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

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.

A word of warning that I’m still mostly grumpy about this volume, as I have become about this series in general. I think it’s become something where I’m interesting in seeing where the author takes things, but hate every decision he makes when he takes them. This volume wraps up the arc with Lina coming to Japan and Shizuku going to America, and also the killer “parasites” that do, in fact, kill more people before they are taken down. There’s also graduation, as Mayumi and the rest of her year move on to University – though not, the author reassures us, away from the story, though no doubt they will appear less. And there are some nudges towards the main plotline, as Erika figures out what family Tatsuya is really from. I was thinking at the start of this arc that she, like Honoka, might actually confess to him, but that’s unlikely to happen now. Besides, we know which ship will win.

I am almost at the point with Tatsuya and Miyuki where I wish they DID sleep together, if only as it would provide an excellent dropping point. But no, we continue to have Miyuki try to be the dutiful little sister even as her thoughts are growing more and more romantic and sexual as she gets older. As for Tatsuya, well, he’s ambivalent to everyone else, and seems to be pushing back on Miyuki when she takes things too far, but it’s hard to gauge his feelings on the matter given his past and lack of emotions. That said, I’m not really rooting for Honoka here either, who seems to have forgotten she confessed to Tatsuya and was rejected several volumes ago and is goaded by Shizuku (over the phone, and likely sleep-deprived) to press her case harder. This does lead to the funniest part of the book, where Honoka “makes herself useful” against the forces tailing them in a way that you know would have made Tatsuya facepalm if he had the ability.

As for Lina, her arc overall was “there’s always someone better than you”, in this case Tatsuya and Miyuki, showing her that she’s not as terrific as she thinks she is. Which is fine. I was far less happy with the “you’re too nice to be a soldier” bullshit from Tatsuya, which I’m fairly sure he would not have said had Lina been a man – but then if Lina had been a man I suspect her character would have been killed off anyway. It’s also a bit off that we never really see Lina reuniting with her superiors, or how they felt about her performance. I’m sure she’ll show up again, but it’s likely going to be a while, and I bet I’ll never really see resolution there, just as we never really resolved the 2nd part of the Nine Schools Competition after it got attacked. The author drops loose ends like crumbs.

We start the new school year next volume, which seems thankfully to be a single volume arc. I’ve no doubt that we’ll expand the cast with exciting new freshman. Till then, I’m honestly happy to see the back of this arc.

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

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.

This is very much a book of two halves, and I must admit that I preferred the first half to the second, though they both had issues. The first half is a continuation of the plot from the first book in this arc, as Tatsuya and Lina separately and together try to figure out what’s “possessing” these people and how to stop them, but are almost undone by a traitor in Lina’s midst. The traitor is… a character we met once before in the last book, but I must admit “minor character X’ does not really make it very dramatic – I was expecting it to be Lina’s aide Sylvia, which would have been more tragic. There’s also a pretty nice fight with said minor character traitor at the climax of the first half of the book, which actually gives Mizuki something to do. And we get a great way to present boring exposition and still make me laugh – Shizuku calls from California to give intel to Tatsuya, but she’s shitfaced drunk when she does so, and he’s trying to explain things to her as she slurs her words more and more. It’s pretty funny.

I was less impressed with the second half of the book, as it’s Valentine’s Day at the school, and you know what that means: wacky hijinks. I’ve talked before about how I’m not fond of Honoka being defined just by her love of Tatsuya, and I realize that the author is trying to let her and Shizuku get developed by the Honor Student manga author in that regard, but man, here her love for Tatsuya is literally weaponized by the runaway parasite, who possessed a robot named Pixie that’s part of the school’s robotics experiment. As you can imagine, instead of being driven by self-preservation and killing witnesses like the other possessed folks, she’s driven by the intense and disturbingly submissive love for Honoka that Honoka accidentally activated her with. That said, most of the valentine stuff was merely okay, and not actually irritating. And Mayumi’s revenge chocolates made me smile.

The irritating, as so frequently happens in this series, was saved for our two leads. I realize that Miyuki gets jealous sometimes, but what she did with Tatsuya’s chocolates was so petty and immature my jaw dropped. This is not helped by Tatsuya basically saying “welp” and just going along with it. (Tatsuya is not at his most likeable throughout the book – there’s a sequence where he lets Miyuki answer a difficult conundrum they have as he wants her to be “more than a pretty doll” that made me want to punch him.) And, of course, Miyuki is also dealing with her incestuous feelings for her brother, which are sometimes used as the usual gag (Lina’s reaction to Miyuki saying she and Tatsuya are just siblings) but in Miyuki’s inner thoughts are very much taken seriously. She feels guilty about these feelings, but honestly the whole thing makes me feel deeply uncomfortable.

When you add in some “Japan is good, everyone else is less good” speeches, and Lina getting chewed out for daring to fall in love with Tatsuya (a fact that she denies, but no one believes her, least of all the reader), and you have a typically easy to read but frustrating volume of Mahouka. Next volume should wrap up this arc, at least.

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.