Discussion Response: A Few Last Words On Mahouka

Management: If you check my Ask.fm page, you may have run into these pieces before. Recently, I’ve realized I’ve been writing pretty much weekly mini-essay responses on Ask.fm, and since there’s no way to actually search or intelligently archive that text, they’re essentially sinking into a vast ocean of nothing. So I’ll be slowly archiving the more interesting or fully articulated pieces here, and I figured I might as well start with something that’s probably nearing its expiration date – Mahouka criticism.

How do you feel about the idea that Mahouka is an ode to Objectivism?

That it is. 100%. Not even a question.

Mahouka’s social philosophy is “I’m only put down because this society doesn’t recognize my real talents – if this school’s society were fair, I’d be on top.” This is how a lot of unhappy teenagers think – they rationalize their issues, whatever they may be, as the fault of an unfair, arbitrary society. This is why Objectivism is popular among teenagers – to people who both see themselves as superior and can’t recognize their own advantages, the thought of a society where “everyone succeeds according to their actual ability” is comforting.

Mahouka takes this “I’m secretly special!” fantasy to its logical, political extreme. Its society is allegedly a meritocracy, and its protagonists support that – they’re not actually inferior, they’ve just been incorrectly judged by a system they do think is fundamentally just. These characters, like Mahouka’s actual author, can’t see that people arguing against this system do so because they believe it’s an incredibly naive and self-gratifying denial of the nature of systemic advantages, along with a fundamentally inhumane view of what society’s role should be. Instead, they just assume that others deny the system because they’re jealous, or because they don’t want to work hard, or because they want to watch the whole world burn. The very inability to see other perspectives that leads such people to Objectivism (or its modern parallel, libertarianism) also makes them incapable of understanding why others wouldn’t champion such a system.

As well as incapable of seeing the show’s politics, for that matter. Because they agree with the show’s incredibly specific, warped worldview, they don’t see it as “political” at all. They see it as the way the world is.


Thoughts on the opinions you sometimes see which go like “it doesn’t matter what messages are contained in the media which we consume because it doesn’t translate to the real world”?

Of course it doesn’t! Neither do the messages of our parents, our peers, or our larger culture – nothing influences us unless we want it to! That’s also why there are no such things as moral fables, political satires, narrative propaganda, or advertising.

Oh wait, that’s all bullshit and so is this argument.

Granted, that doesn’t mean we should ban media we find questionable – we should just be aware of our own media, and not mindlessly consume. It’s perfectly reasonable to say “yeah, I think this show has some shitty messages, but it’s still a fun ride, so overall I enjoy it.”

Why do you hate Mahouka and why does that make you a bad person?

I don’t hate it. It’s a juvenile power fantasy that embraces politics I find indicative of a very ignorant and destructive worldview, so I feel inclined to talk about that, but I don’t hate it and I’m fine with people liking it. Most posts about Mahouka seem to just be pointing this stuff out, and my first post in particular was intended to say “enjoying this stuff is fine, but be aware of what messages your media may contain.” I like plenty of stuff that I still have some problems with – I think almost everyone does.

People have been getting super mad about this because of The Problem of Fandom, basically – they can’t abide people having problems with the shows they like, because they identify far too closely with those shows, and consider any criticism of those shows a personal attack. This is especially true of Mahouka, which specifically says stuff like “You’re right, the world doesn’t understand your talents, if the world were fair you’d be rewarded” – it actively encourages a lack of self-reflection. I think media’s power to make people feel understood and empowered is a Good Thing, but being unable to separate yourself from your media is not – it means you’re unable to question what you’re consuming, and that’s what these posts are all about demonstrating.

51 thoughts on “Discussion Response: A Few Last Words On Mahouka

  1. To be honest, Shiba doesn’t seem to care much about getting the short end of the stick, because he can both see his other advantages and knows how to use the system to achieve his goals despite any setbacks.

    Being neither attached to nor opposed to the political ideas expressed in the show, I’m amazed at the wars it has caused. Though I get the impression it’s the opponents that are taking the debate more personally.

    • It’s one of few shows I’ve seen that actually makes the political subtext implicit in a lot of power fantasies the actual text, so it’s kind of a uniquely revealing one to critique. I’m not sure how many critics are actually taking it personally, though – it’s really just a particularly suitable target for many related concerns.

      • It’s one of few shows I’ve seen that actually makes the political subtext implicit in a lot of power fantasies the actual text, so it’s kind of a uniquely revealing one to critique.

        As I said in my post about the latest episode, I like shounen power fantasies. I like liking them. I hope deconstructing Mahouka in this manner hadn’t ruined these shows for me :-/

        Some people like to make out critics as if they go into shows hoping to dislike them. I not only go into every show hoping to like it, it’s especially the case for these shounen shows.

  2. From what I can see, the “hoo-ha” is primarily caused by people who dislike the show vehemently attacking the show and, in some cases, anyone who actually likes the show.

    enjoying this stuff is fine, but be aware of what messages your media may contain

    The fact that you need to explicitly state that you think it’s “okay to enjoy the show” indicates how much of many of these discussions go, don’t you think?

    • I make that explicit because in the discussions I’ve seen, people often mistake criticism of the show for an attack on its fans, and pretty much nobody is attacking people for liking the show. They’re just arguing it has malicious subtext.

      • How could your commentary possibly be interpreted as anything other than an attack on the fans? You’ve said it’s a juvenile power fantasy for teenagers who think that they’re superior and it’s just an unjust system keeping them down. Your derision isn’t barely concealed, it’s stated openly.

        (Disclaimer: I haven’t actually seen this show nor do I agree with the politics it allegedly supports.)

        • That’s only if Bob also states that no one should ever be a teenager who likes power fantasies, ever, or that juvenile things are inherently bad because they are juvenile, which he doesn’t.
          Just like saying the target of ecchi shows are this kind of person is not itself a condemnation of that target audience. Just look at Froggykun’s blog.

        • I watch lots of stuff meant for teenagers, and I watch lots of stuff that has elements I strongly disagree with. Criticism of these shows isn’t criticism of me – we all watch tons of questionable stuff, and I think being able to look at even things you enjoy critically is pretty important.

      • I agree With Arbitrary. Just because you criticize a theme of a medium doesn’t mean you hate everyone who believes it. Good people can be myopic and unaware that they are buying into something terrible. Lets say I found the environmental message of Nausicaa (the movie not manga) simplistic. That doesn’t mean I think all fans of it are simple and short-sighted, but in their love for everything else in the movie (and it was very good), they might of bought a faulty message.

        And I mean hell, when I was young I liked Ichigo 100% and defended the harem relationships in it.

      • Maybe it’s not that same thing at all, but I remember the outcry when Sword Art Online came out. At that time I certainly felt that bloggers were trying to make me feel bad for liking the show.

        Even ignoring that, I think that many of these blogs posts are completely one-sided criticisms of the show. That’s it’s a completely terrible show with no positive qualities.

      • You have may have a coherent story in which the words I used above (quoting you) aren’t intended to insult the fans, but in the language the rest of us speak phrases like “juvenile power fantasy” are intrinsically pejorative and most people who read it would take it to be an insult, disclaimer or no. If you don’t intend to insult the fans then these posts represent terrible writing because they communicate the opposite.

        • Criticizing a show does not equal insulting its fans – that’s pretty much one of the core issues I’m talking about here, where I think people are identifying too closely with the media they consume. It’s something I’ve discussed before, probably most specifically here:


          Using phrases like “the language the rest of us speak” make it clear you assume you’re speaking for people in general – I wouldn’t make that assumption. I’ve heard plenty of criticism of pretty much all my favorite shows, but I don’t take that personally. I think SAO is also a bad show in a few of the same ways Mahouka is, but I have plenty of critic friends who like it, and I certainly don’t think any less of them for doing so. We all have different personal perspectives, different media priorities, and different views on art, and that’s all perfectly reasonable. But taking criticism of a show as a personal attack, and saying the critic is wrong to do that, is really just a way of stifling debate.

      • It’s not that you criticize the show, it’s how you do it. The words you use, while you may you not attach negative affect to them, are pejorative in ordinary conversation. Harshly so. That is what I (correctly) mean by “the language the rest of us speak”.

      • It’s not that you criticize the show, it’s how you do it. The words you use, while you may you not attach negative affect to them, are pejorative in ordinary conversation. Harshly so. That is what I (correctly) mean by “the language the rest of us speak”.

        I was going to say something like this.

        Well don’t think it’s wrong to feel “it’s my blog so I can say what want, I don’t care if I step on the toes of some random people”. However, you’re wrong if you think it’s just “fanboys getting upset that their show is being criticized” and that the people criticizing the show are without blame.

  3. To me, Mahouka seems like sort of a weird, distasteful inversion of Watamote – wherein Tomoko is actually popular and running things!

  4. “You’re right, the world doesn’t understand your talents, if the world were fair you’d be rewarded”

    Wait wait, are you saying this is the show’s message? Are we watching the same show? People like Mibu and the second course students who believe the world doesn’t understand their talents and are unfairly judging them are being made a fool of in this show. Course 2 students who think they’re fighting the good fight are just puppets for some terrorist organization that doesn’t give two shits about them or equal rights. The show goes out of it’s way to display that most of the perceived inequity between course 1 and 2 students is psychological and caused in part by the course 2 students themselves.

    • The show believes that the system underlining this society is fundamentally just – thus it has characters like Tatsuya talk about how naive people working for “equality” really are, and characterizes people like Mibu as fools who don’t even know what they want. However, it also puts Tatsuya himself in a position where the world doesn’t recognize his talents – he secretly is one of the elites, but because their current society incorrectly measures talent, he is not rewarded for it in the way he should be. Basically, it’s having its cake and eating it too – presenting an “ideal” society where we are all rewarded according to our “real” worth (which is comforting to people who think our current world is arbitrary and that they’re not being properly rewarded for their talents), but creating one bubble within that world where the protagonist isn’t rewarded in this way, so he can still play the underdog.

      • O.o when you put it that way Mahouka seems childish and blargh. You’re exactly right about Tatsuya too. There’s no way he’s an underdog but the setting is messed up in just the right way to put him in that position. lol@that. my eyes have been opened.

  5. Blargh the lack of an edit button x.x sorry for my double post, I clicked reply too fast by accident. Anyway continuing where I left off.
    “I’m only put down because this society doesn’t recognize my real talents – if this school’s society were fair, I’d be on top.” this line of though is exactly the opposite of Tatsuya, the main character’s belief. He’s in a position where he really does have talents that are unrecognized by the school, however he doesn’t mind it at all. In fact he sees the merits of the school’s assessment of him and uses it to improve in the areas that are lacking.

    • Isn’t the problem he’s talking about. The fact that the protagonist actually is the under-appreciated gem thus validating the Objectivist belief is the juvenile power fantasy he’s talking about. Non of the flaws of a meritocracy is addressed critically and we’re supposed to believe that this is ideal. If you ever watched any of the Soviet Union propaganda films you can that they portray communism as Utopian and capitalists as all greedy and corrupt. Does that mean communism is justified? No.

  6. I’m incredibly confused about how the course 2 students were portrayed in the fifth episode. If you’re a course 2 student in that episode, you’re either:

    A) partially responsible for the discrimination against you because you quietly accept it without doing anything.

    or B) you protest blindly without actually being able to back up any of your claims and with no clear idea of what you want or how to get it.

    What I don’t comprehend is how they can have portrayed the students this way without seeing an opposing worldview. The class president tells the course 2 students that they share the blame for discrimination. It’s a stupid claim, but it implies that the show has an idea of what the course 2 students SHOULD be doing if they want to end discrimination. But we never actually see a course 2 student who does whatever that is; they either fall into the president’s category of complacent victims, or they can’t answer Tatsuya’s question when he asks them “what do you want.” It’s baffling to me because it makes it seem like Mahouka actually DOES have an idea of what a reasonable opposing worldview would look like, but it’s never incorporated into the show. Instead it makes every single course 2 student either complicit in their own misery or too stupid to actually do anything about it, and gives them equality by having one of the people in power just hand it over out of the kindness of her heart without actually taking any input from them. I don’t understand how it could have been written like this, even if it is supposed to be someone’s simple power fantasy.

    • Keep in mind Tatsuya and his friends are course two students as well. I think they’re suppose to represent the course 2 students that are competent and disprove the notion that course 2 students are inferior to course 1 students. Also keep in mind that a key part of the show/vn’s message is that the discrimination isn’t important, and shouldn’t bring students down. The school itself doesn’t support the discrimination. Course 1 and 2 students are taught the same things and are allowed access to the same resources/facilities etc etc. Supposedly it’s the attitude of the course 1 and 2 students that is the problem.

      • I don’t really buy that the students shouldn’t let the discrimination get them down. The course 2 students aren’t good at magic, but they don’t deserve to be bullied and treated poorly because of that; they should have the right to stand up for themselves. Tatsuya can’t very well be an example for how they should do that, though; the course 1 students only listen to him because he proved that he was actually more skilled than they were at magic; other course 2 students can’t do that because they aren’t misclassified course 1 students like him.

        The reason for my confusion is that because the show seems to have very clear ideas as to what the course 2 students should NOT be doing if they want to end discrimination, it makes me think that it also has an idea of what they SHOULD be doing. However, I don’t know what the show thinks that is because we never see it. It’s true that Tatsuya doesn’t take discrimination lying down and also doesn’t disobey school rules in a bid to get people to listen to him for once. However, that’s because he has unique abilities that allow him to stand up to the course 1 students in a way that will get their attention. He’s more skilled at magic than the course 1 students. We never see a course 2 student who is not as skilled at magic, is able to get course 1 students to listen to them, and also doesn’t fall into either the category of people who are partially responsible for discrimination because they don’t stand up for themselves, or the category of people who are protesting in a bad and misguided way.

    • One of the reason for that is the reason for the separation of the course 1 & 2 – the processing speed of magic usage of an individual which the anime imply that currently it’s totally a skill you have to born with. You can’t actually train to made the skill better. So most course 2 students can only wait for some course 1 to drop out to actually taking their places.

      That’s why even the course 2 guys that are sticking around the main characters don’t do anything to further their status even thought some of them are actually pretty capable.

      Second reason is just how badly the course 1 treats the 2s & how the school clearly totally support this. This school is almost run by the students & all powers are given to course 1. No one in the uppers would probably take you seriously because you’re a course 2, I really don’t understand what you expect from 16~8 years old to do about this.

      …and of course there’s the brain washing that are going on but that are there probably so certain characters can be redeem easily after this.

      • It’s true that the course 2 students can’t necessarily improve their skills at actually using magic, but what they want isn’t to advance their status. They just want to be treated with basic human decency.

        It’s also true that no one will listen to them, which is why they ended up using force in episode 5. That got everyone’s attention. However, all the people who did that were portrayed as being morally wrong for breaking the rules. They were also portrayed as being incredibly stupid, not being able to come up with a single coherent demand even when they had time to prepare for negotiations with the student council. The course 2 students who weren’t in the group that used force were called out for being complacent and not doing anything to stand up for themselves. So what exactly were they supposed to do?

        The thing is that the show implies that there WAS something they could do. Like what if one of the students who was using civil disobedience to protest actually had a reasonable request for the student council? The reason I’m so perplexed by this show is that the show obviously KNOWS that this would be a reasonable opposing viewpoint to that of the course 1 students, but they don’t include a single character who represents that viewpoint.

  7. This isn’t strictly related to Mahouka, but more on a point you keep bringing up in a lot of these essays – you seem to equate Objectivism with Libertarianism pretty often as though they’re inseparable, which I don’t think is really fair. There are a good number of people (myself included) who associate with the Libertarian party simply out of the beliefs that the Federal Government sucks at managing things, and that power (in the United States, specifically) is better and more efficiently held on a smaller scale, ie. at the state or local level. It’s not an issue of “boo-hoo society puts me down because they don’t understand me”, but rather “in the United States, the government spends resources less optimally than its citizens, therefore it makes sense to limit government powers to what they actually do well, in addition to things society cannot do independently.” Now, we could argue about what society could or couldn’t do independently, thus arriving at our various political party affiliations, but that’s a far more intricate debate than just saying economic conservatives are naive and inhumane and calling that the end of it.

    You say things like “These characters can’t see that people arguing against this system do so because they believe it’s an incredibly naive and self-gratifying denial of the nature of systemic advantages, along with a fundamentally inhumane view of what society’s role should be,” but I could just as easily turn that around and say that Socialists (or any other political view) can’t see that people arguing against the system do so because they think the government often oversteps its capabilities and ends up causing more harm than good (or whatever other criticisms a person would like to present). This of course sounds stupid, because not all socialists are simple-minded narcissists who can’t imagine other worldviews, but you’ve been making this point a lot, and it seems pretty hypocritical, especially given your championing of people as complex individuals who can actually have different worldviews and not all be total idiots.

    I’m not defending Mahouka in any way – I think the show is pretty terrible and it certainly has a messed up agenda. I’m certainly not defending Objectivism either. I’m just annoyed by this common thread in a lot of your posts lately where you feel the need to personally attack all Libertarians as though they’re necessarily Objectivists, as if there’s no possible way a person could be Libertarian and be cognizant or respectful of other worldviews (and yeah, it feels like a personal attack when you call an entire group of people naive and inhumane). Sure, many Libertarians are Objectivists, but not all of them are, and you don’t have to lump us all together, eh?

    On a different note, since that was a lot of negative stuff, just wanted to say I really enjoy reading your blog and love your analyses of things. You’ve got great insights into a lot of stuff and have helped me better appreciate a good number of shows, so thanks for putting your writing out there and I’ll definitely keep reading in the future.

    • Even in absence of overt Objectivism (which is pretty ingrained in Libertarian thought), Libertarianism is still really goddamn stupid.

      • Aside from that inane reply, I agree with you kaikideishu. I don’t think it’s fair to equate the beliefs of some proclaimed Libertarians (sayyyyy Alex Jones) to all people who hold Libertarian beliefs because they’re are different interpretations. At its core Libertarians are about freedom. It is also very optimistic in that it believes people are mostly good and can/should govern themselves whenever possible. Any further interpretation can be (and is) debated and frankly you choose to identify with specific philosophies while rejecting others. To equate Libertarianism and Objectivism (especially this core concept of Objectivism he is discussing here) is faulty.

  8. Mahouka interests me. I also wrote this on a comment on another blog, but to me it’s been like a crash course in sociology and psychology for me. I never had a clear idea of what Objectivism was supposed to be until Mahouka and the related discussions came along. Well, actually, I still don’t really know what Objectivism is supposed to be, since no one seems to be in agreement about it. I do at least know about the problems of extreme meritocracy because I’ve studied the Japanese and South Korean education systems in some detail. It’s in this cultural context that I’m personally inclined to view Mahouka, not as a mouthpiece to espouse the evils of Libertarianism in modern American society.

    At first, I kind of took Mahouka seriously as a critique of the education system, that it was trying to say that having a narrow idea about what constitutes “academic excellence” holds the system back. But as the show went on, it became more and more obvious that this so-called critique was all just to make Tatsuya look awesome, not the other way around. The idea that the student president girl states in episode 5 that discrimination is in everyone’s heads and that if they all pretended that discrimination doesn’t exist everyone would get along better (paraphrasing, but that was the undeniable gist of her argument) seems grossly naive to me. Maybe it’s trying to say that all students are equal, but Tatsuya is more equal than others?

    If I hadn’t been exposed to this kind of discussion, I’m not sure how critical I would have been of its messages. The whole tone of the show feels “off”, and maybe, to an extent, it’s supposed to feel that way. There’s a lot of superficial beauty to the show’s aesthetics, but it all feels very cold and clinical and underneath it’s deeply twisted without fully realising it. The sibling pair symbolises everything that’s interesting and flawed about this show. They’re both very beautiful, rich and talented people, but the sister is incestuously in love with her brother and the brother is a cold and unfeeling person who seems to have been the subject of human experiments? Kind of creepy stuff. In the hands of a skilled author, this could have been an amazing dystopian sci-fi. If the criticism around this show wasn’t so harsh, I might have believed more in its potential.

    • With a bit of self-awareness (and, well, awareness that other perspectives aren’t just idiots who don’t know what they want), this could definitely have been something bizarre, creepy, and great. But yeah, as is, it’s just author-Tatsuya’s personal fantasy writ large.

      And it’s certainly originally based in Japan’s education system and politics (I’ve heard Japan’s school systems described as “a machine designed to rate students”), but I think the attitudes it plays to are a lot more universal than that.

      • I think the attitudes it plays to are a lot more universal than that.

        Definitely! Still, it is a bit strange to see the discussions about Mahouka get so political when every anime has a political dimension, especially when it comes to Japan’s relations with other countries. While it’s interesting to see discussions focusing on the universal aspects of the story, I think ignoring the political and cultural context around Mahouka has led to some rather narrow-minded discourse, with fans and critics reading their own values into the text and waving it around as the definitive reading of the story’s themes. The show is effective as a springboard to discuss other issues, yes, but I think we can both agree that this kind of criticism diverts our attention away from basic things like how the text is actually composed. Which is my main problem with Mahouka criticism thus far, as enlightening as it has been to read.

        • But many people do consume their media without overtly observing its cultural contexts. A lot of the discussion surrounding Mahouka is with regards to media influence, in both directions. At least in America, the mainstream face of anime is that of shounen and mecha in their power fantasy forms, which indicates that the primary audience of anime in America finds internal resonance with those stories, and that has nothing to do with the anime’s original cultural context in Japan, but the audience’s personal situations.
          So many of the conversations are dealing with what sort of messages we (as the international, or even specifically American, community) are taking away from the show, why, and why we should be wary of them.

          That said, I would love to read about what Mahouka’s implications are within the Japanese cultural context. I can’t really speak for it, since that requires being able to read Japanese reactions online/in-person and being knowledgeable enough about the current culture and history overall to put even those reactions in proper context. That distance means that I would have to consume such analyses as from a sort of historian’s perspective, not as a fellow audience member discussing the show I just watched.

          (Tangent: I think it’s interesting that the backlash against weeaboo-ism has gotten to a point where it’s almost discouraged to watch anime as anything more than “just another medium,” with interest in the original cultural context leading to cries of aforementioned weeaboo-ism. The way TVTropes seems dead set on renaming tropes that originally had Japanese origins, such as Kuudere, with original english nicknames almost comes off xenophobic to me. I’m of the opinion that the appropriation and re-definition of language is not always bad.)

          • It’s true that media influence is definitely the underlying issue here and that many fans consume anime while disregarding the cultural context. But if we’re going to move past such self-focused readings (which all this criticism is trying to make us do, right?) then we need to broaden our horizons and think about what anime means for other audiences and about the context it was originally created in.

            I can understand others not being as interested in this sort of thing as I am. Like you said, it’s hard to relate to directly. Asian media and cultural studies align with my academic interests and professional prospects (translation), so I can’t help but make those connections. The technical term for that is “cultural mediator”, but is that a euphemism for professional weaboo, I wonder? 😉

          • I think that the original cultural context plays less of a role in these particular conversations because most of the concern about Mahouka’s ideals is more about how it may reinforce/influence certain negative attitudes/behaviors in a viewer’s personal context.

            But as said before, I would still love to read about the why something specific to current Japanese/Asian culture (such as the economy destroying meritocratic education’s promise of a good job, shifting gender-based social trends causing unease about the ability to get a girl, changing demographics in who self-identitfies as otaku and/or consumes light novels) may be driving the emergence and popular consumption of these ideals in media.
            Too bad I can’t get through most J-dramas, and they’d serve as examples of the ideals in mainstream Japanese media to which anime may compare and contrast to, in order to form a better sense of cultural context.
            (My own area of interest lies in the music scene, particularly idols, and not even seiyuu, so that’s nearly irrelevant to analyzing anime’s cultural context, other than in studies of moe and kawaii culture, and the rise in idols self-identifying as otaku. Anime analysis, for me, is then pretty strictly from the storytelling perspective, not even necessarily tied to medium.)

    • “If I hadn’t been exposed to this kind of discussion, I’m not sure how critical I would have been of its messages.”

      That’s really good point, Froggy. I sort of feel that if I hadn’t been exposed to all the criticism on it, I would just have been left laughing at the writing ala Magical Warfare. As is, I’m getting comments from people saying that I sound as if I’m feel I’m being personally attacked by the show. Which I don’t at all.

      I’m not naturally a harshly critical person when watching anime; I’m generally very easy to please. I wonder if this is one of those times where all the criticism has sadly had an negative impact on people’s ability to enjoy the show at all, to the point where the only people left watching it are those who watch it to harshly critique its politics.

  9. I enjoyed you post and I think you addressed this already in I several previous posts (the last one in SAO I think). Though I don’t agree with your comparison of Objectivism and Libertarianism (mostly that while they’re are overlaps in philosophy the main point of Libertarianism is freedom and anti-authority while Objectivism is the moral superiority of self interest) I think you made a good point in the problem with Mahouka and like animes espousing Objectivism and people buying into it. I was researching WWII propaganda and I saw a lot Nazi,Soviet Union,American,British, and Japanese wartime propaganda and a lot of it argued for or against their country’s political philosophies. The most interesting were the films and the one I remember was this Nazi one where it was essentially a love story between a young soldier and his girlfriend(or fiance or whatever I forgot) and it played out like the love story except the whole time the film is saying oh isn’t the Nationalist Socialist Party great?

    Now it’s a hyperbole to say that the author of the Mahouka LN is like akin to a Nazi propaganda film but the parallel drawn is that both media had a political subtext to it and we should definitely criticize it! If the story is built around the concept then you should be able to call B.S on it if you can back it up. Whether or not Mahouka has Objectivist tendencies (or even if we should call it that) is something that can be debated though, I agree with you that I found the same subtext when I watched it.

    Now I agree with you that a person can criticize a point of the media without saying that anyone who like it is stupid for liking it. Fandom is funny like that because a person identify with something and see criticisms of it as criticisms of them, which is fallacy of association. Also just because this is a problem in it doesn’t make you hate the show in its entirety.

    But you should hate the show because its a piece of gag inducing crap.


    Not really.

    • Criticism is important! And the fact that this show brings up such heated responses kinda just makes it more important – that implies the issue of identifying too closely with it, which generally means you’re not going to be probing it for any questionable ideas.

  10. So much for your laughing from the sidelines as the rest of us get these comments. Have fun, and remember, it’s ok not to reply to comments, to keep having fun!

    • Silly me, not realizing not everyone who checks the blog reads my ask.fm. “Let’s just archive those Mahouka thoughts, I think we’re pretty much done discussing that.” Uuuugh.

      • For pure archival purposes, you’ve got that wonderful invention, “Drafts”. You can also create a page called “Archived thoughts” and publish sub-pages, and have a link in the header.

        From my experience, the moment something is on a sub-page, it gets considerably less page-views. It also doesn’t appear to people signed up to your site, and sites such as Animenano, which also plays a part.

        And yes, this isn’t even a case of “Hindsight is 6/6” but more “lack of thought” 😛


  11. @FlameStrike

    There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old’s life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs.

  12. Thoughts on the opinions you sometimes see which go like “it doesn’t matter what messages are contained in the media which we consume because it doesn’t translate to the real world”?

    I also think that opinion is bullshit too. No one can deny the influence of media to our worldview. So if we didn’t have a good filter, we would be swept away by all the bullshit messages in anime/manga. Wataru Watari, the author of OreGairu, also criticize that opinion in the afterword of OreGairu volume 1:

    Haven’t you ever read a youth romantic comedy and seen the following disclaimer at the end?
    *This work is a work of fiction, and has no relation with real matters, people, or organizations.
    In other words, that youth romantic comedy was filled with lies. And everyone is getting tricked.

    • Yeah, it’s just total nonsense. Media influences culture, and culture influences action and belief. Statements like that are the last refuge of people who don’t want to question the things they consume.

  13. Good thing you stopped watching this. Mahouka becomes nationalistic as all hell from what I’ve heard people say, and even outright racist in its depictions of Chinese and Korean people.

    • Sure, it’s racist. And it’s a two-way street. You should see the things the Chinese and Koreans say about the Japanese. But of course, it’s only wrong when the Japanese do it, right?

      • Most English speakers don’t care either way, but are more likely to talk about when the Japanese do it since Japanese cartoons are more popular in the west than Chinese or Korean ones.

      • The reason why Chinese don’t like the Japanese is because Japanese deny their war crime towards the Chinese.Sound like a legitimate reason to dislike the Japanese. Luckily, UNESCO has register Nanking Massacre which Japan whine and complain while the German never complain when Holocaust is registered into UNESCO.

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