Izetta: The Last Witch Series Review

Overview:

In a world torn apart by totally not WW2, soon to be Archduchess of a small European nation Fine travels to find allies for her country against Germania but instead finds an old friend of hers who happens to be a witch. I reviewed this week to week here.

Review:

Here’s the thing, after episode 1 I genuinely expected Izetta to be one of my must watch shows for the season. The first episode was dramatic, interesting, tiny bit of fan service but mostly a spunky young girl in a horrible situation and then we threw some magic in because who doesn’t want a world war with magic in it. It was perfect. Or at least as close as you expect from a first episode of an anime really.

So imagine by disappointment when by episode 4 any sense of tension or drama and been leached out of this flat story about a witch and her friend playing at war (and dress up and politics). Izetta has a fantastic setting and a great premise that it utterly fails to utilise to create anything of note.

Midway through a character is sacrificed. He’s kind of shown up a couple of times. He’s sweet. He’s loyal. He conveniently overhears something he shouldn’t, hints this to a friend who turns out to be a spy, is attacked by said spy, saved by his own people and then mercilessly shot through the head to preserve a secret that is found out less than two episodes later anyway. Sure it makes us realise lives are lost during a war and it paints a bleak picture but the execution (no pun intended) is dreadful.

We don’t care enough about this character for this to have that kind of desired impact. He’s a background, face of the common soldier kind of character who raises that many death flags for himself you are just wondering who will pull the trigger and when. The way in which he ‘overhears’ the conversation is the usual contrived nonsense that is really just plot convenience and his blurting this out to the one spy in his unit is ridiculous. Yep, he’s naive but he isn’t painted as a moron so why? The shooting itself is pretty dramatic. We get a nice lingering show of his face as he realises what is about to happen and that’s probably the most affective moment of this sequence. And as a positive, they use this later in the final episode where his killer faces another soldier who he sees with the same face. Then the aftermath of this drama is entirely washed under the bridge and we move on because there are more important things than actually building an emotional connection apparently.

Actually, my biggest issue isn’t the wasted potential of every possible dramatic moment but the introduction of Sophie. Seriously? Let’s just throw a clone of another witch at Izetta and they can fling things at each other while screaming about their personal philosophies. That will be fascinating. Not.

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Pretty much from the minute Sophie arrives the story falls apart. No more care for the soldiers, the spies, the alliances, the technological differences, or anything else. Just two overpowered juggernauts having at it while a few of the other characters scramble around trying to maintain relevance. It’s all just very trite. Plus, Sophie is a crazy lady with nothing but revenge on her mind so even if they wanted to go this way, she doesn’t carry her weight in the story. She’s boring and predictable.

Okay, positives. It is pretty. Very pretty. Good music. Some great action pieces scattered throughout. It just could have been better so while what is here isn’t broken you’ll just feel cheated of the better story you could have had.

Recommendation is to watch if you watch more or less anything or are just mildly curious but I’m not going to seriously recommend this to anyone is you haven’t watched it yet. Let it disappear into the vast vat of forgotten mediocre series.

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Izetta: The Last Witch Episode 12

Review:

I’ll give Izetta this, it at least resolves. It may be rushed, the final villain nonsensical, and the final battle may be completely boring to watch but I can’t argue that the story did not finish. I’m annoyed that they seemed unable to commit to Izetta actually sacrificing herself. I’m also annoyed that essentially they allowed the war to end exactly the way the real world war ended rather than allowing the magical sacrifice play a significant role (what is the point of alternative history that isn’t). However, I kind of liked Sieg’s fate as I felt it made that earlier death slightly more meaningful.

Come on, Sophie was throwing trains and they broke the Eiffel Tower for no reason other that because the could. That fight was over-extended rubbish full of action set pieces with no tension just stretching out the conclusion that actually could have been the opening move. Frustrating.

Izetta is available on Crunchyroll.

Izetta: The Last Witch Episode 11

Review:

Looks like we are going to try to bring the war to an end before the end of the series. Basically this episode Izetta uses the stone, Fine has a whole bunch of doubts, Izetta slaps her, they have a heart to heart, and now Izetta is off to face Sophie while Fine is attempting to stay relevant to the story by engaging in further political intrigue. Oh, and Berkman has decided that given Germania are trying to kill him he’ll jump ship to join forces with Fine and company and he knows that since they are the ‘good’ guys of the story that he’ll probably not be killed by them even though he is technically the one who unleashed Sophie on their kingdom.

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Despite the sarcasm there, this actually wasn’t a bad episode. It kind of reminded me of the first few episodes where we had intrigue, chases, and a whole range of possibilities for how things could go. Okay, the moonlight flight with Izetta and Fine was definitely just there for people who want to see the two main characters get together, but otherwise most of this episode was pretty functional.

Izetta is available on Crunchyroll.

Izetta: The Last Witch Episode 10

Review:

Well, they didn’t commit to actually having Izetta stay captured by the enemy but at least she didn’t get out of last week’s predicament unharmed (because that would have pushed it way too far). Unconscious for a period of time and then without the use of her legs (for reasons unexplained), Izetta’s condition pushes Fine over the edge and for the first time in this entire war themed anime it seems like Fine is actually devastated by the results of war. Maybe she’s been playing the stoic leader because its expected, but as a young girl caught up in these events her reactions have been pretty much nothing up until now so seeing her all but break down this episode was a nice human touch.

My biggest criticism of this part of the show is Sophie. She’s evil because she is. She’s sworn revenge and doesn’t care if she’ll die or her body will wear out because she was dead anyway. A villain with nothing to lose, no allegiances, and giving no room for reason might seem like they’d be a good match for the overpowered Izetta but it doesn’t make for compelling writing as you can only listen to so many evil cackles over burning cities before you just want to roll your eyes.

Izetta is available on Crunchyroll.

Izetta: The Last Witch Episode 9

Review:

Finally a second witch shows up and finally Izetta gets an actual taste of defeat. It would be nice if this meant that some of her naiveté will now wear off and she will actually deal with the reality of being pretty much the only line of defence for a country at war. Of course, only next episode will tell us what they will actually do with this development. My only complaint about this episode is the white witch and the fact that she’s clearly a psycho. We get it, you were betrayed and the legend they tell has been given a nice happy ending that didn’t exist. However, introducing a second witch who just wants to burn down the kingdom Izetta wants to save isn’t exactly the most innovative or interesting thing they could have done and possibly it would be nice to see a bit more to this new character’s personality than revenge against the descendants of people who did her wrong.

Izetta is available on Crunchyroll.

Izetta: The Last Witch Episode 8

Review:

Well, at least someone in Izetta remembered that Jonas died and for half-a-moment that became an actual significant plot point and then we move on because now we have to create a sympathetic Germanian character before knocking him off (sorry, should have prefaced that with a spoiler alert but if you’ve been watching the show you probably saw it coming from the parachute drop). Izetta and Fine are still seeking an alliance and as predicted that is going to be as pleasant as expected. Fine really is a little too idealistic to be running a country and Izetta is completely clueless about politics. The only interesting development on that front was the run in with I’m guessing the pod girl and even that is clearly just set up for future events. The real action happened back at the old castle and while it was pleasant enough to watch, the only unexpected thing was the return of the cart driver at the end of the episode.

Okay, my love for this show died out a while ago and while I’m still hoping for a half-decent finish I’m getting more critical of it by the episode.

Izetta is available on Crunchyroll.

Izetta: The Last Witch Episode 7

Review:

Izetta is still performing propaganda tasks but this time for the representatives of the allies because Fine still thinks they’ll offer help if she has something valuable enough. That said, it is obvious early on that there must be a traitor in the group because otherwise things are going to go too smoothly and sure enough their battle plan gets derailed when the Germanians know Izetta is coming. What I particularly liked about the Germanian plan is that they didn’t actually need to stop Izetta and accepted that she would probably succeed in her mission, but they would still succeed in theirs if they learned something about her power which (given the nature of how this show has introduced an exploitable point and then exploited it at every turn) they did. It’s a fairly fun episode to watch with only a very limited amount of down time where Izetta and Fine engage in a tickle fight and it kind of makes you want to see what the Germanians will try next.

Izetta: The Last Witch is available on Crunchyroll.

Izetta: The Last Witch Episode 6

Review (spoiler heavy for the episode – don’t read if you haven’t watched yet):

I said on my Twitter feed at the 30 second mark of Izetta that I really wanted Jonas to get shot. Here’s the problem with Izetta as a show. It started out serious and did that just fine for a few episodes. Then it became two girls on a road trip with one of them so overpowered there was no threat. Then we became cute girls running around a castle with a war backdrop. A little bit more serious and now we spend most of episode 6 with the cute girls again. Only… The start and end of this episode beg us to take them seriously and go back to being all about the dark things that happen during war. Not to mention, the writers clearly felt that they had been too soft and sweet for a number of episodes because that final shot of Jonas was definitely a retaliation against all the pie eating that had happened earlier in the episode.

I’d seriously stop now if you haven’t watched the episode.

Killing Jonas at the start of the episode would have made sense. He overheard something he wasn’t supposed to and he was clearly a danger as it was obvious he could have blurted it out at any moment. But instead of that, we get that moment where he rushes back to camp and blurts out just enough to draw attention to himself (raise your own death flag much) and then we watch Izetta and Fine eat pie.

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At the end of the episode, his death is meaningless. They already know about the Germanian spy and either Jonas has already spilled the beans (in which case killing him is pointless) or he kept his silence (in which case killing him is pointless though you might want to put him under closer supervision).

I don’t mind killing off characters when it serves a purpose but Jonas’ death only tries to recapture some of the drama from earlier in the series but ultimately does nothing except make you wonder if the fates of these characters are being decided by lottery.  If they wanted us to think Sieg was cold and calculating, we already knew that. Ultimately his death only works if thematically this show is going for a no-one wins in war message and that doesn’t actually seem to be the case.

Okay, totally blew my 100 words but I kind of feel that this is the episode where I finally put my hopes for this series aside and now I’m just going to watch it to the end and hope if remains decent. The shiny first and second episode have passed us by and we are left with events that are either generic or lacking in emotional punch.

Izetta: The Last Witch is available on Crunchyroll.

Autumn 2016 Week 5

Okay, week 5 and I’m finding that this season is a little bit strange in that other than the handful of must watch shows, the others are all a bit hit and miss from episode to episode. There are some great ideas out there this season but some of the delivery has just been a little hard to get into. That said, there is still plenty of fun things to watch so let’s look at where they are sitting on the list.

As always, I would love to hear your thoughts on the season below.

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I Must Keep Watching

  • Natsume Yuujinchou Go (Ep 5)
  • Bungo Stray Dogs (Ep 17)
  • March Comes in Like a Lion (Ep 4)
  • Yuri on Ice (Ep 5)

Natsume was superb this week exhibiting everything I love about the series. Overall season 5 is definitely delivering (though as it maintains much the same tone every single episode, there is a chance that if the other shows managed a rally they would knock this off the number 1 spot).

Bungo Stray Dogs actually managed a reasonable transition back to the present day and while I can see this dropping down the list over the next couple of episodes, this second season on balance is still pretty strong.

March Comes in Like a Lion has moved down this week as this episode kind of gave hints that this series, while visually impressive, may end up just kind of following characters doing very little. There is still some hints at the darker issues underlying things but this week was definitely an unimpressive episode from a story point of view.

Yuri on Ice may be my next one to drop down to the still on my radar. It’s beautiful, the theme song steals my heart from the first beat, the characters are fun to watch, and there’s a lot of positives about this show. However, from a story point of view we aren’t going anywhere quickly and where we are going isn’t anywhere new. And while the characters are fun to watch, other than Yuri himself, the others are either undeveloped or at times inconsistent (except Victor who probably also needs to grow up a bit). While I’m loving this and am definitely watching through to the end, as a series I don’t know that it is a must watch.

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Still On My Radar

  • Izetta: the Last Witch (Ep 5)
  • Lostorage Incited WIXOSS (Ep 4)
  • Days (Ep 17)
  • Iron Blooded Orphans (Ep 29)
  • Flip Flappers (Ep 5)

Izetta worked hard to redeem itself this week after the last episode and honestly I was hooked again but the issues with the show in terms of knowing whether this is serious or just a piece of friendship fluff set in a tragic background remain. Hopefully episode 4 was the low point and with episode 5 we are returning onward and upward, but  I worry about whether this show can remain consistently interesting for the duration. That said, so far it has been pretty good despite some quibbles.

Lostorage Incited WIXOSS finds new ways to emotionally cripple its characters while still giving us a fairly interesting story. If only the end goal of the entire system had ever made sense in this series, WIXOSS remains an odd entertainment. I’ve moved it up in this category mostly because this is close to being a must watch for me. After each episode I’m left wanting to see more and wanting to know what happens next.

Days also bounced back a bit this week but the inconsistencies in this series mean that it just isn’t going to move back up to a must watch. Certainly I’ve enjoyed the journey so far and I look forward to the final leg of this series but I somehow doubt I’ll be returning to this series for another watch.

Iron Blooded Orphans isn’t grabbing me this season the way season 1 did. Maybe it was the break inbetween but more likely it is just that we’ve watched the orphans fight to run their own company and now we’re playing politics and I know which story was more interesting. I still want to know what will happen to these characters but it is becoming increasingly clear that this story is going to get messy.

Flip Flappers may well go back to the not sold on category if it persists in this way. I don’t think anything meaningful was gained from episode 5 and to be honest, just being cute and weird isn’t enough to fascinate me if the story isn’t going to progress. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe I just missed what was meant to be plot progression this week and I’ll realise that next time. That said, I was pretty unimpressed this week.

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Not Dropped But Not Sold On These

  • Trickster (Ep 5)
  • Bloodivores (Ep 5)
  • Kiss Him, Not Me (Ep 4)
  • Nazotokine (Ep 5)

Trickster is remaining functional but not exceptional or even particularly interesting. It hasn’t got worse but it isn’t making me care anymore about most of the cast even though it seems desperately trying to make me care about someone in the show. Oh well. Hopefully they can bring some more excitement in soon.

Bloodivores continues to be pretty ordinary. That said, now that we’ve spent the last 4 episodes running away from monsters I’m kind of at least wanting to find out why the monsters exist and what is going on. Lack of explanation may actually work in this show’s favour.

I would hesitate to say that Kiss Him, Not Me is actually a worse show than Trickster or Bloodivores but the other two have fairly interesting premises even if they aren’t doing much with them, and they both seem to be developing. Kiss Him seems content to roll out the same tired material each week with a few gimmicks thrown over the top in the hope that you won’t notice that this episode plays out exactly the same way as the last.

Lastly, Nazotokine remains mostly pointless and pretty bland. I just don’t see who the intended audience actually would be because none of it is interesting enough. Whether you like characters, story, fan service, puzzles, etc, there just isn’t enough of anything to salvage enjoyment from the seven minutes a week of mundane.

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Watching and Will Review Occasionally

  • Girlish Number (Ep 1 – still on hold, may need to just drop)
  • Cheating Craft (Ep 4)

Cheating Craft has kind of settled into a pattern and it isn’t a particularly good one. The jokes aren’t landing now that the initial wow factor for how over the top the cheating was going to get has passed and what we are left with is a cast of idiot boys chasing after manipulative girls and very little plot to speak of.

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Dropped

  • Nanbaka (Ep 2 – Dropped)
  • Magical Girl Raising Project (Ep 2 – Dropped)
  • Matoi the Sacred Slayer (Ep 2 – Dropped)
  • Touken Ranbu – Hanmaru (Ep 1 – Dropped)
  • To Be Hero (Ep 1 – Dropped)
  • Occult;Nine (Ep 1 – Dropped)
  • Dream Festival (Ep 1 – Dropped)

Another week and once again looking over the list and wondering what I should have dropped and what I will need to go back and do a catch up viewing of after the season is done.

What’s been your favourite so far?

Izetta: The Last Witch Episode 5

Review:

It always goes so much better when the established villains have someone with a brain on their side. It makes for intrigue and actual suspense as you wonder when everything is going to get turned on its head. After the disaster of an episode that was episode 4 (okay, comparatively to other shows it wasn’t that bad but compared to the other episodes in this series it was pretty terrible), episode 5 kicks things into high gear as we establish the witch as a fighting force to be reckoned with. And of course, we knew that the ‘my power only works in certain places’ was going to be exploited as a point of tension (though I didn’t expect it to be exploited in the very next episode). There were some great developments during this episode and the energy from the first couple of episodes was back.

Jonas (glasses wearing soldier who apparently is bullet proof) is also back and he is definitely going to need some plot armour in the next episode or he may very well be the tragic victim of the series.

Izetta is available on Crunchyroll.