Mahouka Koukou no Reittousei – Weaponising Magic


screenshot-00259

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


screenshot-00647

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 – A Families Prestige


screenshot-00458

Anyone who has watched a moderate amount of anime may be aware that the vast majority of series and films focus on characters from fairly affluent backgrounds – many may not be rich, but their houses are spacious, and they do not seem to worry about where the rent or food money is coming from. In fact, one of the key aspects of anime is relative lack of working class or poor families and individuals, whereas most series may focus on, or include a number of characters from established families with significant wealth and prestige. The worlds of school centred anime like Mahouka Koukou no Reittouse engage with the complex nature of family, and its place within Japanese society, by presenting multi-faceted representations of ‘family’, and family life. The ‘ie’ household (extended family based on patrilineal descent) as interpreted by the Meiji Government quickly became a matter of state concern in establishing a modern nation, but it only exists because of the force of ideology and power promoting it; it is a dream of what a family should be, rather than way it is. The state views the family as a unit that conforms to acceptable social and cultural norms, reinforcing state ideology. It is essential to have a solid family structure in place in order to create society, and to engender the values central to state ideology. Read more of this post

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


screenshot-00114

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 05 – Complaining about a system without fully understanding it


screenshot-00175

Mahouka Koukou no Reittousei’s first story arc has introduced us to a world with significant inequality (at least this is what we can assume given the attitudes towards those with little or no magical power or ability), and a society that puts utmost emphasis on ones magical strength and what can be done with your powers. We have also been introduced to a school system that perpetuates this distinction between those considered important to maintaining Japan’s position in the world (those with strong magical powers), and those considered inferior (anyone with little, or complicated magical abilities that cannot easily be recognised, measured, or labelled). The entire premise of this two course system is based upon the idea of magic as inherently superior to every other skill or ability. The methods of determining ones abilities, and by extension, worth, mirrors the ‘very expensive intelligence testing system with some educational spin-off’, that exists within Japan at the moment. Read more of this post

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


screenshot-00087

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 03 – Dangerous Assumptions


screenshot-00145

To follow on from last week’s episode we now see how dangerous making assumptions based on ones position within the society of Mahouka Koukou no Reittousei can be. Hattori’s hubris in assuming that Tatsuya is inherently inferior, and therefore is no match for his apparent superiority has been demonstrated to be false. His utter defeat through ultimately simple, and largely magic free means also helps to reveal how fragile the basis for magic discrimination is, and how easily its implied superiority can be brought down. Arguably, the character of Tatsuya has demonstrated how weak magic can be in the face of other abilities and powers – and through the use of his ninjutsu training we are also given a glimpse into the weaknesses of magic. A total reliance on ones magic powers is inherently flawed, as while they bring status and prestige, unless you understand their weaknesses and realise that on their own they can be defeated, your entire basis for high social standing becomes unstable and insecure. Read more of this post