In the hopes of preserving the life his dad and he have built for themselves, Mash agreed to attempt to gain the title of Divine Visionary at a prestigious magic school. But with no magical aptitude whatsoever, how can Mash possibly succeed? Before worrying about that, though, he must pass the school’s notoriously rigorous entrance exam in Mashle: Magic and Muscle Episode 2.
You always know you are in for a wild ride when a high school anime character is faced with entrance exams. With previous examples of these perilous tests, including everything up to the giant robots of My Hero Academia, what a world so infused with magic may bring leaves the possible dangers for this exam wide open. And while some of the tests Mash faces certainly live up to the promised challenge and not an insignificant amount of danger, Mashle: Magic and Muscle Episode 2 shines so bright with its exam because it highlights Mash’s best characteristic, his heart.
If you read my review of the pilot episode, you know I had little nice to say about this show’s main character. That episode focusing immensely on his less-than-average intelligence made the character feel like he would be little more than a walking punchline. While this episode also has a sprinkling of these moments, they take a back set to Mash’s kind-hearted and generous nature, and these moments raised my investment in character considerably. How he views others and his attitude towards dealing with them, even when they may do him wrong, are wonderful moments.
These moments of generosity and kindness are also handled wonderfully by the visual side of the show. While the moments of comedy feel like where the animation would flex the most, it is in these more subtle moments that it impresses me more. Camera angles, distance from the subjects, and slow pans all help create meaningful moments that feel serious, even with the show’s wackiness playing out around them. The work is easy to miss but is nonetheless effective.
Alongside the main character’s growth in Mashle: Magic and Muscle Episode 2, we also get introduced to several new characters who are sure to be regular elements of Mash’s story. It’s hard to say how well most of these personalities will mesh with the story overall. Most of their time here is spent shocked by Mash’s antics in the entrance exam or his continuing struggles with doors. So, I’ll reserve judgment until the show lets us all see more of who they are and not just how they react to the unexpected element of Mash crashing into their lives.
The one exception to this is the school’s headmaster. This character lands wonderfully as the classic wise man who looks more for compassion and kindness in potential students than raw magical power. While the first impression doesn’t deliver anything that makes him feel particularly unique, he does nail everything I would expect from this character style.
Ultimately, Mashle: Magic and Muscle Episode 2 triumphs because it spends far more time showcasing what makes Mash a wonderful person worth rooting for and far less time feeling like it’s making fun of him. If the series going forward can maintain this balance of these two elements of the character, this series may yet manage to be one I would heartily recommend.
Mashle: Magic and Muscle Episode 2 is available to stream on Crunchyroll.
Mashle: Magic and Muscle Episode 2
Ultimately, Mashle: Magic and Muscle Episode 2 triumphs because it spends far more time showcasing what makes Mash a wonderful person worth rooting for and far less time feeling like it’s making fun of him.