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Most of the superpowers in the series seem to be related to two concepts, namely Elements and Maken. There are exceptions to this, like Himegami's Shikigami, but Elements and Maken are both referenced frequently, and they seem to be how most of the characters fight.

However, neither one was really explained, at least in the anime. It isn't really clear to me what either term means, and how they're related. It is clear that every character has a Maken, which is basically a unique ability or power, but there's a lot that's still confusing. For instance, for some characters, their Maken seems to be an item that they use in combat, while for others it's a power inside them. Haruko's Maken is said to be contained in a different dimension, and it opens a gate to the real world, and seems to almost be a living thing.

What are Maken, and how do they work? Also, what is the relationship between Elements and Maken?

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As per the article on Wikipedia:

However, he learns that the school is for students who possess magical and spiritual energies called Elements and who wield crafted weapons known as Makens.

Elements are: magical and spiritual energies

Makens are: crafted weapons

Also as mentioned on TVTropes:

..... where the only students admitted are those who are able to control a source of energy found in all living things called "Element". Manipulating those "elements", they are capable to perform common psychic ability like psychokinesis..., to enhance their physical abilities and to be able to use magical artifacts called Maken. These Maken give the users specific and varied abilities, like superstrength, turning one's body into steel, manipulating water...

There are two types of Maken, external and internal. External Makens look like normal weapons and add-ons, while internal maken are embedded inside the user's body. Since they are powerful artifacts used by ancient gods, students normally do not have true (i.e. original) Makens, but only use imitated Makens that are forged by resident Maken-smith Gen Tagayashi.

So Makens are the way to use the energy within the so-called Elements.

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