Despite the low stakes, this episode is one of the best—if not the best—episode of the series so far. Past episodes have presented events of the main series from Miyuki, Honoka, Shizuku, and Eimi’s perspectives, but since they are within Tatsuya sphere of influence, following them often does little more than add a bit of insight into what they are thinking in the original.
This episode, on the other hand, takes the point of view structure one step further and shows us events of the story from a completely external (and original) source—i.e., Shiori. We get a firsthand look at how she views Shizuku and how she is smart enough to go to her own school’s “Tatsuya”—i.e., Cardinal George—to help her plan her own strategy for taking Shizuku down. What’s cool about this is that we can see that the third high students are more than competent in their own right. They correctly identify what Shizuku is doing and how she is doing it. However, what they can’t predict is the existence of Tatsuya looming in the background—i.e., that he would be able to get Shizuku a prototype weapon from Germany for no other reason than to overload Shiori’s computational skills.
The focus on Shiori also lets us do a deep dive into who she is as a character. Coming from a broken home, her skills as a fencer were her only form of escape—then she was bested by Airi. However, when Airi saw her worth, Shiori found a new path to greatness, training her magical skills in a unique way that was supposed to make her unstoppable. The hard-learned lesson for Shiori in this episode is that there is always going to be someone better than you out there. Unfortunately, this lesson all but breaks her. To her, even a single loss is tantamount to failing Airi, and she no longer sees herself as worthy of standing beside her best friend. Yet, just because Shiori views things this way, it doesn’t mean Airi does.
To Airi who had been expected to always be the best, finding someone who could almost stand toe-to-toe with her was a blessing. She cares far less about Shiori losing than about Shiori giving up. Unfortunately, Airi’s own ego and upbringing prevent her from explaining this to Shiori in a way that the depressed girl can understand. Good thing we have an upperclasswoman there to spell it all out for her.
The rest of the episode is used to show us things that happened off-screen in the main series—namely how Honoka and Tatsuya came up with her light attack and a bit of setup for her looming battle with Toko.
The other big standout of this episode is a scene that, once again, introduces a subtle change that speaks volumes about the complex relationship between Miyuki and her brother. In the original, Miyuki isn’t present for Tatsuya’s speech about why he’s not willing to claim to be the creator of Shizuku’s Air Mine spell. Adding a reflexively cringing Miyuki to the scene lets us see that his excuse is total BS: He doesn’t care a bit about being embarrassed for his slow activation time. He doesn’t want his name out there simply because he doesn’t want to be famous and ruin Miyuki’s normal life.
Tatsuya’s purpose in life is to do what will keep Miyuki safe and happy—his own self-worth is a distant second. However, what’s ironic is that every time he faces danger or sacrifices some accomplishment for her happiness, it makes her less happy. She knows how great her brother is and hates the imbalance in their relationship—even as she exploits it and revels in the love she receives.
That’s not to say that Tatsuya’s feelings for Miyuki aren’t real. However, she clearly knows that there’s a difference between him choosing to make her the most important thing in his life and him being forced to make her the most important thing in his life by having all other emotional connections stripped away. Every time he hurts himself for her sake, she can’t help but be reminded of this sad fact.
• This episode is set between the halfway points of episode 12 and episode 13 of The Irregular at Magic High School.
• Considering how Honoka sexualizes Miyuki in her daydreams, I wonder if the series is hinting that she wants Miyuki as much as she wants Tatsuya?
• I’ve always wondered: if Shizuku’s Air Mine breaks her opponent’s clay pigeons, do they get the points? If so, her AOE skeet shooting seems a lot more impractical than what we see here.
• I love that being on the other side of the bracket from Shizuku lets Eimi coast her way to second place.
• If you go back and watch the third high conference room scene in the original, you’ll notice a lack of blond and blue-haired characters as Airi and Toko didn’t yet exist.