The original anime series of Mahou Tsukai ni Taisetsu na Koto in 2004 came out with a very refreshing mix of magic and reality. Despite some of its flaws and the somewhat average climax of its conclusion, it proves to a potent mix of character development and plot involvement in a slice of life series. The second series continues to play with this parallel world where magic is considered to be a special entitlement, but is usually channeled into proper use for society.
With the unique use of artistic photogenic scenery art and simplistic character design, episode 2 goes on with Sora experiencing life in a hectic and hot Tokyo. Will she get used to the complexity of urban life, compared to her rather peaceful environment in Bie?
Sora reached Tokyo, as she struggles with the transportation system of Tokyo. She needed to go to the Bureau of Magic for her training and eventually took a bus from the airport. In another scene, a cap wearing boy named Gouta receives some money from his father for his allowance during apprenticeship. He seemed to be somewhat irate to go for the apprenticeship, and also told his father to worry about his own issues rather than his.
Sora, on her travels, managed to save the crowd from a major accident on the road by stopping a derailed lorry that flew down from an overhead causeway. She also met Gouta, who tried to bring an old lady across the road. Sora told Gouta that she is going for his apprenticeship, with Gouta saying sarcastically that she needed no such thing. She asked Gouta for directions, but Gouta tells her to walk to the train station.
On the way to the Bureau, Sora narrated about magic, and that it is hereditary. She also mentioned that the apprenticeship is made up of two objectives. The first objective is to get a personal experience during home stay with a registered magic user. The second objective is to learn the history and gain training at the Bureau of Magic. After a successful stint, the apprentice will be registered as an official magic user.
Sora got to the Bureau late and tried to sneak in the classroom. However, her luggage skidded on the floor, and she was caught by Kawada-sensei. After making her self-introduction, they did a written test on their knowledge of magic. During the break, she talked to Hiyori, one of the students. Hiyori made fun of Sora’s rather amusing self-introduction (she said she had a dog called Joe, and has a motto of Trial and error).
The afternoon test was to transform water in a container into ice. Sora was supposed to group with Gouta, but Gouta somehow wanted to transfer out of the class for no reason. Sora managed to change the water to a chandelier-like structure, and many apprentices were in awe of her lively power. Kuroda and Asagi were two other apprentices introduced in this segment, and they seemed to be rather competitive.
The two started to argue about their ice creation and how they were better. Asagi also asked about the possibility of resurrection magic, and it is berated by Kawada as an urban myth. Kawada also warned the students that magic is to be used for society, and not as an item for competition.
Sora was given instructions by Kuroda to get to her home stay, but is waylaid by the beautiful fusion of old and new architecture. She finally gets to Shimokitazawa, where she meets Hara-sensei, her home stay supervisor for her apprenticeship. Hara also told her that there would be another apprentice in this place. After putting her luggage in the room, she realized that it was Gouta.
Way to go for scenery rape. I think Totali agrees with me that the artistic style of using real images of buildings and infusing animation gives a very stylish feel about the anime. It’s really a black and white argument on whether it is good or bad. I think animation is supposed to provide creativity and fuse the surreal with reality in an eclectic mix. Many of the common things of Japanese culture (temples etc) gives this strong feeling that it is a very real world.
Sora develops a little, with her rather energetic but klutzy character pulling me in. She is very open and innocent for a 16 year old, but that is to be expected from a rural girl who has not seen the urban landscape of Tokyo. I think that her innocence might be challenged by Gouta with the next few episodes, since she has an overly idealistic view of the world in my opinion. Of course, I will probably be proven wrong, but I think the next episode should show her weakness in urban life.
The thing I like most about this episode is the accompanying music and ambiance during the whole show. It has a very clean feel with an acoustic insert song just excellent for building that serene mood in this series. I am not sure whether anyone has been taking note of the many calming soft sounds while the scenery plays. The insert song talks about love that is hesitant, a melancholic song. Please wait for Whitelight Subs for the translation ^^
Among Sora’s friends, I particularly like Gouta. If you think of it, many of these people seem to think of magic as a superior thing. I have this strange vibe that Gouta finds that his magical affinity is in fact a curse rather than something that he should be thankful of. The contrasting characters in the same home stay, Sora and Gouta, will be instrumental to bringing the two characters to a new development in their lives.
In all, it is developing well with its slow pace. A question as usual before I end: what do you think causes Gouta’s rather apathetic behavior toward magic?