The Irregular at Magic High School Vol. 1 Review

514dZlgJw4L._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_Title: The Irregular at Magic High School: Enrollment Arc 1
Author: Tsutomu Sato (Story), Kana Ishida (Illustrations)
Publisher: Yen Press
Language: English
Format: Paperback
Pages: 208
Genre: Shounen, Battle, Fantasy
Publication Date: April 19, 2016

The Story

The Irregular at Magic High School is a great story portraying a strong male lead in a world that has advanced to the point where magic and technology have gone hand in hand. In this world, magic can be used in everyday lives, mostly for the use of combat, but only by those who possess the skill to do so. In this world, magic itself is practically a skill which can be trained and developed through time, but in order to implement this skill, technology or machines known as CADs must be used. CADs have the ability to cast magic spells instantly. People can still cast spells by chanting incantations, but for many people it takes too much time to do so. Owning a CAD makes casting magic much easier. It’s almost on the point of cheating.

This novel revolves around Tatsuya Shiba and his sister Miyuki enrolling within an elite school where only the best magic users go to train and hone their craft. The nice little twist here is the school does accept others who are not highly adept at magic, but for a whole other purpose. Upon entrance, due to certain circumstances, Tatsuya is seen as a failure while Miyuki is deemed a prodigy and given the role of class representative. In fact, she’s even giving the welcome speech at the opening class ceremonies.

Because of his being branded a failure, Tatsuya is known as a “Weed.” At Magic High School, the emblem is a flower and those who are highly skilled at magic are known as “Blooms.” Should a Bloom fail, drop out, or just can’t hack it, they are replaced with a Weed. That is Tatsuya’s role is to be one of those replacements. Weeds have to independently learn how to hone their craft and can’t rely on the resources that the Blooms receive. This makes life much, much harder for them. It is a way for the school to see who can prove themselves.

One thing that did bother me a bit about this novel is that the introductions to magic are very long-winded. Often times, I found the novel repeating information or re-affirming what was said already. I understand that this is a light novel and not a manga and the lack of page to page images needs to be compensated with detailed explanation, but I felt that it was overdone quite a bit. Almost if the author kept reminding you about the world every chance he got. Information in a novel is a good thing, but, again, it could have been dialed back just a bit here. That’s my own real major complaint about this novel from a story standpoint. 

Some people would argue another down point would be that this novel makes you think. I’ve actually seen complaints from people about that and to that I have to shake my head in disbelief. Books are supposed to make you think and the more a novel keeps you guessing, the more intriguing it becomes. In the first volume, we are made to think about the Weeds and the Blooms, which in turn, leads you to think about the school overall. Then in the third chapter, they start hinting towards the student council president, Mayumi and how she began to treat Tatsuya differently. All these little nuances make you think about things right out of the gate.

The first volume wraps up with the introduction of the Nine School Competition. Different clubs who participated in this battle could achieve some perks such as a bigger budget or some of the club members’ statuses within the school being raised. This caused the need to recruit members to reach a boiling point with each club and a fierce aggressive campaign would be the result of this urgent need. One of the focuses of this new story arc is the kendo club which I will touch upon in just a bit in the characters sections, but the story so far has been rather interesting and well-paced, save for the lengthy explanations. If you can get past that then the story alone makes for a great read!

Characters

We get a nice group of characters in the first volume of The Irregular at Magic High School . They help introduce us to the world and draw us into it.

While I touched upon Tatsuya and Miyuki in the story section, I wanted to say I enjoyed the brother/sister comedy that ensued between them. Miyuki comes off as having a bit of an obsession for her brother. Despite the difference in their social statuses at the school, she wants to go home with him every day. Even at home, she’ll make him food, coffee, etc and just sit there, quietly as he eats/drinks. This leads to a bit of an altercation when she wanted to eat lunch with Tatsuya and a couple of the other Weeds he made friends with. That didn’t sit too went with some of Miyuki’s classmates as they didn’t want to be seen eating with a bunch of Weeds. A lot of brother/sister complex characters typically come off as annoying, but I didn’t really get that here with Tatsuya and Miyuki. The author did a great job of pulling this off correctly.

Mayumi Saegusa, the student council president, is getting some interesting development. She starts off by running into Tatsuya before the opening ceremonies take place. She seemed friendly enough for someone who holds such a high position in the school. She is also given a bit of background when Tatsuya realizes that she’s one of the numbers, who are people who possess high magic skill and ability that come from renown families within the magic world. The little twist from her being friendly to the way she speaks to Tatsuya half way through the book shows that there is really more than meets the eye with this character.

We are also introduced to a few side characters almost out of the gate as well. When Tatsuya sits himself down at the entrance ceremony, a bespectacled girl named Mizuki Shibata takes a seat next to him and then is joined by Erika Chiba. They even make reference to the similarity in names by stating “Shiba, Shibata, and Chiba. This has to be a pun, right?” In fact, I’m starting to notice a lot of similarity between names as well. Miyuki, Mizuki, Mayumi, etc. Without the aid of illustrations, it gets a bit difficult to remember who is who when the story talks about certain characters.

Erika is a firecracker of a character and a bit of a tsundere while Mizuki comes off as a bit peculiar to Tatsuya when he notices that her glasses are not for seeing nor reading. This introduces us to how some people can perceive magic particles and that their eyes are too sensitive in their perception so they need special glasses to help aid with that. Mizuki just happens to be one of those people who are sensitive to magic particles. If you’re into science, then you’ll love the explanation that the novel gives as it dives into things such as bosons in order to explain this property in people. Erika and Mizuki end up in the same glass as Tatsuya, which is Class E and they hang out a lot to the point where their little gathering is referred to as “the usual.”

A couple of other side characters, Sayaka Mibu and Takeaki Kirihara both belong to the kendo club with Sakaya being a Weed and Takeaki being a Bloom. Sayaka ends up besting Takeaki in a duel to the point where is seems to hurt his pride. He then wanted to fight Sayaka with a real sword and even takes a swing at her with it. Tatsuya ended up being the one to break this up before something serious happened though by sending psions into their bodies through his CAD. Takeaki’s reaction to Tatsuya is another case of the Blooms looking down upon the Weeds and it helped continue the prejudiced atmosphere. Why Tatsuya is there is a bit of a spoiler in his character development, but I would rather you read and discover that on your own.

Final Thoughts

In the first volume of The Irregular at Magic High School , we get a healthy dose of characters, a detailed (yet drawn out) description of the school and of the world, mystery and intrigue with different characters and their backgrounds, the principles of magic, and an advancement of story and plot. This is a very well-rounded first volume that goes above and beyond expectations of what an introductory story should be. While the explanations could cause you to lose a bit of interest, I guarantee you that once you get past that and get into the meat and potatoes of the story, it will quickly hook your attention and draw you in.

The fact that the novel makes you think is another great facet to it. With the little nuances and twists in some of the characters, it makes you begin to question everything and everyone. A great beginning to what I can tell will be a great series! It has my recommendation.

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This item was provided for review by Yen Press

About The Author

Josh Piedra

Josh (or J.J. as some have come to call him), is a long-time geek culture enthusiast with a deep passion for anime, manga and Japanese culture. Josh also has a Bachelor of Arts in Game Design and is a creative writer who has created original content for over 20 years! He is also the author of the original English light novel Final Hope.