Rental Magica details the (mis-)adventures of Itsuki Iba, the director of the rent-a-mage bureau 'Astral'. He is the son of the original director, who dissapeared. Now the mages (ranging from a Shinto priestess to a Celtic mage) make do with him, even though he doesn't have any magical talents and very little knowledge about the magical world. But when the going gets tough, he takes off his eyepatch. With his 'Glam Sight', he can see the flow of magical energies and hence predict the movements of their magical adversaries.
The magical world is governed by a semi-shady 'Association' that can lay out some harsh penalties for mages that fail to follow the rules. One of the main concerns of the Association is magical pollution. Using lots of uncontrolled magic will pollute an area, which will give rise to spontaneous magical effects, hauntings etcetera. The magical companies are carefully watched to prevent the spread of magical pollution, and sometimes Astral gets hired by the Association to clean up a particularly nasty patch of pollution.
The magical companies are run as a weird mix of actual corporate entity and something like a clan. One of Itsuki's classmates, Adelicia, is the head of Goetia, which specialises in Solomonic magic. While she is the most powerful magician Goetia has, she does have a board of directors to deal with.
The first few episodes provide the background: the mages of Astral (with Celtic mage Honami, a childhood friend of Itsuki's, being the most important), the way the magical world 'works', the rivalry between Honami and Adelicia, and something about magical pollution.
But of course there is more to it. Itsuki's Glam Sight is the result of a fateful trip he took with Honami into a haunted mansion that appeared as the center of some particularly nasty magical polution. The Glam Sight is basically a magical corruption of Itsuki's body, and when he uses it (which he is forced to do ever so often), the corruption spreads. Obviously, Honami feels guilty about what happened, and she is looking for a way to cleanse the Glam Sight from Itsuki.
That's the main theme of the series, but of course there are a lot of side-plots as well: there's Adelicia's quest to find her lost father (yes, hers too), there's a hostile take-over bid from one of Astral's former directors, there's the 'kidnapping' of Mikan by her family, there's Adelicia's problems in asserting her position before the board of directors of Goetia, etcetera.
Not every episode is very serious -- especially when Honami and Adelicia start competing, things escalate quite rapidly. I'm not a fan of that particular type of 'comedy', but it's there.
The last few episodes deal with Honami getting into some serious trouble in order to cleanse the Glam Sight from Itsuki, but of course that gets settled after a few exciting battles. And then everything goes back to how it was before...
Despite some of the serious situations the gang finds itself in, it's all quite lighthearted. The series is also a bit episodic: after each plot, the situation changes back to how it was before, and then a new plot comes along, etcetera. As such, there's not much of a resolution to the series: afterwards, Itsuki has grown a little bit as a person, but Astral still has money problems, Itsuki still doesn't know anything about magic, Honami and Adelicia still fight. You get the idea.
The series makes great use of CGI to produce lighting effects that go with the magic. Especially Adelicia's summoning, that makes use of magic circles, is quite something to see.
For the rest, the presentation is competent, but not much special. The character designs are OK, but the focus is more on the story and the magic than on the characters anyway.
- Refreshing to see a circle of magicians being run as an actual corporation;
- Gives quite a bit of background information on various magical traditions.
- Kinda episodic.
All in all, a competent offering, but nothing to get too excited about. A fun and easy watch, but don't expect world-shattering plots. I'll give it a 7.