I previously called “Mash Burnedead and the Challenging Magic User” the most straightforward episode of Mashle: Magic and Muscles but that episode still included plenty of parody elements. This week’s episode, “Mash Burnedead and the Magic of Iron” almost drops the parody elements entirely to complete Dot’s introduction, show off Mash’s strength again, and introduce true long-term antagonists. It includes some decent action and a couple of great comedy beats to carry the plot into next week’s episode.
Dot earns Mash’s respect
“Magic of Iron” pickups up with Dot continuing his fight against stock anime villain Silva and we get more evidence for why he and Mash will become allies. Even after Lauren reveals her deception, Dot refuses to back down from his fight with Silva and endures tremendous damage. He earns Mash’s respect, leading to another muscle versus magic battle. Unfortunately, the inventiveness that Mashle usually displays in battles is absent here. Even though Mash invokes “Triceps Magic”, it doesn’t amount to anything other than very strong punches. The animation for the fight is solid but without any of Mash’s trademark silliness, it lacks a certain – pun intended- magic. I will say that it is saved by an unexpected suplex, delivered after the battle, that elicited the largest laugh of the episode.
Mashle has a rare stumble
The back third of “Mash Burnedead and the Magic of Iron” includes a jab at The Sorting Hat from Harry Potter in the form of a sorting unicorn skeleton. There are more comedic beats here but the jokes are a bit too easy to anticipate and don’t land as well as jokes in previous episodes. The Sorting Hat is already a little dumb in its original incarnation and while I love the image of Mash doing a good old Scrooge McDuck in a sea of cream puffs, it missed the sharpness that Mashle has been able to hit in previous episodes. There are other smaller comedic moments that work better such as Mash’s continued airheadedness. However, when these beats don’t have as strong of an impact the other elements need to be on point, and sadly the action in the episode also fell a little short.
Six episodes in, Mashle has established a formula for its episodes. There is typically an examination of a classic anime trope or a twist on the Potter-esque world they have created. This is usually paired with some action that displays Mash’s strength or himbo ingenuity. The most recent episodes have started to incorporate his supporting cast more as we start to build up the group dynamic. So far this worked because each piece has been deployed well and has an interesting take on something familiar. However, this is a difficult balancing act to keep going long-term. With the introduction of the Magia Lupus as the primary antagonists, it’s the perfect time for Mashle to mix up the formula.
Up to this point, we have not had an entire action-focused episode or an entire comedy-focused episode. There are still plenty of ways that the series can surprise and I would hate for a series built around subverting tropes and expectations to become predictable. The foundation has been laid and the next few episodes will be critical. If the parody and comedic aspects are not hitting the mark, Mashle needs to at least execute the classic shonen elements well. It needs to create engaging villains, memorable supporting characters, and signature moments to go along with the keen observations and quick-witted moments.
Mashle: Magic and Muscles can be watched on Crunchyroll, with new episodes every Friday during the Spring 2023 season.
Featured image via Hajime Komodo/SHUEISHA, MASHLE Committee
“Mashle: Magic and Muscles” - “Mash Burnedead and the Magic of Iron” - 6/10