By Tsutomu Sato and Kana Ishida. Released in Japan as “Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei” by Dengeki Bunko. Released in North America by Yen On. Translated by Andrew Prowse.
Just because a large majority of the cast go “eurgh” whenever Miyuki is snuggling up to her brother does not mean that the writer is not leaning on the incest subtext as hard as he possibly can. Indeed, one can’t happen without the other. And since a lot of this book is Minami suffering through watching the siblings be “embarrassing”, or noticeably avoiding saying anything in order not to upset the powerful teenager with a hair-trigger killer ice move, there is an awful lot of my least favorite plot element in this series in this book. I made a promise to myself that I would hold out till the 16th book – this is, after all, one of Dengeki Bunko’s ‘flagship’ series, alongside titles such as Sword Art Online and A Certain Magical Index… which also have issues. We’ll see why I chose Book 16 in the summer. Till then, fortunately, there is more to this book than just snuggling against Tatsuya, though it suffers from being part one of two.
The Thesis Competition is coming around again, though this year Tatsuya is not involved – at least not directly. He’s going to be doing security, given what happened at the last event. Unfortunately, he’s also still dealing with fallout from the last couple of books – in particular, Gongjin Zhou’s whereabouts, which likely will impact a lot of things going forward. The ancient magicians are taking interest in him and his friends as well. Fortunately, trying to locate the base of these magicians allows him to travel to Nara and make a new friend. Possibly unfortunately, Minoru is, of course, probably going to be a major enemy down the road, particularly if they’re dealing with the parasites that have been cropping up for a while. Fortunately, he’s on their side for now, and is a nice, polite, pretty and very powerful young man. Possibly unfortunately, Minami falls for him – hard.
When you snip out discussion of magic and incest, what little is left in this series is action, and the action is very good. We even get the death of a character we’d seen before, which surprised me, and their death also impacts Mayumi, who is unable to get much information out of her “I am evil and sneering” dad. (Their relationship makes em think of Tokiomi and Rin.) Mayumi also gets to be in possible the funniest scene of the book, where she’s having lunch and discussing things with Mari and tries to deny that she’s in love with Tatsuya, a denial that is rather pathetic – she’s trying to say they’re like a big sister and little brother, but this is NOT the series to say that in. And it is nice – although, as Tatsuya and Miyuki acknowledge, rather odd – for Maya to actually ask Tatsuya to do a thing, rather than order him.
As I noted, this is Book 1 or 2, so I expect the second half will have a lot more action and payoff. Till then, this remains a good series provided you strip out the incest and magic talk – which, alas, leaves about 50 pages per book.