As of late, I have been running into a lot of fighting academy shows, where people of varying degrees of talents and abilities are shipped off to this particular institute or that particular school to hone their fighting skills in that they may defend this country or do battle against other schools for honor and glory and toyamaki. It’s like being in “The Goblet of Fire” but without Cedric Diggory. (Hmmmm……….this intro sounds familiar).
For this one, we follow a group of people who are at or near the bottom of things, owing to both a misusage of their ability, a lack of desire to implement things properly or just too lazy to be bothered with the details. Instead of being respected for what they do, they are a good example of a bad example, but if they are all lumped together, we can make them improve. Misery enjoys company or a bird in the hand spoils the broth. Well, that’s the thought behind “Anti-Magic Academy: The 35th Test Platoon” (“Tai-Madō Gakuen 35 Shiken Shōtai”). In the world of this future, humanity is, again, on a witch hunt. Except here, witches are real. They are deemed to pose a serious and on-going threat to people and must be exterminated.
The leader of this Platoon is Takeru Kusanagi (that’s him as a maid in the upper left; don’t ask, but note that none of them are in military garb for this little joke jaunt). His problem is that he can’t use magic and is no good with guns, so he uses a katana with impeccable results. The rest of the ladies in this squad (yes, it smacks heavily of a harem comedy, despite the grim nature of it), from left to right, are:
Lapis (a human-shaper Relic Eater; has a contract with Takeru)
Mari Nikaidō (a first year young witch, she has destructive magic)
Ikaruga Suginami (above; she’s the boffin of the group. She’s good at her job but harasses the platoon)
Usagi Saionji (she’s a sniper, but suffers from stage fright and has a thing about bunnies)
Ōka Ōtori (she was sent here for ‘excessive’ killing. Really)
The series contends itself with their witch hunting activities….to a point.
It started out OK, as we see them engage in witch-hunting and have to address tricky moral questions as to whether it is acceptable to hunt down and destroy witches, when it appears the witches are not attacking people to merely attack people, but trying to protect hearth and home from an uncaring world, so they must defend themselves. Then comes a mid-course correction and now we go off on goofy adventures or learn how to boost our rankings so we are no longer the doormat of the academy. The vague, non-committal ending implies a second season on the horizon. I just felt a lot of what could have been addressed was tossed away and it becomes not much different than any school-based rom-com with little or no dramatic elements to elevate this into something more or better
Why even have the witch hunt aspects if it is going to be shelved later on? Or why not make it all theoretical, just in case we have to have a genuine witch hunt someday? And what if the witches mounted a genuine, cohesive counter offensive and really clobbered these folks? It’s just a lot of missed opportunities for something that plays it safe when it could easily have been more and accomplished a great deal.
On a scale of 1 to 10:
Artwork 8 (If you have boob jokes, the ladies have to be cute)
Plot 7 (Retread City)
Pacing 7 (Moves along consistently)
Effectiveness 7 (Odd mid-course correction)
Conclusion 7 (It reaches a ‘coupler point’, but hasn’t ended)
Fan Service 4 (A similar show would be “Gurren Lagaan”)
Overall 7 (Too many missed opportunities)
And remember, it’s first run until you’ve seen it. It works well for me.