Mashle: Magic and Muscles Season 2 ‒ Episode 17

©甲本 一/集英社・マッシュル製作委員会

Following that introductory scramble, Mashle ‘s tournament story now moves into a team deathmatch setup. In a show of how well this series’ humor works in concert with its storytelling, the preceding episode capped off with a dryly hilarious gag of both Mash and Dot fumbling their assigned team crystals before the round even started. That leaves Finn as the sole defender of their squad, which leads directly into the dramatic struggle at the center of this episode. It’s a smart setup, economic storytelling, funny, and engaging in equal measure. That’s Mashle , baby.

The antagonist, Carpaccio, was introduced at the end of last week’s episode, demonstrating his strength-based philosophy and already getting on Mash’s bad side. Carpaccio comes off as embodying some of the inherent contradictions at the heart of the power structures in Mashle ‘s world. He believes in the absolute privilege of strength, but not the kind that can be gained or cultivated. All of Carpaccio’s abilities come from his special, top-tier wand he was granted at the outset of his life—he was handed everything he needed to succeed from birth. It makes him a natural counterpoint to Mash’s abilities built up through dedication to his workout routine, and as is seen later in the episode, Carpaccio’s actual powers make for a cleverly conceived matchup as well.

As a character, Carpaccio is pretty one-note, even by the shonen rival standards that Mashle is consistently working within. These might-makes-right types are a dime a dozen in the pages of Jump. But efficiently setting up Carpaccio’s basic deal frees the show to simply use him as effectively as possible. The viewer already understands Finn’s vulnerability, holding the only defeat-designating crystal for his team and starting to separate from his beefy bodyguards. So his scrappy desperation in the face of Carpaccio’s overwhelming, unflinching power can be better appreciated. But Finn does get Carpaccio at least once by yelling a fake spell name to make him look away for a moment. Oldest trick in the book.

Lacking as he may be in strength or a type of personal magic power that’s useful more than once, what Finn does have is desperate, principled tenacity. It’s true, passionate strength that stands alongside Mash’s slightly more actionable variety, and directly contrasts the lack of such emotion in Carpaccio. It’s reflected in the repeated close-ups of that bad boy’s dead, empty eyes throughout this episode. Carpaccio’s abilities, meanwhile, reflect Mash much more directly, since his power of transferring physical damage turns the main muscle-mage’s melee moves into a “stop hitting yourself” situation to see him try to overcome.

Carpaccio’s capabilities are wholly the result of his super-special wand manifesting the giant angel nurse stand thing that protects him. I’d have presumed the fight would boil down to simply getting his wand away, but then, Mash’s approaches have always been nothing if not unconventional. Mash can instead simply find a limit to Carpaccio’s powers where he never thought that there might be one—appropriate, given his abilities were an unmoving, undeveloped gift he’s depended on since birth. It pushes things into that kind of fist-pumping “Hell yeah” territory that’s honestly way more satisfying than just knocking Carpaccio’s wand away would have been.

It’s all ratcheted up with some wild fight animation from Mashle . The raw absurdity of Mash sculpting his ridiculous iron wand into a tennis racket to volley away at Carpaccio is an appreciable escalation. It’s Mash using actual jock powers to take down a magic-using nerd, so you know I dug it. For a moment, I was almost annoyed by the cutaway to the crowd of students then explaining what Mash was doing in that very expected shonen style. But then I realized that having that whole audience react that way, reciting it in unison, was itself an escalation of the overall outlandish joke. This episode was brilliant, top-to-bottom; truly strong in the way Mashle ‘s second season has settled into being.

Rating:

Mashle: Magic and Muscles Season 2 is currently streaming on
Crunchyroll.

Chris is still the reviewer for Mashle , and wizards are still nerds. Get some reps in with him over on his Twitter, or peruse the magical back catalog of his blog.

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