“In which our heroine shoots magical lasers.”
The Honor Student at Magic High School is a series perpetually trapped by its own status as a side story to The Irregular at Magic High School. While there have been some completely new story beats thanks to new characters like the Third High trio or background-characters-turned-main-characters like Eimi, it doesn’t change the underlying fact that we already know everything that is going to happen in detail with our heroines. But here’s something I think we viewers forget a lot of the time: the storyteller is just as important as the story being told.
This episode has two big events: Shizuku versus Miyuki and Honoka consoling Shizuku when she is crushed by her loss. Both of these events are covered in the original series, but they are little more than footnotes in Tatsuya’s secret battle against the organized crime syndicate attempting to profit off of the Nine Schools Competition. This series, however, doesn’t even need to mention Tatsuya’s entire plotline.
You see, even though this is the same overall story told through a different viewpoint, there is actually a massive amount of freedom in the way the story can be told. Miyuki and Shizuku’s Ice Pillar Break battle took only two minutes in the original anime. Here, it’s spread out over twelve-and-a half minutes. This additional runtime adds more tension by walking us through each step of the battle—not only showing us what is happening but also explaining to us why what we’re seeing is so special. Then, there are the new flashback scenes that establish the personal stakes behind the fight, be that Shizuku trying to live up to Tatsuya’s impossible expectations or Miyuki coming to terms with the fact that, just because she has talent, it doesn’t mean she can slack off. It’s a massive improvement over the original in every way.
The same goes for the post-battle scene. Shizuku crying in the shower to hide her tears and Honoka bursting in to comfort her friend, embracing her even as she gets soaked, is far more emotionally effective than the two of them just sitting together in their hotel room. It shows that while Shizuku seems emotionally withdrawn, she is not devoid of feelings—even if she tries to hide that fact from herself sometimes. Likewise, Honoka comes off far more compassionate, caring more about her friend’s mental pain than ruining a school uniform or psychical discomfort.
The additional scene of the impromptu party bookends both the scenes nicely. It shows that neither Shizuku nor Miyuki harbor any kind of lasting negative feelings toward each other. It also points out that Miyuki, despite loving being doted upon by her brother would not have wanted to win because he held back on supporting Shizuku. She’s both a proud magician in her own right and someone who respects her friend’s feelings enough to answer them in kind.
So on one hand, this was one of the least original episodes of the series when it comes to the events being shown on screen. On the other, this version of events was infinitely better than what is seen in the original show. It shows just how much of an impact the storyteller has on the story—even a story that has already been told before.
• Perhaps someday, someone with too much time on their hands will stitch this series and the original into a kind of definitive version of events.
• Once again, we get to see a bit of the inherent contradiction that is at Miyuki’s core: She wants everyone to see how special her brother is, but at the same time, she gets jealous when his focus is on someone other than her.
• It was nice to see the Mirage Bat Qualifiers this time around—especially with the focus on showing that Honoka’s light-vision makes her able to see the holograms long before anyone else.
• I hope we don’t spend too much screen time on Tatsuya and the Monolith Code team in the coming episodes. I’d rather spend all that time on the Mirage Bat events.
• The fact that Shizuku struggles to use even use two specific spells at once with two CADs makes Toko’s dual-wielding of numerous ancient magic and modern magic spells all the more impressive.
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