Magical Warfare [Mahou Sensou]

Since Harry Potter became a global sensation, especially in Japan, the magical academy genre has exploded with loosely inspired series with some standout examples being Freezing! and Little Witch Academia. It’s a genre with loads of potential to be exciting and original, you can do anything you want and link it back to some magical lore; it’s a writer’s paradise. However, with such freedom and exposure, there’s a price to pay and that price is staleness. The basic formula for a magical show is now etched into the minds of anime fans everywhere and Magical Warfare does little, if anything, to break away from the mould.

MahouSensou_5Our first shot is a rip from the first Matrix film in that it’s in a green-tinted subway and it’s a battle of wits between two overpowered magicians with no backstory or explanation whatsoever. Already to me this show is not the One. Our main story though is about a guy named Takeshi who yearns to get away from his disturbed [possibly abusive?] mother and he doesn’t care where it is he ends up. Be careful what you wish for. He seems to have a girlfriend in the form of Kurumi although they haven’t kissed and he has recently started referring to her by surname only denoting he’s not really interested or somewhat distant. So it’s not great on the relationship front either. Things get even less great when he encounters a young girl named Mui, rescues her from death and then nurses her back to consciousness. His reward? A bullet to the head. Or at least near his head. Mui is understandably unnerved by her new locale but her reaction is still ludicrous and enough to unsettle the audience rather than compel them.

MahouSensou_3This is where the major crux of the show starts to make itself known. Mui is on the run from her brother [although he has a case of plot-driven amnesia] and his goons and this inevitably leads to a scene where there’s loads of fighting. Fighty fighty. Somewhere in this mess, Takeshi has suddenly acquired the ability to see his opponent and dodge…and not much else. He has the Evasive Ability. The power to run away. Wow. If it had been called Agility then it would sound cooler and less cowardly. The scene in its entirety sums up the majority of the flaws of this show: Mui being merely a love interest/plot waterfall, imbalanced and confusing physics, half-baked lore and fighting mechanics and overall uninspired character designs. Also in the above picture – TAKESHI HAS NO NOSE. Madhouse animated this show. Madhouse; artists of Death Note and Highschool of the Dead fame. Their standards have slipped majorly with this series. Back to the confusing physics for a moment. HOW CAN YOU FIGHT A MAGICALLY ENHANCED ARM BLADE WITH A WOODEN SWORD AND HAVE IT REMAIN INTACT AFTER MULTIPLE STRIKES?! You could say it’s magically enhanced but Takeshi’s magical power doesn’t do that so it makes no sense whatsoever. Especially since we’re currently in the Living World as opposed to the Ruined World where these magicians came from. The rage doesn’t stop here.

MahouSensou_2There’s nothing special with how Takeshi got his powers. He got them by just being near Mui when she hit him with her best shot from her magic gun. [Where’d she purchase that?] Talk about a lazy explanation; shows anyone can be a magician if they’re in the right place at the right time. Does this mean if I watch a magic act on stage then I’m a magician now? Awesome. Then we have Kurumi and Takeshi’s friend Kazumi roped into the story by also being nearby when the magic takes place; they get powers too. Kazumi gets fire powers and it’s clear that he’s the story’s clown with his goofy reaction getting a giggle. Then we have Kurumi’s Corporeal [transfiguration] power which…causes her breasts to grow in size. I cannot tell you how hard my head hit the desk when I saw that. WHY WOULD THAT HAPPEN?! It breaks the flow of the story and makes you realise that this show is trying whatever it can to get you to still watch after being exposed to such bland and formulaic storytelling. In the end, the three new magicians are transported to the Ruined World and are overloaded with more exposition from Mui whose character is further diminished and replaced with plot. It’s sad but that’s what she is in the end. It’s like the show wants to get as much lore out of the way as soon as possible but in doing so it alienates and bamboozles the viewer with too many facts and lore too early into proceedings. The experience is ruined.

MahouSensou_4Coupled with the patchy animation quality, uneven character models and bland story, Magical Warfare is a confusing mess. I like Kazumi, he’s the confident goof where some semblance of personality is maintained. I also like the potential subplot with Takeshi’s mother and maybe delving deeper as to why he hates his home. However, the majority of the story is so boring and the ploys for viewership so cheap that it leaves a bad taste in my mouth. If you like magic anime, you might see something in it but really you’d be better off watching Madoka Magica again. If you don’t, go watch Madoka Magica. It’s awesome; and messed up.

Magical Warfare is available to stream on Crunchyroll.

RATING: CANCEL [There are better examples of supernatural anime out there.]

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