Mahouka Koukou no Yuutousei Episode 4 Impressions – A Sudden Terrorist Plot

Mahouka Koukou no Yuutousei Episode 4 Review
Review posts of Mahouka Koukou no Yuutousei are sponsored by Crow's World of Anime.

Mahouka Koukou no Yuutousei seems restricted by the original series.

Last week I asked whether Mahouka Koukou no Yuutousei could stand on its own feet rather than simply being a spin-off accompaniment to a series I’d love to see a further sequel of outside of the Visitor Arc but instead I got a spin-off. And unfortunately episode 4 seems to indicate that this series really can’t despite some of its good points.

Episode 4 is a disjointed viewing affair going from watching Miyuki try on various outfits and poses to get her brother’s attention to a deep discussion around the discrimination at the school and the potential terrorist organisation behind it all before we cut back to the girls playing detective who naturally end up in danger.

Mahouka Koukou no Yuutousei Episode 4 - Miyuki

About the only real point of difference Mahouka Koukou no Yuutousei offers here is that instead of Tatsuya being the one who conveniently shows up to save the day Miyuki gets a brief moment to shine as she saves her friends.

But ultimately this is such a side quest to a story we’ve already seen play out (as in the audience already knew about the relationship between the student and the terrorist) so the danger faced by Eimi, Honoka and Shizuku is pretty irrelevant because they reveal nothing new to us and more than that, we already knew they weren’t going to be killed in an alley during this arc because we’ve seen them alive and kicking in future events.

So with Mahouka Koukou no Yuutousei’s potential dramatic tension from potential danger cut off at the knees we’re left with a mediocre action sequence where the three girls get a very brief moment of cool before their magic is jammed and then Miyuki just kind of wipes out the threat without blinking an eye.

Mahouka Koukou no Yuutousei Episode 4 - Eimi, Shizuku and Honoka

All of this before we finish the episode with a cut down version of the student forum that we’ve also seen before and then the terrorists begin their attack before the closing credits.

Will the terrorist attack prove a rehash or will we get a genuine new perspective on events?

Taken on its own, so far Mahouka Koukou no Yuutousei has been pretty ordinary and it really is relying on people who are fans of these characters and wanted to see more of them. In that sense, we are getting more screen time for support characters from The Irregular at Magic High.

Mahouka Koukou no Yuutousei Episode 4 - Student Council

What I have to wonder is whether there is an actual alternative perspective to be offered on the events coming? Is there information Miyuki has that Tatsuya was never privy to that might change how the audience views any of these encounters? Because that would make this series well and truly worth watching.

Without it, while this is a nice diversion and fans of the original will enjoy being back at magic high, there’s little to make this a must watch and it certainly isn’t catering to a new audience with so much missing from it in terms of world building. Episode 4 really highlights this as it kind of just skips through a lot of bits and pieces to get us from the daily school life antics to terrorist attack by the end of the episode.

The one thing I am genuinely appreciating so far is Miyuki’s growing friendship with Shizuku and Honoka as while they were friends in the original series, it was friendship that made little sense. Here we see Miyuki making a genuine effort to connect with the two girls as they try to keep their actions a secret from her and we also see Miyuki’s anger when they are in danger.

Mahouka Koukou no Yuutousei Episode 4 - Honoka and Shizuku run away

While that probably isn’t enough to justify an alternate take on a story, I won’t say I’m not enjoying it. All of these are characters who deserved a little more screen time and their relationships should have been fleshed out more in the first place.

I guess we’ll see what episode 5 with the terrorist attack actually brings us in terms of perspective. I’m kind of hoping Miyuki’s experience is significantly different enough to make this feel fresh.

Images from: Mahouka Koukou no Yuutousei. Dir. Hideki Tachibana. Connect. 2021

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Karandi James

Mahouka Koukou no Yuutousei Episode 3 Impressions – Beware the Stalker Girls Are Playing Detective

Mahouka Koukou Episode 3 Review
Review posts of Mahouka Koukou no Yuutousei are sponsored by Crow's World of Anime.

Miyuki has perfected the art of the cold glare.

Anyone who has watched a single episode of The Irregular at Magic High School or the first episode of Mahouka Koukou no Yuutousei is aware that Miyuki has a serious brother complex going on. However, in case we’d all forgotten, the first few minutes of episode 3 have another class mate making loud and disparaging remarks against ‘weeds’ and in particular the course 2 student who has just been entered into the disciplinary committee.

I mean it isn’t just bad manners to bad-mouth someone publicly; in this instance it is outright stupidity given his sister is in the classroom.

Anyway, Miyuki most certainly makes her displeasure known.

Mahouka Koukou no Yuutousei - Miyuki's cold glare

Though I can’t help but think that Mahouka Koukou no Yuutousei would be better as a spin-off if it embraced the chance to make the non-friend characters actual humans instead of caricatures. Tatsuya has limited social interactions outside of necessary ones so the various random classmates being one-dimensional from his perspective makes sense. In this version of the story, it makes a lot less sense.

Mahouka Koukou no Yuutousei - bully put in place

So far Honor Student seems less willing to dive into the technical side of how magic is working but also hasn’t improved the support cast to really make a more slice-of-life school-days kind of anime feel like it is standing on particularly solid ground.

That and I now have to wonder how Miyuki isn’t in front of the discipline committee every other day given freezing a whole classroom and multiple class-mates has to count as a magical attack and was hardly a justified act of self-defence.

Can Mahouka Koukou no Yuutousei stand on its own feet?

At three episodes in I’m finding that Mahouka Koukou no Yuutousei is doing an excellent job of fleshing out Miyuki’s friends as characters. Honoka and Shizuku are both delightful as they spend this episode investigating the source of the attacks on Tatsuya and try to keep Miyuki from knowing anything is wrong (even though she already knows and Tatsuya also knows they are following him).

Mahouka Koukou no Yuutousei - Honoka and Shizuku

But I have to wonder how I would take these first three episodes if this was my introduction to Magic High School?

Has there been enough world building, explanation or even coherent plot to really get me invested in Mahouka Koukou no Yuutousei if I removed my prior connection with the story?

And honestly, I’d probably come to the conclusion there hasn’t been, at least not yet.

We’re skipping through events from the original story and they only really connect because we’ve seen them before from a different perspective. I can’t help but think this would be a terribly choppy rendition for anyone new to the franchise.

Also, I had to wonder who Eimi is? (No spoilers if you’ve read the source.) I can’t remember her from Irregular at all so I’m left wondering if she’s an original character for Mahouka Koukou no Yuutousei. In which case, how does that fit the two stories together. Just Eimi just never actually interact with Tatsuya? Or are we going to learn she’s actually a plant for some side mission the girls will go on before being written out?

Mahouka Koukou no Yuutousei - Eimi

She’s a pleasant enough addition to the team and she added enough energy this week riding into the fray to pull Honoka and Shizuku out of the clutch of the club recruiters. Also I somehow doubt that Honoka and Shizuku would have quite enough initiative on their own to form a ‘detective’ group and choose to follow around Tatsuya so that whole plot line can only exist because of Eimi really.

Still, I can’t help but wonder where this character came from and how long she’s sticking around for.

However, much as Miyuki kicked off the episode with a perfect cold glare, her reaction toward the end of the episode where Tatsuya actually asked her about her friends (who he realised had been following him) earned Miyuki the title of best reaction for the episode.

Mahouka Koukou no Yuutousei

As much as Miyuki’s brother obsession is quite excessive, the interactions between Tatsuya and Miyuki remain a highlight of this anime and with magic seemingly taking a back-seat in this spin-off and the tensions between characters being highlighted, the relationship between Tatsuya and Miyuki is an important rock for the series to build around.

However, the ‘case’ wasn’t solved this week so I guess Mahouka Koukou no Yuutousei is future proofing against the three episode drop by making episode 3 a to be continued. Lots of anime seem to be taking this approach recently and I wonder how it is disrupting narratives trying to put cliff-hangers so early in the piece.

Images from: Mahouka Koukou no Yuutousei. Dir. Hideki Tachibana. Connect. 2021

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Karandi James

Mahouka Koukou no Yuutousei Episode 2 Impressions – The Awkward Honoka Gets Centre Stage

Mahouka Koukou no Yuutousei Episode 2 Review
Review posts of Mahouka Koukou no Yuutousei are sponsored by Crow's World of Anime.

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.

Honoka talking to Shizuku during the opening ceremony - Image from Mouhouka Koukou no Yuutousei

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.

Miyuki helps Honoka up - Image from Mouhouka Koukou no Yuutousei

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.

Lunch time dilemma - Image from Mahouka Koukou no Yuutousei

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).

This is a fantasy - Image from Mahouka Koukou no Yuutousei

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.

He's the brother of the girl you are trying to impress - Image from Mahouka Koukou no Yuutousei

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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Karandi James

Mahouka Koukou no Yuutousei Episode 1 Impressions – The Brother Complex is Strong With This One

Mahouka Koukou no Yuutousei Episode 1
Review posts of Mahouka Koukou no Yuutousei are sponsored by Crow's World of Anime.

Mahouka Koukou no Yuutousei wastes no time…

Spin-offs have proven to be somewhat tricky things and Mahouka Koukou no Yuutousei is going in with a disadvantage given it has picked the character I kind of found the least interesting in The Irregular At Magic High School as its focal point.

Don’t get me wrong, Miyuki has her moments and is wickedly powerful. Honestly she should have a spot on my list of cool users of ice-magic except that she isn’t cool when she isn’t using her power. Her overwhelming brother complex kind of strips her of any agency she might have had and leaves her more as the super-powered fan-club rather than protagonist material leaving Mahouka Koukou no Yuutousei with some heavy lifting to do if they are going to really reframe her as the main character.

Mahouka Koukou no Yuukousei Episode 1 - Tatsuya and Miyuki
It’s a little much.

It was much like when Is It Wrong To Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon did a spin-off focusing on Ais. Sure, she works well in Dungeon where the focus is on Bell but on her own she hasn’t got enough presence to really keep me interested in her story and once I realised I was only watching Sword Oratoria for the glimpses we got of Bell I gave the whole thing up as a bit of a lost cause.

That said, I absolutely loved the world building and magical lore in Irregular and so I was definitely up for another dive into the world of Magic High School. Plus, Miyuki does have a cute but really impractical school uniform, and lets be honest it is a story about magical powered teens and theirs vast conspiracies and large chunks of unknown information about these two siblings so getting some more insight from a different perspective can’t be a bad thing. Right?

Tatsuya feeding Mayuki in Mahouka Koukou no Yuutousei
Okay, that’s excessive.

That said, having gotten my personal gripes out of the way, this first episode of Mahouka Koukou no Yuutousei was actually pretty fun to watch.

Basically we are kicking off just before the two head off to magic high school and Miyuki has requested that Tatsuya spend the day with her for her birthday. Cue awkward side glances, hand-holding, a somewhat forced sequence where Miyuki tries on a bikini just so he can do his usual dead-pan reaction, before they eat in a café and get given a special ‘couples’ parfait.

Fortunately, the opening sequence of the episode promised fire and mayhem so viewers who are finding Miyuki’s brother obsession a little full on know that sooner or later Mahouka Kouou no Yuutousei is going to move onto more dramatic fare.

Mahouka Koukou no Yuutousei - sharing a parfait
Not that sparkles and parfaits aren’t nice.

In seriousness this episode show-cases what it needs to. It establishes the brother and sister relationship for those who haven’t watched the original series and introduces the basics of how magic works with the CADs without getting into too much technical detail in episode one. It also establishes that these two have a lot of strings attached to them and their life by their aunt. It further establishes the dangers in the world by launching an attack on the shopping mall.

That’s actually a lot of work for one episode and Mahouka Koukou no Yuutousei makes it look pretty effortless. Granted, this first episode probably won’t win over a lot of new viewers who are unfamiliar with the franchise on its own, but if the subsequent episodes are as interesting this spin-off may very well draw in a new audience or even re-engage fans who liked the world but weren’t sold on Tatsuya as the main character (though given I love Tatsuya I’m not falling in that camp).

Mahouka Koukou no yuutousei

Anyway, Miyuki actually does get to save the day here though the story is left with needing to find ways to sideline the overpowered Tatsuya in order to give Miyuki a chance to shine. A problem that may persist as the story continues or not if they go in a different direction.

All and all though, I’m pretty happy with this first episode and I’m looking forward to more of Miyuki’s adventures and I kind of hope they offer enough of a different perspective on their first year at magic high school to ultimately make Mahouka Koukou no Yuutousei able to stand on its own.

Images from: Mahouka Koukou no Yuutousei. Dir. Hideki Tachibana. Connect. 2021

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Karandi James