I just binged the arc. It is the first 7 episodes of season one.
Yet another overpowered protagonist (Tatsuya Shiba) who blows away everything that would challenge him. (This must be where the design for Anos Delhevia came from.) A harem, incest interest, (yum!) student government with despotic power over the students, and a student body absent of enough self-discipline to keep them from rioting. Teenagers left by adults to battle enemies that the adults should be battling instead. Did I miss any tropes?
But it was still a worthwhile anime.
The way it dealt with artificial class distinctions was interesting and not what I would have thought. The protagonist accepts that not only are hard class distinctions inevitable but necessary. Accept that you are in an inferior position, do your best, and get on with life. (Easy for a protagonist to say who happens to be a preternaturally powerful character that just happens not to do well on tests.)
Really kind of an anti-egalitarian and anti-democratic message. If the peasants rise up to demand equality, it is because they were deluded into it. That’s the plot.
The system itself is designed to enforce class consciousness. Yeah, the terms “bloom” and “weed” are officially forbidden. “Course 1” and “Course 2” are the accepted terms. That’s a bit of Orwellian “new-speak” going on there. It is a popular conceit that banning certain terms somehow ameliorates the ideas those things represent. It doesn’t. The old disdain just gets expressed in new ways.
“Weed” and “bloom” are inevitable concepts in this system. They are intentional on the part of the adult “bloom” leadership.
The school goes further to reinforce the segregation of courses by having them wear different symbols. Now why, one might ask, is it important that one be able to identify the status of another visually? The only possible reason is to keep everyone acutely aware of their differences and reinforce class consciousness.
And of course, prohibiting course 2 from top political positions… that would have no point but to keep those inferiors out of the loop. Obviously, practical magic skills are more important than skills in administration or strategy or psychology or even simple intelligence in the operation of a governing body. The school is predicated on a rigid class structure of aristocrats and commoners, as bad as Britain before the House of Commons.
Bloom and Weed, Course 1 and Course 2, all synonymous with aristocrat and commoner. Talented commoners could do well for themselves self but they’d still always be a commoner. (Won’t get into the fates of those who couldn’t even get into school.)
In a world of magic, physical labor would be unnecessary. (Unless we deliberately kept such jobs around.) Very much like how high tech is eliminating low-end jobs today and leaving us with increasing amounts of unemployment.
Doesn’t Japan have a series of tests starting in junior high that essentially determine the rest of your life? By the time you hit high school your fate is fixed. They also have a very high teen suicide rate.
I would have done well in such a system. I am insanely good at tests. Here we don’t have magic skills tests but instead we have the ACT and the SAT which measure a narrow aptitude for math and language. Over the years I understand they have attempted to broaden those tests and that many colleges are attempting to get away from them.
Even when I was a youngling, in the US at least, tests didn’t determine your life. And today they are far less important than then. At most, they were a source of financial aid and greased one’s way into high-end universities. You were still free to rise or fall on your own accord. Plenty of people performed poorly on them, still entered State U., and still did very well for themselves. Nobody hung a scarlet letter around their necks and nobody said they couldn’t be government officials.
OTOH some people did well on tests and then fell all the way to the bottom of the social ladder. (I was one.) In their world, I would have been a “bloom” while in this one I was a “weed.” And yet it is their world that I view as a dystopia.
Substitute those shoulder patches with skin color. Do you see what I’m getting at? Is Tatsuya a kind of Jackie Robinson for breaking the color barrier on the disciplinary committee? Or an Uncle Tom for passively accepting oppression?
I do not blame the non-magical people for raising an insurrection. Magical power has become economic power and political control. Instead of viewing themselves as just another part of the ecology, magic users have come to view themselves as above the ecology. That never works out well in the real world and I’m hoping it doesn’t work out well here. Several seasons yet to go!
If it does work out well, the show is just an apology for a caste system.