Akashic Records of Bastard Magic Instructor – Mid Season Anime Review
Synopsis: The new teacher at a magical academy has a rather unorthodox approach to education. Even though his students are driven to learn, he prefers to write instructions on the chalkboard then nap during class. His evident laziness and overall incompetence frustrate his students. However, when a terrible incident threatens the school, he shows a new side to himself that takes everyone by surprise. (Official Funimation Synopsis)
Mid Season (6 Episodes) Review (Warning: Some Spoilers to Follow):
Tom: Akashic Records opened with only the smallest of differences between itself and so many other fantasy anime light novel adaptations. It’s unique elements set it apart however, offering up a hilariously inept lead that help to create fun comedy and tension between its other characters. Now six episodes in and what few unique elements Akashic Records boasted have been sidelined in favor of rushing through as much content as possible.
Linny: Akashic Records started off with a heavy dose of comedy that almost immediately and completely disappeared by its second episode. The comedic moments still occur regularly but nowhere near as much as in episode 1, which is going to be a heavy blow to anyone who was won over solely by the humour in the premiere episode. At one point, the comedy in the show might get extremely inappropriate/uncomfortable for some viewers as a teacher openly admits to wanting to see female students give in to his magic spells of sexual seduction and arousal. And while the show doesn’t apologize for it, it does show the principal curtly mentioning that they should fire that teacher, which is a rare sight in anime, but which also seems to have been done as a bit of a joke in and of itself.
Tom: While the comedy peppers through now and again, Akashic Records seems to be blazing through the Light Novel’s content. A quick glance over some fan translations of the Light Novels, still unreleased in the U.S., indicates that the anime is covering each volume at a pace of 3 episodes per volume. This is a terribly fast and frantic adaptation. Most quality Light Novel based anime use five to six episodes. In some cases this even allows room for additional content that helps to grow the characters and flesh out the story. Here instead the series is more likely cutting content, or speeding up events in order to cram as much material into each twenty-two minute episode as possible. This is a problem as the story doesn’t hold up under such a fast and frantic pace.
Linny: This breakneck speed will sometimes make you feel like you’re watching a recap or a best of compilation. The rushed pacing becomes more and more obvious as the show continues. You zoom through events as they wrap up in a blink of an eye and often without any proper buildup or exposition. Big moments lack any impact because of the lack of buildup as they come flying at you one after the other. The show also ends up projecting and revealing its twists within minutes, which further ruins any and all impact. This will be all the more aggravating if you are marathoning the show at the end of the season, as any and all suspense gets undone within minutes of it being revealed in the first place. For example, at the end of one episode, Glenn has been cornered by what looks to be formidable foes however within the very first 5 minutes of the next episode, they’re revealed to be good buddies of his. The excuse for this fake out is that the attacking buddy has a tendency to attack first, check later but in the case of Akashic Records, it only reminds you how bad this show is at building up or executing twists and reveals.
Tom: What Linny described above is a direct symptom of this kind of rushed adaptation. Without enough events, time, and twists between set up and pay off moments it becomes painfully easy for audiences to predict surprise reveals. The show lacks the ability to obfuscate its surprises, making Akashic Records an incredibly easy series to predict what’s to come.
Linny: Glenn Radars started off as a reason for my interest in this show. He was utterly and completely despicable, having no qualms about being the worst teacher ever or even telling the most blatant lie without an iota of shame. Glenn Radars of episode 1 would have had most comedy fans chuckling hard. Of course, most well watched anime fans would also have guessed he would change colours/reveal himself to be some form of perfection sooner or later but in episode 1, the devotion to making Glenn Radars the ‘worst’ protagonist ever was extremely entertaining. Thus, it’s very disappointing when the show quickly and completely abandons that persona by the second episode itself. Sure the show occasionally refers back to the ‘worst’ Glenn from episode 1 but it’s done in such a short and passing manner that it no longer clicks like before.
Tom: Glenn’s abrupt shift away from completely worthless to quirky secret bad ass is disappointing and makes him feel like little more than a clone of near every other male fantasy light novel protagonist. This interpretation of his character isn’t helped by how often the series sidelines comedy in favor of rushing through its main dramatic plot. The same can be said for Sistina, our ace, hard working student who often stands at odds with Glenn’s laid back nature. She is pretty much abandoned as a lead for episodes four through six in favor of Rumia, our young female student and friend of Sistina who holds a number of secrets. But the problem of sidelining characters is much less noticeable in Sistina’s case as she wasn’t all that interesting to begin with. She acted mostly as a foil to Glenn’s nature and with his aloof persona often disappearing for the more action oriented elements, Sistina is left with little to do.
Linny: Not that Sistina was an amazing female protagonist to begin with but having her replaced by Rumia, who is CONSTANTLY playing damsel in distress, is even more frustrating. If you’re someone who prefers strong female characters, its sad to watch almost every female character, no matter how powerful or efficient, become helpless without Glenn Radars. This deference/reliance on Glenn to save the day extends even to Celica Arfonia, a powerful female magician who was Glenn’s mentor and who even he was scared of. It ultimately feels like the show is undermining all female characters so Glenn Radars can save the day every time.
Tom: Another big issue with steamrolling through content is the lack of basis for character interactions and developments. Without going into too much detail Glenn’s class enters a school wide competition. Glenn ultimately selects the best students for each event, meant to show how much he actually knows and cares about his students. But we’ve rushed through so much content we’ve never gotten to know any of these smaller characters, or seen anything that could hint that Glenn would in fact have any knowledge on them whatsoever. A moment that could’ve felt like a powerful surprise, that Glen isn’t truly a no good teacher, lacks any kind of impact it could have had without any of the necessary set up and development.
Linny: Akashic Records’ premiere made it look like one of the best shows for comedy fans this year. Unfortunately, by episode 2, that feeling was long gone and lost for good. If one were to watch the show not as a comedy but an action, adventure, the cramped storytelling still ensures that most viewers will be left aggravated at the lack of exposition and proper story and character development. The jump from one big moment to another loses all impact, creating a show that has nothing monumental to boast of besides its ridiculously rushed pace. Ultimately, the show might still have merit as a speed run for people already familiar with the series through its light novels but isn’t the best way for newcomers to experience its story.
Tom: Without characterization and character building moments to keep the series feeling fun, Akashic Records comes off as little more than the generic run of the mill Light Novel fare. It holds no greater value than a modest way to pass the time with some of the most predictable and generic developments. If you’ve seen enough fantasy light novel adaptations then Akashic Records will hold little to surprise you with. And if you haven’t? There’s still better fantasy light novel anime you should be watching instead.