With the second season of Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei (The Irregular at Magic High) having dropped at the end of last year. This year, we’re getting the spin-off no one asked for but everyone will probably watch anyway—Mahouka Koukou no Yuutousei (The Honor Student at Magic High School)! This is quite simply the retelling of the events of the very first season of Mahouka, not from the perspective of Shiba Tatsuya, but that of his little sister, Miyuki. We’ve been given five episodes of Mahouka Koukou no Yuutousei (The Honour Student at Magic High) so far, and here’s what we thought about this ambitious spin-off!
The Spin-Off Effect
The first thing you notice about this is that it’s a spin-off of the original Mahouka, and it begins with an unnamed disaster affecting some public buildings. A child and his little sister are running through the upper floors of a burning building when Miyuki appears and directs them to the exit. This introductory scene, while it may seem like a throwaway, it was meant to communicate that this is not the story of Shiba Tatsuya, but that of Miyuki. In the same way that you notice the small change in the title of the franchise when it comes to this installment, there is something particularly different about The Honor Student at Magic High School in terms of the feel.
This is intentional considering that it’s a spin-off; however, the series has more of a slice of life feel at first, focusing on things like playing on the strange romantic vibes Miyuki exudes around her brother. This is based on the idea that this spin-off is the events of the original The Irregular at Magic High School but from the perspective of Miyuki and the other female characters. As a result, it is given a more romantic and slice of life-y feel than its parent, not to mention the art style that seems to have developed softer edges. It also has a lot more comedy, rather than attempting to be another serious take on the same material.
While you get lost in the fluff, you get called back to the seriousness of the flagship series around halfway through the first episode, when the Yotsuba family contacts Tatsuya to dispatch him to the Kyoto branch of the Magicians Association, where they expect a deranged magician to launch an attack. While this is a retelling of the same events we saw back in the first season of the parent story, it does feel like something that relies on the parent series quite a lot for the narrative elements to really hit.
The Different Art Style at Magic High School
At first we thought it was just us, but a simple trip to myanimelist.net proved our suspicions correct - Mahouka Koukou no Yuutousei (The Honor Student at Magic High School) is a project undertaken not by Studio Madhouse like its parent series, but by a studio known as Connect. The consequences of this are subtle but obvious at the same time. If you’re not paying attention enough, you might not even catch that the visuals are different for The Honor Student at Magic High School. This time, it’s given more of a Shoujo feel, with characters having rosy cheeks and noses and softer features overall to lean more into the visuals.
Maybe this is a nod towards the fact that this is a spin-off, but we could also be reaching with speculation on that level. Whatever the reason, things look different and while it isn’t necessarily a bad change, there is a bit of a drop in the visual quality of this compared to the two seasons of The Irregular at Magic High School, but we assume that’s for the sake of giving a visual credence to the fact that the narrative has changed hands.
Honour Student Life at First High
Mahouka Koukou no Yuutousei (The Honor Student at Magic High School) is a bit disappointing if you were expecting some kind of progression in the overall storyline. The fact that the series is a spin-off is a gift and a curse, giving it a lot of potential to fully protagonize Miyuki who would truly be the show’s main character if Tatsuya didn’t exist. While the idea seems interesting enough, there’s something quite unfortunate about the approach to this being the “female” version of the main storyline.
It doesn’t quite feel as important to the development and characterization of the female characters to have their perspective be supplementary to the Shiba Tatsuya narrative, but rather, a future season within the main story that focuses more on Miyuki and the other female characters would perhaps feel more important to a fan of the overall series. The experience is dampened by the fact that we have seen all this before, so the stakes are almost non-existent here.
The sad thing here is that we can’t really expect too much by way of story considering that we’re seeing events that have already happened from a different lens. It doesn’t really excel in any department, and it seems like something that big fans of the parent series would watch to kill time. There is a lot of fluff in this one, so if that’s not what you’re looking for, it would be better for you to skip this series entirely.
Getting to Know the Characters
One thing a spin-off is great for is developing aspects of characters who don’t get enough attention in the main series. The Irregular at Magic High School season 1 had many moments where it felt like the Shiba Tatsuya show (it is, but hear us out), but season 2’s main objective was to humanise him a bit by throwing him into a situation where he needs help from his classmates. The shift in focus onto the supporting characters in the second season creates more of a balance when it comes to their roles, giving various first season nobodies some really important contributions to the story in the first season. Where The Honor Student at Magic High School comes in with this is that it takes us back to the first season and lets us get to know characters like Honoka, Erika, Shizuku and others in situations that aren’t linked to either Tatsuya or Miyuki.
At this point in the series, it’s safe to say that Mahouka Koukou no Yuutousei (The Honor Student at Magic High School) isn’t trying to push its narrative further but is rather giving fans something extra to chew on as they wait for the next installment. Is this going to change your life? Probably not, but it’s an interesting title that straddles the realms of filler and canon at the same time, which makes it worth visiting, at least. What did you think of the first few episodes of Mahouka Koukou no Yuutousei (The Honor Student at Magic High School)? Drop a comment below and tell us what you think!