With Enrollment finally behind us, we’re moving swiftly on to the Nine Schools Competition arc! Perhaps even a bit too swiftly in fact. There hasn’t been a great deal of exposition beyond a basic outline of what the 9SC is, but I suppose too much infodumping in a single episode isn’t good for a medium like anime – Azusa’s already chirped on a lot about some of the magic physics in the Mahoukaverse after all. There’ll be lots of scope for explanations when the actual events take place – and either way, given that this is essentially an athletics competition, the primary focus of all this will be fast-paced magic battles and action. Two such events have already been mentioned – Mirage Bat and Ice Pillar Break, both of which Miyuki is competing in (the latter definitely sounded much cooler when it was translated as “Icicle Destruction” in the LN). One thing that did irk me was the lack of an explanation as to what a BS Magician was, especially as Madhouse had Tatsuya bring it up then subsequently ignore it – it refers to a “born-specialized” magician (and not “bullshit”, though that sort of applies too), one that has an innate ability for a certain type of magic. I guess it’s just another one of those terms that’s supposed to be thrown around and accepted at face value. Just like “Gravity Control-Type Thermonuclear Fusion Reactor”!
I’m actually glad they added in a lengthy infodump on the Three Great Puzzles, because it’ll have a bit of significance in the future – and it already does now, in a way. Leave it to Tatsuya to revolutionize Weight-Type Magic overnight by essentially coming up with an activation sequence for Flying-Type Magic – truly, he is a god amongst men. Or even a god amongst gods! Magic engineers everywhere will drool over him just like Azusa did his Silver Horn Trident. While it hasn’t really been touched upon in the anime, I suppose they did lightly foreshadow his skill as a magic engineer – at least, it takes a certain degree of skill to be able to perform CAD maintenance. And within this episode alone, there was a lot of irony in Azusa casually asking Tatsuya to speculate on the magic engineer genius Taurus Silver’s true identity – with all the not-so-subtle blunders Miyuki had, I think they made it pretty obvious that Tatsuya was Taurus Silver. The clincher, of course, is that Tatsuya is affiliated with Four Leaves Technology, the company Silver works for – and one possible translation of “Yotsuba” just happens to be “Four Leaf”.
It’s no surprise that Tatsuya ends up being picked as one of the magic engineers supporting First High’s 9SC roster – if anything, it’s even more of a surprise that he’s not directly participating as an athlete, although the whole discrimination thing explains that well enough. I love how he tried to leave early once Mayumi mentioned her need for more engineers, and got himself tripped up by Azusa – and as usual, he came up with some convincing arguments for his case. It’s true that priorities need to be set straight when the 9SC is concerned, though – surprisingly, it was Hattori who reminded the dissenting Blooms there of that. First High may have all these talented magicians, but it’s not like the other eight schools are slouches – and we’ve seen that already through Ichijou. And really, while prestige is important, the 9SC also serves as a platform to demonstrate what the next generation are capable of – because magic has a lot of military applications after all.
Finally, there were several new characters mentioned or introduced – the most important of these is Yoshida Mikihiko, Erika’s awkward childhood friend. That entire segment as a whole was fairly awkward, actually – this is where Mahouka’s large cast and the limits to what can be adapted really start to become a bane, even more than it already has. Characters like Honoka or Shizuku have actually been hanging around Tatsuya and friends for a while now, but anime-only viewers should hardly be able to remember who they are – because all their scenes have been skipped out due to various constraints. This leaves them less integrated in the story than they were in the LN, and yet they’re now necessary as they’re part of the 9SC. Awkward, right?