Anime Orbit is an irregular column where I summarize a stop along my journey through anime, manga, and the related spheres of popular culture over the past week.

Expect spoilers for covered material, where relevant.

It’s not common, but it happens; an anime that is decidedly fine but not great will unexpectedly just tap into something: a raw vein of resonant or intense emotion, a particularly strong theme, an exceptionally charismatic character will appear, etc. In doing this, the show goes supernova, breaking itself out of whatever little genre-box it’s stuck in and becoming something pretty unique—or at least interesting—in the process. If not permanently, at least for a while. Thus, we have the anime adaptation of The Magical Revolution of The Reincarnated Princess & the Genius Young Lady, a series that has been on Magic Planet Anime before, though not actually in its anime form.

I haven’t covered the series’ anime adaptation until this point because, frankly, until today, I wasn’t terribly impressed with it. I fell off following the manga not long after writing that original Manga Shelf column. And since then, Magical Revolution—MagiRevo, to its friends—has stuck in my mind, certainly, but not been at the forefront of it. Its anime, in particular, I have been a bit down on; just by being an anime, it has the obvious baked-into-the-format disadvantage of simply being of fixed, linear length, meaning that the balancing act between the more lighthearted yuri elements of the series and the more serious, dramatic, and intrigue-driven plot of the series has not always been easy to keep up, given that it’s stripped of the flexibility presented by reading a manga nor novel at one’s own pace. Sometimes, it has felt like watching two anime glued together. But no longer! Over its past few episodes, MagiRevo has largely discarded any pretense of being light and fluffy and has dived headlong into some surprisingly big ideas. Any feeling of trying to split the difference is long in the rearview by now.

To very briefly get the uninitiated up to speed: after what I previously discussed in the Manga Shelf column, MagiRevo starts getting into the story of Anis’ (Sayaka Senbongi) brooding younger brother Algard (Shougo Sakata). It was clear from day one that Algard was up to something, but over the course of, in particular, episodes 8 and 9, the series paints a compelling portrait of a man who is deeply troubled by the feudal realities of the world he lives in, and who takes drastic steps in reaction to them. It’s not long before he’s literally ripping the magical power out of supporting character and basically-a-vampire Lainie (Hina Youmiya), leaving her for dead in the process, and attempting to stone-cold murder his sister to secure his ascension to the throne.

This goes poorly for Prince Al, who at this point has basically ruined his own life as part of this harebrained plot to get Anis out of the picture. The tragic thing is that his motives are quite sympathetic! We see him moved by the plight of the poor, and furious at how his fellow nobles turn up their noses at those commoners. But tragically, he has no real idea of how to turn that righteous indignation into an actual plan to fix things. He conflates these systemic issues with his own complicated jealousy of his sister, and throws any real shot at repairing the underlying problems of the show’s world away for petty score-settling. He is, honestly, pretty lucky to get out of the whole ordeal alive at the end of the arc. Although being exiled to the kingdom’s borderlands ensures he won’t be playing a major role in the plot again any time soon.

Look at how smug he is about it.

That exile creates a new problem, though. With Algard out of the picture, Anis is once again the kingdom’s only valid heir. Her father, Orphanse II, restores her hereditary rights, and Anis is suddenly faced with the prospect of being forced into a queenly role that she neither wants nor is suited for. Perhaps surprisingly, she accepts all of this without much of a fight, resigning herself to her “duty” to the kingdom and to the other nobles, in spite of the fact that it’s not what she wants and that she isn’t the right person for the job anyway.

There’s an element of sad irony here; Anis, a genius in what is basically her world’s version of a STEM field, can’t seem to quite pick apart the systemic issues that her brother could. (We don’t get a great sense of what Anis actually thinks of the whole socioeconomic setup of her kingdom. She clearly likes the commoners as people, but it’s not clear if she really understands what makes them commoners in the first place the same way her brother did.) Algard, of course, wasn’t smart enough to come up with a way to solve those issues. One gets the sense that if they had been working together from the start, things would be much more on-track at this point, but complex interpersonal problems have gotten in the way, and the situation, as it stands at the end of episode 10, is very complicated all around.

This leaves Euphie in quite the spot, too. Episode 10 does a wonderful job of capturing just how powerless Euphie feels to really help Anis in any meaningful way. The succession issue is her problem too, since she loves Anis—she actually explicitly says as much here for the first time, no subtext here—and can’t stand to see her making forced smiles through the whole process of preparing for queenship. (This seems to mostly involve winning over the country’s nobility, which, given what we’ve seen of them, and given that we already know that they hate Anis because she can’t do magic, would seem like profoundly thankless work even if the show didn’t outright say as much.) She eventually goes to curse scholar and only slightly toxic friend of Anis, Tilty (Yuu Sasahara), for advice, and Tilty eventually gets it out of her that it’s not just that Euphie can’t solve Anis’ problems, it’s that Anis’ problems are her own, given how close they are. It’s worth reiterating the feeling of powerlessness captured here; the inadequacy, the friction between Euphie’s own feelings and the outside world. It’s surprisingly intense stuff, especially given that it’s mostly conveyed solely through dialogue, which, it’s worth noting, is wonderfully voice-acted.

Between Euphie’s feelings, Anis’ situation, and Algard’s arc that led up to that situation, the show also does a pretty good job of exploring how the systems that create the upper classes tend to strip even those people they’re intended to privilege of genuine happiness. Every single one of these characters is a landed and titled noble, wealthy in ways that you or I cannot really imagine, and they are all absolutely fucking miserable. It takes a deft hand to make that kind of thing actually sympathetic.

All in all, MagiRevo has become dark, fascinating, and surprisingly heady for something that really seemed like it wasn’t going to ever amount to much more than a power fantasy. (A gay power fantasy, which is a thing worth having, but a power fantasy nonetheless.) Episode 10 leaves us with the introduction of a new character—the mysterious Lumi, whose spirit contracts may offer a way out of Anis’ situation, but there are clearly some strings attached we’re not totally privy to yet—and a lot of unanswered questions. And, hey, on top of all that, there’s also a pretty spectacular bit in episode 9 where the maid Ilia (Ai Kakuma) saves Lainie’s life by making out with her. That’s pretty great too.

Absolutely bitchin’.

There is still a very promising year ahead of us, as far as anime goes, so I don’t know how many people—myself included!—will really remember MagiRevo’s surprisingly strong turn here come December. (Honestly, even if it totally flames out in its final two episodes, having a strong middle section is noteworthy enough, given how many single cour anime manage to have a noticeably weak one.) And fans of the original light novels, or even just those who’ve kept up with the manga, won’t be as shocked, of course, but the raising-of-stakes here is pretty great all around, and it’s taken MagiRevo from a show that’s decidedly okay to one that’s absolutely worth keeping an eye on. In a season this quiet, things like this have a chance to stand out that they might not otherwise get, but even in a stronger season, something like this would be worth taking note of. Mark MagiRevo down for “most improved since its premiere.”

A Note: I have COVID-19 at the moment. I think I’m through the worst of the infection, but that’s why content has been so scarceon the site lately, and it will probably continue to be irregular at best for a while longer. Hoping to be fully recovered by the end of the season so I can get on top of next season’s premieres! But, I don’t want to promise anything. If you’d like to help, now more than ever, I would appreciate donations at the links below.

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All views expressed on Magic Planet Anime are solely my own opinions and conclusions and should not be taken to reflect the opinions of any other persons, groups, or organizations. All text, excepting direct quotations, is owned by Magic Planet Anime. Do not duplicate without permission. All images are owned by their original copyright holders.

3 thoughts on “Anime Orbit Seasonal Check-in: Beyond the Royal Rainbow in THE MAGICAL REVOLUTION OF THE REINCARNATED PRINCESS & THE GENIUS YOUNG LADY

  1. Pingback: 5 Favorite Anime Blog Posts from 2023 Week 11 - Crow's World of Anime

  2. Pingback: Anime and Manga Blog Posts That Caught My Eye This Week (March 17, 2023) – Lesley's Anime and Manga Corner

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