The Week in Anime — Spring 2014 #3 (Mahouka is Dumb Edition)

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Captain Earth — My favorite line in all anime! Fortunately in this context it sort of makes sense since the other guy is complaining that he isn’t himself. Which itself makes no sense but at least they pointed it out. Watching this show’s awesome space bases and stuff is depressing though. Why don’t we have anything so awesome?! Physics is sad. Also the bad guys can just go to Earth and drive their crepe truck around? Why do they need to attack from the moon anyway? I wonder if they’re actually just normal humans from Earth who created an enemy so they could get funding for planetary defense.

Mahouka — So, this week’s episode is Entitlement 101. Revolutionaries have infiltrated the school. Their demands: equality! Those bastards! As any reasonable person knows, those who demand equality are actually just cover groups for terrorists who want to weaken Japan so that they can be invaded by China. Equality is impossible and wrong, since people are different! Like look at Tatsuya, he has mad skills and is superior to everyone else. Because he works hard! People who don’t have magic don’t work as hard and so they should be grateful to lick the nobility’s asses. The only thing wrong with the world is that people don’t know how to recognize Tatsuya’s skills as they should.

I guess conservatives are the same all around the world. Don’t want to invade Iraq? Think “terrorists” deserve a fair trial? Think less money should be spent on the military? Think the best solution is not always dropping bombs and showing off your balls? You’re making American weak! Letting the terrorists win! It’s the exact same argument in Mahouka.

Then there’s the whole “the nobility deserve it” angle which is basically the core of conservatism. Because they work hard! Unlike those lazy black people who are all welfare queens.  Even though the rich get most of their money from investments they don’t even have to get out of bed for and the poor often work at multiple jobs and still can’t make ends meet. They’re lazy! Plus Tatsuya is (I assume) misrepresenting the demands of those who want equality. He is arguing against the idea that magicians and non-magicians should be treated exactly the same, be paid the same, have the same schooling, etc., etc., even though they’re different. But I doubt anyone is actually making this argument. The non-magicians just want some fucking respect and to have the magical elite stop treating them like second-class students. Regardless, a typical conservative rationale for their policies: by arguing against strawmen.

Anyway, this show’s portrayal of discrimination is hilarious. It’s not the 1% vs. the 99%. It’s the 0.01% vs. the 0.02%, all enrolled at the country’s elite magical institution. If this is how the country’s leaders treat their fellow students at this elite school, can you imagine how they treat the rest of the population? And here Tatsuya is whining about how he deserves it and the rest of the country, when they demand some basic respect and human dignity, just don’t fully appreciate how great he is and want to make the country weak on behalf of foreign powers. In the immortal words of Guilty Crown: “It’s not discrimination, it’s distinction!”

Soredemo Sekai wa Utsukushii — Actually not bad this week. The “romance” stuff in this show is awful. But the politics and fantasy parts aren’t so bad.

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Brynhildr in the Darkness — The people dissolving into ooze and alien eyeball pods is gross. Yeah, it’s gross in a silly way, but I still don’t want to look at it. Some pretty good fanservice this week though. Don’t mind looking at that.

Mekakucity Actors — Huge improvement over the last episode. When stuff’s actually happening this show isn’t bad, SHAFT aside. It’s hard to set SHAFT aside though, since they shove themselves in your face at every possible opportunity. It’s obnoxious. Still, good episode.

Kanojo ga Flag wo Oretara — This is growing on me. Sort of. The animation is awful, as are most of the characters, but I’m actually a bit curious as to whatever weird modern day fantasy components they seem to be tossing in.

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Date A Live II — Yeah this is what I wanted. Two thumbs up.

Knights of Sidonia — Well that was depressing. I love it!

20 thoughts on “The Week in Anime — Spring 2014 #3 (Mahouka is Dumb Edition)

  1. Mahouka is a Japanese interpretation dystopia. It’s not as in your face as Psycho Pass, but Discrimination is just a symptom of the dystopia. And the main characters are apologists for said dystopia.

    1. This is how you and I might see it, but I’m finding it increasingly more difficult believe this is the author’s intention. I think he actually believes the apologies he’s having his characters spout. And from what I’ve heard from those who have read the novels, this will continue to be the case as the series progresses…

    1. At least on some level Guilty Crown makes you wonder if the creators are just trying to screw with everybody. Mahouka leaves you thinking the author is 100% serious.

  2. Pretty sure the whole “magicians work hard for their status” argument came from the little snowflake whose daily activities consist of being fawned over for how great she is, sitting in on student council meetings, and throwing violent magical hissy fits every time she thinks anything is getting in the way of her incestuous lust for her brother. I think we have yet to see any character do anything in the way of actual work outside of being nerdy about how the magic works.

    I love that the disciplinary committee wear fascist armbands and Tatsuya gives reports on his activities to a tribunal panel. When do the summary executions of all these whiny 99%-ers start?

    1. Lol good point. I think we saw Tatsuya typing on a computer once, but otherwise I can’t think of them actually doing any work.

      And good point about the arm bands and tribunals. This brings back to mind the conversation of the first episode, which was something about how the disciplinary committee was appointed not elected (I think? forget because I didn’t give a crap) and so it was implied that this was a better system since Tatsuya could be a leader there. Oligarchy, the ideal conservative form of government.

  3. Yeah. Captain Earth. Why would they go through all the trouble of mecha fighting when they can visit earth as they wish and sell crepes. LOL. Also we have seen that Kiltgang can teleport by ripping a hole through the space. And the core is only as big as a cube. There is no reason that they can’t bring it to earth. Unless the anime gives a proper explanation later, this is a major plot hole. About your theory, from watching the duo villains all this time, I am pretty sure that they are really aliens? You see, while they are escaping, they are confused why an Earthling has that Liv-whatever too. There are only two of them there, so, acting is out of question.

    1. Yeah, that’s true. I don’t think we know enough yet to assume it’s a plot hole though. We have no clue why they’re even attacking Earth in the first place. Although it seems like they want the humans libido or something? And they say the humans want to give it, whatever it is, to them as well. Hm.

  4. Guys: Suppress your “rrrraaaah, evil conservatives” reflex for a minute and use your head: If your assumption is right and Mahouka is supposed to make the case _for_ discrimination, “hail to the elite”-style, then why are the proponents for discrimination shown as ugly buffoons? Why are characters like Mayumi and Mari who are fighting against discriminations shown in a positive light? Why did Tatsuya listen to Mibu and not ridiculed her for her initiative, but rather asked “so what exactly are you going to do about it”? Because THAT is what this story arc is about in the end.

    In the end, Tatsuya was not referring to all “poorer magicians” in general, he was referring to what Egalite/Blanche is doing. This is going to get clear in the next episode. You might want to wait a bit more.

    1. You keep telling people to wait more. If it’s going to happen then it’s going to happen and people will realize they were wrong. I don’t see why it’s such a big deal that they criticize it now if they’ll get over it later. And I don’t see why they need to be told that they will. No one’s dropping the show just yet.

    2. Good point— what Mahouka does is actually a bit more insidious than I implied. Its argument is based on another fallacy, the argument to moderation. Mahouka’s author presents us with three options:

      1. Undisguised discrimination to people’s faces, and like the ugly buffoons you mention. Calling people names, beating them up, etc.
      2. Radical egalitarianism, eliminating magic from the world and treating everyone equally. Egalite and Blanche.
      3. Continued discrimination, but allowing non-magicians some limited opportunity to advance themselves under the toleration of the powerful magic users. Kendo girl’s option.

      Since the author rejects #1, look, he’s against discrimination! Even if he supports #3, which is a more realistic version of discrimination. He’s simply presented a ridiculous position he can oppose. Mahouka’s version of, “Look! I’m not racist! I have a black friend!”

      Option #2 is clearly ridiculous. Some people can use magic and some people can’t, this is the reality of the situation. So they shouldn’t be paid the same amount! (And they work harder, of course. Because somehow magical ability which is determined from birth is associated with how hard you work.) Plus, those who want equal treatment are terrorists! Evil! So look, #3 is the only option, the reasonable middle ground!

      In essence, the author presents #1 and #2 as two strawmen arguments to show that the status quo (except with Tatsuya in his rightful place in the upper class) is the only option.

      But really, there are many options that are more fair. As a simple starting point, how about having magical ability only determine how people are treated for their magical education, instead of having it be a badge of social status literally worn on everyone’s sleeve? The author intentionally simplifies the argument and presents two silly strawman positions as the only alternatives to convince people of his theory.

      And his theory is, essentially, that non-magicians should just suck it all up, since they don’t work hard like Tatsuya, Miyuki and friends.

  5. Mahouka: As you said, it is the .0xxx1% vs the .0xxx2% (xxx=insert zero’s here for their insanely low magician birth rate). With the opening lines of the slow it is only the very elite to even make it to the magic school, so the entitlement option is true.

    It is said in first episode only a few make powerful magic at all, so all this magic vs non magic is completely ludicrous given the context that they’re in a magic school.

    It makes sense to sort their academic studies and grouping by magical ability— when magical education is the whole point of their school. Surely there’s better places for non-magic study.

    To me, Mahouka playing conflict drama based on the squabbling of narrow minded / scoped local politics. No sense of grander perspective, but intense over-blowing of local issues. He plays at false implications, like with the idea of larger scale magic-nullification / new magic, but it is buried and focused through one man.

    Log Horizon had every expanding perspective with every arc. It was about fresh ideas and new discoveries. Mahouka is limited by the school backround and will stay that way so long as they stay in school– and that won’t change since the very title is ‘at magic school’. The battles are fun, and I do love our OP character kick ass in different ways, but I have no empathy for the the ‘conflict’. Their struggles are just pure selfish brats vs selfish brats, little better than Harry Potter. Kids in class based wizard school… hmm. Except, older (highschool/college?) Japanese kids instead of British tweens.

    In short, it is a shallow show pretending to be deeper than it is given the setting and initial conditions (school & low magic population %). Special being people insanely jealous of other special people. Look how special they are! Let’s fight proxy wars / rebellions / politics through them . . . but really they’re pampered entitled brats at a school for pampered entitled brats. Pot calling kettle black. There’s no signs of said post third world war lack of resources or any life other than school life and the myopia within.

    I daresay outbreak company was deeper and had more expansive perspective than this. What the MC did there was innocuous at first, but ultimately from under the hood to spoken outright was Japanese imperialism through economic & cultural subversion. Political radicals had real issues to deal with. These kids are just spoiled.

    I like Mahouka for its awesome battles, but the ‘conflict’ is too setup for me to believe.

    Knights: Awesome, but so much so I am hard pressed to say much about it. I’m too awe-struck. Tight storytelling should forward plot or develop character with every line / scene, and KoS does both. Too bad the just barely good, but problem shows have more to talk about than the awesome ones.

    KoS is limited in scope, but doesn’t pretend to be otherwise and does it excellently– but with deeper implications between the lines.

    Mahouka tries to be grander in scope of implications, but is extremely limited by its setting and is in conflict with itself trying to present deeper ideas by its inherently limited character selection and setting. Special kids being special, and amazed how special they are, with discrimination amongst the special kids for contrived conflict. For contrived conflict’s sake, we’re presented the Japanese idea (or generic fantasy storytelling?) of kids running themselves rather than any higher authority actually doing the governing. i.e. Harry Potter would not exist had his professors been competent or they had organized enforcement beyond the school actually capable of policing themselves. Same here. Kids should not be trusted for enforcement given their student status, and ridiculous outbursts of violence would lead to expulsion and school wide damage control announcing zero-tolerance of criminal behaviour.

    It is fantasy projection for those that want school (oh how we’re so special when we’re in school!), and I love fantasy battles but my suspension of disbelief doesn’t go far when it comes to contrived drama.

    Loving Date A Live II and Flag Oretara too. Will have to check out the others on this list.

    1. I can’t resist, sorry 🙂

      Drasca wrote: “Mahouka is limited by the school backround and will stay that way so long as they stay in school– and that won’t change since the very title is ‘at magic school’.”

      How much of the content do you actually know? Or is that an example of mere extrapolation?

      1. Extrapolation given limited data subset, but coincides with production and cultural tendencies. Haven’t read any other sources (manga/light novel etc)

        Obviously there’s a little more given the OP… but I don’t foresee a grander scope than ‘school’ given the title, use of school backround assets, and japanese preference for school settings & nationalism. Also, the appeal of magic students also limits it.

        I am having fun though, so any gripes go out the door when watching.

        1. Fair enough. Well, as you will see, your extrapolation is off, hence I asked. We have 2 more episodes to finish the school-based “enrollment arc”, but after that the “school” setting will drift into the background.

          1. Look forward to it. I’m happy to be wrong about cynical predictions. If it is fun, great!

            I stand by the idea that they’re limited if they stay in school. I’d be glad to see the show out of school.

    2. Mahouka: Selfish brats vs. selfish brats. Pretty much sums it all up! Outbreak company did indeed have a much broader perspective than this, as funny as it is to say that hahaha.

      Knights: Same haha. Not much to say except “Wow.”

      Some really great fanservice anime this season… 🙂

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