Wow, AKASHIC RECORDS, a new magical school anime! I wonder what kind of guy the transfer student will– wait, where is he?

I started the first episode of AKASHIC RECORDS OF BASTARD MAGICAL INSTRUCTOR expecting it to be the same as every other magical school show. First, a strange, male transfer student would arrive at a mysterious, but legendary, school. Next, he would coincidentally bump into an outspoken female protagonist and fight her. Finally, he would somehow defeat a recognizably powerful figure using some hidden power. I was happy to find something entirely different in AKASHIC RECORDS within the first few minutes.

WARNING: Spoilers Ahead

The story begins with a flashback of a young boy shouting in typical shōnen fashion about his desire to become a mage of justice. Transition to the present and a bright scene reveals a pair of female students, Sistine Fibel and Rumia Tingel. The two uniform-clad girls run through a beautiful city on their way to their class at the Alzano Imperial Magic Academy. While the two girls begin talking about the new substitute teacher they’re going to have, a young man sprinting to get somewhere bumps into them. (I wonder where someone might be rushing to in this city with a Magic Academy… )

A commonplace magical school show would usually have this strange figure argue and fight with the girls. AKASHIC RECORDS, on the other hand, has Sistine hilariously blast him into a fountain with a bit of nervous wind magic. The random man completely ignores this and starts intensely examining Rumia. Getting far too close to them, he receives another wind spell to the face and gets blasted away.

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Glenn Radars of AKASHIC RECORDS
The bastard instructor “teaching.”

So who is the Bastard Magical Instructor?

The strange man is later revealed (Surprise!) to be the new substitute teacher, Glenn Radars. Despite his young appearance, he is an official teacher at the academy (much to the disdain of the faculty). Unlike the male protagonists from standard magical school shows, Glenn appears to be lacking in terms of magical power and motivation. This “teacher” even opts to make his first lecture a self-study period before settling down for a nap. AKASHIC RECORDS twists this typically lazy, yet knowledgeable, character from a strange, powerful student into a teacher. Though he seems very confident in his teaching methods, he has zero answers to the questions his students ask him. He has no teaching license and he only received the job because of a recommendation. Oddly enough, the strongest witch on campus wrote that recommendation.

This initially seems redundant as we constantly see how lazy Glenn is, but the redundancy does lead to important expositions. It’s easy to see that you get an idea of what the other characters are like through their reactions to him. His laziness is vital to introducing characters both inside and outside of the classroom. This helps to introduce their personalities early on without giving too much information, and that makes you want to know more about them.

Glenn’s entire class reacts negatively towards him and they seem ready to give up on him, but our wind-user Sistine tosses her glove and challenges him to a magic duel. He accepts, much to the surprise of the class. He seems likely to beat his student with his surely superior magical ability. However, Sistine unexpectedly defeats him with the simplest of magical spells. He goes from bragging on his feet to being knocked onto his back within seconds in a hilarious anticlimax. 

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Glenn Radars losing to Sistine Fibel
Sistine gives Glenn quite the shock.

What Magic Awaits in AKASHIC RECORDS

In a magical anime, there is usually a specific order among the main characters. There is always someone who is shown to be incredibly strong and someone who proves their strength by battling them. From the jump, this is a storyline that breaks off from this decades-old formula.

It was, however, somewhat disappointing to see the needlessly revealing female uniforms and the obligatory ‘man accidentally walks into the girls changing room’ scene, but this fits our careless teacher protagonist to a T. This classic fanservice scene was geared more towards comedy than sexualization. Also, I gladly saw that the moment focused on and capitalized to show off a bit more magic. Judging from the stunning animation of these supposedly basic spells, I can’t wait to see what the real ones look like.

AKASHIC RECORDS maintains its comically self-aware progression despite a few familiar tropes. It is crafting a style of anime that mixes just the right amount of satire into what becomes a rather serious plot. Just a single episode in, this show already promises a classic concept with a fresh vision. Having eye-guzzled every episode since the premiere, I can promise it only makes the show better. As for the bastard, Glenn, I saw just enough of his hidden potential in the next few episodes (I’ll let you enjoy those for yourself!) to make me confident he’ll be one hell of a magical instructor.

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