Pardon the Delay

Busy weekend and rough start to the week. I should have a write-up of episode 3 soon.

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Irregular at Magic High, ep. 2

Pardon the delay. I don’t have all the pictures done and inserted, but I’ll add them tonight.

Episode 2 picks up right where episode 1 left off. Mari Wanatabe, the head of the disciplinary committee, is facing off with Tatsuya Shiba — she knows he’s trying to snow him about what just happened at the gate, and doesn’t like it. Miyuki steps up and apologizes as well, and Saegusa uses the opportunity to suddenly play along with Tatsuya’s story while making it clear she knows the real score and won’t tolerate a repeat.

Does she know more than she lets on?

Overall, this was another slow-building episode (the big secrets don’t come out until the fourth novel, which will take some getting to…) There’s some clues to the attentive but they’re so subtle that if you haven’t read the novels, you probably won’t spot them. One is a line Tatsuya says in both the first and second episodes to Miyuki: “You always get angry for me because I can’t.” In fact, his demeanor is another oddity; he seems totally emotionless, except for his affection to his sister. I’ll come back to that later. He does have a sense of humor, though it’s absolutely deadpan.

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Last Season: Two shows

That’s all I watched for the Winter season. Both were holdovers from last season, which says a lot.

Strike the Blood: Horror/Harem. Lot’s of cute, competent girls, and a harem center that’s not a useless dweeb, nor an arrogant bastard like Rogue Hero. There’s been no overarching story to tie everything together, but the background mysteries have been rolled out and/or resolved at a steady pace. It’s not overly compelling, nor completely original, but it is good, solid story-telling. The final arc was a bit transparent, and probably an anime original. It gave us a look at the main character’s future.

Log Horizon: The “not Sword-Art-Online” entry this year. That’s true, it’s not SAO… in that story, everything centered around how the players got trapped in that world, and how they worked to escape. Log Horizon is the exact opposite: next to no energy is spent on dealing with getting out or solving the mystery of how they got trapped there. it’s completely impossible, as the game was never a virtual reality to start with — it was a desktop system MMO, just like WOW or Everquest. Instead, the first arc or two deals with the fallout among players being trapped, their reactions, and learning the rules of the new world. Strange echoes of the game’s backstory are found in the world’s history, and eventually, a large faction of players are organized by Shiroe (the protagonist, called “the Strategist”) to become a political and economic power combining 21st century knowledge with a strange new world. Salamander-powered steam engines? But what used to be programmed “GameMaster events” are now threats to the whole world… and the final fail-safes to keep them from being overrun are gone. Yet this isn’t the story; like STB, it’s just one arc. If there’s any underlying plot, it’s how the players learn to organize a government and deal with NPC’s that aren’t NPC’s anymore. Frankly, the lack of explanation to the world change was a negative to me, as was the childlike primary female. The “older than she looks” trope is so overdone.

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Looking Up For Spring

Tatsuya and Miyuki Shiba, siblings and first-year students.

I’m going to have to start blogging again, I think. I haven’t really sampled much yet, but this season’s already looking a lot better than the last.

I’m really hyped about The Irregular at Magic High School. The title stinks and the animation’s a little ‘meh’ but it’s adapted from a really good, fairly deep light novel series. Some folks might be put off by the level of bro-con in the primary female lead, but at least there’s an in-story reason for her fixation… and his oddity. The story starts, not with a flash forward, but a flash back…

Good morning, sir! Shall I and my ten friends have a go with you?

Magic was discovered at the opening of the 21st century. it was fused with technology not long thereafter, in the form of “CADs” Casting Assistance Devices — which handles the complicated casting protocols that we would term “rituals” and allow the caster to just supply the energy. Ancient magic practitioners exist who don’t use CADs, but can create more powerful effects (albeit much slower). But while all this was being discovered, in the 2030′s the icecaps started melting and droughts/famine etc. began. In 2045, World War III started. It lasted 20 years, but never went nuclear, because the world’s magicians wouldn’t let it. Now, thirty years after the end of the last global war, all powers are racing to research magic and produce magic users; two of the greatest powers are the US and Japan. China is playing catch-up, and is very, very aggressive.

Classmates: Leo and Erika hit it off. The brown-haired girl with her back to us is Honoka, a meganekko with superior spirit vision -- which alarms Tatsuya.

Japan has a series of magical high schools with limited enrollment; there just aren’t enough teachers, so the top half of the students get the best the school has to offer, while the rest get second best. That’s still pretty good, but it doesn’t include full time instruction; most of their lessons are computerized and self-study. Because First High School’s symbol is a flower, the top half of the students call themselves “Blooms” and the second half…. well, the Blooms call them “Weeds.” You can guess the rest.

Miyuki, no hanging out with the Weeds.

Into this charged atmosphere enters a pair of students, brother and sister, born 11 months apart. Tatsuya and Miyuki Shiba. Miyuki scored the second highest on the entrance exam, and Tatsuya scored the highest. But it’s Miyuki who’s the freshman Rep and it doesn’t sit well with her. Tatsuya, it seems, has a weakness in his practical application, and so he score so low on that half, it knocked him into the second group. And his top-notch martial arts counts not at all.

Leo takes exception... Tatsuya takes off to defuse the situation. (Well, since it started because Miyuki wanted to sit with him, by breaking the group up, he also diffused it...)

The first episode makes us acquainted with the lead characters and the situation in the school. Several major characters are introduced, and a couple more get cameos. It also makes it obvious that there’s secrets — several of them, behind the Shiba siblings, and the fact that they live alone, without their parents. Tatsuya makes several mental references to “Numbers” upon hearing the names of classmates and the school president, whom he encounters several times. I’m not going to give away what that is all about just yet. Nor explain exactly what happened in the encounter at the school gate. I just don’t want to spoil the fun…. The light novel series this is drawn from is one of those rare types where everything fits together and makes sense; even if it was all made up along the way, it hangs together so well, it’s impossible to tell the difference. I’m really looking forward to it.

The reckoning was only delayed...but someone else has other ideas.

The last major character to be introduced in the episode, Mari. The girl on the right is Saegusa, the president.

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Who Invited Al (Jazeera) Gore?

Seriously. Sleet and icing in Houston… in March???

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Yes, I’m still alive. No, I’m not watching much anime. No, I’m not even motivated to talk about manga and LN’s. I’m also busy at work.

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Arpeggio of Blue Steel

Hm. This is an anime blog, maybe I should write about anime once in a while, right? Well I’m enjoying Arpeggio of Blue Steel. I didn’t think I’d care for anthropomorphic moe WWII IJN ships, but it’s actually intriguing how they’ve handled it. There’s a lot of handwaving, but some genuinely interesting parts. It’s not Strike Witches at sea. The ships aren’t actually, well, ships, exactly. Nor is it WWII, redeux. It’s the 21st century, but after we screwed up the climate and the icecaps melted. (Either there was considerably more than 200′ of water trapped in ice, or Japan subsided. That looks like about 500′ over Yokohama.) So there’s worldwide famines and conflicts, and then the Fleet of Fog shows up. They’re automated alien weapons that land in the water and copy existing ships from our history, but with insanely higher weapons technology. For whatever reason, they copy only obsolete ships from a century before and only subs and surface combatants — no carriers. Stats are given in the OP. Yes, we’re looking at one of the mecha tropes, but sometimes the gear can be an important character — anyone remember Gargantia?.

I usually don’t do this, but I’m going to give the central concept the show is built around out first. Without doing so, it’s impossible to differentiate Arpeggio based on the setup — it sounds like Strike Witches. So, final warning, massive spoilers below the fold.
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