Mahouka Koukou no Reittousei – Weaponising Magic


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The tournament arc of Mahouka was not the most inspiring, or interesting part of the series. It demonstrated what we already knew, one’s magical abilities and the strength of their powers does not automatically make them superior to those with magic considered weaker based on arbitrary, and arguably flawed testing patterns. That Tatsuya and co won the monolith code battle through a combination of their special abilities and a small amount of luck should not be surprising. They were up against skilled, intelligent individuals who were also arrogant, assuming that their genius and power would make a win automatic and without doubt. The Hubris of Ichijou Masaki and Kichijouji Shinkurou is to assume that their abilities mean their victory is certain and nothing, regardless of how strong it may be can stop them. In this respect we see how flimsy the pretext for a Two Tier school system is, with characters like Tatsuya, Yoshida Mikihiko, and Saijou Leonhart ultimately demonstrate how easily powerful magicians can be defeated regardless of how strong their spells and abilities may be. Read more of this post

Mahouka Koukou no Reittousei 10/11 – Sports Festivals as a sign of Prestige


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Anyone who has watched any amount of anime will be aware of the importance placed upon school wide events such as cultural and sports festivals. They become central to the school experience in anime, a period when exams and studying cease to be important and are replaced with a period in the characters life where the experience of something new takes priority. Looking at almost any school focussed anime and we find a series devoted to this period of experimentation and freedom from the rigid structure of school. Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo for example is largely built around the premise of the school festival as a space for its central characters to learn from their experiences, and begin to understand what they want to do with their lives. In a similar fashion the entire narrative of Ano Natsu de Matteru is based on the creation of a film over the school holidays to be shown at their school festival. Within the narrative of such anime series, these festivals are so important that they take precedence over any form of studying, or university entrance exams (although we rarely see these within anime), and may also become the spaces for major character and story developments. Furthermore, the ideals of ‘tadashi to handanshita koto’ (what you judge to be right), and ‘susunde mina no tame no hataraku’ (proactively work for the common good), are an integral part of these activities, as important lessons that main characters must learn if they are to grow as individuals capable of working with a group and on their own. Read more of this post

Mahouka Koukou no Reittousei 08 – On Weeds and Blooms


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While this week represents the start of a new arc, one focussing on a competition between Japan’s magic high schools, I am more interested in the way the series main characters and their perceived worth within the society of Mahouka. The terms ‘Weed’ and ‘Bloom have been used, to varying degrees, throughout the series so far, denoting a two-tiered class system within the school, and by extension, magic society. One of the key aspects of this series has been the unequal nature of Japanese society that it portrays, with those who have significant magical power given high status, privilege, and power, whereas those without are effectively pushed to one side and told to make do. The entire premise of a two-tiered system at this magic high school is based upon the idea of magic as inherently superior to every other skill or ability. The persistence of status inequality is arguably the major characteristic of Mahouka’s social system, and while there are features within this society that emphasise and promote social integration (such as the ability to attend magic high school regardless of your powers), it is clear that conflicting opinions about the nature of what it means to be a magician, and how that feeds into the national consciousness can have major consequences for the level of social conflict found within the series. Read more of this post

Mahouka Koukou no Reittousei 07 – The Consequences of Inequality


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Previous episodes have provided numerous interesting examples of the inequality and frustration felt by those without significant magical powers in Mahouka. This weeks episode on the other hand presented us with an interesting, if brief, glimpse at the global politics of the series and how other groups and countries may try to manipulate the frustrations of those who feel left out in order to achieve their own goals. We now find out that Blanche are merely a front for other countries and alliances to gain information about magicians that the Japanese government has presumably kept relatively secret. That First Magic High School has access to this information, not only demonstrates its importance, but also helps to denote the schools status as an essential space for the education of the countries most valuable commodity, magicians. Read more of this post

Mahouka Koukou no Reittousei 06 – When Good intentions lead to Nefarious Deeds


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Now we appear to be getting towards the end of Mahouka Koukou no Reittousei’s first story arc certain attitudes are becoming more apparent, specifically those regarding the importance of magic within the stories society. We have already established that the world of Mahouka Koukou no Reittousei is one of inequality, where the strength of one’s magic has a tremendous impact upon your place within society. That the society in Mahouka is filled with inequality shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, while it might involve magic, inequality and class system exist across the world, including Japan, so Mahouka is merely mirroring the reality of Japanese society. We have also been introduced to a school system that splits those considered to have strong magical powers, from those who do not, creating a two-tiered system that reinforces the sense of superiority that those in Course One have over Course Two, and by extension, everyone else in society. The entire premise of this two-tiered system arguably mirrors the attitudes found within Japanese society as a whole (or we assume it does as we see very little of the world outside of the schools grounds), and we should not view the school and its education system within a vacuum, but as a part of a wider set of ideologies surrounding the pre-eminence of magic within the world of Mahouka. Read more of this post

Mahouka Koukou no Reittousei 04 – Social Conservatism and an Unequal Society


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One of the key aspects of this series has been the unequal nature of Japanese society, with those who have significant magical power given high status, privilege and power, whereas those without are effectively pushed to one side and told to make do. The entire premise of a two course system at this magic high school is based upon the idea of magic as inherently superior to every other skill or ability. The persistence of status inequality is a major characteristic of the Japanese social system, and while there are features in Japanese society that emphasise and promote social integration, it is clear that conflicting opinions about the nature of what it means to be Japanese can have major consequences for the level of social conflict in Japan. Within the world of Mahouka, the ability to use strong magic, coupled with the comparative strength of countries magicians with regards to other countries becomes a key means with which the Japanese state creates its vision of a strong, glorious country. In essence the strength of ones magic is of upmost importance, not only to the individual so that they can acquire high status and privilege, but also to the country and a national ethos. Read more of this post

Mahouka Koukou no Reittousei 02 – Judging a book by its cover


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It’s fascinating watching the different classes in Mahouka interact, particularly when we see the attitudes that the majority of those in Course One demonstrate when interacting with Course Two. To follow on from last weeks exploration of Blooms and Weeds as two distinct social classes, we can see how Course Onw, those who are considered to be both gifted and powerful dismiss those in Course Two as inferior, weak, and unnecessary wastes of space. A clear example of this attitude is found in Hattori Hanzou’s reaction to the Shiba siblings entering the Student Council office. While he interacts with Miyuki, congratulating her for entering the Student Council, Tatsuya is treated as an invisible object, with Hanzou’s attitude clearly demonstrating that he doesn’t see the need to even acknowledge Tatsuya’s existence. He has already demonstrated his frustration at the existence of Tatsuya, or perhaps a more general frustration at the existence of Course Two in general during the first episode, as he gets annoyed, even embarrassed that Mayumi Saegusa acknowledges and interacts with Tatsuya and other Course Two members in the same way she talks to those in Course One. Read more of this post