Growing the Beard: It's generally agreed that the manga gets a lot better in the second half, around the time when Mai becomes the Intermediary Grimoire and Cypher is introduced, when the actual plot kicks in and the Fanservice is toned down.
Magnificent Bastard: Military Academy instructor Cypher Albar masterminded all the conflict in the story to discover the Burning Red Grimoire once and for all to prove himself. Once aspiring to become a famous and respected hero, Cypher planned to use Burning Red under the belief it should cure humanity of its reliance on Ars Magus. With an amicable and collected demeanor charming student and staff alike, Cypher kept tabs on his targets through surveillance in his lab, using developments to inform his subsequent actions. Taking an interest Mai Natsume's Grimoire-made existence, Cypher engineered a scenario by which he gained her trust while planting a device on her as a contingency. Later secretly triggering the device to endanger Mai, he manipulated Noel, her friends, and fellow teacher Estella into bringing him students with the greatest Ars Magus aptitude under the guise of "saving" Mai when, in reality, this allowed him siphon their power and complete the transformation of Mai's Grimoire into the Remix Heart. Although once called mad and unworthy by his past peers, Cypher Albar earned the sympathy of Mai herself while exhibiting the hallmarks of an intelligent scientist and alchemist.
Tainted by the Preview: Some fans got turned off by Mai's new outfit for Variable Heart and claimed that the Fanservice-ness of the series went one step too far. Though on the whole, Mai's outfit is less revealing than that of Makoto and fits in with those of the other big-breasted characters.