Watch With Me: The Science of Magic and High School Sports
Kamryn Schnieder ~ Copy Editor
Earlier this week, we discussed in one of my classes how in fiction, anything that is outside the realm of known science, specifically in early comic books, is called magic.
This got me thinking about an anime I watched where magic is crafted through science in the future. This anime is called Mahouka Koukou no Rettōsei or, in English, “The Irregular at Magic High School.” The show is an adaptation of a novel series of the same name by Tsutomu Satou. This may be a rougher anime for those who are newer to the Japanese animation genre, but I found the show very entertaining if for nothing else than the mechanics of the magic.
To summarize the show a bit, it follows the stories of Tatsuya and Miyuki Shiba, siblings from the powerful Shiba family of magicians. The show starts with their acceptance and beginning as freshmen in First Magic high school, one of the nine magic academies across the nation of Japan.
Miyuki is accepted to the implied honors program as a bloom, and Tatsuya as the less skilled weed class. In this world, magic is still relatively new, and those who can control magic are chosen through genetics, so there is a looming threat of elitism between those who can and cannot use magic, and within the magic community between stronger and weaker magicians.
Now, the part that fascinated me that may bore others is the way magic is cast. In the post-war magical setting of this show, magic is built up by sequencing psions/scions, much like a computer program to cause different effects. The effects of this magic replicate basic forces such as gravity, movement, speed, temperature, etc, and it is the skill of the magician to use these forces in unique ways to cast spells.
Believe it or not, by the start of the series, flight magic still has not been figured out yet. Additionally, items called “CADs,” casting assistant devices, can store specific sequences for magicians to make casting faster and more powerful. CADs can be customized, optimized, and adapted to the individual, but there are also mass produced versions for those who do not need military grade weapons.
I think that is enough of the science of magic. Do not worry, this is all explained in the show, but also you do not need to know it to enjoy the show itself. The events of the show include action between students, secret organizations, terrorist groups, spies, and gang associations, as well as high school sports festivals in which magicians compete in games to show off their unique skills and prowess with magic, and some of the cliche friendship and romance of a high school story.
Now, I do feel like I should give fair warning to someone who is not as “adjusted” to anime as myself. There are some strange things in here that are strange, mainly one thing, and it kind of gets explained later but I know not everyone is comfortable with it, so I want to put it out there. Miyuki and Tastuya are siblings, and to an outsider, their closeness and interactions seem very, strangely, close to romantic attraction. I guarantee it is not that case; they have unique circumstances and Miyuki just really idolizes her brother, I promise. But it does feel that way at times, so if that is going to ruin the show for you, do not watch.
Moving along, there is a large cast in this show including students, family members, trainers, military personnel, rivals and such, so I do not want to do a full character run down, but I will touch upon the irregular himself since he is the driving force of a huge portion of this show.
I think that a lot of people when watching this show would find Tatsuya to be boring and bland and more of like a flawless character that a lazy/idealist writer would create. I thought that too at first, and really only stuck around for the magic mechanics. But as the show progressed, I saw more of his charm, and saw what made him tick.
See, it is hard to describe a lot of this stuff without spoilers, but Tatsuya is a man who worked hard and made sacrifices to become the skilled, intelligent, and powerful kid he is in the show. He is at a deficit in traditional magic control, and made up for it by working to memorize magic codes and create personalized tools and techniques that fit him, and he also has some spoilery type secrets up his sleeve as well.
Though some might find it over the top, I appreciate the kind of silent and confident badass that Tatsuya is and think it fits his dual life well. I feel it is a type of overpowered character written in a way that still has conflict and provides entertainment, instead of everything being handed to the main character.
If this show seems like something you would be interested in, there are two seasons out, along with a movie. You can watch them on Netflix and Hulu. The show is a little longer, with 29 episodes total at about 22 minutes each episode, with the addition of a movie. Though, just a tip for those who want only the action, you can binge it pretty fast if you skip through all the explanations of magic and sequences and such, though I still find it fascinating.