The Irregular at Magic High School: Visitor Arc, Part 1

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.

Nothing quite says “The irregular at Magic High School” quite like introducing one of North American’s top magician agents, almost ungodly in her strength, speed, and power, and then having her get crushed by Tatsuya and Miyuki as a reminder that it’s their series. There are various “outs” given for Miyuki, as Tatsuya has to remove the limiter she has on him to let her fight with the strength to defeat Lina, and the occasional reminder that North America does have the occasional magic tech that Japan does not have (to Tatsuya’s irritation), but for the most part the first of this three-volume arc is meant to introduce a new girl and then show how she’s not QUITE as good as the dynamic duo. This is not something limited to this series, of course, it’s pretty standard in light novels/anime/manga. But there is a certain smugness in Irregular at Magic High School’s narration that makes it grate just a bit more.

As you can see by the cover, Lina is out new American transfer student, who is also not so secretly a soldier with the North American forces sent to Japan to try to find out who was responsible for what happened in Yokohama two volumes ago. She’s a terrible spy, as she herself admits, but she’s better as a supersoldier, complete with secret identity superhero costume, which helps her feel very “American”, along with her stubbornness and desire to see everything as a competition. It’s more of an exchange program, so we also see Shizuku leave the stage and go off to UC Berkeley for (I assume) the remainder of this arc. This is a shame, as I quite like Shizuku, and also with her gone Honoka does not get much to do except have a crush on Tatsuya. The plot is about a “vampire” who is killing magicians, though it turns out that it may be more than one.

Irregular at Magic High School is not at the point (and I don’t think it ever will be) where it can kill off one of its regulars to amp up the drama. But some drama is required, so Leo runs afoul of the ‘vampire’ folks and is hospitalized for the rest of the book, and it’s noted that without his monstrous (and bioengineered) constitution he’d likely be a lot more dead. This leads Erika to start prowling the streets as revenge for what happened. The relationship between Erika and Leo continues to be very odd – the rest of the group seems to treat them like they’re going to be a couple and are just in denial about it, but if that’s the case there’s a curious complete lack of romantic tension between them. We see Erika flush in embarrassment later on, but that’s when she gets her outfit torn to shreds in a fight and is showing off to Tatsuya and Mikihiko a bit more than she feels comfortable with.

The Irregular at Magic High School continues to be a series that’s easy to read but hard to like. At times it feels like, just like its main character, the author seems unable to write strong emotions beyond the surface. Still, this is just the first part of a long arc, and I’m hoping for stronger depth next time. Mahouka fans should enjoy this – or enjoy complaining about this.

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