Have Some Role Reversal and Magic!
|I can’t say that I watched Witch Craft Works for any particular reason other than the name sounded interesting. The cast isn’t all that notable (er, I guess there’s Seto Asami) and I can’t say that I feel strongly either way about J.C. Staff. That’s not to say that it’s going to be a bad anime though, since the intro episode was interesting enough.|
|Witch Craft Works is the prolific J.C. Staff’s latest venture into the world of magic. So how does it fare against the rest of the herd? Fairly well, I would say.|
|So my first show coming up this season is Witch Craft Works, and even though there was a pre-air leak of the episode, I waited for the broadcasts to start, so that’s why this is a couple days after everyone else’s. So how did this premiere go, and is this show magical, or does it need to be burned at the stake? Let’s find out, and thanks to Karakuri and Sumairii for joining me!|
So What’s It About?
I always like the ‘End of Line’ sign concept
Highway\\ Adapted from an ongoing manga that started about four years ago, Witch Craft Works is the story of Honoka Takamiya (Yuusuke Kobayashi in his first lead role), the normal everyday protagonist boy who nothing special happens to and Ayaka Kagari (Asami Seto), the school’s princess, who all the girls want to sit next to and fawn over (with even a reservation system to see who can have lunch with Kagari-san) and keep all the boys away from (including a nice dig from muscle lapdog “Obama-kun” with “The Best is Yet to Come!”) when Honoka gets too close to Kagari. You know, like letting her pick up his eraser that he drops on the floor. Honoka doesn’t really think anything about Kagari, never talks to her, even though she sits next to him in class, rides the same bus from the same stop that he does (even though she’s the daughter of the school chairwoman, so shouldn’t she be driven?), even is always on classroom duty with him. But when he’s suddenly attacked by a falling school building, and realizes he’s now being held by Kagari floating in the air, he starts to learn the truth of the situation.
Where’s the “Kaboom”?
Don’t mess with a fire witch
Sumairii\\ From the premiere, I can only describe Witch Craft Works as a blast. Sometimes, quite literally. While the female lead, Kagari, appears at first glance a standard kuudere, she is not to be trifled with, given her towering stature, almost childish short temper, and talent for pure destruction. On the other hand, the male lead, Honoka, is on the “wimpy” side compared to most other male leads. Which leads to a reversal of roles that I find rather refreshing even though I’m almost certain it’s been done before. At the very least, I find Honoka preferable to the trite male lead who is always yelling and punching others in a bid to instill his sense of justice into his unfortunate victims. And I rather enjoy Kagari’s attitude towards her charge. She’s not overbearing or clingy, and she’s not quite uncaring either. Rather, she just watches over him from a (short) distance, only stepping in to intervene when absolutely necessary. I will say that if I had to name one fault of the first episode, it would have to be the pacing. From what I understand, only two chapters were adapted into this one episode, which is actually well within the respectable norm compared to, say, what KamiNomi had to do for the Goddesses Arc. But even so, it kind of felt like things really flew by for the brief 24 minutes the episode had to work with. I’m tempted to say that perhaps we’re deliberately meant to feel as overwhelmed as Honoka at the turn of events, but at this early stage it’s possible I might be giving the show too much credit.
That’s quite the army (Sumairii has dubbed these “Teddie Bunnies”)
Highway\\ J.C. Staff’s work so far seems pretty good to me, keeping the action moving, and getting through things that are starting to get a little tedious in anime (like the protection clubs, really?) pretty quickly. I would go along with Sumairii in thinking that maybe the idea is to keep us feeling off balance and still trying to process information, but I really didn’t think it was rushed or overly gloss. I think the show got in a lot of exposition without really a lot of just monologuing, even though most of the talking was from Honoka’s standpoint. I think that it brought a lot of interesting action, especially, with an aesthetic that worked pretty good. The fighting was obviously CG, but seemed to fit into the look of the show really well, with the shading on the mecha-rabbit army matching the style of the rest of the art pretty perfectly. Only a couple things, like the falling building and the long-distance shot of the explosion smoke, seemed to not really match, texture-wise. Even the prodigious amount of fire was some of the best CG fire I’ve seen so far in anime.
Get ‘em, boys!
Kagari just doesn’t care
Karakuri\\ There was a lot of magic in this first episode, and not really many explanations. But that’s okay, because at least the two main characters are kind of interesting. Having the most popular girl in school go after an average guy isn’t anything new, but it looks like she’s been watching him for a while now for some reason. …Which is actually kind of creepy, but I guess the whole “most popular girl in school” thing cancels out the potential stalking. Kagari is interesting in that she’s actually kind of manly, considering how tall she is and how she calls Honoka her princess (with hugeass breasts of course, in order to balance things out). It’s always nice to see an anime recognize how pitiful the main character is. Or actually, Honoka personality isn’t so pitiful as much as the situations he finds himself in. Bitchy fangirls/boys probably aren’t fun to deal with daily, let alone being attacked for who knows what reason. Kagari doesn’t seem to be doing much to help the fan abuse situation either. Sure, they probably wouldn’t listen to her, since they don’t seem to care that Kagari and Honoka are hanging out together voluntarily (or at least, Kagari wants to hang out with Honoka), but she could still probably say something. Anything. Hopefully the parade of transfer students helps change to formula up a bit, since the pattern of Honoka’s being hell due to overzealous fans grew rather old rather fast in just this first episode. There were some funny parts this episode, but they were far outweighed by the annoyances.
Special mention goes to the whale
These girls and their enforcer, in particular, could disappear for the rest of the show
Highway\\ The character designs are themselves interesting to me, because while most of the characters seem to be fairly basic looks, Honoka and Kagari seem a little different. Kagari in particular seems like a bit of a departure from the usual school beauty: She’s big. Really big. Not just her really big chest, but just overall: largish rounded face, taller than Honaka. And Honoka himself has a fairly roundish face. Interestingly, Tanpopo, this episode’s bad girl, gave me a very RailDex vibe but none of the other characters really did.
Highway\\ The other thing I really wanted to mention was the overall feel that I got from the characters, especially Kagari. I don’t know if I really agree with Sumairii that she’s a kuudere, or even that she appears to have a short temper. To me, it felt like she was almost infinitely patient with Honoka as he ignored her instructions, got himself in trouble a few times, and even got angry at Kagari for risking herself to save him (even though he doesn’t quite understand what “I am made of flames” means yet. Her name, Ayaka, is even 綾火 – “Figure of Fire” and kagari can mean “bonfire”). But she also doesn’t give off an air that she doesn’t care, or is just doing this because she has to. There seems to be an affection there that’s not too far under the surface, and it reminds me a lot of Mikoto Urabe from Nazo no Kanojo X. She’s also very adamant that Honoka is her “Ohime-sama” (Princess), and Honoka is generally a girl’s name and indeed, Honoka acts a bit girly, being protected (except for one ill-considered attempt to protect Kagari) and following along with her instructions. I just find it an interesting dynamic.
That’s quite the dedication to protection
It was an okay start. I can’t say much for the story shown in the episode (there was good to it and there was bad), but the production was good all around. The OST sounds pretty great, the animation is alright, the fights were rather interesting, and the CG is a nice addition. Maybe the rabbit army stood out a bit, but I’ve been more appreciative of CG of late, since it gives the opportunity for more complex fight scenes. The story could probably use some work, but it was an interesting introduction into the series. This anime seems to have a somewhat unique plot (the typical “average guy gains the affection of the most popular girl in school” situation aside) going for it at least. I’ve been assured that this isn’t exactly a harem story either, so seeing what the mysterious transfer students want should be interesting in future episodes.
So looking ahead, the question we’re obviously wondering is “why do the witches want Honoka?” In spite of their cliched transferring into the same class, I sincerely doubt it’s going to end up being some stupid harem shenanigans since the manga lacks any such tags and indications. So my only guess is that they want to eat him. That’s what witches do, right? They eat poor, unsuspecting children. And when those unsavory fiends get caught, they get put to death in a variety of painful ways. You know, as is shown in the ED. Dat ED.
I thoroughly enjoyed this first episode, probably my favorite opening show so far out of the 10 or so I’ve seen. I thought it was a good mix of fun fighting, interesting characters, and good music, with another strong opening song by fhana, a current favorite for anisongs, and the ED that Sumairii mentioned. Really a great themed ED, sung by the 5 Tower Witches, and with that South Park style animation showing various ways of disposing of witches (and Kotetsu’s dancing is the best while she’s singing). And the music itself is catchy and not overlayered like so much music ends up being. It’s very basic but still effective.
Of course I have to include the video