The Irregular at Magic High School: Nine School Competition Arc, Part 2

By Tsutomu Sato and Kana Ishida. Released in Japan as “Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei” by ASCII Mediaworks. Released in North America by Yen On. Translated by Andrew Prowse.

I’ve been very nice to Irregular at Magic High School in my last three reviews, despite being well aware that the series is very polarizing, and that there are many, many people who vehemently dislike it – not as much as Sword Art Online, I mean, let’s not get crazy, but a whole lot. This is the first volume that, while I still enjoyed it to a degree, I’m beginning to see their point. Everything that’s normally annoying about Mahouka is just that much more so here, and the book even has a huge page count to get it all in there. Tatsuya’s perfectness, the vague incestuous implications, the cartoon nature of the villains, who make even other anime Chinese mafia cringe. And most of all, the endless, endless “magicbabble”, as the reader begins to suspect that without each detailed explanation of what magic is used and how it works in that context, this book would be about 70 pages long.

The games themselves show off our first-years to the best of their abilities, and their are few surprises – there is one game-breaking injury (literally – we’re told she won’t be able to use magic anymore), but it’s to a minor character we haven’t seen much of, and it’s never even brought up again. What we mostly see is First High’s girls beating the snot out of their competitors (the rookie guys don’t have Tatsuya as their engineer, so of course they do badly and seethe at him all the time for being so Tatsuya). Indeed, the competition with the most tension is the one between Shizuka and Miyuki – it’s over far too quickly, and I’d like to have seen more of it, but again, Miyuki is so far above everyone else, I suppose there’s not much we can do. The Honor Student side manga should help.

Of course, Tatsuya is forced to compete himself due to various circumstances, and of course he is amazing, though Leo and Mikihiko are also allowed to show off their chops a bit. (Erika, sadly, gets very little to do beyond be jealous of her brother’s relationship with Mari, though that does give us the funniest moment in the book, as Miyuki teases Erika about her brother complex, and Erika just loses it because it’s MIYUKI doing this. The student council for the most part are there to be a Greek chorus, with Mayumi occasionally showing off her crush on Tatsuya and Azusa gradually realizing Tatsuya’s secret identity due to his complete inability to hide his amazing engineering skills (though he tries, multiple times in the book, not to take credit for things.)

The book is not bad per se, despite my complaining – the action sequences are well paced and work despite all the magic explanations woven into them. Tatsuya’s past and his devotion to Miyuki makes the book take a very dark tone towards the end, as he shows no mercy towards anyone who would hurt Miyuki, and the narrative points out – perhaps a bit too much – that it’s ONLY Miyuki he cares about, not anyone else. So it’s still a good series to read for fans, but I can easily see casual readers deciding that this is the point they may want to abandon ship.

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