Mash Burnedead is back for another set of reps, and like a dedicated bodybuilder who never skips leg day, the show hasn’t missed a beat. Elements of the setup and setting of the series have shifted around and progressed, but the general vibe remains consistent. That’s good for the audience coming back for this second round of Mashle, as this is a series I figure has worked satisfactorily for the core viewership it cultivated. I know I still quite like it as it is, and it’s running with just enough new stuff in its current direction to keep me interested in where it’s going.
The biggest upheaval, of course, is Mash’s magic-less status being out in the open now. I’ll be honest, I expected the story to keep that under wraps much longer than it did. Much of the main humor of the first season came from Mash managing to convince the incredulous magical populace that his absurd muscle maneuvers were acts of witchcraft. Absent that, we still get the feats of Mash tongue-tying mana parasites or lifting super-heavy wands, but the resultant reactions of onlookers are now of a more standard style compared to that internalized suspension of disbelief.
That humor is mostly still solid, though. Mash and friends have been detailed just enough as characters with their quirks that their inherent goofiness can comically carry whole scenes. The sequences of them going out shopping in the second episode or playing a magical board game in the third exemplify this. They also make clear how indisposable Finn is to making this whole setup work, as having to play the poor, singular straight man to this crowd of escalating weirdos makes him one of the funniest members of the cast. The series also continues to be dedicated to the bit of Mash himself not being able to fully grok everything happening in the plot around him, nor is he interested in trying. It adds the necessary dash of irreverence to this story setting that is still meant as a pointed satire of that other, more famous Wizarding World.
The utilization of that setting marks the biggest distinction from Season 1 to Season 2 of Mashle. Mash was already upsetting this world’s structure simply by existing in the institution of Easton. Now that his secret’s out, those upsets are rippling further across the world and those who live in it, with elements like the staff of the school and the Divine Visionaries finding themselves in factional conflicts over how Mash and his lack of magic should be treated. The series hasn’t dug into it too much yet, but it’s already invoking the ripe idea of whether people should assimilate into societal roles for the sake of higher order or be otherwise disposed of, or be allowed to simply exist for their appreciation of life. And given the primary target of Mashle‘s thematic riffing, it’s probably no coincidence that the lead fascist wizard cop introduced this season is a dead-ringer for old Harold Potter himself.
Mashle can still drag in places, evidencing its shonen-battle structure roots when it’s not ripping on young adult genre fiction. Margarette Macaron, the new enemy introduced in the last two episodes, exemplifies this. Their over-long piano-playing interstitials that barely qualify as jokes are not helping this show beat the padding allegations. When it does get going though, this season has looked pretty great so far. The third episode’s depiction of hot prefect-on-prefect action demonstrates the handle it has on making these magic battles cool when they aren’t just there for Mash’s anticlimactic punch through. It’s a fight that pops off in places regardless of being filtered through the lens of shonen battle power-level gimmicks or being between wizards, who as we all know, are nerds. And as long as we’re talking about presentation, I have to shout out this season’s A+ new opening sequence with “Bling-Bang-Bang-Born” by Creepy Nuts. It’s the perfect compliment to the show’s vibes which remain overall strong.
I’m interested to see how these sensibilities will serve the series as this second season soldiers on. Those shonen elements certainly don’t seem like they’ll be letting up any time soon. Oh, a school setting with an “exam” storyline happening? Is it a tournament arc? You bet your ass it’s a tournament arc. But Mashle‘s characteristic strength has always been in how it irreverently spins so many of the seemingly stock storytelling elements it’s playing with. So long as it keeps that in mind and Mash keeps being a good boy, this should continue to be a magical, muscular time.
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.