Whoa. Whoa. I know what you’re thinking. Didn’t I just review this one?
No. You’re thinking of “Brave Witches.” And that wasn’t so much a review as just tearing it a new one and shaking it until all the time I wasted watching it fell out. That wasn’t a review. That was therapy.
This is an entirely different show about witches. You’ll see.
The Basics. Okay. So this is a story about a fictionalized World War II-era Europe where where magic exists and a young flying witch must save her war-torn…oh, my God, it’s the same series, isn’t it?
Well, not exactly.
I won’t lie. There are more than just superficial differences between this series and “Brave Witches.” I don’t know how it happened, but I ended up watching this series immediately after that one entirely by accident. And while that fact alone made me want to stop watching almost the second I started, I’m glad I gave it a chance.
Anyway, this is the story of an alternate version of Europe with names so similar that I’m just going to use the real ones instead of looking up the fake ones. Despite an unified front by France and England, Germany’s superior tank and air power manages to drive France to surrender. And with English troops driven back across the Channel, Germany is free to attack the small, neutral land of…I don’t know. Luxembourg, I guess? One of those two countries between France and Germany with really high life expectancies.
In the face of sure defeat, the daughter of the Archduke, Princess Fine, undertakes a dangerous diplomatic mission to enlist the help of England. Unfortunately, she finds herself captured by German forces and sent to Berlin. Luckily, she’s saved by the young witch Izetta who literally tears the plane in half and rides them both to safety using a heavy machine gun like a broomstick.
The Good. What part of “tears the plane in half and rides them both to safety using a heavy machine gun like a broomstick” don’t you understand?
The action sequences in this series are good. So, so good. And with an interesting plot and genuinely likeable characters, I finally started realizing that comparing this show to Brave Witches wasn’t just comparing apples to oranges. It was comparing a very unlikable apple to a witch who flies around on a heavy machine gun.
But I’ll take you back to the beginning a bit.
The series starts out with the Princess escaping a moving train while German soldiers open fire on her and her bodyguards. This alone is such a good opening that you’re immediately left wanting to know more. You’re given a quick rundown of what’s at stake without being bludgeoned over the head with it. Princess Fine is a strong female character who isn’t relegated to the usual damsel in distress.
Well, I mean, yeah. She is in almost constant distress. And she gets captured. But before the first episode is over she manages to hold her own in a fight in a falling plane and gets shot in the arm. So by the time you’re saying, “Wow. She pretty much kicks the most ass of any character ever,” bam! Machine gun broom witch!
Izetta is a one-witch army, spending the third episode destroying an entire tank division and bomber formation using telekinetically-controlled swords and lances. And yet, you’re left with the idea that she’s just as fragile as any human. She can and does get knocked around. So even while she’s flipping tanks and piercing cockpits with spears, you never lose the feeling that she’s in legitimate danger at any given moment.
The Bad. For the most part, I was happy with the series, but I will admit it has a few small flaws. They were nothing that ruined it for me, but…well, I can’t just leave this section blank, so here we are.
First off, Izetta’s witch powers are a bit hard to understand. While it seems to let her control and throw things around with her mind, the second episode has her suddenly run out of juice mid-battle for no particular reason. Then, when she expends far more energy in the third episode, she seems completely fine. It worries me that her power reserves will be something of a plot device to keep the battles fair going forward.
Though, in all fairness, the fourth episode is called “The Secret of the Witch,” so maybe they’re gearing up for an explanation.
In a similar vein, well, Izetta is a bit overpowered. If she spends the rest of the series fighting conventional soldiers and weaponry, it’s going to be pretty one-sided. Though, given the German’s interest in her, there may be an evil witch counterpart to make things a bit more interesting.
In Conclusion. I’m rarely so pleasantly surprised by a series I expected to be bad right off the bat. But being wrong can have its perks.
Of course, as with any first impression, I could be entirely wrong. Three episodes was just long enough to see the major plot threads solidify and to learn who the main characters were. Starting in episode four things could go south fast. And I’ll be the first to say, as pleasant as it is to watch Izetta destroy entire armies, if she never faces down a tougher enemy it’ll be a missed opportunity.
I wouldn’t say it would be bad per se, but definitely not as good as it could have been.
In short, I’d wholeheartedly recommend the series to anime fans. I’m not sure it’d be worth the risk for non-anime fans, but it’s got a solid story, good action and a short enough character roster that I don’t have to go online to remind myself who everyone was. Frankly, that’s always a plus.
If you’re still on the fence, though, please enjoy this video of a witch flying around on a heavy machine gun like an absolute boss.
Though, a warning if you happen to watch this in mixed company. This is an anime. Witch butts figure prominently into the opening.