You know what I love? When a show decides to make it episode titles just the parts of the arc. I was planning on reviewing this series either in one fel swoop, or at least in two pieces. However because the show decides to make it very clear about what arc is which, I said ‘fuck it, we’re doing it piecemeal!” Either way, this is an anime series that I didn’t really plan on touching on the blog, but here we are. After the cut let’s take a dive into the first arc of The Irregular at Magic High School: The Enrollment Arc!
If you’ve been around anime for any decent amount of time, you’ve feasted at the table of the “battle school anime,” if you are someone like myself who has a few eras under their belt, then your reaction to watching something like Irregular is pretty much this.
At its core, Irregular is like every other battle-action series that is set in the school. Nothing about the show in it’s broad strokes is new. Like it was when I was watching Chivalry of Failed Knight, I felt a lot of what I was seeing was a carbon-cut, off the rack, fresh from the oven, classic anime school story. You got the student council, you got the rivalries, you got the quasi not-harem, and you got the main character who is the omnipotent badass. Everything is been there, done that, and you would have expected Irregular to be another run of the mill anime that is meant to sell the light novels and stick around for a season.
And that is true, but there is also the fact that Irregular has about 32 fucking light novels.
Which says to me, something about this series is working, and having watched the first arc, I can see why. While nothing absolutely special, Irregular and the enrollment arc seem to be a show completely at peace with itself. It knows it’s a run of the mill anime, and has no qualms about being anything different. Unlike Failed Knight, whose twelve episode run had one smashing success and one honorable attempt at having it both ways, Irregular has neither, it’s just sort of there. That’s not to say that the show has nothing interesting about it. Series leads Tatsuya and Miyuki Shiba are a brother-sister pair who have enrolled the prestigious magical high school. Yet while the quiet, and clingy Miyuki has been classified as a bloom, meaning she is blessed with strong magical powers, Tatsuya is instead weed, considering magically inept. The rub is that Tatsuya has trained both his body and basic magic powers to the upmost limit, along with his genius technical abilities, he is more than a match for anyone. Especially when you consider Tatsuya’s emotions are the same wavelength of Star Trek’s Spock.
These two main leads are the big ‘pull’ into Irregular, at least in this first arc. Like with previous series, Tatsuya and Miyuki’s relationship (though far more one-sided from Miyuki) is up front and honest. The very first scenes let the viewer know that she is madly in love with her brother, and Tatsuya’s vulcan logic can’t seem to process that which leads to many funny moments. Now anime and this blog is no stranger into dabbling into the incesty side of the artform, and while Irregular is quite tame compared to its contemporizes, I will admit that I was glad that the series straight up addressed at the literal beginning. It’s there, it’s part of the show, you’re in or out. That level of respect to the viewer echoes the best of shows like In Another World with My Smartphone, which trusts the viewer to make an informed choice when presented up front with the central premise of the show.
As for the Enrollment Arc itself. It’s pretty bog-standard fare, with the Shiba siblings adjusting to their new school, the hierarchy it has, and dealing with a growing sentiment of Weeds vs Blooms that has raged in the school. The conflict against Blanche and
Rin Tohsaka, Sayaka Mibu feels both like a proper threat, and something overblown, as things start to escalate rather fast, but is dealt it in such a swift and decisive manner that you have to wonder if it ever really was a problem in the first place. Mibu’s struggle however feels genuine, being an underdog with no real chance to standing equal with the blooms. I also got a good laugh at the end where Mibu straight up admits she was in love with Tatsuya’s strength, but decides she can’t ‘keep up with him’ and settles for the kendo club president. I mean, she literally says “I’ll be with someone I can walk beside, instead of running to catch up to.” A level of bluntness that I never really expected from a series.
It may sound like I’m coming down hard in The Irregular at Magic High School, but I’m not. This is a solid show that clearly resonates with people (you don’t get to have 32 light novels for being bad), and I can see why. It’s well made, well animated, the characters are inoffensive and get the job done. The Enrollment Arc in particular does a wonderful job establishing the gist of the school, the main characters, and the way in which they act and fight. School based battle anime are a dime a dozen, and when so many often blur together, it falls to what sort of spice you add to the dish to make it stand out. Whether the spices Irregular adds will end up working remains to be seen, but I’m invested enough to ask for a second helping.
Oh, and Tatsuya using science and logic to pretty much out-smart his opponents its pretty cool.