Review: Mahōka Kōkō no Rettōsei (The Irregular at Magic High School)

In a bold move, I did a search of the web for well rated anime released in the last year. Bold because it almost certainly meant a season of sub, shock horror. I ended up with The Irregular at Magic High School. So, what did I think of it?

Background:

The show focuses on two siblings set in a world where magic is used as modern technology and, more importantly, as a weapon. We’re introduced to the pair as if the younger sister, Miyuki, is a prodigy and her older brother, Tatsuya, is a failing half-wit. It doesn’t take long to realise this is plainly not the case.

For the most part, as you might have guessed, the show is based in the First Magic High School. One of nine magic high schools in Japan, it accepts only those that have shown the gift of magic. However, on arrival entrants are divided into course 1 and course 2 students. Miyuki is a course 1 student while Tatsuya is a course 2 student.

Miyuki's love for her brother is cute, when it's not being weird
Miyuki’s love for her brother is cute, when it’s not being weird

Plot

The first arc of the show focuses on the inevitable prejudices that arise from splitting students so categorically at the start of the studies. In the first episode we are introduced to the terms Blooms and Weeds. Pretty nasty. It doesn’t take long after this for Tatsuya to show off how not-bad his powers actually are. After joining the disciplinary committee (says enough about his power in a school with magicians, doesn’t it?) and taking out 3 upperclassmen (for good reason it should be said), he becomes a bit of celebrity. At this stage, his ‘prodigy’ sister isn’t doing too much, apart from the scenes where she is loving her brother a bit too much.

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Review: Code Geass, Hangyaku no Lelouch

It’s time for another big hitter: Code Geass. Part of me has been trying to spread apart shows that have such a big reputation, if only because I know there are plenty of shows out there that I’ll watch that won’t be half as good. Going into watching Code Geass, I knew it was good (although I’m not sure how much of that was because of the first or second season): I’ve heard it described as a masterpiece by more than one person. Not a term thrown around lightly here. That aside, it has also been said that everyone’s taste in anime is awful, so what was I to expect, I might hate the show.

(Note: This review is for season 1 only, season 2 will arrive… soon).

Background:

The setting for Code Geass is an oppressed, imperially controlled Japan, known officially in the show as Area 11. The world is almost exclusively controlled by three huge empires: The EU, The Chinese Federation and Britannia. At the beginning of the show there is no doubt that Britannia is going to be the enemy throughout. Our main character is Lelouch, once ninth in line to the throne of Britannia, now cast out living in exile in Area 11 with his crippled, blinded sister, Nunnally. Our story kicks off as Lelouch gains the power of Geass from a mysterious girl (C.C or C 2), which allows him to command others to do what he wants (only once, mind). He then sets off with the goal of  bringing down Britannia, restoring Japan and creating a generally better world for Nunnally.

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Sword Art Online II, Episode 4: GGO

For the first time in my very short anime life I’ve been able to watch a show as it is released (in dub that is, I know, I know, sorry). That show is the second season of Sword Art Online. This week I watched episode 4, GGO (Gun Gale Online). So, I’m going to try and give a quick overview of the episode, my thoughts and, on this occasion, the lessons we should try to take from it (all tongue in cheek, of course).

So far in show, we’ve been introduced to one this season’s new female leads, Sinon (or Shino in the real world), one of Gun Gale Online’s best snipers who also happens to be afraid of guns (!). Kirito has been asked by the government to go into GGO and investigate rumours of a player killing players in the real world through the game. Episode 3 ends as he is about to enter the game for the first time.

Whatever happens, you can rely on seeing this in SAO.
Whatever happens, you can rely on seeing this in SAO.

Episode 4 is all about Kirito beginning to understand GGO. That said it doesn’t stop him showing off how much better he is than everyone else on more than one occasion.

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Review: Infinite Stratos II

Now, I have a confession to make before this review. For about half of the show (and probably the whole previous series as well), I was taking things too seriously. With that in mind, I’ll get on with the review.

Background:

The background to Infinite Stratos II is largely similar to that of the first season. Ichika and his harem of girls, now well establish, return to the IS academy after the summer break. The threat to the group and the academy has become tangible in the form of the ominously named ‘Phantom Task’, a group of IS unit thieves whose greater objectives in the world are pretty much unknown (and actually they remain so throughout).

Even more girls now, well what did you expect?
Even more girls now, well what did you expect?

Plot:

If you remember my review of the first season, I said that there isn’t really anything unique about the plot line. Well, that’s still true, but this time I’m not going to be so harsh about that fact. So let’s split up the plot as best as we can: firstly, Ichika meets a new girl- a senpai this time- secondly, after new girl has a bit of an arc, she convinces Ichika to befriend her sister (who also joins the harem), and be her partner in a tag team tournament (which doesn’t actually ever happen)- and finally there’s a bit of a stand off and fight with the ‘bad guys’ that Ichika and the girls have to deal with.

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Infinite Stratos II, episode 6: The Secret Base

As you might have seen on the group Facebook page, as well as writing one article a week as a review of a whole season or a feature on a specific aspect of the anime world, I’m also going to start doing a weekly episode focus. This will be an article that looks at an episode in depth and will be chosen because it’s fantastic, terrible or (as is the case today) plain ridiculous.

Despite not particularly liking the first season of Infinite Stratos, I decided to persevere and watch the second season. It was when watching episode 6 that I decided looking at one episode in particular for it’s standout qualities could be a good piece to write. That episode was episode 6, The Secret Base or Pride of a Maiden. 

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Good anime taste? Does it exist, and if so should we care?

There are lots of anime shows out there. Every year there seems to be a near endless list of new shows to be released as well as numerous second and third seasons for existing shows. We can safely say then that a lot of shows are popular enough to at least get from start to finish. I don’t need to tell you though that this doesn’t mean that every show that is realised is universally well liked. Scan through even the best rated shows on MAL and no doubt you’ll find someone who’s got something bad to say about it.

There are a lot of people that really like this show. I agree with them.
There are a lot of people that really like this show. I agree with them.

To help prove my point I thought I’d have a look through the reviews for Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood (which I reviewed last week), and it didn’t take me long to find some pretty negative comments. One reviewer, who shall remain nameless, argued that the show had ‘terrible pacing, little character development and a generic… story’. Not exactly what you might expect for the number one rated show on the website, is it?

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