When Sistine and Rumia encounter an odd young man on the way to their prestigious magical school they couldn’t have guessed he would be their new teacher – or that he would be so lacklustre. With no work experience, special skills or even legible handwriting, 19-year-old Glenn Radars seems to have no interest in teaching or his new students. But ambitious Sistine is determined to learn, and after requesting, commanding and threatening to get her new teacher to teach, she eventually challenges him to a duel.
I’ve talked about this before, but each time an anime peddles gratuitous sexualisation and other pandering tropes in its premiere episode it goes into minus points, meaning it has to work harder to earn a positive review overall. Akashic Records of Bastard Magical Instructor seems pretty comfortable in the minus points.
Let’s look at a few of those on a scale of ‘a bit jarring’ to ‘we’re done here’:
Unnecessarily defined breasts? -1. (This is our introduction to a major character, and fabric doesn’t work that way.)
Animal ears on young girls which seem completely without purpose and unrelated to the worldbuilding? -1.
Completely inappropriate school uniform for young girls unmatched by a comparable uniform for boys? -1. (If anime fandom had a Hawkeye Initiative this show would be a good candidate.)
An adult male character touching a teenaged female character in a sexualised way without consent? -1.
There was one positive: Sistine’s character. She is some kind of aristocrat’s daughter, powerful and influential, and responds to Rumia’s formality by insisting they are family, equals. She tries to protect Rumia, and after Glenn crosses a line she forces him back, crying out, “I can’t believe he’d touch a woman without permission!”
Unfortunately, the show then makes her a completely hypocrite by having her touch Rumia without permission in a scene more reminiscent of rapey porn than a magical high school story.
Brief reminder that Rumia feels that Sistine is of a higher social status to her, while Sistine wants her to feel like family. That’s two layers of messed-up power dynamic, smooshed together for a creepy, creepy scene that lasts way too long, with added voyeurism as their blushing classmates look on.
That whole thing is the low point in a show of low points, played for humour as Glenn walks into this scene of sexual assault in a room full of young girls all wearing an adult man’s fantasy of schoolgirl underwear.
But wait! The show is self-aware! Glenn doesn’t blush or drool, he asks them to stop and think rationally about this “commonplace, cliche’d turn of events”!
Okay, teenage girls’ bodies are just bodies, they’re his students, they can trust him to stay calm and professional and just leave, right?
-1 -1 -1 -1 -1 -1 -1 -1 -1
There are other moments that are pretty unpleasant, but frankly, if any AniFem readers make it past the changing room scene it’ll be for morbid curiosity and/or snarky tweets alone. The show eventually gets to mentioning some plot at around 14 minutes and reaches Sistine’s duel challenge at around 18 minutes, but even that conclusion falls flat. It’s not an amazing story beautifully told but hindered by creepiness; the creepiness is the point. The story is flimsy scaffolding for the true purpose of the show, the anime equivalent of “I’ve come to fix your plumbing.”
I personally enjoy character clashes like Glenn and Sistine’s, and started the episode prepared to be entertained by that. However, making both of them enthusiastic sexual molesters and Rumia a passive and amiable victim from the start is too much for me to get past.
Read the ANN Preview Guide review.
Amelia is the editor-in-chief of Anime Feminist, has a degree in Japanese Studies and is a freelance writer for websites and magazines on film, television, anime and manga.
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