Content Warning: Incest
What’s It About? Shiba Miyuki is a seemingly normal teenage beauty… if you don’t count her ability to use magic, which she’s encouraged not to do in order to keep herself out of the limelight and out of the gaze of the Magicians’ Association. Butthat’s not going to get in the way of Miyuki’s fifteenth birthday, which she plans to spend with her brother on a date. Thankfully, things go well for most of her special day… until they go very, very wrong.
It’s important, before I begin my review, to tell you that I’ve never engaged with The Irregular at Magic High School in any capacity. In fact, until I opened up Funimation, my eyes weary and itching from summer allergies, I didn’t know that this was a spin-off. In fact, it hadn’t even crossed my mind to consider the similarities because, as the kids say, I don’t even go there. I know very little about the series, which is probably why I didn’t even notice Miyuki, who is on many a The Irregular at Magic High School cover, was on the splash art for this series.
That said, let’s get into The Honor Student at Magic High School, which I will be largely treating as a standalone for review purposes.
Episode 1, “I’ll cherish this for the rest of my life”, starts off on fire: no, literally, on fire. Flames consume a building in great, wall-gobbling, black-smoked wreathed fireballs, sending crowds of people fleeing… until a black-haired girl comes to the rescue. At first, we don’t see her face, then the camera pans up, revealing the main character for this show, Shiba Miyuki. Without a moment’s hesitation, she goes to save the day.
This hard cuts to an almost-nude Miyuki, who’s getting a magic check. Why she’s almost nude? Well, I guess so the tech works better. What matters more is that her brother won’t look at her and her almost naked body, which… makes me think that there’s definitely some sexual tension here—Miyuki clearly is jonesin’ for a kiss, and I ain’t here for that.
Coincidentally, it happens to be near Miyuki’s birthday, which is really where we spend the meat of this episode. That, and eyeing couples, because Miyuki definitely wants to do the horizontal tango with her brother, and it’s very uncomfortable y’all. She even has to remind herself that they’re siblings; that they’re just two fifteen-year-old kiddos and not like, a married couple. This, unfortunately, was the main gag throughout the entirety of episode one, which is… not great. Thankfully, things do pick up in the back half with a bit of action that’s just okay.
Animation-wise, The Honor Student at Magic High School looks good enough, with a kind of generic style that I didn’t have too much of an opinion on. Miyuki is cute in the way of a stuffed animal: they’re always cute, almost strategically so. Nothing really stands out about her, which is saying something because she has powers and you’d think that’d be interesting. Even when the show picks up and we get some more magic, it’s nothing to write home about. It’s generic “high school kids with power” fantasy fodder, and I’m sure it’ll do it for its target audience.
Musically, and even sonically, The Honor Student at Magic High School is average. There’s solid sound design, but nothing stands out as being particularly creative or unique. I’m big on sound design these days, especially when it comes to how music and sfx impact a viewing. It felt like a missed opportunity to spice up the show. That said, there’s a few times in the middle -primarily when we flash back to the opening events and the fire- that the sound gets a bit more complex and interesting. But overall, I don’t think this is a soundtrack that I’d throw on while working: it’s a bit too plain for my tastes.
I will watch The Honor Student at Magic High School because I feel obligated to do so so I can update folks on it three episodes in. However, I’ll say it with my chest: I don’t like this show. I don’t like the uncomfortable, belligerent sexual tension Miyuki is harboring for her brother, who like… looks like her blood relative, and not just some guy she grew up with. But moreso than that, I found this episode genuinely boring, and am surprised that I made it through.
I know that there’s fans of this franchise out there, and I’m glad that they’re getting some content. I truly am happy that this exists, for whomever its target audience is. There were some really fascinating parts of this premiere: I found the activation of Miyuki’s magic interesting, largely because it seems to blend technology and fantasy together. But I regret to inform you that this probably won’t make my watchlist this season, once I’m past any obligations towards it. Maybe I’ll come back to this series if I pick up The Irregular at Magic High School. Otherwise… this is my last time with Miyuki and her brother, whom she thirst for so, so much.