how dumb and stupid the whole initial premise of “Discrimination in High School” was in the second volume, and tried to shove it to one side.

  2. “According to Tatsuya, Course 1 students have a higher ratio of faculty members to students compared to the Course 2 students.”

    I think it’s explained in the short. They don’t have enough teachers, so the Weeds don’t have any faculty aid. They all undergo the same classes, but Weeds do it with their workstations, and the Blooms have a teacher on hand. That’s the extent of the difference in school treatment.

  3. “Are you telling me they want “new discriminatory practices” by asking for equal treatment?”

    Damn right! All those Affirmative Action bullshits is just discriminatory against white guys!
    Don’t you know who’s the most oppressed group in the U.S.? White Christian males!

  4. The debate was the best part of the episode.
    Course 2 guy: “Magic-based clubs get more of the budget.”
    Pres: “No they don’t”
    Cut to Tatsuya and his friends watching: “Man, she’s really winning this debate.”

    1. Oh sorry about the previous comment. I have been told it’s hyped because the story and characters are good. People are telling me Tatsuya isn’t a gary stu, and it will be shown later that he isn’t perfect.

    1. Y’know, I was like, “Man, I hope nobody thinks I have anything against transgendered people just because I’m calling this Gary Stu a trans-Bloom.”

  5. Japan from Mahouka world is living the whole cold war nightmare experienced by US and the reason behind lack of sense in Sayaka discourse is deeply rooted in cold war claims made by Edward Hunter in 1958 over tactics used to disseminate communist ideals, Tatsuya is just reusing old fashioned cold war point of view about the whole matter, Mahouka even exposes details like Soviet States behind tactics used by Blanche, yes, the whole cold war thing again.

  6. Two comments:

    Watch the space on Transhumanism. I’m very interested in seeing your take on how Mahouka tries to take on Transhumanist themes, because this episode is the first time such themes emerge in Mahouka. Mahouka tries to justify Tatsuya’s Gary Stu, by claiming -” he’s a transhuman!” And while it is easy to mock how that doesn’t excuse failures in characterizations, I think what the author implicitly claims about Transhumanism will be fascinating to dissect and critique, as has been your discussion on Mahouka’s take on the idea of meritocracy.

    Secondly, on Miyuki’s character. Could I ask for a clarification? Do you mean that the very premise of Miyuki’s character is inherently bad, or do you mean that the way the anime executes Miyuki’s character is bad, or a bit of both? To paraphrase a particularly memorable comment you could replace Miyuki as depicted in the anime by an robot that continues saying nothing but “Onii Sama” and there wouldn’t be much of a difference. The adaptation has taken a weakly built character and made it even worse rather than strengthening characterization. Sadly, this is a proud LN to Anime adaptation standard.

    1. Could I ask for a clarification? Do you mean that the very premise of Miyuki’s character is inherently bad, or do you mean that the way the anime executes Miyuki’s character is bad, or a bit of both?

      I mean what I said. Even if they weren’t related, she’d still be a terrible character. For a comedy, this shit might fly, but the show is so hellbent on pushing its morals down our throats, so I’m not going to sit here and ignore how pathetically written she is.

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