Having watched the opening episode of Mahou Tsukai ni Taisetsu na Koto - Natsu no Sora, I was really rather taken with its visually impressive backdrops, which proved to be the only real highlight of what was otherwise a solid if uneventful opening episode. However, come this second episode and its move to Tokyo, those previously jaw-dropping backdrops have actually started to grate with me, becoming ever-more obvious as just retouched photographs. This in itself would be too bad if the quality of animation was otherwise high but, quite simply, it isn't, and those basic character and object drawings stick out like a sore thumb amidst those hyper-realistic surroundings.
Having said that, and after slowly getting used to the style of the piece, I have to confess: I really enjoyed this episode. While once again nothing much happens, with the general jist of the episode simply introducing Sora to Tokyo (and vice versa), the Bureau of Magic and her new 'home' for the next month, it doesn't happen in such an utterly charming way that I couldn't really help but fall for it. On closer inspection of my feelings, I think the main reason why this episode has won me over is the feeling of reality to it all; and no, I don't mean those backgrouds. The classroom scenes are full of idle background chatter, and even the conversations that have any focus feel like just the sort of thing you'd expect to hear in those given situations. Similarly, the scenes within Tokyo themselves present a far more pin-pointed feeling of bustle than your generic anime crowd scene, with a wonderful feeling of individuality to each person within those scenes that really captures the cosmopolitan vibe of wandering around any major city. Finally, the otherwise slow and lilting nature of the show so far means that when something does happen (and we do get one example of this in episode two), it somehow has far more impact than in a series where things are always happening.
In all honesty, this isn't the kind of thing I would expect to like if someone were to describe it to me (indeed, I'm not even sure why I started watching it if I'm frank), yet somehow it's managed to capture me with its somewhat unique charms, notwithstanding Sora herself who manages to be a universally loveable character. Whether these feelings will last for the entirety of this series I'm honestly not sure, but for now I'm actually rather smitten with this sedate, magic-tinted slice of school life in a strange city.