The Irregular at Magic High School: Double Seven Arc

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.

The author states in the afterword that this was written to be serialized in Dengeki Bunko’s magazine, rather than as a stand-alone novel, and apologizes for its sloppiness. It’s certainly sloppy – its saving grace is that for once it wasn’t split into two for length, because as a two-volume set this would have been unbearable. On the downside, this means that this is an incredibly long volume where almost nothing happens. There are rumblings of a plot in the background involving the media attacking magicians, and there is foreshadowing of future events. For the most part, though, this book functions to start second year for Tatsuya and Miyuki, and to introduce the new freshman who will be semi-regulars going forward. Chief among whom are the twins on the cover, Mayumi’s little sisters Kasumi and Izumi. The title of the arc comes from them – “Saegusa” has ‘seven’ in its family name, and they are twins, hence ‘Double Seven’.

The twins are not the only new regulars introduced. We also meet Takuma Shippou, who is essentially Shinji from Fate/Stay Night without a sister to abuse. He’s meant to be unlikeable, and he certainly is – reading scenes with him was like eating glass. It will be interesting to see if he actually matures or if he stays an antagonist – Mahouka tends to fall into “you’re either with Tatsuya or against him” character dynamics, and I suspect any maturity might take a long while. There’s also Minami Sakurai, who has moved into the Shiba home to be Miyuki’s protector. Given that’s basically Tatsuya’s job, there’s more going on here, and I suspect it will play out in future books. Sadly, she’s a nonentity here, though I do give her credit for being against the Tatsuya/Miyuki ship – she’d be very happy if Tatsuya hooked up with Mayumi. (As would Mayumi, come to think of it.) Oh yes, and we also meet Kent Smith… erm, sorry, Kento Sumisu (his mother, Jennifer Smith, is a teacher at the school, so I can only assume he’s romanized this way as Tatsuya hasn’t made the connection), who seems to be Saika Totsuka from Oregairu transported to this universe.

The school has invented a new Magical Engineering course so that Tatsuya doesn’t have to put up with the “first/second” prejudice for another year. (Note that the first and second classes are still around, but sine the new freshman don’t involve Tatsuya, we don’t get to see if any of them are bullied.) It also has a couple of magical duels to attempt to solve arguments – one between Shippou and the twins, the other between Shippou and his upperclassman. This allows the author to do what he loves best, which is lovingly describe the magic system he’s invented in terms that make it sound like cook science instead of cool magic. To be fair, he is pretty good at this, and I imagine this would be a treat animated. Oh yes, and we get the highlight of the book – and possibly the entire series – when Tatsuya dresses as Batman for one of his espionage missions. No, really, there’s a picture.

It feels like I’m reading this series out of habit now. You know things are bad when I get excited at the prospect of a tournament arc, as the next volume seems to be. Till then, enjoy the new cast members being introduced over the course of a lot of pages but not making nearly as much of an impression as our stoic Batman.

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