Sunday, December 28, 2014

Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei

Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei, also called The Irregular at Magic High School, or The Poor-performing at Magic High School, is obviously about a high school full of students who can perform magic.  The classes and student are split into those who are exceptional at using magic (blooms) and those who can barely use magic at all (weeds).  The story follows a brother and sister named Shiba Tatsuya and Shiba Miyuki.  Miyuki is an exceptional magic user, and of course, Tatsuya is a weed.

As it turns out though, Tatsuya isn’t really inept at magic.  His magic is just so advanced and different from the usual magic that he performs poorly on standardized magic tests.  Plus in addition to having pretty amazing magic of his own, he’s a wizard at programming, especially programming the CAD devices which are used by magic users to focus and amplify their magic spells.  They also hint along the way that Tatsuya is not quite human, as he can reset himself when injured and has very few human emotions, except for his feelings for Miyuki.

The series is composed of three story arcs.  The first arc deals with the siblings entering the school and meeting their classmates.  It also deals with the whole blooms/weeds things and the inter-school prejudices, while introducing the cast and setting the stage.  Tatsuya is quickly found to be much more than he seems and he and Miyuki quickly become involved in the school, with Miyuki becoming a member of the Student Council and Tatsuya becoming a member of the Student Disciplinary Committee. 

The second arc covers a multi-school magic competition and not only do both Miyuki and Tatsuya compete in the various “games”, but Tatsuya ends up doing the programming for most of their school’s students’ CADs.  In the end he also foils a lot of plots intended to keep their school from winning the competition, which they do win.  In the final battle game, Tatsuya is accidentally killed by the top student of one of the other magic schools, who also happens to be the next head of one of the most powerful of the Ten Master Clans.  Tatsuya uses his most powerful magic skill, and regenerates himself instantly, so no one knows he should be dead, although most everyone is amazed he didn’t die.  

The final arc involves an attack on the magic users during another competition between the magic schools.  During this final arc, Tatsuya, Miyuki and the magic-using students demonstrate clearly that magic-using warfare beats normal, mechanical warfare all hollow.  In addition, Tatsuya’s spell which allows him to reset himself, allows him to reset others also, both people and things, if he gets to them within 24 hours of the damage.   He saves a couple of students’ lives this way.

I found two things about this series irritating:  one was the brother-sister love issue.  Miyuki is head over heels in love with Tatsuya and doesn’t bother to hide it.  It’s almost sickening early on but luckily they tone it down a bit as they go.  Either that or I got used to it.  The other thing was the series creators need to explain every magic spell in detail.  The characters all do a post-mortem discussion of each spell and how it worked along the way.  That little series quirk almost made me stop watching the series. 

Despite those two issues, the story was interesting enough to keep me watching.  Or maybe I kept watching to try to figure out exactly what Tatsuya is.  His family is not very happy with his existence and tends to ignore him for the most part, except for Miyuki who worships him.  He is also a secret operative for a special magic-using section of the JSDF.   Plus his magic and computer abilities often seem more than human.  

I ended up not getting all (any) of my questions answered.  Like why does Miyuki control Tatsuya’s powers?  Before the final battle, she releases the limiter on his powers. So, the series ended abruptly with a lot of things up in the air, including with me having the same question I watched the series all the way through in order to find the answer to:  Who or What is Tatsuya?  Still . . .  I’m glad I watched it, although I probably won’t watch another season if they continue it.   

Monday, December 22, 2014

Witch Hunter Robin

Witch Hunter Robin is set in a world where people with extrasensory powers, known as the “craft", are considered to be “witches” and to be evil.  An organization called Solomon, with ties to the Roman Catholic Church, exists to monitor these witches, people with the genetic ability to perform the craft, in case their powers should awaken.  If that happens, they usually lose control and go mad.  Solomon (STN) then hunts down these witches and removes them from society, for their own safety and the safety of society.  STN also uses a massive database to monitor all relatives of known witches since they carry the genes for witchcraft.

Robin is a special witch hunter, raised and trained by the Church in Italy, and sent undercover to Japan investigate the whereabouts of an item which holds the secrets of the craft.  Robin herself has the genetic craft ability to use fire as a weapon, which also puts her at risk, with the possibility of awakening as a witch, siding with the witches against the STN and being hunted with the other witches.  At the beginning of the series, Robin joins the Japanese branch of STN, STN-J.  She begins to know and work with the people there, including the overall STN-J administrator, Zaizen, and his immediate underling, Kosaka.  She works as a partner with the senior Hunter of the group, a guy named Amon.  The other members of STN-J include three more Hunters, Sakaki, Karasuma and Dojima, and one guy who stays at the base and does all the computer work there named Michael Lee.

The early series is Robin getting used to the work and integrating into the team, and features several witch hunts.  Robin uses her fire power to protect and to attack.  The other hunters wear a small crystal vial hung around their necks that contains a substance in it called Orbo.  Orbo is produced by the STN-J at their Factory and it neutralizes craft attacks from witches.  They also shoot the witches with orbo-containing bullets to stop them and make them powerless.  Robin hates orbo and won’t wear it or use it.

Along the way, Robin begins to look for the item she was sent after and the search leads her to  information about her past, and then things get interesting.  Robin discovers that her father essentially created her with witch genes and she actually is a witch.  An attack on the STN-J headquarters ends with Amon disappeared and Robin on the run, being hunted as a witch herself.  It’s a little hard to tell who are the good guys and who are the bad guys for a while. 

During the time she’s on the run, Robin stays in contact with the other STN-J hunters and finds that things are not all well within the organization and Amon is still missing.  Eventually Amon shows back up and turns out to be working with the Church, being sent to hunt Robin.  A confrontation between Robin and Amon is basically the series climax, as she convinces him that she is at heart a witch hunter, despite also being a witch.  Amon agrees to work with her, setting himself up as her one-day executioner if she should ever turn.  In the meantime he decides that he cares enough for her to trust her to do what’s right.
Together, and with the help of the loyal witch hunters, they go to the Factory to bring down Zaizen-tachi – who it turns out was behind the attack on the STN-J.  In the raid to topple Zaizen’s little empire they discover that he is not just removing witches from society, he is rendering them down to produce Orbo.  They destroy him and his Factory.
The series basically ends with the destruction of the Factory.  Karasuma, Sakai, Dojima and Michael Lee go back to doing their job hunting witches for the STN-J without Amon and Robin, who “died” in the Factory destruction.  So although the series ends with the “death” of the two main characters, you are definitely left with the feeling that they are alive and out there hunting witches somewhere.  And life goes on.  This series is a really good one.  Great animation style, outstanding music.  Good plot, just twisty enough to keep you guessing, especially when you’re trying to decide if Amon is a good guy or a bad guy.  I definitely recommend it if you haven’t seen it.  

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Le Chevalier D'Eon

Another post about an old series today.  I haven't watched enough of the new series to post about them yet.

Le Chevalier D’Eon takes place in 18th century Europe, predominately in France, as you can probably assume from the title.  The story follows the events in the life on a young man named D’Eon de Beaumont.  As the story begins, D’Eon has just found out that his older sister Lia has been murdered.  The plot basically follows his attempts to find her murderers and bring them to justice.

Lia, it turns out, was working for the King of France, Louis 15th, so D’Eon is recruited by Louis also.  His quest for justice for his sister can also be of service to the Crown.  He gains three friends/comrades along the way, another knight named Durand, an older knight who also taught D’Eon and Lia to fight, named Teillagory, and a young boy named Robin, who is also a servant of the French Queen, Marie.  These four follow the bad guys trail from the French Court, to the Court of Elizaveta and then Catherine in Russia and the Court of King George III and Queen Mary in England. 

This anime is full of the intrigue and plotting in all the major courts in Europe and England and has a host of characters related to each court.  D’Eon-tachi encounter, and sometimes get involved in, plots in all the courts as they follow a Russian spy and then later Maximilien Robespierre, following the trail of intrigue and death.

The anime is also full of magic.  D’Eon channels his dead sister Lia, and she often takes over his consciousness, especially during fights.  Several of the characters, notably Robespierre, are referred to as Poets, and can wield the magical Power of the Psalms.  Lia was also a Poet and could wield that Power and continues to do so when she’s in control of D’Eon’s body.  A book of power called the Royal Psalms is one of the items the four comrades eventually try to recover.  It belongs to the French royal family, but seems to spend a lot of time being passed around by multiple people.

In the end, everyone betrays everyone in this anime.  Durand and Teillagory both betray D’Eon.  The French King Louis kills his own Queen, Marie, which turns Robin into a revolutionary rather than a supporter of the Crown.  D’Eon finds that Lia and Robespierre were at one time lovers, and that Louis has been using D’Eon.  Louis isn’t even actually of royal blood and Robespierre is – one of the reasons Robespierre works against the crown.  Yet even with all this intrigue, D’Eon maintains his loyalty to his King – the only character who does basically.    The plot is often convoluted.

This series was okay.  The music and animation style are good. It’s not a great series, but the story kept me interested, probably because I spent so much time trying to figure out exactly what was going on while D’Eon stumbled from one intrigue to the next.  I didn’t like that everyone betrayed everyone eventually.  There was also a lot of death in this anime, including main characters.  D’Eon survives it, and Robin moves on as a revolutionary.  It didn’t feel like a satisfying ending though.