Why is Tatsuya from Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei So Perfect?

mahouka_koukou_no_rettousei-01-miyuki-tatsuya-brother_and_sister-romance-blush-awkward-bloom-weed

ONIISAMA TAKE ME NOW

Tatsuya is such a hunk. This is objective truth.

But still, I have to wonder: why is he so generally perfect? I mean sure, it’s because the plot says so, but is there any, like, thematic reason for this?

I think there is.

(NOTE: So… this post was written after I’d only seen two episodes of the anime? I actually don’t agree with the opinions stated in this post anymore, but I’m leaving it unedited because LOL TATSUYA)

Shiba Tatsuya is literally too cool for school. He might be a Weed, but he displays his superiority over the Blooms by kicking their asses at their own game. The whole discrimination angle is completely exaggerated to the point that it is almost a parody, but it is played completely seriously. Why does the discrimination exist? To prove how cool Tatsuya is when he rises above that.

I actually buy into Mahouka’s school system, though. It’s explained in the specials (and presumably in the novels too) that there’s a pragmatic reason behind dividing the student body into the smart kids and the dumb kids. They lack enough teachers to teach everybody, so they only hold practical classes for the top 100 students.

In which case, graduating from the magic school as a Weed sounds about as useful to your prospects as a philosophy degree.

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Now in walks Tatsuya, who promptly turns the entire system on its head. He is intelligent, but he doesn’t do well on the practical exam. He doesn’t fit into the school’s (presumably) narrow definition of talent. But he is undeniably talented.

Tatsuya is overpowered because he points out the limitations of the education system.

In order to show how bad the other side is, Tatsuya needs to have no serious character flaws himself.

I think it’s easy to see why this series is so popular among teenagers. No one is more frustrated with the education system than the kids who have to put up with it. Despite the fact that this show is set in a school, it is basically saying that school sucks and it’s only cool when there’s magic and stuff. Tatsuya’s character is “edgy” in the way that might just be appealing to cynical teenagers.

The other reason why Tatsuya is so perfect is because it makes him stand out among other light novel protags. Tatsuya is “cool” because he is actually competent and a nice guy, which puts him on a whole different level from the smug wisecrackers, brainless perverts and emotionless blobs who usually take a leading role in these light novel things. Other LN protags are written to be imperfect so that it’s supposedly easier for the audience to identify with. Putting aside the actual execution of their characterisation, the fact remains that many LN protags are not portrayed as people whom we should idolise.

I might be practically alone among anime bloggers in saying I like light novels as a rule, but there is something refreshing in seeing what is essentially a hunky shojo hero as the protagonist of a male-targeted light novel.

Shiba_Tatsuya_Anime

Tatsuya is not a well-written character. He is on about the same level as the characters of Free! or a reverse harem. He is a bishie with a flat personality. He obviously has a shady past and some inner conflicts, but that aspect of his character is used to affirm how cool he is.

It would, however, be incorrect to say that I dislike him. It is perfectly possible to acknowledge that a character is badly written and to admire them as a fetish object anyway. Why else would I watch so many ecchi shows?

If Tatsuya were a character in an otome game, he would be the cool, stoic “main guy”. He would be the hardest guy to win over. If this were Tokimeki Memorial: Girl’s Side (yes I’ve played this game) I would need all my stats maxed out to get his true end. He’d be a pain to date, but the CGs would totally be worth it. Especially on our Christmas date.

As far as I am concerned, light novels need more bishie characters like Tatsuya. It would certainly broaden their appeal and tap into that fujoshi market. I still maintain that the best character in High School DxD is Kiba, the bishie. Clearly, the reason why Tatsuya is so perfect is to pander to my inner fangirl.

I'm already shipping these two together

I’m already shipping these two together

SWOON. KYAAAAA~! and all of that. Why is Tatsuya so perfect?

DOKI DOKI.

Posted on April 13, 2014, in Anime Analysis, Funny Anime Stuff and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 53 Comments.

  1. [Froggy's note: This comment and its responses contain possible LN spoilers, so read at your own risk.]

    You’re so naive, it’s cute. Come to think of it, I think this is what makes you such an easy sell for light novels.

    What I mean by this is that you’re conflating “explanations” with “excuses”. You are looking at the end-goal, and then work backwards to justify it. Tatsuya is cool. Why is Tatsuya cool? That is, not what are the reasons he is cool, but the reasons we think he is?

    Well, all the other characters keep saying how cool he is. All the other characters? Chiefly his sister. Ah, yes. You like Miyuki liking him. Miyuki likes him, and she can’t be wrong, because incest is wincest, right? So let’s see why Miyuki is right, and why Tatsuya is cool. Well, the show keeps telling us he’s cool, long before showing us, though most shows do show first, y’know? So, time to try and find reasons!

    What you pointed out about schools goes way beyond that. Look at the depiction of military chain of command in Shingeki no Kyojin, the whole military fiasco in Black Bullet where two SWAT members go in without letting their superior officer know, just cause they don’t want someone else get credit.. In general, anime is very, well, dumb about it. Teachers are always childish, police is always incompetent, military commanders are never to be obeyed.

    Japan is very structured, it’s true, but all of this is more than just to have the protagonist and their friends show how cool they are, this goes into the realm of not understanding how the world works, this is literally wish-fulfillment inside people’s heads, of the whole world waiting for them to come and be cool. The same logic that has an opponent wait for 2-3 minutes for your super-duper transformation sequence.

    Now, on the meta-level, it’s a bit tiring. The school doesn’t feel real. The system doesn’t feel real. Having read all the LNs, it gets so overtly obvious that the whole system is designed just to show how cool Tatsuya and his friends are. Yes, it’s true for all empowerment fantasy stories, it’s true, but here it’s even more overt than that. The world feels fake and flimsy, it feels it loses its substance beyond Tatsuya’s sight. It’s only there just as far as it is for Tatsuya and co to undo. Wait, it’s not like the system had been in place for 7 years, but now in one year, Tatsuya and all of his Weed friends will show just how faulty the system is, huzzah!

    I also call bullshit about “Weak MC”. “Weak MC” is a trope in RomCom/SoL LNs. There are a lot of “empowerment LNs”, and the MCs are badasses without peer in all of them. They usually don’t go as far as this show does, where they actually “Explain” (read: Excuse) his weaknesses, and they don’t even matter, since everyone fawns over him regardless. It feels as if they try to sell you on how much of a tragic hero he is (please).

    Now, here’s the part where you’re truly naive. This show is an ode to meritocracy. “Those who can succeed, do! Those who whine and blame others didn’t succeed because they didn’t have the necessary skills!” – which combines with the whole school/police thing, in our wish fulfillment fantasies, we succeed not because someone handed us success, but because we earned it. This is the same message as you can find in Ayn Rand’s Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged.

    Those books are very popular with teenagers and people who don’t know how the world works (read, self-styled “libertarian” republicans). They ignore what you are handed from your family. They ignore the different starting points. Not just economic, but physical, etc. Tatsuya and Miyuki did work hard for their powers, but in the end most of their success is only due to the powers they were born with, or were gifted by their parents. This is the lie that people who keep shouting “Meritocracy!” try peddling. Meritocracy is awesome, but those people only want Meritocracy where their starting point is a place you already have to work hard for.

    Tatsuya is cool because he’s been handed everything, and exists in a world that had been crafted to do nothing but give him opportunities to be cool, while showing how uncool others are. Tatsuya may not be a jerk, but the author writing him surely is. He’s making Tatsuya cool, at the cost of trampling over the humanity of the system, others, and the world.

    And the reason you want Tatsuya to be cool is because Miyuki said so, and because he needs to “earn” Miyuki :P

    • I think your comment is longer than the actual post. lol.

      So yeah, I think you’ve read much more deeply into Mahouka than I did. You’ve read the novels and I’ve only watched two episodes of an anime. That said, I didn’t think what the anime showed me was intelligently written, nor did I say that its ideas about meritocracy were sound. I don’t agree with any of the philosophy the show is espousing, and as you can clearly see from the second half of the post, I never took Tatsuya very seriously as a character, though I tried to work backwards to see how he could have been written.

      This stuff you’re writing about how the show is crafted for naive people – isn’t that what I was saying myself, though? I don’t really understand why you are pointing at me for not questioning the themes of the show. It feels as if you are making a general rant against people who have misunderstood the show more severely than I have. Perhaps an outpouring of your frustration from the discussions you have seen on Reddit?

      One point that I’ll concede is that there are other male protags in LNs who are awesome for no good reason. They are not usually bishonen, though, which was the point that I am making. For example, the MC in No Game No Life would fit into the “smug wisecracker” category for me, while Kirito would fit loosely into the “emotionless blob” category.

      I don’t think Miyuki is a well-written character either, when it comes down to it. If anything she is even worse than her brother as she exists as his trophy imouto.

      • Shit, it is about 60 words longer.

        You’re right, much of my reply, and certainly the vehemency, isn’t aimed at you. It’s also not aimed at reddit. The stuff that bothers me truly hadn’t really come up in the show yet. It’s a lot of what bugged me about the novels, and the whole meritocracy and objectivism bit (and regardless of what the person replying to me below who accuses me of not truly reading the LNs is saying (lol), they are closely tied issues. It’d be just such a teenager’s reply that sees nothing wrong with the relation).

        Some of my issues are that I do think you come across as liking LNs :P Well, it’s not an issue, but, hm, how to put it. You say “Cynical teenagers” would like someone like Tatsuya who “is just edgy enough” to point out how the school system is flawed. Except these teenagers aren’t cynical. They’re the opposite of cynical. They’re naive, and they think they are cynical.
        Look at Hachiman from OreGairu. Great character. Is he cynical? He certainly thinks so, and he adopts a sort of “cynical outlook”. But he’s not really cynical, he’s hopelessly naive and romantic about how the world and society really work. He has no real idea.

        Tatsuya is perfect. Kirito is perfect. Drizzt Do’Urden is perfect. Many of the “power fantasy” MCs are perfect. They paint them just as loners/anti-social enough to fit some of the readers, and yet everyone sees their “nobility” and fawns all over them, right? That’s exactly part of the wish-fulfillment, “Even though I can’t express my emotions and am stoic, others can read my mind and I’ll succeed even so!”

        That above part is essentially saying, I don’t agree Tatsuya stands out amongst other LN characters in this way. There are so many like him. Just not really in RomComs.

        Also, is he a bishounen character? I can’t really tell. To me Lelouch is bishounen. Kirito to me is just as bishounen as Tatsuya is?

        Bishounen is outward appearances, Kirito fits. Kirito is also just as “stoic”. Kirito is a bit more smug, IMO. As for No Game, No Life’s protagonist, if you gave him a shower and let him sleep, I think he could be a bishy as well :P More seriously, being a “smug wisecracker” has nothing to do with bishounen as I understand it, which is “pretty boy”, often used in a feminine way, in which case Kirito fits better than chiseled and oh-so-muscular Tatsuya.

        (What really bugged me is the “explanations”. I am just so tired of people giving the “explanations”, which are actually trying to “Excuse” things. That some token explanation was given is often shit, and doesn’t mean something is well done, especially when it’s created to excuse that to begin with. I think the last thing to really make this a touchy button for me is that scene in episode 10 of Valvrave. You know the one, where people “explained” why it was ok, something the show authors came up with.

        I am also increasingly bugged by how incompetent everyone in anime is aside from MCs/their allies. I groaned so hard just as Black Bullet began due to this.)

        • I can’t say for sure if you simply haven’t read the LNs or merely not understood them, but please don’t complain if I opt to point out your most glaring misconceptions, especially when they are voiced in such a rude form. And I really want to know why you’d read 12 long light novels if they’re rubbing you the wrong way so strongly. Weird.

          Meritocracy is a political philosophy which postulates that those people who are the most “able” should hold power. It is entirely different from Ayn Rand’s Objectivism, which concentrates on establishing a system with maximum individual rights in which each individuum is supposed to pursue their own personal happiness as unshackled as possible from societal demands. In fact, Ayn Rand’s own opinion on Meritocracy was very poor. To quote herself: “Meritocracy is an old anti-concept and one of the most contemptible package deals”. You really need to keep them apart.

          Tatsuya is no crusader against the discriminatory system, even though he recognizes it. In fact, he defended the status quo against Miyuki’s railings already, and he will refuse an invitation to counteract it (around ep4). In fact, he is mostly consciously apolitical and displays a mix of convictions which makes any attempt to shoehorn him into any political stereotype. No idea why so many people seem to try.

          • Yes, Tatsuya defends the status quo. That’s exactly his ode to meritocracy and objectivism (and they are related topics). I think it’d be more along episode 5 and 6, but I’m exactly talking about his little speech to Sayaka and his discussion with Miyuki about it all.

            There are two different tracks here.

            First, the author is using Tatsuya to beat the school away. This isn’t actually trying to make any points; the school is only there for Tatsuya to tower over it. The school is there to show just how awesome Tatsuya is, and how much of an anomaly he is.

            Tatsuya, in his defense of the status quo, and no, I’m not considering his whole point with the Student Council to belong here because of [He wants to avoid attention, he wants to keep his time to his own, he knew from the get-go he's going to get in, etc], but the whole little part where he discusses those “lowly Weeds who would rather blame the Blooms”. It also comes up in book 6, with the “sister”.

            Meritocracy works when you believe it’s truly up to people’s skills, but a lot of how people do is mediated not by their skills, but by the education and money their parents have had. Those who buy into objectivism are often the exact same people who buy into “meritocracy”, not the real meritocracy, but the one where they think they are succeeding purely because of their skills and hard work, and if they fail it’s because they got unlucky, but anyone else who failed obviously didn’t work hard enough. Objectivism is often touted alongside “Meritocracy” as an excuse to not have to give money to the poor.

            If anything, I wonder if your ability to comprehend themes in literature had atrophied due to reading too much LNs, or just due to your lack of understanding these themes to begin with. Welp, there I go, being condescending again.

            • Yes, condescending indeed :) … particularly funny since you _still_ don’t have the intellectual honesty to admit that Ayn Rand is NOT a proponent of Meritocracy, as you claimed. Here’s the source:

              http://aynrandlexicon.com/lexicon/meritocracy.html

              I don’t get your strange obsession with Tatsuya. Like I wrote, he’s got a fairly rational and unexcited mindset and is neither susceptible for revolutionary talk nor for discriminatory arrogance. His priority is caring for Miyuki, and it’s HER who is very bothered by it – he is usually only dragged along.

              Likewise, I see no credible evidence to conclude that ANYTHING Tatsuya said to Sayaka points to Meritocracy tendencies (and even if so – what of it?). In a gist, he criticizes those weeds who overdo it and blame their own failings (be it for lack of talent or lack of effort) solely on discrimination by privileged blooms. In other words, he dislikes the overly-blooms just as much as the overly-weeds. If you feel that he demands that power be laid in the hands of the hi-skilled elite, please give some concrete quotes for that once we reach this part.

              No idea what you’re referring to with “volume 6, the sister”. Volume 6 is the start of the Yokohama arc, which doesn’t focus on discrimination/meritocracy at all. I suppose you misremembered?

    • I know you don’t do it on purpose Guy but from what i’ve seen you often adopt a condescending tone when replying to others. It devalue your arguments and create an atmosphere of animosity.

      • “Don’t condescend to me Wings!”

        More seriously, I do sometimes wonder if I’m being too harsh with Froggy in particular. I pen my replies to people as if I’m talking to them, not as if I’m part of a public space. I also wouldn’t type the above reply as I did if it were to a complete stranger.

        I could and would change it, when that stuff comes up to a “general they”. But if saying people who think the ideas I railed against are immature and naive, and hadn’t grown up, or have no clue how the world works, and also lumped many of the so called “liberal conservatives” is condescending, then that bit is fine by me. I see it as descriptive.

        It’s like people think I’m condescending to them when I say the shows they like are shounen.

        Am I more than a bit argumentative? Yes. Is it at times problematic? Also yes. I don’t think it devalues arguments, to say it devalues arguments requires the other side to engage in an ad hominem approach, though it can make it harder for people to actually get over the knee-jerk anger and reply to the point made. Again, not blaming them, but pointing it out.

        People are, as always, free to reply to me as they choose. They can also say a lot of nonsense like mentaromega, but then I too am free to reply as I choose, which is, not.

        • It is very condescending! You don’t need such examples to proves your points. You should avoid attacking people and focus on the ideas and the work itself instead.

          ”It’s like people think I’m condescending to them when I say the shows they like are shounen.”

          No it’s very different.

        • Guy, while you bring up valid points, and clearly Mahouka is a series with problematic elements that should not be overlooked, I feel like you really have created a negative atmosphere in this comment section, and it’s honestly discouraging me from blogging about Mahouka again.

          If the intent of this post was to apply a “fangirl” reading of the series in order to amuse the readers, it’s obviously been completely superseded by all this super serious discussion. If the shadow of controversy prevents me from writing anything about Mahouka – even something simple and apolitical in tone – without provoking arguments like this, then it’s not worth the effort to write about.

          While I don’t disagree with your judgments of my character and I know that your wrote your comment with my best intentions in mind, it is something too personal to be displayed so publicly, and it’s no surprise other readers have objected to it as a personal attack. Whether I’m naive for liking light novels or not has no bearing on the topic itself. Again, this sort of quibbling has destroyed the light-hearted tone I was going for in this particular post.

          Bottom of the line: I’m all for discussions about Mahouka and its issues, but this really isn’t the appropriate place for it.

        • I think you need to fix your attitude among many other things before trying to bash somebody. What you are basically doing is slandering Froggy for no good reason and it is quite distasteful.
          Well at least now I know whose comments to ignore in the future.

    • Oh god, not this again…Mahouka is not objectivist. It’s realist. More like a magitek Game of Thrones than Atlas Shrugged. It’s a story about power. Everything in this story makes sense when seen in a realist light.

      Now, I’m not going to discuss our personal politics.Because I have a feeling we’re quite different in that regard. However, while I absolutely hated Atlas Shrugged and it’s laughable ideas, I loved Mahouka, because it’s different: in this world competence is everything, it doesn’t matter what family you come from if you can’t fit the bill, you’re out. Regardless of who you’re connected to. Hence, why Miyuki is the Bloom while Tatsuya is the Weed (despite both belonging to a family that is essentially the Borgias of the Mahouka universe). You cited his discussion with Sayaka as example: Sayaka is the daughter of a high ranking military commander but she was still placed in the Weeds section. Because she couldn’t cut the bill. Her connections didn’t save her from being placed in an unfavorable spot. The discrimination is there because it is necessary: the reason mages look down on the untalented among them is because of what mages are essentially in this world: they’re weapons. Why must you tolerate a weapon you know is subpar? Leave this world and find some other field. If you want to stay, but you want to equalize the field to your level then you really are just being selfish when there’s nothign wrong with the system as its been set up to guarantee results. Someone who everyone knows can’t cut the bill is just making a joke of the people who can and is likely to just interfere with getting the job done.

      The discrimination issue in Mahouka is funny and interesting because it goes both ways: the muggles live peacefully and still occupy the highest offices, and occasionally look down on magicians. Magicians really just discriminate among themselves, since the ungifted won’t try to be mages and thus won’t be a hindrance, while the gifted but whose skills aren’t quite as stellar they see as having no place in their world. When an untalented mage leaves and assumes a life as a normal person, unless he’s a member of the families, he likely won’t suffer discrimination and will be able to live well as a normal man. This isn’t about equalizing economic opportunities: this is about magic. The dynamics behind it are different. Equality is not a consideration here. Magicians are trained for a specific purpose and with that in mind the system makes a lot of sense. Magic is a tool. You either have the tool or you don’t. It is a means to an end. If that tool can’t cut the job, then it deserves to be passed over for something that can. And the Japanese government need to continue producing mages–fast. What Sayaka wanted to do was change the world to suit her situation, and Tatsuya simply told her that it would do no one any good, as well as tell her that her premises are bullshit and that it defeats the reason they’re even going to magic high school in the first place.

      In short: Mahouka isn’t Atlas Shrugged. It’s not trying to push an economic agenda, it’s not trying to make a statement. Not everything has to have an political bent to it. It’s just an interesting story about the adventures of a deconstructed god character meant to entertain people. And creating a realist world where everyone has an agenda and a goal definitely does that in a way objectivist philosophy does not. Relax and just enjoy the show. Tatsuya’s got nothing against helping people, paying taxes, or the government which he said has improved quite considerably compared to the previous century despite the new problems that arose. Mahouka doesn’t make an assertion that people who want something get it just by working for it–lots of people work hard here, but not all of them get what they want. Tatsuya included, he wants freedom, but he can’t get it because someone’s gotten a hold of his thumbscrew. It’s about power dynamics.

      • [Serious SPOILERS in this comment, and the one above - Guy.]

        You say that we aren’t going to discuss politics, but it’s more or less impossible to side-step politics, especially since much of the discussion is political, steeped as it is in views of society. As such, I will agree with you, we aren’t likely to agree with one another, so instead my goal is merely to help you see where I’m coming from, rather than necessarily agree with me.

        First, if you look up Objectivism on Wikipedia, one of the first things you will find out is how much it is “Realist”, and then when you read its notions on epistemology, you see that Tatsuya is the ideal objectivist in that sense – identification is the core of consciousness, which is exactly what Tatsuya epitomizes.

        When it comes to the “Freedom” which Tatsuya doesn’t have, that doesn’t make the work non-Objectivist, you could look at it as exactly an objectivist person in a world putting him down, and his quest to free himself of shackles :P

        More seriously, objectivism is something in our world, beyond Rand’s books. Objectivism is a form of meritocracy gone wild – we each get what we can. What we can get is based on our resources and skills. “Meritocracy” has meaning beyond just “rulership by those most capable” but gross meritocracy (in the sense of “overt/excessive”, not “disgusting) of the form espoused by “Conservative Liberals” is very similar to their read of “gross objectivism”, which means they can do what they can do, and others shouldn’t stop them. It also has more than a bit to do with a view of Capitalism focused on keeping those in power there.

        Except, this isn’t really about skills, or about “deserving” anything. You get to get more because you were handed a better starting position, by your genetics or parents. You argue that this is a realist position. That’s an intensely political statement. Even if I agree with you that those who have better skills and are more fit for a job should be compensated for it. When I read that, I mused on how alluring this position is, and how hard it is to argue against. This is an ode to Capitalism. People do more if they get better rewarded, and you want those who are better at things to actually be the ones doing more, because that’s how progress is reached.

        That it is so doesn’t necessarily make it right, especially since when Tatsuya presents it he does present it in the form of “ignore the bugs (other, less fortunate people)”, or “They could get better, if they worked at it, but they’d rather complain instead.” Now, in the book it’s somewhat the situation, but the point is the book had been written to be that way, and it’s many of the same arguments for why poor people should remain poor, and why their children are going to remain poor as well.

        On the reader’s point of view, it feeds into the “I can do anything!” mentality, that their destiny is in their hands! Because they are smart and skilled and born to affluent parents! It feeds into what had been called “The Dignity of the Working Men” by Michele Lamont, where blue-collar people often buy more into notions of “The American Dream” and that they could get out if only they worked hard enough, more than those more affluent than them. It’s an interesting sociological point.

        You bring up how Tatsuya is not free to do as he chooses, the reason for my smiley after “being freed from his shackles”. Tatsuya has one shackle on him, which he chose to place there himself, which is his love for Miyuki. We’ve seen he can defeat his aunt. We see that he can defeat whole countries. You said that the mages are weapons, are tools. This series to me is notorious for “telling rather than showing,” I think you can agree with me that in small scenes we often have whoever is narrating just flat out tell us what another character is feeling or thinking or understanding, rather than actually letting us figure it out from their behaviour, right?

        It’s the same here, with how the system is something we keep being told of, but it’s only actually there narratively so the characters could break it, because that shows just how awesome they are. Supposedly the police and military and government rule things, but the magicians are running the show in every way that matters. The school system is supposedly there representing the “Realist View” which you argued the series espouses (BTW, I wanted to say it earlier, but didn’t have a good place for it – to say “This is realist” is a way to try and say “This is objectively how things are” with an implicit “and should be”, and is also so very political, it’s a way to pass politics as non-political), right?

        And yet, the students Tatsuya is friends with trounce it at every which turn. Not just Tatsuya, but Erika who is a student is beating up armed forces, and so is Leo, and Mikihiko only needs to believe in himself to unleash his powers… Tatsuya is a tool of his aunt? Tatsuya is the one who ended up manipulating his aunt. Rather than get used by his aunt as she wishes, she has to choose her heir just to fit the so-called “Tool”. Police, government, school, magician leadership, all of them keep getting trounced by “the tools”. This isn’t realist, this is a power fantasy where you get to do as you wish due to your powers, and where you are the one capable of anything, no matter if someone older, more experienced, and in a position of leadership tells you that you are inferior.

        Tatsuya is very close to being the objectivist ideal (minus that he doesn’t try to convince others, in that sense he even transcended that to its logical conclusion), because he’s not really shackled. The other people to him are bugs. They even address it later on, when they try to get the sister of the technician to get back into magical engineering. Tatsuya is free to do as he wishes, and when he stops, it’s because he wanted to. No one can really hinder him.

        Now, I’ll close with what I could have also begun with, because this is probably where we might agree or disagree the most, or perhaps even both! The meta-point of criticism and breaking down messages. I wholeheartedly agree with you that Mahouka and its authors aren’t trying to push forth any agenda of self-worth or an economic agenda (it’s more social anyway). But the author is propagating his views of reality, which to us humans is very much a social view.

        The author may not consciously try to push the agenda, nor does he consider his work to be espousing any messages, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen anyway. I’ll use this example, if I’m a writer from 1900 in southern USA and I am telling a “realist story”, there’s going to be racial discrimination. I’m just describing how things are, right? It doesn’t mean the story isn’t also propagating that this view is “natural”, which we can see when we view the text a century later. Of course it’s anachronistic, but it also showcases that what the author views as “normal”, is steeped in political ideas. Not a political agenda, but political thoughts.

        Tatsuya’s little ode to “Capitalist realism” is purely political, and has political implications, so I’m not going to be as forgiving here. The author is clearly making a political claim. This political claim is in line with the ideas many action light novels are pushing (you can do everything, even if you’re supposedly weak and inferior! – just look at Index), along with “Even if you’re not good socially, everyone will see the dignity within, and girls will fawn all over you”. Added all together, it is spreading a certain “political agenda”, a certain view of the world. The authors may not be pushing it consciously, but it’s there.

        You can enjoy the series without thinking of these things, and you’re probably going to enjoy it more than people who can’t ignore these things, but I think it’s erroneous to say “I don’t see it, so it’s not there.” That’s a certain brand of realism, all right.

        • Fair enough. At least I understand where you’re coming from now. I’m kind of big on authorial intent, but you are correct that just because I don’t see it, and maybe the author didn’t mean to write it in such a way, doesn’t mean the implications aren’t there. And yes, I agree…politics, as much as we try to stay away from it, will inevitably be involved. Just the mere fact that the two of us are talking and trying to bring up our respective points in hopes of one, or both of us, better seeing the truth is part of politics.

          But let’s just stop.^^ This is supposed to be humorous anime blog. In consideration of froggykun, I fear we’ll end up befouling the light-hearted atmosphere. Your points did make sense, though I’m still inclined to disagree. ^_^ And regardless of what you think Mahouka is, I’m glad we’re at least having these kinds of discussions. And I like to think any series that inspires such debate is worth a watch.

        • I always thought that Tatsuya is more akin to Nietzsche Ubensmensch, who happens to be chained to his sister.

          Although, I really also think a little discussed theme about Mahouka, is about the Transhuman themes that populate Mahouka. That world is essentially a Transhumanist Dystopia, and Tatsuya is a Posthuman Gary Stu meet Dystopia.

          • Yes. I agree with both notions.

            I have a write-up on the first 11 books of the series on my blog, but “What does it mean to be human?” and “Human Tool” is indeed what I identify as the series’ largest overt theme.

  2. *lol*

    Now that the haters are getting flak on the anime boards from those folks who actually still enjoy the anime, they’re actually invading other blogs and insulting the authors? This is getting more and more hilarious :)

    Froggy: Nevermind the smart aleck. Based on the brunt of his criticism, I guess he read a summary trashing the show, but doesn’t know much about it firsthand – regardless of his claim of having read all LNs (though it’s funny – if the show is so much for the naive, why did he read through 12 long LNs?). Telling detail: The allegation that the author is a fan of Ayn Rand – while at the same time linking it to Meritocracy. Unfortunately, Ayn Rand has nothing to do with Meritocracy – she is a proponent of Objectivism, which is something entirely different.

    Just claiming stuff like “doesn’t feel real”, “fake” and all the blah doesn’t make it so. And he’s making so many factual mistakes that it’s hard to bear. Tatsuya is NOT the one to ride a big revoution against the bloom/weed discrimination, in fact he will EXPLICITLY REFUSE to do so. Guy: How can you peddle such obviously wrong BS which will be clearly refuted in anime episode 4?

    There is certainly enough points to criticize the show for, but none of them are what Guy claimed in a VERY rude tone. I expected Mahouka to get the SAO hater treatment, but this is getting increasingly bizarre.

    • Hmm, judging by what you wrote, it seems like I did misinterpret a few of the things Mahouka had been gunning for. I should have given it a few more episodes before I tried to speculate. I can’t really judge this series properly until I’ve at least seen the first book animated, I think.

  3. NEVERMIND THE OTHER COMMENTERS I HAVE OPINIONS

    The general issue have with Gary Stu type characters is that the story is built around them, rather than the other way around. I think there are merits to building up a world to match the main character’s ideals, as you may see from how Samurai Flamenco played out, but Mahouka leans more towards the SAO side of how ungracefully the Gary Stu is handled.

    In this case, it’s fine for the overpowered MC to be truncated in a narrowly defined education system, but the show makes it so easy for him to take it down if he wishes. Tatsuya’s opposition so far are so one-dimensional in their prejudice that it only takes a little bit of effort to take them down a notch. Perhaps it is the point of the story to show that a person like Tatsuya, someone who doesn’t fit in with the norm, can still succeed within such a stacked school system if he plays his cards right. However, the manner in which this is conveyed makes the story shallow, and hardly makes for an enjoyable watch.

    Well, it’s not enjoyable in the sense that I can see where this story is going to end up. Right now, however, Tatsuya’s in a rather ambiguous spot. Although he is truly overpowered and fawned over, he’s constantly shown to be reluctant about revealing his true potential, and similarly reluctant about rocking the boat with the 1st class students. He values the stability of the status quo rather than risking his position to make a name for himself Perhaps despite how it has treated him, Tatsuya still believes in the system. That irony can be tapped into for the purpose of actually giving the guy some character. Yet I just don’t see that happening given the type of show this is.

    • I have a somewhat cynical reading of Tatsuya’s humility. If he’s humble and puts other people’s feelings before himself, it paints him in a much more positive light. It’s probably pretty fitting to refer to him as Jesus Tatsuya!

      But yes, Tatsuya seems to be a more interesting character than everyone else around him. I can’t really bring myself to dislike him as a person, although there are just so many problems with how he’s characterised. I guess it’s my ambivalence and fascination with a character like him that keeps me watching Mahouka, despite its many flaws.

  4. Now tell me why Medaka Kurokami is so perfect and I will love you forever (aka this is something I’m interested in specifically applied to her character, but I’m away from my laptop and too lazy to write the post myself).

    You do nice work, Froggy. Keep it light.

    • Thanks! The other comments on this post have exhausted me, frankly. I did my best to keep things light, but judging from the comments, it doesn’t look like I’ve succeeded. *sigh*

      To be honest, I didn’t really get into Medaka Box. I’ve never been a big fan of Nisio Isin’s writing, I think. BUT I never had any real problems with Medaka as a character and in fact I found her quite interesting, especially after the initial genre shift. I can’t comment on the manga, since I never read it.

      I think what makes Medaka a good character is the nature of her friendship with Zenkichi. It felt genuine. It also showed that Medaka had to struggle with real issues dealing in others because she was “perfect”. There are times when I really don’t envy her at all.

      So yeah, definitely not an overpowered Mary Sue in the typical sense :)

      • Well, you did go after Mahouka (which, to me, is like the anime equivalent of The Hunger Games or Harry Potter), so I’m not surprised people jumped you.

        Also, I’m also naive, so no shame, my friend. :)

        I have heard a lot of people aren’t overly found of Medaka (the series), which I don’t mind-but it’s always nice to hear that people who have at least given it a shot have found something good to take out of it.

    • Actually that could be very interesting. Medaka Kurokami is a very interesting character and was one of the character’s that forced me to read through some of the manga just to see what will happen to her and how she will change.
      I always paid more attention to Zenkichi (because I love him) so therefore, I regularly forgot to analyze Medaka but I would love to read an analysis of her.
      I would go read the manga again, but the manga is pretty shit at the later chapters. Might just reread the first 100 chapters.
      Froggy-kun please check out Medaka.

      • See my comment above! I haven’t read the manga, but I did watch the anime (which I thought was mediocre, tbh…) but your comment has at least inspired me to pick up the manga. It’s on my to-read list!

  5. Just wanted to say that I was very amused that “smug wisecrackers” link to Oregairu LOL.

  6. He’s perfect ^_^ because he’s SHIVA! Everything about Tatsuya goes back to Shiva. He’s being discriminated against because Shiva was discriminated against. He’s the “Great Irregular” because Shiva is the Great Ascetic. He’s manly and kakoii because Shiva is a manly and kakoii god. And he’s a doting and loving big brother…

    Because Miyuki is based on Shiva’s wife who Shiva doted on in a VERY similar fashion. And Miyuki, like him, shares Parvati’s traits to a near perfect tee. Delicately beautiful and intelligent? Check. Loved by everyone? Check. Wants their male counterpart to get more involved in the world? Check? ULTRA devoted? Double Check. Called “Snow Goddess”. CHECK.

    These two are perfect…because they are the primordial father and mother of the universe. The perfect male and the perfect female. And we get to see them in anime form. How is that NOT awesome?! XD

    • Hmm, this seems very interesting! I didn’t notice any mythical allusions so far in the anime, so I’m wondering if this will become more overt as things go on. I’ll keep my eyes peeled for this.

      He’s manly and kakoii because Shiva is a manly and kakoii god.

      Hahaha, this line made me crack up!

      • Oh, YES! Very overt! XD Please, continue to watch it. I won’t give any spoilers, but Mahouka is pretty much the Shiva myths reimagined into a new setting. It’s hella compelling and is one of the things that made the readers realize that Tatsuya wasn’t made the way he was just to look cool, and that his being OP was not only intentional, but necessary to drive home a very interesting point.

        • Sudden realisation:

          SHIBA SHIVA

          Holy crap!

          I always suspected that Tatsuya being OP served a greater purpose than just the author’s self-gratification. I assumed it had something to do with the education system, what with Tatsuya being an “irregular” and all. But it seems like there’s more to it that will be revealed in time. I’m still ambivalent about the execution of the concept, but it’s more than interesting enough for me to continue watching.

          • And I thank you for that. ^_^ Do continue. You’re in for one hell of a ride once you get past the Enrollment Arc.

            (Fandom trivia: We also sort of discovered that was the author’s schtick, he basically rips off something awesome from mythology and history, and then cleverly reimagines and reworks them into his setting, but it seems he also likes showing the world how clever he is, and the names sometimes hint on who or what they are supposed to be. And it isn’t just the Shiba surname: the names “Tatsuya” and “Miyuki” serve to reinforce their themes. The same goes with some of the other characters–including some antagonists. Which makes sense considering this is his first major work and he’s likely always banging his head for new ideas. )

        • The whole Tatsuya is Shiva is sort of overt, they even call him “The Destroyer”, and even on reddit after the first few seconds picked up “Destroyer of Worlds” as a sort of tongue in cheek moniker. And it is interesting, about Miyuki being a Parvati stand-in.

          But I still want to ask, what point does it drive home that he is OP? Saying he is a stand-in for Shiva might be a neat meta-point, but in the context of the story, it’s still an excuse for being OP :P

          • I lack familiarity with the story of Shiva, so the actual plot of Mahouka itself could have parallels with the story of Shiva, and from there it really depends on how relevant that story is to whatever else Mahouka has going on. I’m obviously not in any position to speak about that, but I merely look forward to seeing how it’s portrayed.

            In any case, Tatsuya as a “god” seems so ridiculously over-the-top I need to see this happen to fully believe it.

          • Yes, but it’s a very wonderful excuse. ^_^ And by making him so powerful–to give him the powers of a god–the story manages to reinforce one of it’s best themes: power isn’t everything. I know I said earlier that Mahouka was a story about power and its dynamics, but part of the reason his absurd amount of power doesn’t bother me anymore is because the story asks the necessary questions regarding someone like him: so what? Just because one can effectively destroy all his enemies doesn’t mean he can solve all his problems. Because the problems are usually rooted in something far deeper. That even if you have the power to destroy the world? Why on earth would you want to? A talent for violence and destruction isn’t everything, and why resort to it when you can get what you want with less trouble with a few well placed words instead? Case in point: Tatsuya. He’s practically a god. But then why is someone like him under the thumbs of lesser beings? It turns out just because one is a god, doesn’t mean he can’t be bound. And that when dealing with people, and when emotions are at play, things get a little more complicated. The lesser can control the greater if you play the right cards…and people have gotten a hold of the one thing he cares about in the world.

            As for the Miyuki…she’s definitely Shakti. ^_^ She takes parts of Sati, Durga, and Kali, but she is primarily Parvati. Parvati is to Shiva, what Miyuki is to Tatsuya. Miyuki not only shares the same traits, but also the same life circumstances, and the same functions on the story of their male counterparts. The fact that she’s also named “SHIBA” is also a nice little tie in to the fact, that Shakti(Parvati) is also known as the Female Shiva, the feminine half of the great god just as much as she is her own goddess. Parvati is half of Shiva. Parvati is also Shiva. Miyuki is half of the Shiba siblings. Miyuki is also SHIBA. Miyuki is Shiva. (Also, there’s the fact that Parvati’s name can be translated as “Snow Mountain Goddess”, or sometimes just “Snow Goddess”.)

  7. The Kenosha Kid

    I’m going to make the same mistake everyone else has made and take your joke sorta-seriously: is it just me, or do the two reasons you gave sorta contradict each other? I mean, unless you’re saying that seeing the limitations of a bad educational system excite your inner fangirl.

    • Can my inner nerd not coexist with my inner fangirl? :(

    • The Kenosha Kid

      actually wait nvm that makes perfect sense now that I think of it. Also, that should have read ‘excites’. I fails at subject-verb agreement.

      Somewhat more mysterious is this:

      In order to show how bad the other side is, Tatsuya needs to have no serious character flaws himself.

      While this is sorta true—any character flaw could, with enough work, be perceived as the (legitimate) reason for his position, and hence fail at undermining the system’s legitimacy—it interacts in rather interesting ways with the other reason for his perfection, no? I mean, reasons for characterization in the viewer-appeal domain are going to determine the way the plotting-/storybuilding-/worldbuilding-approach plays out, and vice versa. (Or, to continue taking this too seriously, it can go to show how choices solely in the viewer-appeal domain can combine by accident to make a worldbuilding-domain that’s open for interpretation; I dunno if this show does this or if it’s intentional, but surely this happens!)

      …I spent a couple minutes trying to explain why it’s bad that we’d want to pander to people with flawless (and hence uninteresting, right?) characters, but then I realized that I’d be a raging hypocrite for doing so, so instead: DOKI DOKI I GUESS I’M WATCHING THIS SHOW NOW

      • To continue with the whole “taking this too seriously” angle…

        I definitely agree that you can construct a thematic reason for pandering – look at Giovanni’s comments on this post, for instance.

        Mahouka’s representation of its main character reminds me a lot of what Prince of Tennis did. That was another anime where the main character was rather inexplicably perfect, and if I wanted to construct a thematic reason for that, it would be that it challenges politeness norms in Japan. Ryoma is very rude and kicks his senpai’s asses at pretty much everything, and that’s what’s portrayed to be so awesome about him.

        But in terms of how Prince of Tennis has been widely consumed… well, yeah. Lots of fangirling. My experience with the Prince of Tennis fandom tells me it’s easy to fangirl over seemingly perfect characters who seem “edgy” because they’re challenging some grand system.

        This reminds me I should play the Prince of Tennis otome game(s) sometime.

  8. “Tatsuya is overpowered because he points out the limitations of the education system.”

    The corollary to this, is that Tatsuya is overpowered because he is confined by the nature of the society he lives in.

    The actual explanation, is that Tatsuya is one highly screwed up Transhuman, in a world where human dignity has long been flushed down the toilet over the course of a tumultuous century.

  9. i don’t like this character. well, the reason is not because he is too perfect, but because he’s too stiff.

    i more like kazami yuuji in grisaia no kajitsu. He’s like tatsuya too, but he’s have more funny and interesting personality even he’s killer or sniper.

    • Yeah, Tatsuya’s a bit… emotionally static.

      I should play Grisaia no Kajitsu! I heard it’s getting an anime sometime along the track and a friend of mine has been fanboying over it recently. And your comparison to Tatsuya piqued my interest ;)

      • yeah, maybe you should play the VN.

        i heard rumor the anime adapt this VN is maybe bad.

        and, I’m new here. Reading some review and impression about some anime here, and I think i like about you write or about the point of view what you reviewing.

        Some site reviewing anime that I routinely read is trying too hard to make his writing interesting or flamming about some anime.

        nice to meet you >.<

      • Don’t worry, there’s a reason why he’s(tatsuya) like that. ;)

  10. Perfect? Heck no. Many of the things he does are either plot-devicey/superpowery (like reading activation sequences in an instant) or actually very simple and intuitive. He’s only perfect because he is one of the only competent characters in a cast stuffed with incompetence. For example, using anti-magic/disrupting magic in a system that is clearly ALL ABOUT magic vs antimagic and leaving all the other characters going omg? Or… here’s a favorite, from a discussion I had with a fellow translator:

    “The flight magic? Loop-based continuous activation programming is the basics of the basic for software engineers.”

    “I feel like they’d be propelled a few hundred years into the future if only they had a copy of [Java 2 for Dummies].”

    It’s not that Tatsuya is a genius. It’s the rest of the cast not scrubbing their brain cells enough for how highly ranked they supposedly are.

    I actually really hate him. It’s like watching a competitive gaming where one side typed in the cheat for invulnerability.

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