The competition continues!
Episode 9 sees two major events between First High and Third High: Ice Pillar Break and Battle Board. And as expected, First High wins them, but not without a real struggle.
The Ice Pillar Break is fought between Eimi and Shiori, and it is here that both competitors give their all. Rising from the brink of her depression, Shiori proves that her calculation skill is perfect when she stops Eimi’s attacks, and indeed, it looks like Third High will take the win here.
But our red-haired Die Hard fangirl would not back down easily, and we see just how stubborn and powerful Eimi really is when she sets her mind into something. Her tenacity pretty much explains the core principle of magic: to turn lies into reality, a notion hammered into Eimi by her grandmother. Of course, her last-ditch attempt to win would not succeed without Tatsuya’s help, though it can be said that without Eimi’s own determination, she could not win against the more skilled Shiori.
In the end, First High takes the win, though not without both competitors collapsing from the strain. But unlike before, Shiori no longer feels depressed in her defeat, but rather contented at giving her all, which is a nice development for her character.
Meanwhile, it is Honoka’s turn to secure victory for her school against Toko of Third High in the Battle Board. And it is a match that is just as close as the Ice Pillar Break. But what sets this apart from Eimi’s fight is how Honoka uses her admiration for Tatsuya to win the fight, which is how those born with Light Element really functions. This is quite relevant to the arc in season of the main series where Honoka forms a connection with Pixie, and it is really interesting that the spin-off foreshadows that to some degree.
Obviously, Toko would not go down without a fight. But for all her skills in both Modern and Ancient Magic, Honoka still takes the victory. Interestingly enough, it seems that she is quite similar to Honoka in terms of giving her all in admiration of someone; in this case, Mizuo of Third High.
With these victories, First High has a guaranteed spot in the top ranks. But while the competition proceeds, the Ice Pillar Break is the only event where no other school can go against them. Thus, it is no surprise that the committee offers to give Miyuki, Shizuku, and Eimi the same top spot for their incredible display of power.
But as it is, it seems Shizuku could not resist the opportunity to fight against Miyuki. It is not a matter of envy, however, but a chance to prove herself against a powerful magician. And it adds a bit more layer to Shizuku’s character. Of course, we already know how this would end. But it is interesting to see how it is actually Shizuku’s decision to fight Miyuki, explaining the distress we saw in the main series when she loses.
Thankfully, Honoka promises to support her no matter what happens, displaying how deep their friendship is.
Overall, episode 9 gives us several insights on the characters and how each of them actually affects the scenes from the main series. Seeing the competition from different perspectives sheds new lights on information that season one never explained much, while the character development is simply icing on the cake.
Episode score: 8/10.