If we look at the average anime season as a series of its own, then it is usually not a very good season. WHY? Because, like many anime series, it constitutes more filler and less actual substantial entertainment.
Which always leaves me wondering at the rationale that is utilized in the preparation of a given anime season’s roster, whether the various studios don’t simply place special emphasis on six or seven worth while titles, then fill the rest of their roster with padding, to make for a fuller schedule.
That would explain how stuff like Mahou Sensou actually gets made.
Takeshi Nanase is an ordinary high school boy with dark past. Besides certain circumstances impelling him to enter into a fake relationship with his childhood friend Kurumi Isoshima, he lives a normal life.
That is until he comes across a girl named Mui Aiba one random evening, in a uniform he has never seen before, collapsed on the school campus. Mui introduces herself to Takeshi as a magician. She then apologizes for having turned Takeshi into a magician, too, revealing to the perplexed young man the existence of the ruined world, within which magicians exist and great battles are fought for the future.
Magical Warfare isn’t even bad, nothing so terrible as to infuriate me; it has simply been a while since I watched something so cheesy, clichéd and so typical of weepy shonen anime.
No, actually it hasn’t been that long, since it’s only been a month since I tried and failed to watch Chrono Crusade, another ridiculous anime series. More importantly, Magical Warfare isn’t special, not in terms of really bad anime.
Rather it falls into the category of the sorts of anime series I come across and immediately pass over each and every week; except I showed a willingness to push past the first episode of Mahou Sensou rather than simply deposit it onto my ‘might watch in the future, but probably not’ pile.
Admittedly, the title attracted my attention; more importantly, this is magic and it is being used in warfare, that seemed like a simple slam dunk. A foolish assumption on my part, because whoever wrote the story clearly figured the same thing, choosing to create the most generic story to come out of 2014.
Seriously, Mahou Sensou plays out like every magic related story I have ever watched and hated, basically playing around with those elements that most irritate me in such anime.
+Let’s see, first we have the magic. There are few things I hate more in a fantasy series than garbage magical laws; no, not even laws, because I might have stuck with the series if it had attempted to assert some structure to its magic, not having its characters basically spouting gibberish in their apparent attempt at displaying advanced magical forms, then unleashing some really silly looking results.
Certainly watching a little girl open space like a door and wrap it around a foe trying to decay said space in 13 minutes sounds like something I would gravitate towards; except this little girl was earlier introduced as the director of a secret magical school, with my eyes rolling immediately at another one these ‘I might look like a little girl but have actually accumulated centuries of years and equal amounts of magic’ clichés that I am sick of.
And I had already endured what felt like way too many seconds watching an excessively convoluted magical formation play out, again accompanied by lots of nonsensical terms, against a villain whose powers seemed crafted to create an air of dread even while always allowing the hero ample time to counteract his nefarious curses.
As Brian Sanderson once said, if you are going to create fantastical magical powers, you can either structure them intricately or present them as vague wonders, but never attempting to do a little bit of both, basically creating the mess that was Mahou Sensou and its boring battle system.
Too many of these action oriented anime series seem to forget the importance of properly structured powers in any given battle; because a viewer’s understanding of the laws that govern a given anime universe’s supernatural elements will determine how deeply they engage with the battles.
Knowing what bankai was made all the difference in Ichigo’s final battle against Byakuya in Bleach, that our Hero’s eventual access of this power would mean the acceleration of an already epic conflict.
Mahou Sensou injected very little effort into making sense of its magical world, beyond the very basics.
+The various plots of this anime seemed way too contrived for my liking, with each event purposed to achieve a very clear very cliché objective. Great anime attempt to mimic normal life, at the very least its natural flow, treating conflicts and great occurrences as unforeseen but none the less natural events of their universe, to which they react, this resulting in a story, good or bad.
Mahou Sensou is like Tales of the Abyss, basically making no effort to disguise its path; in other words when Aiba runs off, you know it is to put herself in very obvious danger and against her better judgment just so Takeshi can come to the rescue despite his weakness as a novice magician, take a beating for her, prove himself all honorable and immovable, willing to die for a girl he barely knows and basically positioning himself to be romantic material for Aiba.
Really, it all plays out the same way; you need only watch the first few minutes of each episode to figure out how the story will play out, which character will fall just so they get to cry on the shoulder of another, transforming a potential villain into an anti hero; which villain will get the chance to rant about how much suffering they have undergone and why that entitles them the opportunity to lay all to waste…basically this anime does nothing original.
+And the characters? What Characters? These caricatures of every other protagonist and antagonist that has ever appeared on screen?
And do not get me wrong. I tend to complain about characters that weep and whine in a lot of the anime that I review and hate.
By such descriptions I am not suggesting that the idea of characters crying in anime puts me off; I hope most people understand the distinction between whining and crying.
Because, yes, I HATE anime that spend 90% of their time in weepy territory, with cutesy female (and sometimes male) characters on their knees weeping endlessly about their bad lot in life. That irritates me to no end.
SO of course that places Mahou Sensou in a good place to irritate me, every scene with Aiba, Takeshi and all their whining about their families and siblings OBVIOUSLY aimed towards forcing some modicum of sympathy from viewers, but only drawing derision from my impatient sensibilities.
These characters are as terrible as they are bland, the typical ‘hero who places his life on the line for strangers’, ‘strong female lead with difficult life that must be weak so as to be rescued by the male lead’, typical evil villains seeking to bring destruction for a seemingly sympathetic and yet rationally silly reason (though one female character managed to provide a semblance of an intriguing story worth following).
I find it hard to believe that someone actually took the effort to write this story, rather than simply typing a few keywords into a program and having the computer spit out a random script. Because I would believe that.
The inconsistencies alone ravage any logic the anime might have been attempting to construct at the start, especially with regards to how magical abilities are activated and the rules restricting their use in the real world; because by the laws revealed in the first episode, almost every character we meet, including our hero, should either be dead or powerless due to the effects of ‘The Gift’.
+Could this truly be a Madhouse Studio production, one of the best animation studios around? Yes it is, because the animation does indeed avail that gloss and crisp expected from a fairly well financed series.
AND IT IS SO BLAND. There is literally no artistic quality anywhere in Mahou Sensou, with every character a mirror image of that typical anime design, which, I guess, perfectly matches their equally bland and generic characterizations.
The shots, of the landscapes and the magical battles, where deathly boring. On a surprising note the voice actors where great, in fact way too good for this project which, along with the fairly decent music, I found surprising.
+VERDICT: I have watched bad anime, series that simply haven’t worked for me but within which, by placing my mind outside my own personal biases and interests, I have managed to locate slivers of quality from which another individual might have gained some level of entertainment.
I simply cannot imagine who the hell would actually enjoy watching Mahou Sensou. It’s not terrible per say. You simply won’t be watching anything substantial.
I couldn’t even complete the series, got as far as episode 8 and quit; and even then only because I forced myself to push through five episodes in one go. I have a system of watching anime, only ever tackling a maximum of three titles at a go.
Only because I wished to turn my attention to Wizard Barristers and thus chose to push through Magical warfare to basically make space on my roster did I make it so far, eventually coming to the realize how contrived and pretentious the anime truly was.
RATING: 3/10, I thought of throwing a 0/10 at the anime; but again, Mahou Sensou isn’t a terrible, or even bad anime. It is simply bland.