Mahouka Koukou No Rettousei or as it’s more commonly known The Irregular at Magic High School is was originally a Japanese light novel series written by Tsutomu Satō, with illustrations by Kana Ishida but in this review I am looking at the adapted manga series written by Fumino Hayashi and Tsutomu Satō with art by Tsuna Kitaumi.
The story is set in 2095, and follows Tatsuya Shiba and his sister Miyuki Shiba as new students that enroll at the Private Magic University Affiliated High School. Students are ranked according to their test scores with practical magic ability being the top consideration. Students with the best practical magic skills are enrolled in the Course 1 curriculum, while those with poorer practical magic scores are enrolled in Course 2. These different divisions are known colloquially as “Bloom” and “Weed”.
Miyuki topped the entrance exams and is selected to be the first years’ representative, while Tatsuya is placed in Course 2 due to his low practical magic test scores, despite scoring highest in the written/theoretical portion of the exams.
Did the illustrators get lazy with drawing faces? After the first few pages of the manga, the background characters are expressionless.
The manga also seemed to have a fluidity in styles as some of the panels seemed to be drawn in intense and highly detailed manner whereas others had a much simpler chibi style illustration to them. I’m not necessarily saying this is a bad thing just not what I expected after reading other manga that seem to have more of a consistent styling.
What I liked:
I really liked the fact that the series focuses heavily on the theme of bullying, discrimination, and exclusion between magic and non-magic disciplined students. It’s definitely something that most people can resonate with and relate to having gone through in school or university when you are excluded from an certain activity or picked on just because you look a certain way.
I also enjoyed the fact that the series mentions clubs and activities that appear to be similar to sports and societies in real universities and refers to “the period when club activities are recruiting new club members” which is essentially what a freshers fair is for new university students.
Another thing that I found really interesting in the manga was the way it explained different magical methods and practices.
What I disliked:
I found the relationship between Tatsuya Shiba and his sister Miyuki Shiba to be uncomfortable as they act more like a couple than siblings the manga even comments on this itself. Whilst I believe it represented a forbidden love it was also awkward and incestuous.
Another thing that I was disappointed with in the series was how wordy it was and there didn’t seem to be enough action sequences. And where there were action sequences they seemed to be too short.
How does it compare to the anime:
I found the anime visually stunning, it was really colourful and bright compared to a lot of the other anime I have seen that are a lot darker both in terms of themes and colour schemes. That being said I wouldn’t say it didn’t have any darker themes as it also comments on discrimination and terrorism. One of the scenes that particularly highlights the beauty of the anime series is when Tatsuya is explaining how he defeats Hattori.
One of the main differences in the anime and manga was that the anime seemed to have a lot more comedic moments in it, whether or not that was always necessarily intentional.
And yes in case you were wondering, the relationship between Miyuki and Tatsuya is still as uncomfortable to watch as it was to read. Tatsuya seems to be quite aware of him behaving more like a lover than a sibling to Miyuki and she is more naive which somehow seems to make it worse. I think the other characters reactions sum this up perfectly!
Whilst I did enjoy reading the manga I found once again the series ended abruptly and left me wanting more which thankfully the anime seemed to satisfy this thirst for more. I’d definitely suggest not starting with the manga for this reason and just focusing on watching the anime series as it was a lot more satisfying not only in terms of visuals but also story as well.
Written by Jess Harcastle, Marketing Whizz-kid for Cosmic Anvil.