Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei – “Enrollment” Recap (Episodes 1 – 7)

Mahouka-All over him again

It’s a Magic High School Romance!


Ok, I said that I’d write a post about Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei when they stopped using “Enrollment” as the episode title. While I was starting to perversely hope that they’d never change it, it only took them 7 episodes to switch to something else, so here we go!

What Can’t He Do?

Mahouka-Super fighter

Super Tatsuya is Everywhere!

This first arc seemed to go quite a bit past ‘enrollment’ and into all sorts of other topics. Frankly, I wish that they’d switched names for the episodes after the fourth episode, because that would have been a pretty good stopping point, before getting into the big terrorist plot. So what’s happened so far? Well, Tatsuya and Miyuki have both become part of the student administration, Miyuki on the Student Council and Tatsuya as a special appointee of the Student Council on the Disciplinary Committee. This Disciplinary Committee has quite the authority, basically able to bring punishment and charges against any student for doing… pretty much anything they don’t like. And even though Tatsuya is a Course 2 (the “less talented” folks known as ‘weeds’ to some), he’s pretty much invincible. He’s breaking up fights, exposing plots, and then capturing terrorists. In the meantime, he’s got at least one other girl totally crushing on him (at least for a while) and his super-jealous imouto broconning all over the place.

It’s not ALL About the Incest

Mahouka-Leo is the most relaxed of anyone in the show

Leo here may be the most relaxed of anyone in this show ever

There are a few themes that I find interesting about the show. The first is the separation between Course 1 and Course 2 students, the “blooms” and “weeds”, even though those terms are supposed to be forbidden. I thought that the perceived distinction between these two groups would be much more of an issue in the forefront of the show, but that’s been somewhat derailed by the show making clear that not only Tatsuya, but other ‘weeds’ like Erika and Leo being effective fighters against Course 1 students (and terrorists). In fact, apparently in-universe, there are many people who wouldn’t be Course 1 magic users who are extremely effective fighters.

Mahouka-Best Character

Mari Watanabe, Best Character (and only partly because she’s voiced by Marina Inoue)

But as a theme of division, I like that the show is on a path to try to eradicate the distinctions. Mayumi, as the Student Council President, is trying to change the rules of the Student Council to allow both Course 1 and Course 2 students to be members, and Mari, the Disciplinary Committee (or Morals Committee) Chairman is adamantly opposed to the distinction, and the use of the terms ‘blooom’ and ‘weed’ (it doesn’t help that they give the Course 1 students that stylized rosette patch and give the Course 2 students nothing except a hole where the patch would go). And they hold these opinions even before Tatsuya shows up and starts wrecking shop. Of course there are some that don’t go along, like Hattori Hanzou, who just has to challenge Tatsuya, and pretty much gets his ass handed to him. So Tatsuya’s on a good course to help destroy the division between the two groups, right? Well…

Mahouka-Two hits

“Two hits: me hittin’ you, you hittin’ the floor.”

Another theme that I find interesting in the show is the evaluation of metrics. The distinctions between students aren’t based on anything like Academy City’s full evaluations of strength and stamina and mastery of what your particular power is. They’re based on very narrow definition of processing speed, which of course leaves Tatsuya, whose per instruction execution is slow but whose bulk processing is extremely fast due to parallel construction, as an underperformer at magic. I like the idea of challenging a bad metric, although part of the problem with Mahouka challenging it this way is that they don’t show anyone else who is anywhere near the same kind of talent as Tatsuya. This kind of cuts the knees out of the argument that they’re measuring the wrong thing if the only counter-example to the measurement system is this one super-dude. Unfortunately, while they show the other Course 2 students as effective fighters (and it’s good that they don’t show them as complete scrubs like the NOT students or something) they don’t show them as anything close to Tatsuya, or even anything where they’re also being mismeasured.

Mahouka-Random Fanservice Counselor

Think Random Fanservice Counselor here has been mismeasured?

Ham-Fisted Plot

Mahouka-Crappy villains

Super Protagonist Meets Terrible First Arc Villain

One theme that’s getting a lot of chatter in social media for Mahouka is the politics. I’m not going to be one of the people to complain about it, because I am also what people consider a heartless libertarian. I honestly can’t say anything about the Ayn Rand comparisons, because I’ve never read anything by her and don’t intend to. But as far as the politics of the show, I don’t find much to complain about there. I do think the Blanche group is a pretty weak-assed stand-in for a proletariat uprising, and think they could have done a little better than basically put cannon fodder in the way of the Magic-users. They thought they had some ace-in-the-hole with the antinite rings, but since all of the Course 2 students seem to be amazing at some martial art, that didn’t work out so well. So I felt that the end of the arc was kind of lame, mostly because this big threat turned out to be one chowderhead with the ability to cloud men’s (and women’s) minds and a bunch of utilitarian thugs.

Mahouka-Really, Miyuki Mahouka-No-win situation

Just blithely ignore your sister’s seduction attempts, Tatsuya.

There are still some complaints I have about the show itself. It’s still super stiff, both in the posture of all the characters and in the dialogue that they try to say. I don’t know if anyone ever bends over, or if you even could in those long tight-fitting coats. There’s very little flow to the series as well, it breaks itself up in to these short scenes that don’t really interconnect well, and while the story gets told, it doesn’t seem to build any energy. There’s also the issue of Miyuki’s broconning, which starts to border on the yandere (such as when she actively assaults Tatsuya for having the temerity to not ravage her while at the same time she overstates the relationship he has with other girls). You start to wonder if Tatsuya needs someone to slip him a hotline number or a safe house address. That this has happened repeatedly seems a given, based on his seeming familiarity with waking up after a self-reboot (itself a weird process). It’s a distracting and seemingly unnecessary level of interest that she has, and maybe they’ll explain it better as the series goes on, but I don’t know if it will be to anyone’s actual satisfaction.


Sure, just throw this statement out there


Mahouka’s certainly not the greatest show around. Stiff, undernuanced, slow developing, and unable to come up with different episode names. And honestly, I wouldn’t fault anyone for dropping it, because they’re certainly not going to miss out on anything great. One thing in its favor: It’s not a stupid show. The characters don’t act like imbeciles, or just do random things. On the contrary, everything feels a bit too calculated, a bit too tied down and reasoned out. I doubt the show will loosen up in the rest of its run, so what you’re seeing is what you’re going to get for the next cour-and-a-half. But if you’re enjoying it, then I imagine you’ll keep enjoying it for the rest of the series.


Proving that you don't have to be young to love anime, I enjoy all genres and styles of shows. If it's not hurting anyone else, you should never be ashamed of what you like!
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19 Responses to “Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei – “Enrollment” Recap (Episodes 1 – 7)”

  1. zztop says:

    @Highway: Do you plan on covering the next arc, the Interschool Magic Games?
    LN readers say the action gets better, and there’s considerably less infodumping than in the 1st arc.

    • Highway says:

      We’ll have to see when we get there. I was a lot more interested in writing this post after episodes 4 and 5, rather than in 6 and 7 where they were really stretching out the ‘Enrollment’ part of it (and also going into some really bad villains). The action in this part was some of the best of it, along with the fuukiinchou.

      • zztop says:

        The author usually takes 2 books to cover a plot arc, exempting 1 arc which took over 3 books to cover.

        So I’m not sure if they will use 7 episodes again to cover the next arc.

  2. zztop says:

    LiSA’s Rising Hope currently #10 on Japan’s music charts, previously #3 last week.

    Sample music video:

    Full English translated lyrics for Rising Hope:

  3. Kyokai says:

    This is well animated version of Kissxsis with action.

  4. gandalf8 says:

    These 7 episodes are named Enrollment because they are part of the Enrollment arc in the LN that spans the first 2 volumes of LN series.

    The reason why Tatsuya is still so powerful in combat despite being a 2nd course Weed is because of his atypical abilities. By normal standards, he would be a weak magician, as we saw in some episodes that Tatsuya struggled with some of the practical skills classes. This is because Tatsuya really is rather weak at using magic. The way he fights, is by using his very deep knowledge of magic (he should be the first year representative at the opening ceremony if judged only on the written test scores) to evaluate his opponents magic and use the most efficient magic to fight his opponents, while his extraordinary physical abilities allow him to close into his opponents and neutralize them without having to rely on magic per se (exp his fight against Hattori). Although he does have some special magical abilities that we have glimpses off but he is trying to keep secret for some very good reasons that should be expounded on in the coming episodes.

    On Blanche and how weak they seemed, you have to understand that their real objective was to steal the classified research materials from the data servers at the school, and they were only using the misguided students who wanted ‘equality’ to create a scene as a decoy. In actual fact, their use of guns and antinite should have been sufficient to achieve their objective, if not for Tatsuya and the other students like those from the Student Council and Disciplinary Committee who aren’t your average magician in training.

    On Miyuki, the anime has definitely butchered her character

    • Highway says:

      Just because they’re part of the Enrollment arc doesn’t mean they couldn’t use a little creativity to name the episodes something different, even if they subtitle it Enrollment. To me it’s lazy and uncreative and it’s a disappointing trend in shows.

      I actually think that the way Tatsuya integrates his magic abilities with his fighting is pretty genius. I thought it was also interesting in his conversation with Mizuki where she pointed out that he could basically have hacked the test and gotten a better result using his direct building and parallel processing abilities. But he wasn’t interested in it because he 1) didn’t really care, and 2) didn’t think that would be representative.

      You say their assault would have been effective… if not for people who they should have fully expected to be there. Which means pretty much doomed to fail through atrocious planning.

      • Nerazim says:

        actually, when you think about it, it’s not really expected that Tatsuya would have gone to the Blanche hideout. and Tatsuya not going rules out most of the team: Miyuki, as the high-level brocon she is, most likely wouldn’t have offered to go if Tatsuya hadn’t; Leo and Erika most definitely wouldn’t have gotten the chance to go.
        that’s four people out the six that went.
        Factoring in Juumonji’s argument that neither the Student Council President nor the Disciplinary Committee Head should leave the school, the caliber of the team sent may drop significantly without these four…

        • Highway says:

          No, I mean the terrorists attacking the school, where they should have expected all those students to be. I don’t really fault Blanche for crumbling to pieces when the special forces team shows up at their doorstep, but saying that they expected their assault on the school to go better except for the presence of exceptionally talented students – who should be there – indicates more bad planning to me.

          • Nerazim says:

            ooooh… yeah, that… that was stupid…
            i can’t argue with that at all…

  5. zztop says:

    There are still some complaints I have about the show itself. It’s still super stiff in the dialogue that they try to say.

    LN readers say the stiff dialogue is part of the source novel, together with the author’s tendency for infodumping and extremely verbose writing style.
    They say the author isn’t very good at writing character interactions and development, although they appreciate his intricate detail for worldbuilding and how the magitech system works.

    I do think the Blanche group is a pretty weak-assed stand-in for a proletariat uprising.
    Note that Tatsuya said it was never really about bringing revolution. Blanche was being paid off by some foreign power to foment social unrest in Japan, beginning with the magic high schools. In fact, some info I found says Mahouka’s universe is in the midst of a worldwide Cold War, with each influential power bloc trying to conquer or undermine each other.

    There’s also the issue of Miyuki’s broconning.
    There’s that, but the greatest mystery would be Tatsuya himself. The scars, the fierce desire to protect Miyuki at all costs, the hold the Yotsuba family seems to have over him…

    • Highway says:

      Even if the dialogue, text-wise, is verbose and stiff, there should still be things that the director can do about it. The direction of the show is still not helping, like having everyone talk in turn with distinct breaks between sentences, having everyone stand around ramrod straight, and even very few shots with more than one person in them. I realized going through these episodes for screenshots that the show really is one head shot after another: First this person talks and we see them filling the screen, then this person talks and we see them filling the screen, then back to the first person. There aren’t even that many reaction shots. It’s very basic filmmaking and as such it comes off as stiff and unsophisticated at times.

      • Di Gi Kazune says:

        That is scriptwriter’s job to take the tenderizer mallet to it and turn it into something palatable. That said, this might be the sort of thing I would rather read than watch.

        • amado says:

          if its something better to be read than watched, then its job for SHAFT to animate…

          if your fine with like making the first 12 episodes about the enrollment arc that is.

          • Highway says:

            Eh, personally, this is better than SHAFT. Then they’d just be talking and you wouldn’t know what they said because you were too busy looking at completely unrelated visuals…

            I’m not a particularly big SHAFT studio fan right now.

  6. Rathje says:

    I read both the manga and watched most of the episodes of this series, and I agree with the last paragraph assessment in the OP perfectly. Good summary.

    I probably will keep watching this show however, because like you said, it’s not a stupid show. But when I get around to it, basically.

  7. BlackBriar says:

    Mahouka has improved a bit with the incest factor taken down and the story is digging deeper as measures against discrimination begin to take place. However, the remaining problem to me is Tatsuya’s inflexibility. I’m alright with being serious and exuding a knight in shining armor aura but he’s too stiff, uptight to be more to the point. He sometimes tries to make jokes but because there’s no charisma in him, they fall flat with no humor.

    Miyuki is alright and warrants her status as a prodigy but I wish she’d stop fawning over her brother as much as she does. Sure he’s greatly gifted despite a handful of shortcomings yet it’s unnecessary to be glorifying him so much. What’s interesting about her is beneath the surface as she brings to light her capabilities for bloodletting if put into a foul mood as she froze those terrorists.

    • Nerazim says:

      as for Tatsuya’s failure to make a joke… well, that’s part of his character. his “failure” at making jokes is supposed to be a running gag on how the others fail to percieve when he’s being humourous or not… (there’s nothing else to say here, ofc. the other stuff in this piece makes perfect sense).

      and as for Miyuki’s excessive brother complex, i’m sure there’s an explanation that will (hopefully) be revealed in time.

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