Tatsuya is the unstoppable force
I said I’d keep covering this show after the arcs, and even though it’s a week or a bit late, I’m back with the 11 episodes of the Nine Schools Competition. So how did our main prodigy do as a representative for the school?
It’s like Schoolympics
It was even MORE like Mahou Shoujo time after everyone started flying
First off, the Nine Schools Competition pits the 9 Japanese magic high schools against each other in a bunch of made-up competitions using magic. And to be honest, a lot of them are pretty lame, led by Speed Shooting (magic skeet, but played totally haxx) and Mirage Bat (which is like a Mahou Shoujo Wannabe Party). I did like a few of the competitions, like Battle Boards (probably cause I like races, but it still had a terrible name like a cheap Atari 2600 game), Pillars Break (another terrible name, but at least it is a straight up description of the game: break your opponents pillars), and Monolith Code (where you either wipe out the other team or read the gazillion number sequence off their Monolith and input it into a terminal). But it really could have been so much worse.
Mari got knocked out too early in Battle Boards, but Honoka had the best outfit
And that Star Trek: TNG link is applicable in more ways than just “a terrible ‘sport’.” Mahouka has a very similar feel to TNG, with its sanitized world, people politely talking to each other, trying to be cerebral kind of setup. They both also had a super wonder kid, but I have to say that Tatsuya is a little less annoying than Wesley Crusher. Speaking of Tatsuya, it was probably a surprise to nobody in the audience that “Tatsuya Shiba” is Taurus Silver. Right? Noone was surprised, since they both have the initials “T.S.” and you can pronounce “Silver” as “Shiba”, right? Oh it’s so clever. I have no idea how Azusa didn’t get that through her moppet skull. I guess she was too busy fangirling about Taurus Silver to put two and two together when Tatsuya pretty much admitted he was Taurus Silver (“maybe he’s just a normal student like us”).
A-chan fangirls out. Plus, seriously, a vest and tie under that coat?
Honoka says “I’d let you ‘adjust’ me any time…”
Anyway, because they need someone to keep breaking down the barriers between Class 1 and Class 2, and because Tatsuya is pretty much criminally misclassified, they railroad him in to being an engineer for the First High team, where he proceeds to make the whole rest of the engineering team look like chumps by making the first years (who are generally shoved into their own junior competition) an unbeatable juggernaut with things like his skeet haxx, his awesome programming, and the magic flying routine that he just happened to develop before the competition started. This starts to build him up a harem of fangirls (because apparently he’s only the engineer for the first year girls) who want to get his hands on their equipment. In fact one of the girls who has a different engineer loses and whines about it, causing Miyuki to scold her for being rude. But it’s pretty obvious that having Tatsuya as your engineer is going to get you a win… unless you have to fight Miyuki.
Shizuku never had a chance against Miyuki
Nefarious Deeds and Dudes
Meanwhile, back at the lab: “I’ve invented something impossible… again.”
Three primary subplots were woven through the Nine Schools Competition. The first, and most easily disposed of, is Tatsuya’s continuing involvement with the Army and Yotsuba Magic Development Lab. Basically, he’s got a hand in everywhere, and is not afraid to use his connections to get information or support. He even gets the counselor, Turtleneck McBigBoobs, er, I mean Haruka, to be an independent informant for him.
I don’t know if they tried to play it up, but it wasn’t much of a showdown when it actually happened
The second subplot is the ‘rivalry’ between Tatsuya and Masaki Ichijou. Nicknamed “Crimson Prince” he’s actually famous for his military exploits, something like blowing up a whole bunch of people. Ichijou has a sidekick in Shinkurou Kichijouji, “Cardinal George” who came up with one of the Cardinal Theorems of Magic. These two are on the Third High Monolith Code First Year team, and end up going head to head against Tatsuya when the main First High team is wiped out due to some nefarious doings. With a showdown between Tatsuya and Ichijou promised through the whole first half of the series (since those two pointing ‘guns’ at each other at the end of the OP would indicate that), their battle was actually pretty good, basically a magic slugfest with Tatsuya absorbing a lot of Ichijou’s attacks. It could be argued that both of them ended up ‘cheating’, since Ichijou used an attack that was stronger than allowed in the competition, while Tatsuya recovered from it with his self-repair routine (which I can’t believe is allowable by the rules), and used an amplification spell to debilitate Ichijou with a snap of his fingers. And with all the attention on those two, First High ends up winning with their makeshift team of Course 2 students, Leo and Mikihiko, whom Tatsuya selected for the replacement team because he knew their abilities and crafted their strategies and weapons for them.
You do NOT mess with Miyuki, even if you have a big room with an overlook
The third subplot is probably the cheesiest: the yakuza trying to rig the Competition so that First High wouldn’t win the overall title. They are the ones who engineer an ‘accident’ to take out the main Monolith Code team, and also a sabotage to take out Mari from Battle Boards (thus sidelining my favorite character, jerks). But they hadn’t counted on Tatsuya the Amazing Engineer nor Tatsuya the Amazing Investigator getting all up in their stuff and making the first year team be an unstoppable force, while realizing that there are Bad Dudes doing Bad Stuff. The biggest confrontation comes when he is getting Miyuki’s CAD registered for Mirage Bat after another girl from First High has had an accident and gotten knocked out, and as he’s watching, the plant tries to tamper with Miyuki’s CAD. Oops. That dude’s lucky he’s still alive, to be honest. The same can’t be said for the leaders of the crime group, who get magic-sniped from 10 blocks away by Tatsuya after he finds out who was trying to fix the matches. Of course, at that point those guys were already thinking of killing themselves since they were hosed because all their betting went the wrong way and they lost their boss’s money.
Mahouka continues to be exactly the same show that it was through the Enrollment arc. Back then I described it as “Stiff, undernuanced, slow developing” and it’s still all of those things. But it’s still watchable, and still has a really interesting premise of magic. There’s still no idiot ball being passed around, and the characters don’t do dumb things just for the plot, except for those yakuza guys. That mostly felt like a tacked on kind of subplot, something to actually challenge Tatsuya and First High, because the opponents ON the field sure weren’t going to. I think they’ve established Tatsuya’s bona fides, maybe overestablished them, because he’s basically peerless now. The only thing that’s going to be holding him back in the next arc is stupid political BS, I think. But we’ll see how that one goes, since I imagine it will get us to the end of the series.