Tensei Oujo to Tensai Reijou no Mahou Kakumei Episode 9 In-Depth Review

This was a lovely episode. A phenomenal showing of craft and talent. But I’ve got some notes on this episode. There’s some things that shouldn’t have worked – but did – and some things that really bring the outstanding quality down – but barely got in the way.

Let’s start at the top. Algard’s storyline comes to a climactic head, and his characterisation has been handled at distance from the narrative, but just enough to gleam the important details. On the surface, Algard is arrogant, bitter, and swimming with insecurities; his ‘looking down on the world’ demeanour has always come across as a front for a much weaker man. Shougo Sakata’s standout performance has given the biting edge, in low pitched exhaled angry breathiness, demonstrating Algard’s vulnerabilities – and in Episode 9, his story’s end, of comeuppance and redemption, Sakata gave it the extra mile.

I’m not entirely sure how MagiRevo’s magical system works. Something to do with hereditary connections to magical spirits, but a lot of its explanations comes across with an almost religious, symbolic angle, such that it’s hard to get a grip on how exactly it works. Perhaps I’ve been a little bit too spoiled with the excellent magical systems of recent fellow yuri isekai anime, Shokei Shoujo no Virgin Road and Ura Sekai Picnic. In any case, this magical system results in a series of English descriptive incantations needing to be said (or shouted) to cast the spell, and it’s this volley of spell names where I think Shougo Sakata’s performance really became something special.

He roars spells from the pit of stomach with a sense of stability, yet screams Anisphia’s name like a beast; it’s this range that demonstrates the character’s depth of feeling, whilst also showing us his emotional immaturity. We learn through this episode that Algard’s anger belies his almost masochistic underside; he wants to either get his comeuppance or totally defeat Anisphia. As he casts ‘Icicle Rain’, his unseen counter spell that seems to be a finishing blow, he speaks solemnly, calmly – a far-cry from his prior ferocity. Almost every spell had a different timbre to its incantation – it was particularly brilliant when he began laughing fanatically upon breaking one of Anisphia’s swords. And it all-too soon comes crashing down as Anisphia turns it, and we see in full view Algard’s deeply seated self-hatred and inferiority complex

It’s this performance that allows the episode’s second half to work – the exploration of how Algard became so resentful, and the supporting cast beginning to understand his plight. But, make no mistake… if you take a magnifying glass to the backstory, it’s actually a bit weak. It’s one of those instances where a somewhat weak screenplay has been brought to heights it probably shouldn’t have achieved.

See, the sentimental aspect is gracefully paced into, but the background of Algard’s story largely begins here. – because, let’s face it, we all knew Algard’s talks of grandeur and equality was hogwash, and we’d only really seen other character’s viewpoints into his thorny, complicated personality outside of plotting. Whilst getting a flashback where all characters act exactly in-character isn’t a bad thing, making a situation complex after it’s happened is a classic written no-no. It’s shown that Anisphia was ‘blamed’ for Al getting hurt as a child and rumours began to spread that this was out of jealousy due to her lack of magic, so she renounced her right to the throne there and then to put those rumours to a halt – but Al didn’t want to be King, and felt betrayed. It’s not a bad character conflict, but who are these people spreading rumours, and why should our core cast care? I can only count the tertiary characters on the fingers of one hand, and only by their positions – the world-building is decent, sure, but it’s not good enough to handle this kind of rumour spreading. This is a problem that reared its head in Episode 7, where the developments of Euphyllia’s presentation worked to Anisphia and the audience, but the people being presented this talk to were just background faces. MagiReco is consistently trying to make us believe its faceless characters will just do what the narrative needs them to do, which is more cynical than the show’s overall optimistic and tender tone allows for.

So it’s a jolly good thing all of this worked here because of Sakata Shougo’s terrific performance – but it wasn’t the only aspect of the show that stepped up. The production really hit its stride this episode, particularly as the second half of the episode hit.

Now, for a largely action-oriented episode, you’d think this was a criticism. It’s not. I’ve seen people online comparing MagiReco’s best action animation to Ufotable’s work on the Fate Series… though I think that’s largely for some similar framing of its fantasy-weapons (Anisphia’s final attack in episode 6 wasn’t far off a rendition of Saber’s Excalibur, in stance, use of effects and filming). The animation was strong throughout, though not Ufotable-level of sakuga. The fight with the dragon in an earlier episode was very strong too, but that episode had some clear shortcuts such as a still montage. The shortcuts here are much more smooth, like using moving CGI rain/ice droplets during talking scenes (which are essentially stills with lipflaps), and it keeps the scene bouncing along with motion, but the actual action? Great stuff. Particularly well composited CGI for the magical water, too, and I was impressed with the fluidity and clear framing – seeing the slashed away water attack curve away, upwards, and reform as an arrow, was a complex bit of moving camerawork that anime often struggles with. There were lots of great eye-catching frames too, and the focus on facial expressions, even during combat, paid off for the emotional aspect of this climax.

The second half of the episode was a tour-de-force from the entire production team, that paced the episode beautifully throughout its sentimental portion. After Al was defeated, he reflects on his failures, and we enter an epilogue scenario to this arc after the ad-break cut. Even without that ad-break cut though, we’d still feel the continuing sound throughout scenes – at first it’s the background rain between cuts, then the strings and piano ostinato leading us to Euphyllia’s monologue on the aftermath of events. The show keeps us invested throughout the series of tie-ups, linking scenes emotively with sound.

Al’s reverence is a shocking twist, and Sakata’s performance wears the defeatedness well. One thing MagiReco did well early on was develop its lead’s parents, so his insincere confrontation with the King was a painful watch. As Euphie clues us in on the background-barely-named-characters receiving an offscreen death, the sky turns to a peaceful white-tinged azure glowing orange gently by sunrise, and a single bird flies into the distance. Algard’s departure arrives.

This scene was beautiful, particularly once Euphyllia steps up. It is fundamentally the two women most scorned by Algard coming to… not forgive him, but tell him how much they were hurt by him. Lainie first wonders whether there were simply two sides to Algard, and that one was maybe good.. . but she won’t forgive him either way. Meanwhile, Algard and Euphyllia see entirely through each other. Euphyllia continues to make a step-forward, for herself, and do something she wants to do, for herself – she slaps him. Kindly? It’s strangely friendly, and the weird respect they have for each other in that moment was complicated, messy and… quiet. The music comes in immediately after the slap as they bid farewell to Algard, but not without him making one final request for Euphyllia – to look after Anisphia.

With each line of dialogue between Algard and Euphyllia, the camera creeps up on them – it physically closes the distance between them as they’re opening up to one another and being honest with their feelings. Algard tells Euphyillia she was an awful fiance – too focused with her position. Euphyillia returns it in kind, telling him he was too arrogant. Before long, they’re laughing about the past. It’s very sweet, and it works so well.

And then the episode ends with Euphyillia returning to her beloved. We’ve seen her falling in love with Anisphia all season long, mixing feelings of jealousy, admiration and desire… and with that admission from Algard – on top of a previous episode’s hinting from Tilty – Euphyillia finally comes to realise where she wants to be most. Anisphia is still out-of-action, bedridden and asleep, and Euphyllia plants a delicate kiss on her forehead, promising she will always be there beside her, as the camera zooms out to begin to show us the commitment to her feelings. Wonderful. This second half of the episode was perfect.

Now there was one nagging issue that I, uh, haven’t gotten around to yet. One scene I’d really rather was cut.

So whilst Algard and Anisphia were fighting idealogically, as a holdover from the prior episode’s cliffhanger, Euphyllia was – and continued to – tend to Lainie’s and Ilia’s wounds with some more of that half-developed magic system. It doesn’t seem to be going well, and there’s some confusion over whether Lainie is still a vampire or not… well, she’s feeling Algard’s pain? There’s a lot of magic system threads brought up in this moment that confuse the whole episode. But it’s Ilia’s reaction that ruins everything.

In an attempt to heal her, Ilia bites her lip until it bleeds and kisses Lainie. Who, by the way, had a giant gaping hole in her chest.

This was pure yuri-bait. Pure and simple. Nothing else to this scene. I feel like the writer is another one of those shippers who is trying to force something with thier side characters. It’s not like I don’t get it – I get it. Yuri and BL heave existed in the subtext and side-cast for so long that viewers tend to clamour over what they can’t get more than what they do get, so now those viewers are creators… there are plenty of gay romance works that enjoy a detour through the supporting cast (see: Given, but pretty much every popular yuri work has done something to this effect if given the time, such as both Citrus and Yagate Kimi ni Naru in their epilogue chapters). Try as you might, MagiReco, but this sideship you’re shaping up is clumsy. The only thing tying the two is the forced mechanical physicality (kiss for blood transfer? No easier way?), which makes it no better than those fetishy yuri works like Fate/kaleid liner that want all the fantasy of lesbianism – but none of the commitment. The fact Lainie was in agony (and Ilia wasn’t faring too well herself) stripped any attempt at romance from the scene. It felt like a fetish moment, and was completely undermined by the suggestion that Lainie still has feelings for Algard later on. It seriously degraded an otherwise outstanding episode.

As I mentioned earlier, the second half of this episode felt like an epilogue. Indeed, where do we go now? The main conflict is resolved. With an episode this strong, I can’t help but look forward to the future developments – not just for Euphyllia’s wonderful romance with Anisphia, but also how she accepts retaking the position of heir to the throne. Will her developments throughout the series thus far make her a more mature woman for the role? I’m excited to see where MagiReco goes next, and hope that future arcs can end with as much strength as this one.

Thank you for reading this far! It’s been nearly a year since my last post. Between struggles with work and real life, I’ve been finding it hard to pinpoint where I want my writing to go next. I want to write more in-depth analysis – though still with a bit of critical pondering – so I’ve decided on reviewing individual episodes rather than whole series. Working with 20 minutes will focus me on what to write about. Though, uh, this post sure went on, huh? Still, it was fun, and I feel a lot more repeatable – I only need spend 20 minutes watching and remembering something to write about, than a whole series! Flashback to writing Galaxy Episode 999 and getting brainfarts for examples haha.

Let me know how you feel about this new type of content, or whether I should just get back to whole series!


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