When Supernatural Battles Became Commonplace

When Supernatural Battles Became Commonplace

The four members of a high school literature club, as well as the young niece of one of their teachers, were bestowed with supernatural powers. The boy in the club, Ando Jurai, became able to produce black flames. The girls acquired a variety of powerful abilities: Tomoyo can control time, Hatoko could control the power of the elements, little Chifuyu could create things from nothing, and Sayumi could repair objects or heal living things. However, since they gained these powers, nothing has really changed in their everyday life. Why have they been given these powers in the first place? Will the heroic fantasy life they imagined these powers would bring ever actually arrive?

Sadly, poor Jurai just can’t catch a break. It seems that he’s devoted the majority of his teenage existence to the possibility that he might suddenly develop superpowers, and has become quite the chuunibyou. He spends every day practicing his dramatic “containing the evil power within my arm” routine, much to the annoyance of his clubmates. Of course, typically, when everyone does actually develop superpowers, his is the only rubbish one: the ability to summon a dark, lukewarm ball of fire – and nowhere near as impressive at Hatoko’s power over the real stuff. As someone who spent many a middle school lunch period discussing world domination with a motley crew of friends, he struggles to remain positive amidst the group of ludicrously powerful females.

When Supernatural Battles Became Commonplace takes the all-too common premise of teenagers with superpowers and proceeds to have a spectacular amount of fun with it. Each episode is an unrelenting barrage of clever, self-aware jokes that embrace the tropes of the genre even as the show pokes fun at them. There’s an immediate chemistry amongst the lead characters that many shows, particularly some of the other titles this season, spend entire seasons struggling to develop. Character humour and slapstick gags are all well-executed, and the series is careful not to lean too heavily on any one joke.

Part of the reason the show works so well is due to the amount of thought that goes into the humour. Rather than simply mocking the more absurd elements of the genre, When Supernatural Battles Became Commonplace takes a genuine interest in its cast. Their reactions to suddenly gaining incredible powers are amusing, but they’re also believable – at first they’re completely in awe, and a little afraid, and without any impeding evil threat, these omnipotent powers are just used to make normal life a little easier. It’s easy to relate to the characters as they mess around with their newfound abilities and argue over the importance of cool nicknames for their corresponding powers. As the fireballs and punchlines fly, each member of the Literature Club gets a chance to grow beyond his or her comedic role and demonstrate their real power as well as give the viewer an insight into how these new talents have begun to affect their lives.

This character development pays off when the series starts to add moments of drama to the mix. When a poorly-worded letter leads student council president Mirei to develop a one-sided crush on Jurai, the natural assumption is that their non-relationship will become a running joke. Instead, Jurai owns up to his mistake and takes action to clear things up. Instead of watching a tired joke wear out its welcome over the course of multiple episodes, we get a surprisingly touching moment. Another fantastic, recent scene was Hotoko’s emotional explosion about, despite being his friend since childhood, not being able to comprehend a single word that Jurai has ever said – leaving our lovably hapless protagonist at a loss for words (for once).IMG_1244.PNG
The only thing that concerns me here is the potential for the show to get too ambitious for its own good. It’s a fun, clever comedy, but it seems keen on the idea of becoming something more (if it is going to decide to go down this route, it needs to speed things up!). Whilst this is the sort of goal that can make a good series great, it can also cause a series to lose sight of what made it appealing in the first place. Things still look promising though since, as mentioned earlier, solid execution has been on full display in these early episodes.

This anime is a great deal of fun, and it has fast become one of my favourites. It’s an easy show to recommend since it’s so easy to watch. If it manages to evolve into something more, it has the potential to compete with this season’s heavy hitters. It’s so crazy and off-the-wall sometimes that I’m not sure exactly where it’s going, but I really look forward to finding out.