Anime review “Mahou Sensou (Ep.01)”

I got a request to try and review the first episode of Mahou Sensou. Why did I pick it up? It’s because I’ve never done an anime review before – which means something new to try out! And if it turns out good, I might even do more. Alright, enough blabbering. Let’s see what the synopsys says (copy-pasting this from myanimelist),

In this modern magic action story, Takeshi Nanase is an ordinary high school boy who has a somewhat dark past. Due to certain circumstances, he formed a “fake” couple with his childhood friend Kurumi Isoshima, but otherwise, he lives a normal life. However, one day, he comes across a girl named Mui Aiba, in a uniform he has never seen before, collapsed on the school campus. This encounters changes Takeshi’s destiny completely. Mui tells Takeshi that she is a magician, and she apologizes, for she turned Takeshi into a magician, too. What Takeshi once knew as one world is actually two—the world where magicians live and the world where humans live.
Before we start with the actual show, lets talk about what we might be able to expect from the above paragraph. A hero with a dark past? Aren’t most of them like that? The very first such “hero” that comes to my mind is Batman. And for some odd reason I’m also thinking of Kirito from SAO. At best the latter only has a dark cloak, but he’s presented to the viewer as “the mysterious bad-ass who nobody knows about, but has a heart of gold”. Then we come to the next bit – the guy is in some kind of “pretend” relationship with his childhood friend. I don’t think I’ve EVER seen an anime where they pull this off well. Unless it’s part of some gag, what usually happens is that one (or in some situations both) parties in the relationship grow actual feelings for the other. It’s a really weird kind of romantic tension – everyone else thinks that the two of you are going out, but there is this invisible barrier preventing either party from taking the first step. Bring in another romantic interest and you have all the ingredients for a love comedy. And finally, our hero meets some ‘mysterious’ girl and gains magic powers? Does this have anything to do with his own “mysteriously dark” past? Let’s find out!
The opening scene is between a girl addressing a guy as her brother. It’s probably because I’m recovering from a case of food poisoning, but in spite of the dark theme and music in this scene, I can’t help but be confused. At least, I didn’t start watching this thinking it would be some horror show.
This is the kind of scene you would expect at the climax of a show. What is it doing here at the beginning?

This is the kind of scene you would expect at the climax of a show. What is it doing here at the beginning?

And next our hero complains about his horrible home life. Makes me wonder if someone had a checklist of cliches/tropes they needed to insert into the show …

Just look at the love radiating from her eyes. Who wouldn't want to run away from this?

Look at the love radiating from the eyes of this mother! Who wouldn’t want to run away from this?

And finally we get to meet the “childhood” friend,

Just look at that cute, happy face! Someone sure is taking the "fake" relationship seriously...

That cute, happy face! Someone sure is taking that “fake” relationship seriously…

A little later, the hero is minding his own business when a girl faints right next to him. What would you do in a situation like that? Myself, would call an ambulance. Our hero, did the next best thing. He took her to the school nurse’s office, where the girl regains her consciousness,  mistakes him for her brother and promptly hugs him.

Why's he so depressed? A cute girl IS hugging him after-all!

Why’s he so depressed? A cute girl IS hugging him after-all!

Upon realizing her mistake, she goes the violent Akane Tendo route  and attacks him. And not just a punch or kick. Oh no! We live in the modern age after-all. A pistol is the tool of choice to use against a guy you mistakenly hug and accuse of being a pervert. And in typical romantic comedy fashion, we get this scene,

Will they or won't they?

Will they or won’t they?

This being television, it obviously happens. Even the “its my first kiss” confession happens too! I’m beginning to wonder about the originality of this show. Before either of them can recover, another group of people come in (her brother among them) and starts attacking. Makes me wonder if this is some kind of action show or not. The fight can best be summarized with this image,

What kind of wooden sword is our hero wielding? It can take punishment from a metallic blade and produce (dramatic (tm) ) sparks!

What kind of wooden practice sword is our hero wielding? It can take punishment from a metallic blade and produce sparks!

We wouldn’t have much of a story if our lead cast was caught just 10mins into the show, so by the power of plot armor, they all escape. The idea behind magic gets explained – apparently if you come into contact with magic as a child, you can become a magician, but once you become an adult without coming in contact with something magical, you can never become a magician. At this point, I guessed that it was the “accidental” kiss that made our hero magical. Was I correct?

It was the gunpowder residue that turned him magical! Next, we need a flashy costume...

It was the gunpowder residue that turned him magical! Next, we need a flashy costume…

Nope. Again, in the most cliche of ways this situation develops at the end of the episode,

Everyone's magical! Horray!!

Everyone’s magical! Horray!!

If it’s this easy to become magical, I’m shocked that it isn’t more wide-spread. The matter can’t be left as it is, so the “mystery” girl asks them to follow her to her magic school. I wish the Harry Potter books would have transferred magic in this manner – for no better reason than to see Dudley’s expression when he realizes that he can do impossible things.

As for this anime overall, I. don’t. know. There’s nothing in here that specifically attracts me but nothing that repels me either. Sure, I’ve been a bit mean in the review, but what show exists that does not have a check-list of cliches? The tvtropes wiki wouldn’t exist otherwise!

Will I do episode 2? Again, I. don’t. know.

How does she know it's "that girl''s first name anyway? She hasn't been introduced yet!

How does she know it’s “that girl”s first name anyway? She hasn’t been introduced yet (to above childhood friend)!

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