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The Irregular at Magic High School Vol. #03 Light Novel Review

5 min read

The Nine School Competition Begins!
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Creative Staff
Story: Tsutomu Satou
Art: Kana Ishida
Translation: Andrew Prowse

What they say:
The Nine School Battle. Ever year in mid-July, students from magic high schools all over the country gather to participate in fierce competitions of magical skill.

Miyuki Shiba is among the members of the team First High will send to the battle. The magical skill of the competitors will be a huge factor, but there’s another one-the tuning of their CADs. Luckily, they’ve got someone with them who specializes in the field-Miyuki’s older brother Tatsuya. But when the Nine School Battle is targeted by a sinister group, all the talent in the world may not be enough to secure victory.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
The Irregular at Magic High School volume three is the second longest light novel I have ever read at 280 pages. For those who are curious, the longest light novel I’ve read is Horizon in the Middle of Nowhere, which has nothing “light” about it. Of course, the reason for the length of this volume isn’t because it spans a lot of time. It’s because of the amount of world building this volume has, particularly in regards to its magic system, which is more of a science than anything else.

Speaking honestly, some people will probably be bothered by how detailed and thoroughly explained everything about this world is. The magic system is lectured about in depth, either through exposition or some of the characters discussing how a certain type of magic works. While this does destroy some of the mystery that is often magic’s greatest appeal, I thought the attention to detail was quite phenomenal. Out of all the series I’ve read that deal with the combining of magic and science, this is probably the most well-thought out magic system I’ve seen to date.

The main plot for this volume is the Nine School Competition, which pits the nine magic schools in Japan against each other. Of course, Tatsuya soon finds himself involved with this, despite being a Course 2 student, when Miyuki, his younger sister, gets selected as one of the participants in the competition. Not long after his sister becomes a competitor does he become a member of the Technical Staff. Basically, it will be his job to help maintain the CADs, which are devices that have programs to help magicians utilize magic.

Because of how many details are involved in building the magic system and the world, this volume has a really slow start. Tatsuya, Miyuki, and the others don’t even begin traveling to where the competition will be taking place until about 150 pages or so, which is over the halfway point for this volume.

During this volume, quite a bit happens before the competition even starts. During one scene, Azusa, a member of the student council, was talking about flight magic, which apparently doesn’t exist because no one has figured out how to fly yet using modern magic. There are apparently a number of rules that explain why it can’t be done using new magic with CADs. This is one of those in-depth discussions that explains some of the laws regarding magic that I was talking about. In another scene, we learn that Tatsuya is one of the leading CAD programmers/designers, when he travels to his father’s company and creates flight magic. This was all done within a few scenes of each other.

One thing that has become clear as more volumes are produced is that Tatsuya is very much a self-insert character. His purpose is to be a wish-fulfillment character that readers can put their psyche into. This isn’t a bad thing, as wish-fulfillment has its purpose in entertainment. I think my only real issue is with what little we’ve learned about his past so far. Tatsuya was supposedly a human who couldn’t use magic and was experimented on until he could. Doing so is what granted his overpowered abilities, but it came at the cost of stripping away his emotions and everything that made him human.

Except it doesn’t.

There are numerous occasions where the author tells us how Tatsuya feels. His predominant emotions seem to be annoyance, which he feels on a number of occasions, namely when people want something from him (he always does what they want, albeit, reluctantly) that he doesn’t want to do. For a person who doesn’t feel any emotion, Tatsuya feels quite a few emotions. I wouldn’t mind this so much if it wasn’t for the fact that emotions were supposedly stripped from him during the experiments done to him as a child, or if the author specified that he could feel emotions, but they were only mild and never went beyond a certain level of intensity. As things stand, this particular issue makes Tatsuya seem like the reluctant hero who is forced into the spotlight for the sole purpose of wowing us with how awesomely powerful he is.

It isn’t long after Tatsuya succeeds in creating flying magic that he, Miyuki, and the other people competing in the Nine School Competition are off. While the first half of this volume feels a lot like a prelude, the second half deals with the competition itself. However, danger appears to be lurking in the background of the competition. During the journey there, the buses they’re on are almost hit by a car. Tatsuya suspects foul play, a prospect that’s further enhanced during the competition itself.

In Summary
While this series has always been a mixed bag of good and bad, I can state clearly that I enjoyed reading volume three. The grammar and syntax are straightforward and well-written. The translator and editor did an excellent job of adapting Japanese to English. If you like sci-fi and fantasy, preferably with the two mixed together, then you can’t go wrong by picking up a copy of The Irregular at Magic High School, Volume three.

Content Grade: B-
Art Grade: B
Packaging Grade: B
Text/Translation Grade: A+

Age Rating: 13 & UP
Released By: Yen On
Release Date: December 20, 2016
MSRP: $14.00

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