This is an entry in the ever-increasing popularity of the school-magic show. You have seen it with “The Familiar of Zero”, “Blade Dance”, Magic Craft Works” and “A Certain Magical Index”. So, what makes “The Irregular at Magic High School” that different? Well in one aspect, it isn’t that different, as we cannot decide on the title (Mahōka Kōkō no Rettōsei, “The Poor Performing Student of a Magic High School”), but ‘poor’ is a very poor choice of words, but this is revealed during the run of the show. Also, rather than being a magic show with a school setting, it is a school show with a magic background.
It is the future (almost the end of this century). Magic is an established fact, has been for about 100 years and many countries train those with magical ability to, eventually, become soldiers to defend the country. In Japan, there are nine Magic High Schools. I do not know if the numbers mean anything, but we focus on First High School. Ah, but we use magic differently, in that we don’t going around, proclaiming “Accio!” or “Deletrius” or “Hakuna Matata!” Rather than casting spells with chants or other traditional forms of spell casting, mages use a Casting Assistant Device, better known as a CAD. The bad thing is the device looks like an iPhone6.
The CAD itself provides an activation sequence, which is used to construct a ritual in order to invoke the magic. This magic ritual targets the idea, the platform on which Eidos are recorded. Eidos refers to a form of information that is attached to whatever spell or phenomenon, you are using. This modern magic uses false signals to manipulate the Eidos of a target, which in turn modifies the phenomenon and causes physical changes in the real world. Look, it plays out easier than it sounds here, OK?
In the year 2095, two first-year students enter the school: Miyuki Shiba (third from right) and her older brother, Tatsuya Shiba (the guy right in the middle and the ‘irregular’ of the title). Now, placement is done by testing. She is absolutely fabulous and is placed in Course 1, where the best and the brightest go one to be more best and brightest. He doesn’t do as well and gets Course 2, where you get what you deserve (hand-me-down clothes, really used books, milk cartons for desks. No, it’s not that bad, but it’s bad). This obvious class distinction also leads to the unapproved designations of “Blooms” and “Weeds”, which the student council frowns on, but does nothing to eradicate it.
The series is broken into three arcs, but the way things are set up, they might as well be independent of one another. Initially, I thought this would be a tale of how these two break down the barriers that allow the Snobs to disrespect the Slobs (OK, that is just as cruel, but it is as honest assessment). All Tatsuya wants to do is Magic Engineering (look, someone has to take care of those iPhones and if you take it back to the store, you won’t have it for weeks!)
It’s just that those folks in Course 1 are those snotty, sarcastic, overweening, egotistical preening prats that over-populate ‘high society’ and treat those beneath them with seething contempt, not realizing that a lot of folks in Course 2 have some amazing abilities. Like Mizuki Shibata (second from left, Specs), as she can actually see Spirit Particle emissions. Or Erika Chiba (redhead), who can wield a very powerful sword with devastating results.
Arc 1 is learning who everyone is and the huge amount of prejudice that Tatsuya has to absorb as a Course 2 student. You also determine that something isn’t quite right with him, as he intones these spells, but you don’t really know what it might be. Arc 2 revolves around the Magic Tournament between the nine schools and how Tatsuya shines through, even though he is a…..Weed! Arc 3 is when the plot decides to show up and we have a huge battle break out between the Anti-Magic faction and the magically enhanced students.
Remember, all these folks are being bred for war, so they will have to go out and do battle and potentially die. It just that for high school students, they come off as rather mature, while they dispatch the forces of evil as though it was a daily occurrence. It was an appealing show for me, but some things bothered me. A lot had to do with Tatsuya’s ability and that a lot of folks didn’t understand it (don’t worry; it gets explained). Also, by the time we get to Arc 3, the problems raised in Arc 1 (Blooms vs Weeds) got shoved off to one side and, honestly, was never genuinely resolved. And the conclusion smacks of a second season.
Although a big source of humor in the show, Miyuki is a bit too close to her brother. I have seen familial affection that was over the top, but this one is really hard to accept. Plus, Tatsuya’s secret life seems a lot much to accept. Overall, a series worth your time and interest, as it does take a rather odd look at magic.
On a scale of 1 to 10:
Artwork 8 (Nice designs)
Plot 7 (Good, but could have been more)
Pacing 7 (The fight in the third arc slow it all down)
Effectiveness 7 (Left behind the class struggle message)
Conclusion 6 (It reaches a ‘coupler point’, but hasn’t ended)
Fan Service 2 (A similar show would be “Okamisan”)
Overall 8 (Good story, but not all was answered)
And remember, it’s first run until you’ve seen it. I didn’t recharge my iPhone….I mean, CAD!