With Lloyd no longer bothering him or his friend Finn, Mash was ready to return to his daily grind. But how is Mash supposed to compete when he is pulled into a student-loved sport involving flying brooms? Also, it seems like Mash has drawn the ire of another student looking to accomplish the same dream as him. What will happen when the pair collide in Mashle: Magic and Muscle Episode 4?
Narrative and comedy can often struggle to come together cohesively. The desire to put humor front and center can often undercut or contradict what the narrative is trying to accomplish. This can lead to unsatisfying moments for any viewer who wants to be pulled into the story of a series that is pushing the comedic aspects of its presentation to the forefront. This is certainly my experience with Mashle: Magic and Muscle Episode 4.
As the protagonist, it is generally assumed that they will ultimately overcome the obstacles set before them. We all know Mash will continue striving for his goal and, most likely, will succeed. But, when it feels like the show will break every law of physics to allow the character to succeed at whatever he needs to do on his first attempt, it taxes the ability of the viewer to engage with the story. He quickly overcomes every task that Mash is confronted with on the first try, no matter how ridiculous his plan is. This approach has wrapped Mash in a suit of plot armor so thick that I can’t even bring myself to wonder how, let alone if, he will succeed. This has turned challenges from interesting plot points to pointless moments that draw out the narrative and can be vehicles for the show’s visual humor.
The other problem that deals a severe blow to Mashle: Magic and Muscle Episode 4 is how it deals with its newest antagonist Lance Crown. Like Mash, he strives to become the Divine Visionary for personal reasons. Throughout the episode, Lance manipulates, threatens, kidnaps people, and attacks Mash to get the one-up on him. After all this, Mash declares that Lance isn’t a bad guy. Why? Because it turns out the worst thing Lance does is a trick, as opposed to the life-threatening action Lance tries to project it as being. So, because he isn’t as terrible as he presents himself, all is forgiven, and he’s a good guy. This level of sentimentality is almost insulting. While wanting to see good in people is great, blindly forgiving others for no apparent reason is just dumb. How the show tries to praise this choice, like Mash is a great guy, for it is ridiculous, and not in a good way.
Mashle: Magic and Muscle Episode 4 further attempts to excuse Lance’s behavior to the viewer by making them privy to what his motivation is. While it is a dire situation, right on par with Mash’s even, Lance’s good intentions don’t absolve him of the morality of his choices. He does crappy things without regard to the impact they will have on those around him. Whatever his final aims are, that’s still crappy.
While the narrative struggled to hold itself together, the comedic elements of this episode continue to deliver well. The visual humor of key moments, particularly Mash’s participation in the broom riding sport, land wonderfully in no small part thanks to the animation. How the team at A-1 Pictures delivers the bizarre ways Mash overcomes the show’s challenges continue to win.
Mashle: Magic and Muscle Episode 4 is an entry that sacrifices its story in some harsh ways. If you are here purely for humor, this entry will satisfy you. If you want the plot, the series has been set up to have some weight or relevance to the show; this one will not be your favorite.
Mashle: Magic and Muscle Episode 4 is streaming on Crunchyroll.
Mashle: Magic and Muscle Episode 4
Mashle: Magic and Muscle Episode 4 is an entry that sacrifices its story in some harsh ways. If you are here purely for humor, this entry will satisfy you.