A Surprising Perspective This Week in Mahouka Koukou no Yuutousei
I will admit, I was taken a little bit by surprise this week as Mahouka Koukou no Yuutousei moved away from a direct focus on the Shiba siblings (though they still feature in almost every event) to tell the story of the entrance exam, opening speech and first few days of school through Honoka’s eyes.
Now Honoka is a nice enough character but one who other than being a little bit shy and awkward really didn’t stand out in The Irregular at Magic High School. She was friends with Miyuki and Shizuku, participated in the various school events and was in the first course, but honestly I couldn’t tell you much else about her because to be honest she was just kind of there. If you’d even asked me what sort of magic she was good at I couldn’t have told you.
So it was pleasantly surprising to get to know a little bit more about her in this episode. And yes, she is shy and awkward, tripping over her own feet when she tries to greet Miyuki in the classroom, but she’s also earnest and thoughtful and seems like a pretty nice person even if she’s not a particularly effective one.
Though it would have been nice to learn how her friendship with Shizuku came about because those two still seem like complete opposites so I wonder if they happened to go to middle-school together or something?
While the change in perspective was nice it does leave me wondering whether or not Mahouka Koukou no Yuutousei is actually planning on giving us more of Miyuki’s perspective given the MAL synopsis tells us we’re meant to be seeing events through her eyes and two episodes in and we’ve already moved away from that. Not that I will mind if the following episodes are as engaging as this one.
Honoka originally sees Miyuki at the entrance examination and is highly impressed by her. We learn later that Honoka also saw Tatusya’s test and was impressed for a different reason. As a result of this, Honoka goes out of her way to befriend Miyuki and already has a great deal of respect for Tatsuya. Which means, she is understandably distressed by the obvious discrimination on display in the school and the hurtful comments of some of her classmates which are clearly upsetting Miyuki.
I enjoyed that witnessing the events unfolding lead to Honoka openly questioning the exam process and how magic is measured in Mahouka Koukou no Yuutousei which in turn allowed Honoka and Shizuku to question their previously unconscious prejudice and the significant move of asking Tatsuya and his group of second course students if they could join them for lunch which is a radical first step toward this whole gang becoming the firm friends we see in later arcs of the original story.
Though, for those who are watching The Honour Student At Magic High School for the brother obsessed Miyuki, you will still get a few good moments where her imagination runs wild and fantasies of her brother rescuing her from a bully (that she could easily have squished herself) as well as a dream sequence about Tatsuya almost being kissed by the Student Council President do occur (not sure how that fits with Honoka’s perspective but it wouldn’t be Mahouka Koukou no Yuutousei without it).
If I was to identify a true weak point of this episode it is probably the blatant nature of the discrimination and the bullies who lack any kind of actual personality or nuance other than to be vaguely antagonistic in a childish and relatively pathetic manner. They serve enough of a purpose of highlighting the divide between the first and second course but don’t actually ever get presented as real characters.
I feel this is perhaps a missed opportunity. The Irregular of Magic High School really couldn’t humanise those who looked down on Tatsuya because he wasn’t in their classes or seen as their equal. But, given the story this time is told from the perspective of Miyuki and now Honoka who actually can approach these characters on equal footing it kind of seems like a chance to stop seeing them as mindless antagonists and to flesh them out.
Whether the story cares to do so is another story.
All of this has left me wondering what to expect from episode three of Mahouka Koukou no Yuutousei and ultimately I just don’t know. Will we go back to Miyuki’s focus or will Shizuku or one of the other characters get to share their perspective? Will the focus be on joining the student council or will another event take centre stage? I guess we’ll find out next week.
Images from: Mahouka Koukou no Yuutousei. Dir. Hideki Tachibana. Connect. 2021
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