Mahouka Koukou no Yuutousei tries to humanise the competition.
One of the key problems with spin-offs in general came to light this week in episode 7 of Mahouka Koukou no Yuutousei as it made a gallant effort to humanise the girls from third high and yet it was very hard to buy into the story knowing already the outcome of the event.
No matter how tragic a backstory you present or how fierce that friendship with Airi is, the bottom line is we already knew that Shizuku was going to win that event and all this backstory did was make me feel kind of bad that Tatsuya is such a cheat level magic engineer. Which I somehow don’t think was the point. And if this hadn’t been a spin-off and there was some genuine will she/won’t she tension, perhaps I’d have really been drawn into the backstory though ultimately it all was a little heavy handed and cliche.
On the other hand, we did move far away from Miyuki this episode after the questions she raised last week with her actions. This week she’s more or less only appearing in occasional scenes in the crowd and in support as this episode isn’t about her or her events.
Which then of course leaves me wondering whether Shizuku, whose event was front and centre this episode, actually got any additional development from this retelling of the story. And thinking it through the answer is a firmly no. Any additional information was given in the form of making her opponent a little more than just an obstacle, and we already established that didn’t really work, and Shizuku mostly just had the same series of scenes as we’ve already seen or at the very least the scenes in this episode didn’t add anything.
Now, that doesn’t make it a bad episode per se. Seeing Shizuku dominate in her competition, supported through Tatsuya’s engineering and the strategies they planned is pretty impressive and entertaining. It isn’t necessarily new, but it was still fun to watch and be reminded that Shizuku, quiet as she may be, actually has a fierce competitive streak and is actually a pretty impressive magic user in her own right.
I also liked that this episode did finally get into some of the magic engineering aspects that I really quite liked in the original series as fundamentally what drew me to Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei was the unique world building around the combination of magic and science. So having the engineering feature in Mahouka Koukou no Yuutousei for perhaps the first time in these seven episodes, was actually kind of delightful.
Equally, I like that we’re seeing a lot more of third high’s strategizing this time around and discussions around the medal tally and which events are coming up next. It means we aren’t rehashing the conversations first high had as the tournament went along, and it does at least feel like third high are rivals rather than just a necessary obstacle in this version of events.
The episode ends with jumping to Honoka’s qualifying round and really nothing new is given here but it is great to see Honoka having so much fun while competing (given how nervous she was going into the event).
I am kind of looking forward to the next episode of Mahouka Koukou no Yuutousei because I want to see if this story can flesh out third high a bit more as the competition gets tighter and whether we’ll get more engineering discussions.
Images from: Mahouka Koukou no Yuutousei. Dir. Hideki Tachibana. Connect. 2021
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