2014
05.04

You are challenged by Hex Maniac Miyoooooki!

On this week’s session of Mahoukey Pokey, we have more of characters sitting in rooms and talking about skin-deep politics for twenty-two minutes. I know that sounds vain of me, because that can describe plenty of excellent shows that have aired and are airing right now. The “I don’t like this show because it’s nothing but talking” complaint usually depends on what the characters are talking about exactly, as well as how they express themselves through conversation. For instance, I really like Fate/Zero, but am aware and understanding of the criticisms toward that show like how it’s nothing but characters talking about utilitarianism. Like I said, it’s sometimes about the matter of their discussion. Some people don’t like Kiritsugu because he keeps spouting his “kill one to save one” ideology to everyone, and will be upfront when his logic is questioned. It feels like being in a confrontation, where a character argues for something that you disagree with. And for me, that’s what Mahouka is doing.

With that scene where Tatsuya discusses with Sayaka about her treatment, I listened to all of what they were saying and could feel little from each sentence spewed out of their mouths. They consisted of a barrage of arguments that Tatsuya could quickly overturn because of his own apathy toward Sayaka’s situation, only seeing her complaints through a technical standpoint in place of a considerate one. It doesn’t process in his mind that Sayaka could feel discriminated against, despite being right there with her when malcontents tried to attack her with a lethal weapon. Instead, he makes it about himself and how he sees no problems with the school at large. All the school has to do for him is give him a degree, and he will be perfectly satisfied. And if that works for him, that should work for everyone. If Tatsuya couldn’t even respect what Sayaka was fighting for, then why should I care for his words?

In place of trying to reason with Sayaka, he brings up his desire to invent a magic fusion reactor. Because not only does Tatsuya have to be one of the strongest and most mentally capable of his fellow students, but he has to have a planned-out and in-depth desire to better the world by creating clean energy… since that’s what teenagers do, after all. By rejecting a relatable concern with a fantastical one, what Tatsuya’s saying becomes groundless and disconnects with the overall tone. We don’t get why he wants to do any of this, while we have plenty of reasons for why Sayaka wants to rebel against the school’s norm, with Tatsuya giving her further motive by just coming off as a deaf snob. And instead of giving a balance portrayal so both sides are intentionally portrayed as sympathetic, the show’s direction leans in favor of Tatsuya being in the right. It tries to make Sayaka and Blanche seem antagonistic by hijacking the school’s speaker or by introducing clones of Sugou from Sword Art, but they come off as strawman efforts made to immediately show us who’s supposed to be right or wrong rather than inviting us to find out for ourselves.

Instead of that, the show literally has characters on a podium tell people why their way works and other tactics don’t. Someone of high status like Mayumi has to kindly, but firmly deride the equalists’ efforts by implying a helpful situation may be coming without outright saying she’ll work in favor of the oppressed in school society. Her speech waters down to “I know you guys hate us, but I hope things get better” with little strength to back up her statements. I remember last episode when Tatsuya criticized Blanche for using equality and liberty as feel-good terms for nefarious purposes, but we get to see his side pull off the exact same bait-and-switch scheme while being portrayed as heroic for doing so. And just to further how they’re right, guns go a blazing to show that Tatsuya’s side is the “real” oppressed faction. I know revolutions in real life aren’t often civilized, but those events occur through decades of internal strife and labyrinthine conflict that can’t be pinned on one specific event. From what we get here, the show keeps claiming this situation’s rooted in kids being mistreated in school clubs, as if school clubs were the apexes of modern civilization. The show really wants to paint a side as bad by showing off gunfire and creepy stares, but can’t offer a decent reason when they’re forced to discuss and explain why these guys are the antagonists.

Instead, you get more of how sugoi Miyuki’s onii-sama is.

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