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.

Another clue, and maybe a mistranslation occurs shortly after the conclusion of the confrontation. One of the upperclasswomen, named Honoka, asks to join Tatsuya’s group on the walk home. Since she’s a Course 1 (Bloom) student, breaking off to join with the Course 2 students is the social equivalent to switching sides in a war. Nonetheless, the group agrees. On the walk home, the others ask Tatsuya about his ability to instantly tell what magic is being cast, and find that he also does the fine tuning for Miyuiki’s CAD (Casting Assistance Device). Most CADs are shaped as bracelets, although the school uses a console version for classes. Erika’s is her extendable rod, and a chance comment about a specific magic technique prompts Miyuki to point out that it’s considered a secret that “civilians” shouldn’t be discussing. This prompts Mizuki (minor spoiler: her spirit vision is so sensitive she wears glasses to degrade it) to remark, “I don’t think there are any civilians at First High.”

I thought at first it was a slight mistranslation. Only one of the students in that group (secretly) has a military rank, but what she’s referring to goes back to Tatsuya’s mental note about numbers when hearing names. That isn’t a terrible spoiler, but I’m going to put it behind the tag anyway, as it hasnt’ been revealed yet.

The gang's all here... except for a couple not introduced yet.

First, there are about One Hundred Families recognized by the government as having strongly inherited magical talent. There are the Ten Families acknowledged to be supreme, often having talents in specific areas. There are the Eighteen Replacement Families, judged to be almost as strong. Periodically a conclave gathers to rank the various clans; there may be a promotion or demotion between the Ten and the Eighteen. I have no idea how it’s judged, but right now, for the first time since the inception of the system, the top ten families are ranked in the exact order of their names — which have numeric components. And before anyone asks, why no, Chiba is NOT one of the Ten or Eighteen. Which makes Mizuki’s comment either odd, or perceptive, because the lot of Magicians in that world is that the government controls them; they’re a strategic asset. Some are considered strategic class, stronger than nukes. Remember, they’re why WWIII didn’t go nuclear. Not to say it didn’t go bio and chemical; world population dropped to three billion, after all There are 13 publicly acknowledged Strategic Class magicians in the world; there may be as many as 50.

Enough world-building for the moment. The rest of the episode is effectively about the class divisions between Course 1 and Course 2 students, and how Tatsuya becomes the linchpin of efforts by Mari and Saesuga to deal with the divide among students. There’s more background/world/character building, as the episode is somewhat slow paced (like the novel). Miyuki is invited to join the Student Council, since she’s the freshman rep. (Another spoiler: It’s not mentioned here, but the path is often freshman rep, to VP, to President. So neither of them is aware, but Saesuga is selecting the likely president for two years hence.) Oddly, Tatsuya has also been invited to this lunch meeting, and gets to meet the rest of the council. Mari is also present, though she’s not a member. Tatusya shows that, despite his stoic demeanor, he does have a sense of humor. Dry and deadpan, but it’s there.

I've always wanted a beautiful girl to say that to me.

Notably, Miyuki waits for Tatsuya’s approval before accepting — and then throws everyone for a loop by insisting the person invited should be Tatsuya. One of the points she makes is that the practical skills test is flawed, as only standard CADs are used. Yet another hint… Unfortunately, Course 2 students cannot serve on the council, but Mari points out that they can serve on the Disciplinary Committee. True, they don’t, because they’ve got to be able to enforce the rules against the stronger Course 1 students, but his ability to tell what kind of spell is being cast would make him a valuable asset. So with the appointment of Tatsuya to the Disciplinary Committee, Miyuki is appeased enough to take her spot on the Council. Mari and Gyoubu.  Not a match made, well, anywhere.

Lunch ends, and we see students doing practical lessons involving using standard console CADs to push a cart across the floor. Tatsuya has difficulty with it, which fuels a rare bout of self-questioning. After school, they return to the Council room, where the outgoing Secretary shows Miyuki the ropes, and Mari takes Tatsuya to the DC headquarters. Only they don’t make it to the door before the VP Gyoubu Hattori, interrupts. He’s dead set against Tatsuya’s appointment, but it’s also obvious that Mari doesn’t like him, as she quickly gets under his skin. Nor is Saesuga budging. Mari flatly states she intends to use Tatsuya’s appointment to start bridging the divide between Course 1 and 2 students, and that leads Hattori to utter the “W” word right there in front of them both. He even taunts Mari: “What are you going to do, bust a third of the student body?” Of course, Miyuki is not about to stay quiet as her precious Onii-chan is insulted. Hattori accuses her of nepotism, which is hilarious once the viewer starts learning more about who the various students are related to.

That finally swings Tatsuya into action. About himself, he doesn’t care, but if Hattori is doubting Miyuki’s judgment, he’ll defend her. You, me, practice room 3. Tatsuya is so indifferently pissed about the challenge, he might be commenting on the weather. Because he has to retrieve the carrying case with his CAD, he and Miyuki end up walking to the room by themselves. She apologizes for causing him trouble, and he repeats something said in the previous episode: “You get angry for me because I can’t.” Not will not. Not may not. Can. Not. Subtle clues, in plain sight.

In the room, Mari explains the rules, while Tatsuya removes his CAD (one of two, which is odd enough) from the carrying case, and inserts a new power supply. His CADs look like guns, and have a simple trigger, whereas everyone else’s have a variety of inputs. Hattori thought-monologues his plan to hit Tatsuya with a quick-cast spell to knock him back ten meters into the wall and end the fight in an instant. Everyone (except Miyuki) is thinking Hattori will win, but seems to hope that Tatsuya will at least manage to make a fight out of it; enough to at least win grudging agreement from the Vice President. Since everything’s being dragged out like an episode of DBZ, obviously the episode ends with the two of them staring each other down, a few meters apart.

Not.

Mari signals the start of the fight, and Hattori starts his spell cast. A second later, he’s face-down on the floor, with Tatsuya lowering his CAD behind him. The Student Council (less an obviously-satisfied Miyuki) are all slack-jawed in disbelief-they don’t even seem to have seen him move. Mari is so stunned she even takes several seconds to proclaim Tatsuya as the winner. Then the episode ends, which got it mad props from the fans who thought they were about to be pawned off with “see you next week” or some such.

As I recall, this is fairly typical of the LN’s: although this wasn’t a break point in the novels, the early ones usually end like this, right after a major event, with the fallout and cleanup deferred until the next novel. Since the first one is going to take at least three, maybe four to end, the comparatively slow pace will continue to build. From the OP, I think we’re going to make it to the fourth novel, which is where Tatsuya and Miyuki’s secrets come out — although at least one big one should be somewhere in the next three episodes.

Overall, the animation is not that great; it’s rather painfully animated on the threes (or maybe even fives); no great detail, but at least not much freeze-n-pan, except for distant crowd shots. There are some touches here and there; note the electronic pendulum in the Council Room. Also note the exact same scene gets re-used later while we hear conversations in the room. This series gets by on the strength of its source material, not flash, whether of the panty kind or not. In short, it’s being exactly what I expected it to be so far, although perhaps it’s dragging a bit, in order to fit the source material to the format.

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