Shōsetsuka ni Narō
Alternate history, Science fantasy
October 12, 2008 – March 21, 2011
The Irregular at Magic High School, known in Japanese as Mahōka Kōkō no Rettōsei (魔法科高校の劣等生?, lit. "The Poor Performing Student of a Magic High School"), is a Japanese web novel series by Tsutomu Satō. It was published on Shōsetsuka ni Narō, an internet web novel website, between October 2008 and March 2011. Satō reached a deal with Dengeki Bunko and began releasing his work in a light novel format beginning July 2011. In 2013, each story arc received a manga adaptation with varying manga artists and publishers. That same year, an anime adaptation by Madhouse was announced and was broadcast between April and September 2014.
The Irregular at Magic High School franchise had been localized for English by two companies: The light novels and one of the manga adaptations are licensed by Yen Press while Aniplex of America licensed the anime series. The anime series was simulcasted on four networks, and was later made available on Netflix.
The story takes place in an alternate history where magic exists and is polished through modern technology. It follows Tatsuya and Miyuki Shiba, siblings who enroll into First High magic high school. While keeping their connections to the infamous Yotsuba clan secret, they attempt to live their daily life in peace where Tatsuya is shunned for his apparent ineptness and Miyuki is validated for her magical abilities.
The series has been well received. The light novels appeared on Sugoi Japan's 2015 polls and since 2011, is one of the top selling series in Japan with 5.3 million copies sold as of 2014. In addition, its manga and anime adaptations also appeared on top selling charts. English reviewers had mixed to negative reception towards the anime adaptation. The complex technicality of magic within the series was received warmly but the exposition was criticized for being heavy, unclear, and poorly executed.
The series is set in a world with an alternate history, where magic exists and has been polished through modern technology. However, the ability to use magic is determined by genetics, limiting the amount of magicians in existence. Following the Third World War, the world's superpowers shifted to these four nations: The United States of North America (USNA), New Soviet Union, the Great Asian Alliance, and Japan. In Japan, the magic community is informally governed by the ten master clans in lieu of the government. Due to the limited amount of magicians, they are treated as commodity and are forced to enter magic related schools and professions. Nine magic high schools exist in Japan; they each specialize in different aspects of magic and are simply referred to by their numbers.
The story follows Tatsuya Shiba, a bodyguard to his sister Miyuki Shiba who is also a candidate to succeed the master clan, Yotsuba. They enroll into First High School which segregates its students based on their magical abilities. Miyuki is enlisted as a first course student and is viewed as one of the best students, while Tatsuya is in the second course and considered to be magically inept. However, Tatsuya's technical knowledge, combat abilities, and unique magic techniques causes people to view him as an irregular to the school's standardized rankings.
Tatsuya and Miyuki are siblings of the same year and children to Tatsurou Shiba and the late Miya Yotsuba;LN 3.2 their parents had a loveless forced marriage, and when their mother died, their father married his mistress, Sayuri Furuha, leaving the siblings to live by themselves.LN 6.2 Maya Yotsuba, their aunt and the leader of the Yotsuba, was the reason Tatsuya was born with the unique magic to decompose, reconstruct, and detonate matter.LN 16.6 Out of fear, the Yotsuba rallied for Tatsuya's death, forcing Miya and Maya to take measures to ensure his survival: the first was Miyuki's creation, a powerful magician who will act as a seal to Tatsuya's power; the second is to magically dull Tatsuya's emotions except for his familial love towards Miyuki; and the third was to assign Tatsuya to be Miyuki's bodyguard in order to develop his sense of loyalty towards her.LN 16.6 During a family vacation in Okinawa, Tatsuya wards off an invasion by the Great Asian Alliance and joins the 101 Independent Magic-Equipped Battalion which is headed by major Kazama Harunobu.LN 8.7 At some point during his life, Tatsuya developed an interest in engineering magical technology and commercialized revolutionary technology through his family's company, Four Leaves Technology, under the identity Taurus Silver.LN 3.2 He is voiced by Yuichi Nakamura.
Miyuki is considered one of the strongest magicians in the world and is a candidate to succeed the Yotsuba. Her specialty is freezing magic, and her unique magic allows her to freeze a person's consciousness. In addition, half of her magic casting abilities is used to seal Tatsuya's powers. Before the family vacation in Okinawa, Miyuki treated Tatsuya coldly akin to how the other Yotsuba clan members did. She begins to warm up to him and when Tatsuya saves her life, devotes her existence to him. It evolves to the point she disdains the touch of other males and expresses jealousy towards females around Tatsuya.LN 11.15 Genetically different from Tatsuya, despite being born from the same parents. Miyuki professes her love to him following their engagement under Maya's orders.LN 16.6 She is voiced by Saori Hayami.
In the polls by Kono Light Novel ga Sugoi!, both Tatsuya and Miyuki ranked as one of the most popular light novel characters. Outside of the franchise, Tatsuya and Miyuki also appear in Dengeki Bunko: Fighting Climax.
Tatsuya's group consists of seven classmates whom he spends time with in his daily school life. They often assist Tatsuya during investigations and dangerous situations.
The student council is a group of students which provides a liaison between the teachers and students. Meanwhile, the Disciplinary Committee consists of students who are essentially rule enforcers. The third less notable committee is the Extracurricular Activities Federation who ensures that school clubs don't come into conflict with each other. The three committees are closely related and work together to preserve the peace on campus.
Mayumi Saegusa is the student council president during the Shiba siblings first year at school.LN 1.2 She puts on a coy and innocent facade but is actually mischievous and highly perceptive. Mayumi is talented as a sniper and her form of offensive magic involves firing dry ice as projectiles.LN 3.5 During the course of the story, she manipulates Miyuki into joining the student council and Tatsuya into the Disciplinary Committee. She develops an attraction to Tatsuya and places him in awkward situations for fun. After enrolling into Magic University, her twin sisters, Kasumi and Izumi Saegusa, enroll into First High.LN 12.6 Mayumi is voiced by Kana Hanazawa.
Two people worked alongside Mayumi during the year. The first is Mari Watanabe who is the leader of the Disciplinary Committee.LN 1.2 Mari has a tomboyish personality but becomes completely feminine in front of her boyfriend, Chiba Naotsugu, who is also Erika's half brother.LN 4.10 For combat, she uses a whip like blade and uses magic to manipulate toxic chemicals.LN 6.6 Second is Katsuto Jumonji, the leader of the Extracurricular Activities Federation.LN 2.6 Katsuto is the next head for the Jumonji clan and inherited the clans barrier magic, Phalanx; an impenetrable and perpetual barrier used for defensive and offensive purposes.LN 4.12 Both the Saegusa and Jumonji are members of the master clan, forcing Mayumi and Katsuto to be politically involved with the magic community outside of school. Mari is voiced by Marina Inoue while Jumonji by Junichi Suwabe.
During the Shiba siblings second year, Mayumi is succeeded by Azusa Nakajou, a timid and youthful looking girl.LN 5.6 Azusa has an interest in magic engineering and suspects Tatsuya is Taurus Silver. She is able to use a unique magic named after her, Azusa Dream, to forcefully pacify people.LN 7.10 Mari is succeeded by Kanon Chiyoda, an impulsive and good-natured girl.LN 6.1 She is engaged to Kei Isori, an androgynous and timid boy, and loves him dearly.LN 3.4 Azusa is voiced by Saki Ogasawara, Kanon is voiced by Saori Onishi, and Isori is voiced by Sōma Saitō.
Publication and conception
The story was conceived around a protagonist whose abilities can not be measured through standardized evaluation;LN 2.A as such, he is mistakenly categorized as a poor performing student or an irregular. This premise served as a basis for the character, Tatsuya Shiba.LN 2.A Satō has two processes for scripting the story arcs: the first is to create scenarios to have characters behave and interact in certain ways; the second is to plan a scene, then script the story so it leads to that scene.LN 11.A Satō professed that he does not feel his characters are alive or have a will of their own when scripting them.LN 11.A
Tsutomu Satō published his work on the online web novel website, Shōsetsuka ni Narō, between October 12, 2008 and March 21, 2011. At some point during his publication on Syosetu, Satō sent an original work to Dengeki Bunko under a pseudonym.LN 1.A The original work's setting shared similarities to The Irregular at Magic High School causing an editor to deduce his identity and offer him a publication deal.LN 1.A On March 11, 2011, the author announced his work is going to be published as a light novel under the Dengeki Bunko imprint. The author expressed some regret turning free content into paid commodity and cited his financial needs as the reason.LN 1.A The illustrations accompanying the light novels were done by Kana Ishida. The first light novel volume was unable to accommodate the first story arc; deciding against cutting content from the web novel, it was split into two volumes and released a month later.LN 2.A On March 9, 2015, Yen Press announced its licensing of the light novels for English localization through Twitter. Yen Press' first volume is slated for April 2016.
The Irregular at Magic High School was adapted into a manga series with storyboards by Fumino Hayashi and illustrations by Tsutomu Satō; it was serialized between GFantasy's January 2012 and October 2013 issues. Square Enix collected the individual chapters into four tankōbon volumes and released them between September 2012 and December 2013. After the conclusion of the first manga adaptation, it was immediately followed up with two more adaptations beginning in GFantasy's November 2013 issue; the two adaptations were based on the light novel's Nine Schools Competition Arc and Yokohama Disturbance Arc story arcs. The Nine Schools Competition Arc is illustrated by Tsuna Kitaumi and is currently ongoing. It was collected into four tankōbon volumes released between April 2014 and October 2015. Meanwhile, the Yokohama Disturbance Arc is illustrated by Gin Amau and ended in the October 2015 issue. It was collected into five tankōbon volumes released between April 2014 to November 2015. A manga adaptation subtitled and based on the Recollection Arc was serialized between Dengeki Daioh's April 2014 and September 2015 issue. It is illustrated by Waki Ikawa and was collected into three tankōbon volumes under the Dengeki Comics Next imprint. In the final chapter of the Yokohama Arc, Amau announced he will adapt the Visitor Arc, the next part of the story.
A spin-off manga titled The Honor Student at Magic High School (魔法科高校の優等生, Mahōka Kōkō no Yūtōsei) by Yu Mori premiered in Dengeki Daioh's June 2012 issue. It is currently ongoing, and was collected into seven tankōbon volumes under the Dengeki Comics Next imprint. Yen Press licensed the series' tankōbon volumes for a North American release; the first volume is localized in November 2015.
An anime adaptation of the light novel was announced during the Dengeki Bunko Fall Festival on October 6, 2013. It is directed by Manabu Ono and animated by Madhouse. It premiered on Tokyo Metropolitan Television, Gunma TV, and Tochigi TV on April 6, 2014; nine other networks and three streaming services broadcast the series afterwards. The final episode premiered on September 28. The individual episodes were later encapsulated into ten DVD and Blu-ray volumes released between July 2014 and April 2015.
In March 2014, Aniplex of America announced its acquisition for streaming rights to the anime series; much later they unveiled their plans to release the series into three Blu-ray volumes which segregate the episodes by story arcs. Four networks simulcasted the series with English subtitles: these include Aniplex Channel, Crunchyroll, Hulu, and Daisuki. In June 2014, the Australasia distributor, Hanabee Entertainment, announced its licensing of the series for streaming and home media release. Months later, Netflix made the series available on their network. Animax Asia also began broadcasting the series in July 2015.
The development of The Irregular at Magic High School The Movie: The Girl Who Calls the Stars was revealed in the 19th light novel volume which was released in March 2016. The film will feature a plot scripted by series creator Tsutomu Satō, and will premiere in Japan on June 17, 2017.
Three related media to the anime were created. The first is a super deformed short series titled Get to Know Magic Studies! by Aniplex. These shorts were uploaded on Aniplex's YouTube channel, and was later English subtitled and uploaded on Aniplex of America's channel. An internet radio show titled The Irregular at Magic High School Web Radio Full Bloom! Bloom Broadcasting Committee, premiered on March 23, 2014 and is hosted by Sora Amamiya and Yuiko Tatsumi, the voice actresses for Honoka Mitsui and Shizuku Kitayama respectively; the radio show episodes was later made available for purchase on CD. The third is a radio drama DVD which was released in December 2014 and is based on the light novel's Recollection Arc.
Three video game adaptations have been made for the franchise. The first is The Irregular at Magic High School: Out of Order by Bandai Namco Entertainment. It is a 3D fighting game for the PlayStation Vita and was released on December 25, 2014. The second game is The Irregular at Magic High School: School Magicus Battle, a Japanese role-playing game by Mobage. It was made available for Android, iOS, and feature phone on June 9, 2014. The third game is The Irregular at Magic High School: Lost Zero, developed by BeXide and published by Square Enix. It was made available for the Android and iOS on September 4, 2014.
The light novels have been well received. They were ranked seventh in Sugoi Japan 2015 polls and since 2011, was one of the top selling light novel series in Japan. As of 2014, 5.3 million copies of the light novel have been sold. In addition, its manga and anime adaptations also appeared on top selling charts.
Anime News Network had four editors review the first episode of the anime: Carl Kimlinger saw potential in its take on a typical anime premise, praising Tatsuya as the lead protagonist and its handling of mysteries surrounding the plot; Theron Martin, although hopeful because of its male lead and plot concept, expressed criticism towards the indistinguishable animation and constant exposition for the viewers; and Rebecca Silverman felt that it was bland and nothing special. The fourth reviewer, Hope Chapman, expressed immediate dislike towards the series, criticizing it for lacking anything to engage the viewers and for being a lazy adaptation of a light novel, and concluding the review with "I can't even remember the last time I saw something with not a single redeeming factor or thing to recommend about it at all." Silverman reviewed the series future episodes. Plotwise, she praised the Enrollment Arc's underline on standardized testing, criticized the Nine Schools Competition Arc for its execution and weak exposition, and felt the characters were uninteresting. Silverman felt the series doesn't live up to its potential and cited the background music and stilted animations as possible reasons.
Chris Beveridge's review for Fandom Post was highly positive towards the anime series, calling it a dark horse contender as one of their top new anime series of the year. Beveridge praised the technical and fundamental aspects of magic in the series for breaking the supernatural approach other works usually take and liked the potential impact it could have on future events. However, while the reviewer liked the series' technicality, they noted it will frustrate certain viewers in that aspect. Richard Eisenbeis, writing for Kotaku, liked the characters, story, the complex and technical magic system, and mysteries. However, Eisenbeis criticized the exposition, citing it to be poorly timed, heavy, and failing to explain things with better clarity. He concluded his review by writing how the anime might have been great if a different director or screenwriting was hired.