The spin-off of the popular series The Irregular at Magic High School continues.
Although Tatsuya is a course 2 student, his intelligence and resourcefulness makes him a clear asset, and he is invited to join the prestigious Disciplinary Committee under the watchful eye of Mari Watanabe. Meanwhile, Miyuki performs her duties in the student council with president Mayumi Saegusa, Honoka and Shizuku get recruited by school clubs, and something sinister seems to be stirring trouble amongst the students.
Following the decent debut volume, Honor Student at Magic High School continues to delve into the environment of First High, which includes a bit more of an exploration of how the establishment is run. Since Miyuki is the freshman class representative, she is naturally asked to join the student council. From this, the student council is able to play a more prominent role in the story. Tatsuya, as a course 2 student, is not allowed to join the student council but is recruited to the Disciplinary Committee. While the actual duties of the student council are left relatively vague, the characters introduced, including the president Mayumi Saegusa and Disciplinary Committee head Mari Watanabe, help flesh out the increasingly large pool of characters and seem to indicate a decent level of potential depth in personalities.
As introduced in the first volume, the interesting setup of course 1 and course 2 students continues to appear to be about to serve as a source of conflict. If there’s one thing to be said for this volume, it’s that it is pretty decent at conveying multiple concurrent events quickly while still creating a slight feeling of suspense. This includes Tatsuya’s battles as a member of the disciplinary committee, the introduction of what seems to be an antagonist, and the various activities of Miyuki, Honoka, and Shizuku. Since the story is told from the perspective of the female side of the cast (especially Miyuki), the opportunity to witness events from the original series unfold at a different angle still is a very appealing aspect of the manga for those that have watched or read previous versions, and Honor Student takes advantage of this.
At two volumes in, one of the primary concerns that has arisen for me is pacing. Much of the volume makes important events feel too short. For example, the vice president of the student council, Hattori, gets into an argument with Tatsuya over his course 2 status and challenges him to a duel. Instead of drawing the admittedly short but important fight, artist Yu Mori chose to essentially skip through it in a couple of panels. The characters talking about the battle took substantially longer than the fight itself, and the visual direction away from the action seemed a bit odd and definitely diminished the effect of the moment for me. However, although individual events might feel passed over too quickly by the story, the overall plot hasn’t actually really gone anywhere yet despite the story already having gone through eleven chapters. Both this volume and the first volume still feel very much like setup, and so the story drags a bit.
I mentioned the lack of illustration for Tatsuya’s battle with Hattori as a way of explaining pacing issues, but the event also serves as a good starting point for a discussion of the art in general. As you might gather, Yu Mori seems to shy away from drawing action scenes in general, instead focusing character emotions. Fortunately, the character designs and facial expressions are well done overall, and they oftentimes help overshadow what are otherwise minimal backgrounds. While some of the lesser characters have fairly generic character designs, members of the primary cast are clearly distinct individuals, which helps a lot with keeping track of who is who during the hectic opening days of the school year.
It’s worth mentioning, however, that one issue I found in the first volume seems to have proliferated in this one. As Honor Student focuses heavily on Miyuki, it also focuses heavily on her ridiculous attraction to her brother. Outside of personal qualms with this, it is primarily problematic because it makes Miyuki a very one-note character: her entire personality is dedicated to her brotherly obsession. And since she is the protagonist in the series, it hinders her effectiveness in such a role. On top of this, the narrative obsession with Miyuki’s good looks has toned down in the sense that the blatant “Hey look she’s pretty” dialogues have died down, but it is very much alive in fanservice-y scenes. There were several undressing scenes throughout the volume (emphasis on several- not one or two), all of which lasted longer than any moment of action the book had.
The Honor Student at Magic High School feels like a flawed but not entirely bad spin-off. It’s difficult to precisely measure out and weigh the negatives versus the positives, but at the end of the day it likely will hold appeal for fans of the original series. Although much of these first two volumes have been setup, quite a bit of the setup has been interesting and indicates more dynamic events coming up in the near future. If you enjoyed the first volume, you should enjoy the second as well, although if you aren’t sure about starting the series, you might want to wait for this month’s upcoming English release of the original light novels.
The Honor Student at Magic High School is translated by Andrew Prowse and licensed for English release by Yen Press. It is a series drawn by Yu Mori based on the original light novel series The Irregular at Magic High School by Tsutomu Sato. The series began serialization in June 2012 and is currently ongoing in ASCII’s Dengeki Daioh imprint. Volume 2 released on March 22, 2016, and the third volume will release June 21st. The original series was adapted into an anime by the studio Madhouse and aired from Spring 2014 to Summer 2014.
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