One can blame “Harry Potter” for the sudden influx of shows featuring magic schools or businesses that cater to the magical crowd. Some do rip off bits from the Potter universe like having a character wear glasses and graduate from an English school of magic. But most that I have seen seem to be based on original works.
“Rental Magica” began life as light novels by Makoto Sando. Never read them so don’t ask me. I’ve only seen the anime incarnation which started airing in Japan in October. So far, I’ve watched up to episode 18 and find it entertaining. This is not a show that I would buy for my collection. But it’s passable light fare that will do when I need an anime fix.
In the world of “Rental Magica,” there exists magical companies that rent out mages to clients in need of supernatural help. A so-called association keeps tabs on these companies and lays down the law if need be. The hero of our show is Itsuki Iba, a second year high school student who had to take over as president of the company called Astral when his old man went missing. Since high schools in Japan last only three years, Itsuki is considered a junior. He’s a nice boy who wears an eyepatch and doesn’t seem to have a magical bone in his body. He’s also cowardly and a pushover. But Itsuki has a good heart, views his ragtag group as his family and possesses a weird looking red eye that can see the weakness of a magic spell, a mage or a monster. Called the Glamsight, it is a very powerful trait that can be a burden on the owner.
When he reveals his right eye, Itsuki is more authoritative, directs his staff on how and where to attack and actually speaks in a more mature commanding voice. But he often bleeds and passes out after using the eye.
Astral’s current staff include Honami Takase Ambler, a childhood pal of Itsuki who is a Celtic witch; Mikan Katsuragi, a young girl from a family who specializes in Shinto magic; Ren Nekoyashiki, an Onmyoudo who uses four cats; and Manami Kuroha, a ghost Itsuki met at a hospital and invited to join his group. Kuroha can do certain things like appear and disappear plus move objects around like a poltergeist. She is also the company apprentice/intern/tea maker/acting maid.
Astral’s competitors include Goetia, a larger company led by Adilisia Lenn Mathers who is descended from Solomon and commands demons to do her bidding. She and Honami went to school together in England and were rivals so to speak. Both also like Itsuki and their rivalry over his affections is used to comedic effect.
The series is only 24 episodes and hasn’t been licensed for the North American market yet. Each episode explains a magical term at the end of the show. “Rental Magica” will never be called a groundbreaking show or cutting edge but it’s entertaining fare. And believe me after you’ve seen as many crappy anime shows as I have, it is a delight and a relief to see something decent.