Episode 02 -
While the seemingly one-sided love between the main characters is already starting to grow wearisome (incestuous undertones aside), at least this episode centers in on one of the more intriguing conflict points brought up in the first episode; that is, the social stratification in the student body.
It’s rare to see, in anime at least, an extremely strong form of social discrimination (this is different from bullying, which we see surprisingly often). In any case, we see the talented “bloom” magicians separated out from the untalented “weed” students; this is made painfully obvious by the emblems embroidered on their uniforms. If you don’t have an emblem, then you are deemed “inferior” by the blooms. This hiearchy seems to be playing a powerful role in shaping the setting and characters, where you can see it’s effects everywhere from the student council’s “no weed” policy, to the Blooms’ blatant lack of even a modicum of respect towards their “Weed” peers.
Of course, this setup is meant to emphasize the nature of the main protagonist, Tatsuya. I mean, after all, it’s even mentioned in the title to this series: “Rettousei”, which roughly translates to “the Irregular student”. In other words, our character is meant to directly oppose this social hiearchy explicitly by showing off abilities that are outside the scope of the tests used to determine the “blooms” and “weeds”. In effect, he would be the “irregular” that proves that weeds aren’t necessarily inferior.
In other words, the protagonist’s very presence is effectively calling “bullshit” on the methodology used to classify “blooms” and “weeds”. While I do think this is a valid way to attack the discrimination issue, I do worry that this series will simply devolve into Tatsuya performing some wondrous miracle time and time again; he already performed one when he easily defeated the vice president this episode. Sure, his extraordinary accomplishments would break the stereotype of Tatsuya as a “weed”, but it wouldn’t be making much of a statement; it would simply be saying that he is far more exceptional than the other “weeds” around him. The more valid way to handle this would be to have the weeds, through sheer hard work and motivation, overcome this barrier of discrimination, because then it would be obvious that the discrimination is superficial.
Instead, I worry that we’re going to have a superman of sorts here, where Tatsuya consistently performs miraculous deeds on par with his near instantaneous defeat of the vice-president (whom probably was no pushover considering his status). If that happens, then the whole “weed” vs “bloom” debate becomes pointless; instead, it simply becomes “look how awesome Tatsuya is, he’s just an exception to the weed rule, while the rest are still weeds”. And that would be sorely disappointing.
Screenshots are later in the post.