Mahou Senou (Madhouse) – Genre: Action, Fantasy, Magic, School
Episode 01 – “Midsummer Magical Girl”
Okay, so I know that I said Hamatora was my most anticipated series of this season, but I think it was pretty much tied with Mahou Sensou and Nisekoi. Judging by what I’ve been seeing, I feel like a lot of other people have been anticipating this series as well. Maybe it’s because it uses a lot of familiar elements like magic and a school. Or if you’re easily excitable like me, then you may have been drawn in with the girl holding a gun.
Unfortunately, the synopsis made the story sound more interesting than it actually feels in the first episode. Don’t let me be misunderstood, I’m not opposed to where the story is going, but I’m sure many people have already denounced Mahou Sensou as unoriginal and cliche. And honestly, I kind of don’t blame them. How many times and in how many ways do we have to watch a normal high school boy get caught up in a supernatural event thanks to a chance in encounter with a mysterious girl?
That’s pretty much the setting for every JRPG ever. Oh wait, I really like JRPGs. Well, I guess it’s not THAT bad, but if you’re going to use a cliche setting, there better be some variation on the formula. I mentioned with Witch Craft Works that the series seems to draw power and appeal from its “unoriginality,” thereby creating a unique experience in and of itself. It’s this self-awareness, plus a great dynamic between the two leads, that’s appealing to me.
With Mahou Sensou, it takes the first episode to introduce all of the characters, and it kind of feels like a chore, as if the series were doing it just to get out of the way. If doing it so quickly means we can get to more interesting things, then I have no complaints there. As of now, the cast is your typical fare if you’ve played any JRPG. We have the normal main guy Takeshi Nanase (CV: Mamoru Miyano), his childhood friend Kurumi Isoshima (CV: Asami Seto), the mysterious girl Mui Aiba (CV: Nao Touyama), and the lovable delinquent Kazumi Ida (CV: Kenichi Suzumura).
The conflict in the series revolves around the relationship between magicians and non-magicians. As explained by Mui, non-magicians have feared magicians for all of history. Not that Houdini nonsense either, we’re talking full-on Salem witches. Imagine if they ever met up with the cast from Witch Craft Works (hey, a fanfic idea). As a result of this conflict, magicians and non-magicians (us) live in different worlds.
However, when a Muggle is exposed to magic, that person then becomes a magician. Seems a bit too easy, but I didn’t make up the rules. Conversely, using magic to attack another magician results in losing your magic power, reminiscent of “death feedback” in Shinsekai Yori. Naturally Takeshi, Kurumi, and Kazumi are all exposed to magic thanks to the gang chasing after Mui. After this turn of events, Mui intends to take them all to the magic academy in the magician’s world. What will their parents say?
All in all, the story is very standard thus far, but I see the potential to move forward into some interesting territory. The seiyuu lineup in the series is pretty stellar, and the ED is awesome. The animation is good, not spectacular or particularly ever bad. The scene where Mui uses her Melt Projection is pretty freaking awesome though.
Check Mahou Sensou out if you’re not afraid of a story that’s a bit cliche, like spontaneously growing breasts, and like girls that can shoot rune circles from guns.
“All throughout history, magicians have been feared by humans.” ~ Mui Aiba