I love talking to my brother. He sees the world so differently from anyone else I know, and I always learn something new or see an old topic from a new angle. A couple weeks ago — July 4th, I think — we got on the subject of shows and movies where the characters use magic. (Yes, he’s a geek, too. 😛 )
It started when I told him about a new magical girl/fantasy-action anime called Hina Logic: From Luck & Logic. He watches more anime than I do, so he can tell right away if a story will be cliché. Takes place in a high school? Has a clumsy airhead as the main character who’s somehow a prodigy? Uses its most important terms so often, you get sick of hearing them (for this show, it’s “Logicalist,” “Foreigner,” and “Trancing”)?
I’m not sure how many anime I just described.
My brother wasn’t interested, and one of his reasons surprised me. In shows where the main characters have magic powers, he doesn’t like it if:
- They’re constantly impressed by them, even they’re common
- They don’t use them for everyday things
At the time, he was playing an MMO. He wasn’t thinking about where his computer came from or what powers it. It just worked. But a century ago, no one could have imagined pressing buttons to control a creature from another world inside of a black box. That would look like magic to them!
He told me to look around at the objects in the room. What were we doing with them right then? How did I feel about them? My answer was something like this: “We’re doing the best we can with what we have, but we don’t have magic.”
What I meant was we were using the resources we have in our world: paper, plastic, electricity, etc. We use them for everyday things like drying our hair or cooking food. Some of them are limited, but we’re trying to reuse them or find more sustainable sources.
Why aren’t more fantasy worlds like that? If magic is abundant like electricity, shouldn’t the characters use it the same way we use our resources? An example my brother gave was in the movie Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them. When Tina takes Newt and Jacob to the house where she and her sister live, the two witches use magic to make them dinner. The potatoes, carrots, fruits, plates, bowls, and rolling pin move on their own.
Jacob the muggle — I mean “no-maj” — was amazed, but Newt and the witches didn’t bat an eyelash. They probably do things like that every day and don’t even think about it. If they have magic, why not use it to make their lives easier? Isn’t that what we muggles use technology for: convenience?
My brother couldn’t think of another show or movie that portrays magic as “ordinary” — especially not an anime. Instead, in many fantasy stories, the characters only use magic as a last resort. They live their everyday lives as if they’re human.
What about Winx Club? Sometimes, the Winx use magic for mundane things like trying on dresses or pouring tea. Alfea’s lights and the flying cars in Magix City are powered by magic. Yet the characters still have to conserve their energy, and their lives don’t feel much different from ours. Does that count as magic being integrated into everyday life?
Also, people who have magic powers are treated like they’re special, but they shouldn’t be. Almost everyone’s a fairy, a witch, an elf, a wizard, or some other magic being. Their power sources may be unique, but that’s it. To paraphrase The Incredibles, when everybody’s super, no one is.
What do you think? Am I wrong? Is magic in Winx Club treated as special or ordinary?
Side note: By the way, my brother eventually watched Hina Logic. Neither of us likes it. 😛