What They Say:
The last few years haven’t been easy for Takeshi Nanase. His parents are distant and his little brother despises him since “the accident,” while his relationship with his girl friend isn’t exactly romantic. Even one of the few high points in his existence, studying the Japanese swordfighting technique of Kendo, seems to be a dead end, as while he’s got a definite knack for it, it’s not something that’s likely to have any practical application in a future career. Or so he thinks until he runs into an unconscious girl in an unknown uniform and suddenly has his world turned upside down. In short order, he’s being held at (magical) gunpoint, rescuing damsels in distress, and finding himself facing off with a group of magic users! But as shocking as finding his life in danger and learning that magic is real may be, what’s even more stunning is the revelation that Takeshi’s been changed into a magician himself! So maybe those sword lessons aren’t going to end up being so irrelevant after all! Especially since he’s now got a big magical target on his back and the only way to survive is through MAGICAL WARFARE!
The audio presentation for this release is available in both English or Japanese Dolby Stereo 2.0 and encoded at 224 kbps. This is suitable for the series since a majority of the sounds are fixed in dialogue and the numerous magical explosions which litter the various battles within each episode. Either selection is equally balanced within this playback format so which ever language is selected, they are both represented fairly for the viewers’ enjoyment.
However, where this series excels is the theatrical usage of music to set the tone for the sequences within the episodes. The dramatic opening theme Senkō no Prisoner performed by Yuuka Nanri is a haunting upbeat tone which fittingly propels us into the show speaking of denial and guilt which can hide your feelings from the ones you are trying to protect, and these same doubts are reflected within the protagonists. The tender moments are accentuated by touching piano or other classical instrument solos and hard battles are promoted by primal guitar riffs. Finally, to close the episode, the ending theme song Born To Be by Nano is a hard rock ballad opposite to the opening which to confronts the real dreams inside you and not to hold back, which is appropriate for the later episodes once the characters get over their initial insecurities.
The series is broken down into three disks of four episodes each, encoded in the standard DVD media MPEG-1/2 video format and 720×480 resolution. This playback is acceptable for this media with no visible digital artifacts considering the dark imagery during all of the mystical battles. Since the series is divided into two worlds, the Existing World (normal human plane) and the Collapsing World (land of wizards and their conflicts), the dual lands have differing color schemes. The former and the classroom settings use a brighter palette to lighten the mood since this is the area which has not been contaminated by the constant fights which this series presents. While the latter areas’ gloom is displayed by sombre tones and shades to give the viewer the feeling of hopelessness since the factions seem never to be able to settle their differences.
This disk set is presented to the prospective buyer with a striking portrait of Mui and Nanase surrounded by lightning and rubble as they display their respective weapons. This rousing image sets the tone for the series since a majority of it is in preparation for the upcoming battles. The disk illustrations are equally stirring with set pieces of the partners established with the show, standing in opposition, ready to strike if the need arises.
With all the tone of the series previous established by the dark imagery on the case and disks themselves, for some reason Sentai Filmworks decided to use a completely contrary color scheme for the menus – pastels. Since the show encases powerful fights, there is no need for such cheery backgrounds. So, why use portraits of the main characters backed by a magical circle on the left and the episodes listed on the right? The setting as a whole gives the viewer the wrong impression and the addition of the repetitive first minute cycle of the opening theme Senkō no Prisoner blaring in the background drills a bad taste in the mouth before you are even exposed the series.
The Extras menu seems to be added only as an afterthought on the first disk so we can see the obligatory clean open and closing animations and advertising for Sentai Filmworks other properties. The Languages section is the only menu present on all of the disks, and you will be accessing this every time you enter a new disk since English is the default option. If you want to listen and read the series in the original format, this will always be your first stop; this error cannot be corrected while in playback either, which is annoying since it an option within Sentai’s competition whenever there is the dual language option.
Nanase came to school like any other day during summer vacation – he had no reason to stay home due to the way his family shuns him for an accident which was not his fault. As he left, he thought that anywhere would be better than this place. However when he arrived, a commotion in the next room changed his whole day as a strange girl collapsed in his arms. Having no other choice than to let her rest in the Nurse’s Office, Nanase waited as she stirred and then immediately shot the wall next to him with her hidden pistol. A smoky mist leaked from the impact, just before a group of people barged their way in and started to attack the pair with what could be only be called magic. The leader froze the window as his partners began the assault on the helpless boy, though he was somehow able to fend off the blows quite easily, much to his own amazement.
As they made their way outside, with the strangers in feverish pursuit, the young girl named Mui began to explain the situation: the ones hunting them were wizards. While this reality sank in, Nanase’s girlfriend Kurumi and his best friend Ida became entangled in the battle with their own opponents and as each was struck in the process, more of that mysterious mist arose from the injuries. After each fight was won and the enemies retreated, a bleary eyed Mui tried to explain that the harm caused to them now granted them their own powers; in other words, any teenager exposed to magic then becomes a magician. Wiping away the tears, she told them that the only place which was now safe was Subaru Magic Academy, a school in a dimension which she called the Collapsing World.
When the portal closed behind them, the unlikely students now saw the reason for the strange name of this realm: everything as far as the eye could see was in ruins. There was nothing left standing but abandoned buildings struggling to stay erect and streets littered with burned out wrecks. The Academy was the only place which seemed to be intact and Mui lead them straight to the Dean’s Office. She promptly explained that the world they left behind was called the Existing World, a land in which humans know nothing about magic since wizards left long ago and established this place. However, this land is in constant torment with different factions fighting to gain the upper hand and with that she gave them a choice: either stay her and train to use their new abilities or be returned to their normal lives, with the powers stripped away. Nanase knew there was nothing keeping him for staying in a loveless home, but how would the other two accept the decision proposed before them? Either way, they would loose their magic once they became adults, but is it better to do it now or later?
This series is like so many other shows based on the same concept of a normal human whisked way to a magical world and then faced with the choice to either stay or leave. The most notable example for Western viewers would be the Harry Potter franchise; but if you need an anime sample, you can try The Familiar of Zero, Studio Ghibli’s The Cat Returns or Spirited Away and for a modern version with a technological twist, No Game No Life. While the concept of the series is a staple for the fantasy genre, this show does have numerous faults which makes it lackluster and easily forgettable. Although it does try to make the episodes enjoyable by splattering the screen with countless explosions, battles with magical special effects and unavoidable jokes concerning an inevitable love triangle, these clichés are still not enough to save it.
The cast itself is the most notable mistake since none of them are memorable – all are two dimensional and seem like cookie cutter stereotypes. You have the headstrong lead who has a strong sense of justice but can’t make up his mind between two girls, a tsundere girlfriend who is so jealous she’ll do anything to win him back, the goofy student who is supposed to be the responsible one and yet falls for the protagonist and of course, a boisterous best friend who rushes headlong into battle but usually fails miserably. Though the plot is semi-original, if you change the main weapon from magic to fantastical weapons, it seems that you have seen this plot in many sci-fi series. And sadly, the anime itself ends with a major cliffhanger and there is appears to be no chance that there will be a sequel since it ended over two years ago.
Magical Warfare may have been a clever idea for a series, but somewhere along the way the theme originality was lost and it turned into another nondescript show. If you don’t mind not knowing how the series ends without reading the light novels it was based on, it can be a nice getaway, but keep in mind there are better examples of the escapism genre out there with more satisfying endings. In other words, you can watch it, but don’t intend to remember that much about the experience.
Japanese Language, English Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening Animation, Clean Closing Animation and Japanese Promos
Content Grade: C+
Audio Grade: B
Video Grade: B
Packaging Grade: B
Menu Grade: C+
Extras Grade: C+
Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: June 30th, 2015
Running Time: 300 Minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 16:9
Sharp LC-42LB261U 42” LED HDTV and Sony BDPS3200 Blu-ray player