The Irregular at Magic High School (Mahoka Koukou no Rettosai)
Directed by Manabu Ono
Based on Light Novel Series by Tsutomo Sato
Produced by Madhouse, Aniplex
Voice cast: Saori Hayami, Yuuichi Nakamura, Yumi Uchiyama, Ryouhei Kimura.
Air dates: Streaming Saturdays at 1 p.m. CDT on Crunchyroll
In my experience in the world of academia, the two times of the academic year that are the most stressful for students and instructors alike are its beginning and end. Itâ€™s particularly stressful for students who are either entering an institution for the first time or are transferring from another school. Beside the usual difficulties, there is also the challenge of navigating the sometimes-treacherous waters of whatever social hierarchies exist in an academic environment.
Now imagine dealing with all that in a school full of magic users in a world in which magic has been systematized into an actual arm of technology. Such is the setting of The Irregular at Magic High School, or Mahou Koukou no Rettosai, now streaming on Crunchyroll.
The time is the end of the 21st Century. World War Three, which reduced the population to three billion, has been over for about thirty years. All over the planet, nations compete to build their own armies of magic users to achieve strategic advantage. Itâ€™s the year 2095. Tatsuya Shiba and his sister Miyuki enroll at the National Magic University Affiliated First High School, the â€œMagic High Schoolâ€ of the seriesâ€™ title. In this school, the studentsâ€™ scores in the entrance exam determine their place in the social and academic pecking order. Higher scoring students are known as Course 1, or â€œblooms.â€ Lower scoring students are assigned to Course 2, and are known as â€œweeds.â€ Miyuki scores well on her exam and is assigned to be a bloom, while Tatsuya, although highly intelligent and talented, scores low on the practical exams and is assigned to be a lowly weed. The two siblings are very close, and Miyuki worries about her brotherâ€™s standing in the student body. Tatsuya seems rather blasÃ©â€™ about the whole affair, and unconcerned about such matters.
In the first episodes, the social rift between the weeds and their so-called betters, the blooms, is expounded upon. Miyuki is appointed to be Student Council Secretary. However, the head of the Disciplinary Committee, Mari Watanabe, is impressed with Tatsuyaâ€™s analytical skills, and appoints him into the ranks of the Committee, an as-yet unheard of thing since up to now members of the Student Council and the Disciplinary Committee have been exclusively Course 1 members, although membership in the Disciplinary Committee supposedly is open to both Course 1 and Course 2 students, at least in theory. The move is vigorously opposed by Gyobu Hattori, Student Council Vice President, who challenges Shibaâ€™s appointment on the Disciplinary Committee. When Hattori questions Miyukiâ€™s judgment in defending her brother, Tatsuya challenges him to a simulated combat in order to defend his sister for having her judgment impugned. Will he, a mere Course 2 Student, supposedly unskilled in magic, survive against Hattori, the Student Council Vice President? You will simply have to watch and find out.
The Irregular at Magic High School is more than just another â€œmagical high schoolâ€ fighting anime. The series makes some clever social commentary about the dynamics between students in a school environment. It especially questions the authority and veracity of the oft-times arbitrary and sometimes ridiculous hierarchies that can be found in every school, whether those hierarchies are officially sanctioned or not. The series is currently streaming on Crunchyroll on Saturdays at 1 p.m. CDT. So put your thinking cap on and pay attention. There will be a quiz later.