AntiMagic Academy “The 35th Test Platoon” Episode 1 [First Impression]

Are you ready for the darkness?

Impression

AntiMagic 1 Img054I was really looking forward to this – so much so that I decided to go with the raws instead of waiting for what seems like a very vague and non-committal simulcast from Crunchyroll. As a light novel reader, I believe that AntiMagic is the best of all three ‘school battle harem’ adaptations that aired this season, and I hope that this first episode has already given an indication of that. I really like the novels – it’s very edgy and a bit cheesy at times, but it tries its best to remove itself from its genre, and maintains a very tense and interesting plot. Even when there was an accidental groping scene this week, Ouka didn’t request a formal duel or ask him to pay with his life or anything stupid like that. And that’s because there was plot to get on with – she has better things to do than store up more emotional baggage for Takeru’s sake. In fact, this focus has been one of Silver Link’s major successes so far. A lot of the fanservice scenes in the first volume have been axed completely, with only the bare minimum remaining – this is one of those rare instances where they’re rushing things for all the right reasons.

AntiMagic is about a firearm-dominated military purging heretical witches in a post-apocalyptic world. I know that sounds way cooler than it seems, but that is what it’s supposed to be about. That military is named Inquisition, and it is the organization Ootori Ouka worked for before being demoted for excessive violence – she was returned to AntiMagic Academy, a training institution for future recruits to Inquisition. Now, she is part of the 35th Test Platoon, one of the many student-led platoons who have been tasked with obtaining Magical Heritages (items with magic imbued into them, and thus deemed dangerous) in return for ‘points’ which they can use to advance to the next year of school. But unfortunately for Ouka, this platoon has a reputation as the ‘Small Fry Platoon’ – a group of problem children with bad personalities who are currently in the running to fail magnificently with a grand total of zero points.

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AntiMagic 1 Img056As you might be able to tell, this is not a happy story. If you are after sunshine and rainbows, you won’t find them here. And there’s a lot of, how do I say this… human injury, even in the first few arcs – these are the milder ones, mind you. Hell, the show itself started with Takeru lying on the ground without the bottom half of his body, and it ended with a dead child on a table with a knife sticking out of it. Yes, that is a hand sticking out of that garbage bin. I was actually surprised to see that there was zero censoring in that scene, by the way – but if they’re going this far, I want to see all the darkness properly. I want it to be so dark that even light can’t escape. I was worried about the direction this anime would take, you see – because a previous manga adaptation of the novels had a massive focus on fanservice, and ended up doing so badly it was cancelled.

AntiMagic 1 Img062So something like Ouka’s outburst of angst at the end was perfect – that’s exactly the kind of atmosphere I want from this. Not oodles of ecchi and fanservice, but instead edgy and twisted people. Ouka is so revenge-driven for the sake of her dead family to the point that she’s basically the Eren of this series – she will shoot witches in cold blood, just because they’re witches. She dreams of killing witches. She dreams of killing them all. Working for Inquisition is the best excuse she can get to massacre as many of them as she can. And that’s why she was even demoted in the first place – because instead of recovering the Magical Heritage like she was ordered to on her mission, she instead prioritized giving the witch who had it a suffering-filled death. As Sougetsu said, killing witches isn’t even the main aim of Inquisition, it’s primarily the recovery of Magical Heritages. If Inquisition was America in the midst of its civil rights conflict, Ouka would be the KKK.

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I found both Takeru and Ouka a pleasure to listen to, especially Takeru. As usual, I was just hoping it wouldn’t be Matsuoka who voiced him, but we basically hit the jackpot with Hosoya Yoshimasa – who has done many rough, manly voices like Wave (Akame ga Kill!), Kojou (Strike the Blood), Daryun (Arslan Senki) or Hyuuga (Kuroko no Basket). Ikaruga and Usagi were both okay, I’m fairly neutral towards both their voices – although I think the episode did a great job of making me like Ikaruga more than I remember the novels doing at this point. I actually thought it ended up rather funny during places, like where there was really bad English or where Takeru tells Ouka it’s okay he grabbed her boob because he was into pettanko anyway. And the Sougetsu entry scene was quite good, even though Sougetsu himself couldn’t be more of a faggot if he tried. Usagi sniping the people in the wrong building for them was just a hilarious fuck-up. I think all the Small Fry Platoon members acting all goofy and ridiculous serves as a nice contrast to the dark setting of the series, it makes it seem more like what it was advertised as.

GOOD AFTERNOOOOOOON KODOMO-TACHI

GOOD AFTERNOOOOOOOOON KODOMO-TACHI

AntiMagic 1 Img032As for the production values – well, I liked most of the animation. Soumatou in particular was pretty cool, which is that odd power Takeru activated for a split-second to be able to cut bullets – I assume they will explain this in future episodes, so I won’t bother doing that now. I’m honestly not a fan of the character designs though. They do look appropriate at times, but most of the time it feels too ‘soft’ and almost even fluffy, which is kind of wrong for the sort of story this is supposed to have. Takeru didn’t look as angry as I thought he would, for example – the only time he lived up to what I thought he’d be more like was when he went into super edge mode and snapped at people calling his Glorious Nippon Steel a piece of scrap iron. I also felt like they overdid the whole the bouncing boobs aspect, even though both boobs and lolis are a bit of a thing in this series – even sometimes at the same time, like Usagi! I’m not really into Usagi though, I’m more into Lapis. That’s best girl territory, right there.

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So finally, I think it’s important to mention that Silver Link will be adapting almost all of the story as split-cours – 9 volumes in fact, according to the author’s afterword in Volume 10. I’ve never heard of numbers like that before, and it’s an ambitious project as a result. But it’s better than clowning around for a season and never getting anywhere – a lot of Volume 1 was condensed into this first episode, with the fanservice scenes being the biggest victim as I mentioned earlier. If next week finishes off the rest of the volume, then we can proceed at a very brisk pace of two episodes per volume, prioritizing plot and cutting out needless ecchi until the end of Volume 4. I suspect the first season will then end with Volume 5, with a much-deserved 4 episodes given to that instead. If you like a blend of sci-fi and fantasy in a dark setting, with suffering, edgy angst and minor harem and fanservice elements, then this’ll be worth sitting through, I promise. I honestly can’t wait for what it has in store for us.

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