“In which we get to watch Magical Tennis.”
You know, a lot of this episode reminds me of professional wrestling. On the most superficial level, the characters are dressed up in flamboyant themed costumes for the Ice Pillars Break event—be that a fencer, horseback rider, or witch. However, what really screams “pro wrestling” is the storytelling method being used here to frame both our heroes and their rivals. Basically, Airi, Shiori, Miyuki, and Eimi are all given jobber matches—i.e., matches against people who serve no other purpose than to get stomped on—in order to showcase their overwhelming prowess. It’s the simplest way to make the girls look powerful and get us hyped about seeing them face off against each other.
However, there is one pair left out: Toko and Honoka. While we saw them have their own squash matches last week, it didn’t tell us much about Toko other than that she’s good at surfing and enjoys the hell out of it. In other words, Toko remains an unknown. We know what drives our heroines as well as Airi and Shiori but not Toko. This inherent mystery makes her captivating to watch, especially since the majority of her interactions are with her rival, Honoka. Instead of building her up by showing her magical skill, the show highlights her intuition—the fact that she can seemingly read Honoka’s mind. In a very real way, this makes her far more of a threat than Airi. While Airi has super speed, it feels like Toko could defeat her if she wanted to. And Toko’s happy-go-lucky attitude only makes you wonder what would happen if she ever got truly serious.
The other big thing this episode does is set up the looming battle between Airi and Miyuki. As a consequence, one thing becomes obvious: Airi is everything that most people believe Miyuki to be. When people look at Miyuki, they see a peerless beauty and the epitome of a traditional lady. She appears to be calm, collected, and as cool as the ice magic she regularly wields. Much of the same could be said for Airi as well—hence why they are obvious rivals. However, the key difference between them is one of pride.
While not a member of one of the main families, Airi is high enough up the chain that there are massive expectations laid upon her. Thus, she feels the need to show her superiority—to climb to the top to show her value to the world. And when it comes down to it, she is only interested in those who have the ability to stand at the pinnacle with her, namely those like Shiori and Toko.
Miyuki, on the other hand, has no such pride. While she comes from a main family—and is in the running to be the next heir—she cares nothing for her own accomplishments nor the expectations of her family. In fact, her family name is a burden she would love to escape rather than a role she longs to fill. Her “Yamato Nadeshiko” outer shell is nothing but a mask she wears—a mask that hides the highly emotional girl beneath. Due to how the world at large views Tatsuya, she rejects the elitism of the magic society and doesn’t care at all about how powerful or useful her friends are. In fact, the only reason she keeps on her “perfect lady” mask is because she wants to look good in front of her brother.
What this means is that the impending faceoff has completely different levels of stakes for the two rivals. If Miyuki loses, all it would mean to her is some personal embarrassment for looking bad in front of her brother—something that would be all but forgotten the moment he reassured her that he was in no way disappointed with her.
However, for Airi, a loss here would have major implications for both her outlook and her future. Airi has always been the best at whatever she has done. She has never had to face failure personally. While she can give a tsundere pep talk to her friends when they lose, that doesn’t necessarily mean she can do the same for herself. Of course, she’s likely to face such a defeat all too soon—after all, does anyone really think that Miyuki isn’t going to win in the end?
• The events of this episode correspond with the back half of episode 12 and all of episode 13 of The irregular at magic high school.
• This episode did a much better job of weaving new and old story elements together than previous episodes so far.
• The conversation with Tatsuya about not getting credit for his new spell is highly truncated—but, oddly, this makes it all the more personal.
• Eimi’s specialty is building-moving magic. I find that hilarious.
• It’s interesting that they skipped Shizuku’s first Ice Pillars Break fight but not Miyuki’s.
• I love the updated Ice Pillars Break costume for Miyuki. The red highlights make her look a billion times more badass.
• The most pedantic change I noticed? In the original, there was a mistake on the jumbotron. While Miyuki’s opponent was a fourth high student, the logo behind her was fifth high’s logo. In this episode, the correct logo has been placed behind her. (Also, her costume is now one of a witch rather than a baseball player.)