The Irregular at Magic High School’s Sibling Romance Is Still an Awkward Hurdle for Fans

With Season 2 of The Irregular at Magic High School finally airing after an agonizing six-year wait -- extended further by a delay due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic -- fans of the series are thrilled. The highly anticipated "Visitor Arc" has kicked off with all the sci-fi action, mystery and magical battles one could ask for. Though for all its fantastical qualities, there remains one issue that can still make viewers uncomfortable: the constant hints at a future romantic relationship between protagonist Tatsuya Shiba and his sister Miyuki.

The series revolves around the scientific and combat-oriented use of magic, but the siblings' relationship is a core piece of the story -- especially considering they're part of the mysterious and powerful Yotsuba family, the most feared of the Ten Master Clans. Though she denies it both internally and outwardly to friends, Miyuki indisputably has feelings for Tatsuya that extend beyond the familial love between a sister and brother. She dotes on him like a maid, grows agitated when other girls get near him, blushes nearly every time he touches her and almost stole a kiss while Tatsuya's eyes were closed.

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From Tatsuya's perspective, it's quite a different story. Due to an experimental magic process, the siblings' mother Miya performed on him when he was a boy, he no longer feels any genuine emotions of his own. His only desire -- which was essentially implanted in him -- is to protect Miyuki from danger and ensure her well-being by any means necessary. In other words, he is totally devoted to her. But because of his lack of feelings -- and, in some ways, any freedom of will -- it seems he's unable to feel natural affection for another person. Whether it's family-related or on missions for the Japanese Special Defense Force, Tatsuya simply performs the duties demanded of him to the very best of his ability.

However, this all comes solely from the anime's version of events. The light novel series by Tsutomu Satō spans an astounding 32 volumes with Season 2 of the anime covering Vols. 9-11, which means there's still plenty of room for development. Season 1 introduced other romantic interests for both siblings: Masaki Ichijou is infatuated with Miyuki, while Honoka Mitsui outright confessed her feelings for Tatsuya and former Student Council President Mayumi Saegusa also harbors barely-concealed feelings for him. That said, Tatsuya was honest with Honoka about his inability to feel those kinds of emotions, while Miyuki made it clear she has zero romantic interest in Masaki.

With the constant quasi-romantic moments between the siblings -- even working its way into a battle once when Tatsuya needed Miyuki to kiss him on the forehead to perform a powerful spell -- it remains an awkward aspect of the series for fans. Even the Shibas' own friends and allies are occasionally uncomfortable with their behavior, so it's only natural that some viewers would be too. But at what point are the siblings, Miyuki in particular, crossing the line? Would it all be fine if it turns out they somehow aren't blood-related?

The simple truth is that the serious possibility of sibling romance does turn some viewers away and will continue to be an uncomfortable hurdle as well as a point of intense discussion for others. There are other fictional series about influential families, politics and the battle for power -- a certain HBO fantasy epic comes to mind -- in which a sibling bond can become a cornerstone of building or holding onto power. There's also the certainty that those series will fuel debates about what is or isn't crossing the line in a television series, animated or live-action.

What's clear is that Tatsuya and Miyuki's relationship will remain a significant part of the story moving forward. With Miyuki the leading candidate to succeed her Aunt Maya as the head of the Yotsuba family, she and/or Maya will have to make important decisions about her future. At the very least, the time will come for Miyuki to confront her feelings for Tatsuya head-on. When she does, her subsequent choices will affect not just her and Tatsuya, but many of their friends and possibly even the Yotsuba family's future.

Fans will have to decide for themselves if there's a point of no return, whether they can get through any discomfort, or if they're perfectly fine and excited to see where the relationship goes. How it develops and connects within the overall story will likely be a crucial factor for many viewers, both new and old.

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