Mahoutsukai ni Taisetsu na Koto: Natsu no Sora is based off of a manga series by Yamada Norie. Technically, it’s the second part of the series but it’s also the one I was asked to review and it looks like it’s set in the same universe as the first, but unrelated. Hal Film Maker handled the adaptation. You may remember them as the studio behind such anime as Bottle Fairy & Dokuro-chan. Given that one of those was quite good and the other was shite, I don’t know what to anticipate. So, let’s just look and see.
We open with our heroine, Suzuki Sora, being accepted into a month long program to become a mage. Because, apparently, magic exists in this world and you can master it in a month. That’s something that immediately bothers me. Being a mage is presented as a great thing that opens up all kinds of doors for you or that can, in and of itself, serve as a comfortable career. But they recruit for it by having a bunch of sixteen year olds study for a month. This world is kind of dumb. From there, we see Sora and her classmates go through the training.
The most pervasive issue with the series is simply that it’s kind of boring. We’re watching a bunch of under-written characters do relatively mundane things. Which you might think is strange when the series involves magic, but we’re looking at requests to “clean up my messy house and find this thing” or “open my safe.” It’s not exactly a dynamic, exciting way to use magic. The closest we get to that is Sora stopping a crashing vehicle in the very beginning. Which is not reflective of how magic is used for the rest of the series.
The romance is also a bit rubbish. You know there’s going to be a romance the moment Sora’s friend talks to her about how she “needs a boyfriend.” You also know who it’s going to be because he’s the “kind of distant” type of dude that makes for a very trite romantic interest. The actual set up for the romance is pretty bad though. It’s pretty much “they’re living together during their training and sometimes they faff about Tokyo together.” But there’s never any chemistry betwixt them nor is there a real sense of development for their relationship.
The closest the series gets to being interesting is having Sora go beyond her clients’ magic requests to try and make their lives better. At those points, the series shows what it could have been. They aren’t great scenes but they’re, at the very least, decent. All two times we see that happen.
I already mentioned the characters being under-written, which is a big part of the series itself being boring. Slice of life style series work when the characters are either funny and endearing or really well developed and compelling. This series has characters that are just archetypal. They aren’t interesting nor is the series funny. Which not only makes the series uninteresting but renders the tragic element ineffective.
The artwork doesn’t help the series. The facial expressions are highly lacking with most scenes giving the characters blank looks. A lot of the art is fairly minimalistic. With details being left out like the animators were on a severe time crunch and could never actually finish an episode properly. Don’t get me wrong, it doesn’t look bad, just kind of lazy.
This series got some actors I’ve heard before and have respect for the abilities of. Like Hanazawa Kana, Inoue Marina, Namikawa Daisuke & Takahashi Mikako. The direction in this, however, is not very good. They’re clearly going for slow, deliberate delivery but a lot of the time the result is that the characters sound bored. Rather like I was watching the series. The music is the best element in the series. There’s an ongoing thing with a blonde woman, voiced by the singer Sasao Miku (micc), performing songs. And they’re really good.
There’s one part where some random background character I can’t remember the name of says he’s fallen for the male lead. Which might or might not be him joking. It never comes up again so it doesn’t really matter.
Areas of Improvement:
- Have the program for becoming a mage take longer. You don’t have to show us the whole thing, but a month for that is dumb.
- Either lose the romance entirely or properly develop it. I don’t really care which but as is, it’s not interesting or well handled.
- Focus more on Sora going beyond to try and help her clients. Like I said, these moments are where the series is most interesting. If you had her trying to help improve clients’ lives as a bigger part of the series, this could have been a decent anime.
Ultimately, this is not a good series. It’s not interesting. The artwork and animation come across as lazy. The directing results in bland performances and the characters are under-written. That being said, I can’t say the series is bad. Most of my issues come down to it being boring and seemingly lacking any effort into making it anything but trite. So, I’ll give it a 5/10. If the premise of mages training for a month to do minor errands with magic seems interesting to you, go ahead and try it. Overall, I don’t recommend it though. But definitely look up Sasao Miku’s music.