“In which magical surfing feels a lot like an episode of Speed Racer.”
In general, The Honor Student at Magic High School is at its best when it either 1) fixes continuity issues from The Irregular at Magic High School in a way that better reflects who the characters are and will become, or 2) blazes its own path, telling new stories never before seen in the original. This week’s episode is one of the latter.
This entire episode takes place between the 05:00 and 06:15 mark in episode 14 of The Irregular at Magic High School. The only bit of overlap between the two series is the scene where Shizuku and Miyuki decide to fight it out rather than share first place between themselves and Eimi. The rest of the episode tells a brand new story.
The first half of the episode features Eimi’s Ice Pillar Break battle against Shiori. And while we’ve spent several episodes exploring who Shiori is as a character, this fight is not about her. It’s about Eimi.
Prior to this episode, Eimi feels a bit underutilized as a character. In the first arc of the story, we see how she, Shizuku, and Honoka work to protect Tatsuya and find the man trying to harm their friend’s brother. And while she has shown magical ability that earns her a spot in the honor student program, she doesn’t seem all that special—at least when compared to her friends. This episode reveals to us that her apparent mediocrity is actually a sign of the struggle going on within her.
Eimi is easily as talented as Shizuku or Honoka. However, while the aforementioned two girls had each other to battle against as equals growing up, Eimi had no such person. She was the outlier. As a child, it’s tough being smarter, faster, or stronger than those around you. I mean, what kid wants to play a game if they have no chance of winning against you? And that’s even before feelings like envy enter into the equation.
Instinctively understanding the problem from a young age, Eimi began limiting herself subconsciously. Whenever she won too frequently or overwhelmingly, she’d lose an equal amount of times to balance it out. She convinced herself that she wasn’t as good as she actually is, effectively limiting herself for the sake of social acceptance.
Now, however, Eimi is no longer the biggest fish in a small pond. At First High and the other schools are dozens of students on her level or higher. There is no need for her to limit herself any longer. It’s in the middle of the fight that she realizes this and decides that she wants to win and show she’s more than average. But more than that, she figures out that her mindset has been stunting her magic. As magic alters reality based on how the user imagines the world to be, a wishy-washy mindset can prevent a person from utilizing their full power. And so the moment that Eimi comes to terms with this truth, she is able to focus in a way she never has before and defeat her technically superior opponent in a flurry of raw power.
The second half of the episode is centered around Honoka and the Battle Board finals. While she doesn’t receive as deep a development as Eimi gets in the first half, there’s still a bit to unpack. Honoka is a people-pleaser and a pushover. Worse still, she has little faith in herself and what she can do. However, her track record so far has proven that she can succeed whenever she makes a plan and sticks to it. What’s different in the Battle Board finals is that she doesn’t have any of her closest friends cheering her on from the sidelines. This time, the battle is hers and hers alone—or at least it should be.
For better or for worse, Honoka’s greatest strength is her selflessness. She wants to win not for herself but to repay the support she has gotten along the way—namely from Tatsuya. This gives her the motivation to perform at her best. She is able to think on her feet and implement the strategies she and Tatsuya developed while responding to the wildcard that is Toko’s ability to use two forms of magic at once. It’s great to see her full of confidence and overcoming the odds to achieve victory. It demonstrates a real sense of growth, showing why she would be able to stand up to international terrorists and magical, body-snatching parasites over the coming months.
• I like how much attention has been paid to when the various events happen and who could be in the audience for each one.
• In the original, Eimi appears to not want to battle Shizuku or Miyuki simply out of fear. In this episode, it’s clear she is physically unable to compete—she can barely walk after using up every speck of magical energy in her body.
• Here’s how I interpret Honoka’s battle board races across the two series. In episode 13 of the original, we see the qualifiers. Then at the start of episode 14 of the original, we see the semi-finals (where everyone uses sun glasses). The race we see in this episode is the never-before-seen finals.
• Honoka needs to either A) get a wetsuit with better bust support or B) just give in and wear a sports bra under the darn thing.
• The idea that Toko can use two CADs at once—one for ancient magic and the other for modern magic—makes her a terrifying powerhouse.
• Given how strong Airi, Shiori, and Toko are, I really wish we could see them in a women’s Monolith Code event against Shizuku, Honoka, and Eimi. On a simulated battlefield, I have the feeling it would be the Third High girls that would come out on top.
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