Shounen stories in anime & manga have been the eye’s apple for a long time. It’s a story of a youth aiming to get to the top, work & fight to reach their goal and make friends along the way. This type of story is meant to inspire young readers to work towards their goals & be optimistic and this has been going around for decades. All these stories have similarities, story patterns, identifiable characters, and power systems. When this old trope is continued over and over again, it starts to get stagnated and is often annoying. Some break the typical formula and curve their own identity in this world. Mashle tries to do that with its own twists & turns but with almost the same formula as the rest of Shounen stories.
Mashle is a story set in a world being able to do magic is the norm. Anything other than that is considered a threat. Those who can perform magic have one or two marks on their faces. An orphan boy named Mash was born without any magic and has no mark on his face. He was found and raised by someone who was shunned by society away from civilization and trained physically to overcome his lack of magic. They were incidentally found by an officer who then offers him a choice to reclaim their place in society. That is to enroll in a magic academy and become the Divine Visionary so that everyone has no other choice but to accept him.
Mashle aired in the Spring of this year and 12 episodes were aired in the first season. The manga is authored by Hajime Kōmoto and it was published in Weekly Shōnen Jump by Shueisha. The manga ended this year with 17 volumes published after 3 years of running. Honestly, the manga has one of the most dynamic, action-packed panels with gorgeous artwork that’s equally exciting and engaging. But, does the anime lives up to that?
A Mediocre Adaptation
A-1 Pictures is adapting Mashle and in the last episode, they announced season 2. So it’ll continue onwards without any hinge. The marketing for the first season was great, the Opening & Ending songs & animation are fun & eye-catching. The episode caught everyone’s attention with its animation, sound effects, funny gags & humor. Everyone was in for it including myself. But that’s where all the excitement ended. The pacing became very slow, small events dragged on for too long, jokes started to get old, and villains were annoying. Everything was going downwards. Just like rushing is bad for anime, slow pacing is also boring in that aspect. In every episode, they were introducing new characters and just that introductory part was stretched out for an entire episode, which is something that could’ve been done in half of the episode. Just when I thought things were getting interesting, they hit you with a recap episode. At that time, half of the season was already over and nothing significant happened yet to keep the audience engaged. Then there’s the main villain and his goons of this season.
Everyone has interesting abilities, including the villains that posed some challenges for the main characters. Some characters are intriguing with layers to uncover. By far Finn Ames is the best character in the series since he is the most normal one in the group. He is not strong in terms of power which puts contrast with his older brother. He, out of all, has the most potential to grow and to root for. It’s fun to see his interaction with other characters. Unfortunately, the other casts weren’t giving me any good impressions to follow them through.
The main character Mash is an odd one. It feels like he is just there for the jokes. We already know what his goal is and he is strong enough to overcome any challenges. It’s kind of fun to see everyone’s reaction to him and then change their worldview due to encountering him. But Mash has nothing going on beneath the surface. There is no development or change in him but there is potential to grow and learn more about the world he is in.
Now the villains. Oh no, the villains! They are the most uninspired, arrogant, ignorant jerks that are annoying to the core. And you are just waiting for that satisfactory moment when they get punched in the gut and taught a lesson. That has been the main pattern of the story so far and it’ll keep continuing because there’s nothing more fun right now. But I do hope that in the manga, things get a little more diverse.
I think magic & school is one of the most fascinating genres of all. It’s the perfect blend of the two that’s inspired by the likes of Harry Potter. You get the fairytale vibe with so much to explore. Other shows like Welcome to Demon School! Iruma-kun, Reign of the Seven Spellblades, The Misfit of Demon King Academy, etc. are also pretty fun to watch due to the same setup. And I think Mashle did a good job setting up the world. It’s nothing complicated but it’s grounded well enough for the journey the MC is taking. First, the magic academy that’s separated by different houses. Then the students are in different school years to set up the hierarchy. Then the headmaster, The Bureau of Magic, the police, and one or more shadow organizations. There are more aspects to look out for as you watch or read. It’s pretty similar to Harry Potter but it counters the main aspect of that. Instead of magic, the MC does it with mascles.
Honestly, just read the manga. It’s 100 times better than what the anime transpired. It ended in an anticlimactic cliffhanger and not worth going through the whole season. I am not anticipating season 2 either. The reason I didn’t make a First Impressions post when it aired is because I didn’t find anything to write home about. But this comprehensive review is what should give the overall idea whether you should watch Mashle or read Mashle.
Thank you for reading. ~♡~