Fall 2015 Harem Challenge Part 3: Anti-Magic Academy: The 35th Test Platoon- Silver Link’s Guide on Wasted Potential

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Fall 2015 Harem Challenge Part 3: Anti-Magic Academy: The 35th Test Platoon- Silver Link’s Guide on Wasted Potential

Here it is, the final contender for our Harem Challenge, Anti Magic Academy: The 35th Test Platoon.

And before anyone asks, yes I skipped a week of episodes but oh well, not much worth mentioning happened.

Normally, Light novel adaptations that are rushed never bother me. This is primarily because I don’t read that many light novels because I am aware through my own research and experiences to know that most of them are honestly the same. Even through my friends am I told that some light novels are completely beyond help and I have begun to despise the very setting “reincarnating in a different” world setting, as well as the RPG-ish setting with stat buffs and the likes. Truth be told, the main problem lies with actual translation works as well, with some of the things I’d want to read not being translated or something similar. So it’s safe to say, most of the time, I’m indifferent to LN adaptations.

To the best of my abilities, I will try to be unbiased as possible. But even so, there’s a lot to discuss. So what in the hell went wrong? Well let’s get down to it.

The Setting

Anti Magic Academy takes place in a world where magic and its practitioners are branded as “heretics” by the militant and governmental authority known as the Inquisition. The academy itself is an affiliated facility to train young boys and girls to become Inquisitors after they graduate. Students are placed into platoons where they fulfill missions to earn points and become experienced members of the Inquisition. Kusanagi Takeru is the frequently ridiculed sword-master and the hapless leader of the equally help-less 35th Platoon whose current members are the panic stricken sniper, Saionji Usagi, and the lazy technological genius, Suginami Ikaruga. The platoon’s constant lack of success put them in a tight position until they are joined by the recently demoted prodigy, Ohtori Ouka and their platoon takes on an assignment that changes their lives.

Just by the simple fact that this series doesn’t involve tournaments puts it at the highest position in this season’s challenge. Yes it’s still a highschool and yes it starts off with a walk-in scene. Granted, the Takeru’s walk in on Usagi avoided the trope of him meeting the “main” girl but I still don’t exactly excuse it. Of course, the fact that we already have two characters who know the main character sort of helps. Usually, series like this will have one or two girls to start with but I like that they have 2 already established “members” in the group to start off with. Avoiding tropes is something this series manages to do a bit better than the others.

The Characters

Anti Magic Anime Cast

The eyecatches were one of the highlights of the series.

Takeru is probably the best main character out of the three. I say this because Ayato is a lifeless doll who can’t even move the plot on his own while Ikki, while pretty decent, has those moments where I just want to punch him in the throat. Takeru wasn’t nearly as boring and wasn’t nearly as nice so by being in the middle ground, I liked him far better. That’s not to mention the voice work, which gets its own paragraph in their relevant section. He uses a sword though and the setting shits on him for that but also rewards him a sense so at least there’s some effect on him there. Takeru’s goals are only revealed at the adaptation’s end-game but his goals are existent and is shown instead of just mentioned and never brought up like Ayato is. This is a surprising point because a good chunk of Takeru’s character is barely shown. His disregard for the stigma against witches due to his “outsider” upbringing and his easy-to-anger attitude that relates to his lineage. On the “main girl” section, we have Ohtori Ouka, someone who is not a foreign princess, doesn’t have a shade of red-pink hair, and actually uses guns with blood-based abilities instead of fire. Ouka previously was an Inquisitor and is clearly motivated to seek revenge of the death of her family, something Takeru was willing to help her with if it meant befriending everybody and out of his own interests. Protecting the ones you care about is overdone but I think I can forgive it in a setting like this (you can just smell the bias, huh).

Now comes the dynamic that proved itself superior to the other two: The Team. Takeru and Ouka are joined by Usagi, Ikaruga, Mari, and Lapis. The 35th Platoon suffers from a serious case of overspecialization and it requires good teamwork for them to win their battles. Everybody manages to stay decently relevant and instead of side commentary, they’re actually trying to help one another survive. Lapis gets some mention because nearly all of her scenes are pretty much cut, but that’s the least of my worries because her actual development arc is actually Volume 6. Surprisingly enough, the “One girl per Volume” development actually helped out in this series with some level of relevance playing off the fact that all the characters have a role to play outside their focus volume.

The Side characters while downgraded in the adaptation were reasonable. Sougetsu is a scheming asshole, Kurogane is an absolute badass, Haunted was literally the director of the series in making any person who read the light novels face-palm when watching the adaptation, and the likes. I would say most of it was done right until the last two episodes. One thing I liked was that nearly all of the side characters with the sole exception of an originally designed Suzaku Suginami were mostly adults. You have no idea how much that makes me accept a setting a bit more seriously when the high-ranking officers of a military organization and the likes are reasonably aged and experienced. It helps to have not too many of them too. Between showing off way too many side characters like in Asterisk while having none that matter in Rakudai, Anti Magic seemed to have SOME focus on its side characters. All in all the side characters were there and implied something else going on outside of the main crew’s antics, even if it was cut out, and annoyed me the least.

The Presentation

So with two good judgments so far, non-regular readers might think “Oh this might be worth a watch” and the next mini-section might keep that guise up but let’s get all the good things out of the way before I tear into this when the time comes. First off, both the Opening and Ending songs are pretty good, hell, the entire OST is pretty nice to listen too. The opening is nowhere near as visually impressive as the others but it focuses on the “team” the most and also has the few frames Funny how the OST artist is someone relatively unknown (he’s got a Soundcloud) made a lasting impression on me more so than Asterisk’s music with Rasmus Faber. Possibly one of the greatest points about this series is the voice acting. You might think I’m referring to the array of voice actresses voicing the assorted amount of girls we have, and of course, I won’t deny that since we’ve got Ookubo Rumi, Nozomu Iori, Itou Kanae, and Shiraishi Ryoko in the main crew alone. On the “side” characters side we’ve got Ohara Sayaka and Arai Satomi, both voicing characters who only show up for around 2-3 episodes combined. On the relative newcomer’s side, Ouka’s VA did an impressive job in giving a character like her the rather rough voice of someone who dedicated her life to vengeance. Anzai Chika also did a great job with Kiseki as well, although, that “side” of the adaptation will be addressed real soon. Nero’s VA (shared by Yoshimizu) also did exceedingly well in the 30 seconds of what we’ve got with her. Last but not least, Nagaru’s VA also perfectly fit the image I had in mind.

Perfect Voices

You cannot comprehend how sad I am that I will never hear these voices speak their more memorable lines from future novels.

The real bombshell in the voice-actor spectrum were the males. Think about that for a second, male voice domination in a series categorized as a harem, that’s saying something. Takeru was voiced by Hosoya, the savior of Rakudai and his assertive and angry voice perfectly fit him. Kyouya was pretty much ruined in the adaptation but as far as voices go, his voice also had the anger pretty instilled in him, another perfect fit since story-wise they were “friends” for a while before Takeru got slightly less perpetually pissed. It’s also disgustingly fitting he’s the voice of Mista from Jojo who uses guns, and Kyouya fights with one so that pleased my inner fanboy. Anime-only watchers only get a hint of what kind of person Kurogane is but in the novels, he’s actually one of the strongest characters in the series and rightfully holds his position in the Inquistion (Strong enough to make Jesus Tatsuya from Mahouka take a second-glance). Once again, another perfect voice that fits his near-zero emotion and work-based nature. Orochi was completely unnecessary in the adaptation but even his voice was surprising to hear. I had previously envisioned Fujiwara Keiji but got fucking KOYAMA RIKIYA instead.  Koji Yusa’s Haunted was another wonder with his semi-flamboyant tone fitting the insane priest wonderfully with his skewed logic. Last but not least, Miki Shinichiro basically reprises his role from Trinity Seven, only this time as the series’ true villain as Sougetsu keeps the guise of a fun-loving and considerate principal when he’s actually something worse. Voice were, without any exaggeration, Fucking.Perfect.

Now comes the sour portion of this review, the main crux of what made the series fail despite what it had going for it. While it is not unthinkable to adapt 5 volumes in 12 episodes, there were some issues that became more relevant as the series continued. This wasn’t that big of an issue for Episodes 1-4 that covered Volumes 1-2 but then it started going more downhill when Volumes 3-5 were involved. An entire fight scene in Volume 4 was cut out while Volume 3 was completely rushed with few explanations given and I don’t even want to start with what Volume 5 turned into. Critical story elements were changed by the series and lack of foreshadowing removed most of the intensity in Volume 5. Anti Magic’s setting is clearly something different from the other two series, and the adaptation didn’t do a satisfactory job with conveying that. It’s world is something comparatively unique and dark but the focus on fanservice took precedence. Paired with the lack of proper world-building, a lot of the underlying plot in the series wasn’t addressed all that much, which also applies to the foreshadowing portion missing as well. A small example of the world building would be the five different branches of the Inquisition as well the fact that after the events of Volume 1, the body count of students were considerably high and some of the academy students flat out quit, a bunch of these smaller details go unmentioned.

The underlying plot lies with Sougetsu and how his shady demeanor, which was still apparent in the anime, had something else in mind entirely over the course of the series and is shown in the events in Volume 3 with his intent to start a war. Instead of pursuing “justice” he just wanted an excuse to start a fight. Kurogane himself had issues with Sougetsu’s methods and threatened him by Volume 5 while Kyouya had three scenes prior to meeting Takeru again in Volume 5, where his circumstances come across as slightly more sympathetic while the anime didn’t bother mentioning his stake in the ordeal at all. All of these plot elements come to light and coincide with the interests of the 35th Platoon in the events of Volume 5 and the series radically changes afterwards, but with how Volume 5 was adapted, that is pretty much ruined. There’s a lot of content in the novels because of this but this adaptation suffered the most given the 12 episode frame. But even then, this wouldn’t have been such a glaring problem if Episode 9 didn’t exist. To anyone that cares, everything before Kyouya’s fight with Takeru with Kiseki in the truck actually happened but for the sake informing the uninformed, allow me to summarize.

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Kyouya flat out mutilates Kiseki and taunts Takeru over it when he shows up and the two end up getting into a incomparably intense fight than what we got in the adaptation. Up until the the point where Takeru rushes toward Kyouya and the two are about to strike eachother is where the divergence truly begins. Takeru doesn’t land that Yamata-no-Orochi, even sped up with Soumatou, Kyouya was able to keep up with his speed and landed his point blank buckshot on Takeru instead. Kyouya was able to do this because Nero’s abilities involve poison and he was able to drug himself hard enough to keep up with Takeru’s reaction time. However, the poison also completely destroys his body and his accelerated healing ability was instead given to Yoshimizu’s comatose clone. Utilizing Nero was the only means open to him to save her and that important basis of his character was never mentioned. Kyouya gets a building fall on him, survives, and THEN gets disarmed by Ouka and he falls off the guard railing.

Takeru is pretty much half dead and because of Kyouya, Kiseki wakes up with the flesh mass increasing. Takeru and Ouka try to confront her but Kanaria, the blue haired elf girl, knocks Takeru unconscious and Kiseki mistakes this for Takeru dying and goes fully berserk. Ouka makes her contract with Vlad in order to buy time to save her comrades who take the unconscious Takeru away and the adaptation does decent again for a bit before Takeru’s God Hunter form. Takeru departs from his team’s location and confronts Kiseki, and fights Kanaria, who he easily beats. Takeru tries to commit the double suicide but gives up at the end and Orochi comes in an annihilates Kiseki and separates her from Takeru, who gets knocked out again. Mari previously followed Takeru and Orochi follows Orochi and Kanaria who take away Takeru and Lapis but they are stopped from retrieving Kiseki’s severed head from the Inquisition forces. Sougetsu arrives and comes to an agreement to have Orochi take Takeru away while they keep Kiseki within the Inquisition’s control. By the end of Volume 5, the 35th Platoon is halved, with Takeru, Lapis, and Mari in the safe haven for magic users while Ouka, Ikaruga, and Usagi are punished by being sent off to war.

Last but not least, let’s address the issue of the fight scenes and the animation. On the whole, the Slice of life school moments are acceptable, nothing to really complain about and I feel like a good majority of the anime designs are nice as well. In terms of fights, not a single one of them were presentable. The CG Witch Hunter armor is janky and feels so unnatural, and this also goes for the other enemies that are done through CG. Hell, in the series, no one but Takeru gets a helmet when he enters God Hunter form so they only made helmet designs so they could keep everything CG. I really mean it when I say that the fights are one of the better things in this series and not a single fight moment in the adaptation was done well, it’s a damn shame really. The brutality in which the series portrays its fights and the smaller, more cooler details are pretty much removed as well.

The Verdict

TMG_v05_0003

Even with its flaws, the characters and the setting alone inspired me to read ahead around the time Usagi’s arc aired. All I feel for the anime is disappointment with its amazing voicing talent and the decent soundtrack being wasted on a such hastily adapted mess. Episode 9 is pretty much all I find wrong with the series, with emphasis on the girls being way more prevalent than anything else. The fights are terrible and the pacing is breakneck at some points, yet I found myself liking the series before I even began reading the source material. Even with its faults, and even if I’m not exactly forgiving it, I can at least praise the series in what it did right and how it made it barely interesting enough for me to read.

Unfortunately, the novels have been taken down but I can point you in the right direction but snooping around some relevant discussion with someone who knows the series will allow you to find them. All in all, with everything considered, I still “enjoyed” Anti Magic the most with a smaller amount of cliches I hated. Yet still, a lingering feeling of disappointment lies in me knowing that the series had a lot going for it but just never was given that chance to be better. Do I want a second season? Hell no, that would only make for even more contrived and original reasons to force the plot forward in the awkward position it got itself into and butchering the better portions of the series would be unforgivable.

So there we have it, that concludes our seasonal harem challenge with these rankings. See you when I talk about Shomin Sample and One Punch Man.

Adaptation-Wise

Rakudai > Asterisk > AntiMagic

Personal Thoughts

AntiMagic> Rakudai > Asterisk

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