First Impressions – Witch Craft Works

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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.
spring13-sumairii 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.
spring13-highw 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?

line

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

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.

Quite the army

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.

minions

Get ‘em, boys!

Which Witch?

Kagari doesn't care how it looks

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.

the whale makes it

Special mention goes to the whale

Stupid thugs

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.

The secret is out

Nice balance

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.

Saving Takamiya

That’s quite the dedication to protection

 Bonus Screenshots!

Show ▼

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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.

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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.

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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

About

Proving that you don't have to be young to love anime, I enjoy all genres and styles of shows. If it's not hurting anyone else, you should never be ashamed of what you like!
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39 Responses to “First Impressions – Witch Craft Works”

  1. BlackBriar says:

    I don’t have an opinion beyond saying it was an alright start. It looks like a good show but it’s still too early to tell. I do, however, notice some similarities what with the lead frequently being held up like a damsel in distress (What happens between Rosario + Vampire’s Tsukune and Moka) and being called something that conflicts with his gender (Like Infinite Stratos’ Ichika being called Laura’s wife).

  2. Sumairii says:

    When I mentioned Kagari’s short temper, I meant it with respect to people who get in between her and her “ohime-sama”. Kids kicking Honoka around? I’ll burn them. Fangirls badmouth Honoka? Burnt lunch for them.

    There is absolutely no dispute that she has been gratuitously patient with Honoka.

    • Highway says:

      You know, the burning lunches may have been my very favorite part of this first episode, because that’s where Kagari really went from “I’m just protecting Honoka because he’s important” to “Honoka means something much more to me than all of you, so watch it.” It was just a little symbol, but I found it really meaningful.

    • Highway says:

      And also, you’re right about that first fight as well, where when Honoka got himself hurt (being dumb and trying to help), she really did react with what seemed to be barely controlled fury.

  3. zztop says:

    The manga author’s notes reveal that Honoka was originally meant to be a girl, and the manga would be lesbian-themed.
    The character was made into a boy at the last minute, but the girly name stayed.
    http://forums.animesuki.com/showpost.php?p=4966545&postcount=101

    Ayaka = (-_-) + fire

    • Sumairii says:

      Whoa. I did not expect this to have lesbian-themed roots. =O

    • BlackBriar says:

      If it stayed that way, we’d have another yuri themed show on our hands since Sakura Trick has yet to air. Not to mention there’s Akuma no Riddle for Spring.

      • Highway says:

        You say that like it’s a bad thing…

        • skylion says:

          I just took a gander at Akuma no Riddle’s creative team. Yeah, I’m very much gonna watch the heck outta that one. Shame, only ten episodes(?) or will Diomedea break that habit?

        • BlackBriar says:

          I never said it was. I’d have been grinning from to ear to ear if it went that way. You’re talking to a devoted yuri fan here. It takes second place to the obvious thing about me. Hence the title I take so much pride in.

  4. Foshizzel says:

    DAT ED! Seriously the best so far for me this season <3

    Witch Craft works feels like JC Staff redid Shakugan no Shana especially with the similar “living” fire character types with Shana and Kagari, but this first episode was so much fun! I loved the fire animation, the random bunny robot armor things! I sear the style reminds me of Soul Eater.

    Overall great first episode even though I would have preferred a less busty main girl…

    • skylion says:

      DAT ED. Yeah, this is my thing. I Liked the ED from Machine Doll, the only thing I really liked about the show….

    • Highway says:

      I’ll say it was a lot more fun than anything I’ve seen of Shana. That show didn’t do much for me, even though I finished the first series. It was really a chore.

      Maybe part of what I find interesting about Kagari so far is that she is a busty girl, and as I said just big overall, but they’re not playing that for titillation (npi). There might be in the future (although I hope not), but for now there’s no *pyon!* or “Let’s show how uncomfortable Honoka is with Kagari’s boobs in his face or pressing against him, etc…” And we’ll see where the show goes, but to me it gives Kagari an extra quality that she’s overcoming some physical awkwardness overall.

      • Highway says:

        Boy, that sentence comes off as “I think Kagari is interesting because she’s got huge boobs”… That’s not what I meant at all. I mean that she’s interesting because in spite of her size they’re playing it straight.

        • skylion says:

          Doth protest to much?

          • Highway says:

            No, I don’t think so. I mean, if I wanted to fawn over realistically sized girls in anime, there’s Super Sonico. I think that the thing that’s most remarkable about Kagari is what seems to be depth to her character. But I also like that she’s portrayed as a big girl. Too often, big girls in shows are shy and almost ashamed of their size. Especially in a show that, as zztop lets us know, was initially a shoujo ai or even yuri property. Thinking about other shows in that genre, the big girl is standard, but played completely differently, usually denigrating themself because of their size. Sumika from Sasameki Koto, Fumi from Aoi Hana, even Kanako from Maria-sama ga Miteru (which I’m currently totally fanboying over) to a lesser degree.

  5. Di Gi Kazune says:

    Lead female needs to lose a few pounds in places.

  6. skylion says:

    Well, I like Tanpopo. And the falling building. And the weiner. Gotta love the weiner…And the bit with the bento flambe….

    But I found the characters a bit too much on the bland side, with only the combat to give them any real spice. And I like the Bunny design.

    Gonna give it a few more shows to conclude my opinion.

    • Highway says:

      It’s certainly possible I’m reading more into the characters that isn’t really there at the moment. But to me the fact that they’re played flat doesn’t mean they’re bland. It’s possible that I’m just prejudiced to like the show for whatever reason (maybe because I’ll be blogging it), but it just felt like there’s more that’s actually there, not just that there has to be more because TV.

      • skylion says:

        That bias could be there, I wouldn’t accuse you over overindulging in it at this point. And I do feel there is more there; for me, it’s gonna be the bad girls!

        • Sumairii says:

          I have to agree with your last sentiment. Just from their introduction and the ED, I get the feeling those witches might be the next most charismatic “evil organization” after the Crux Brigade of Star Driver.

          • skylion says:

            But then, they could be Team Rocket, Tanpopo shows us at least that much….

            • Highway says:

              “Sakusen B! Run Awaaaaay!”

              At this point it’s hard to tell whether it’s a strategic Kiraboshi maneuver or a Team Rocket “runaway in a rout” maneuver.

            • skylion says:

              All her usagi peeps got blowed up….That was runaway in a rout…

            • Highway says:

              Yeah, but it makes a difference if it’s “Runaway in a Rout because we’re idiots” and “Runaway in a Rout because daaaaayum she’s way stronger than I ever thought she’d be.”

              And let’s not forget, the Kiraboshi lost every single fight, usually in one blow. Most of the fights took less time than Takuto’s Tauburn transormation sequence (which they showed in full every single time), even including the yammering of “THIS time I’ll beat you!”

            • skylion says:

              Tanpopo is complete baka…

            • Highway says:

              I did like the Monokuma style bunny, tho.

            • skylion says:

              Oh, I loved the Bunny Zerg Rush! And the head gear…what is that stuff on their heads?

            • Highway says:

              The one I was thinking of was Monokuma based was the one he pulled out of the trash with the ‘weather prediction’ on it. Claws, sharp teeth, parts white and dark.

              I took the stuff on their heads to be kind of crowns, to go along with their drape. Cause you want your expendable bunny troops to look like royalty.

          • skylion says:

            Cause you want your expendable bunny troops to look like royalty.

            This makes complete sense to me. And by complete sense, I mean whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat!

  7. Hime says:

    Well, I was pretty happy with this first ep! Some of the colour palette choices were cool and kept things visually interesting. I could have done without the crappy CGI rabbits though, to be honest. Still, our mains are as adorable as expected. Can’t wait for more princess Honoka! Hehe!

    • Highway says:

      I don’t know if you’d characterize it as color palette, but I particularly liked Kagari’s ‘witch’ outfit: seifuku with ridiculously large hat (all the witches have ridiculously large hats, but if you ask Granny Weatherwax, a witch’s hat is her identity) and cloak. In colors that completely clash. I wonder what she’d look like with a full outfit in complementary colors, rather than blood red and hunter green.

  8. AllenAndArth says:

    Steam punk-bunny-army for the WIN o/
    so it just gets clear…i’m cheering for the cat-buny-summoner girl!
    because…fire witch and stuff like that is too mainstream, now a bunny army made metal bunny’s steam punk style is just too awesome

    • skylion says:

      Based Tanpopo.

    • akagami says:

      I agree with the steampunk bunny army. Pure awesome.

      Now Kagari needs to summon a bunch of fire.. um… not sure what would top steampunk bunny robots.

  9. timo says:

    Which leads to a reversal of roles that I find rather refreshing even though I’m almost certain it’s been done before.

    I disagree here.
    The wimpy male lead has been overdone from my experience. But I’m too lazy here to put in the effort, but if we go through romance anime I think most male leads are pushovers at least at the beginning and through most of the anime.

    • akagami says:

      Personally I don’t think there is anything wrong with beta males. As long as they’re not Pastel-caliber betas.

      And I believe Highway was referring to the fact that Takamiya being the damsel-in-distress vs. him being the hero-knight to the rescue.

      • Highway says:

        I didn’t remember writing that, and indeed it was Sumairii. :)

        I do think that it’s somewhat unusual for the strong protector to be the girl, and even for the stoic personality to be the girl. I wouldn’t say (and nor did Sumairii) that it’s completely unexplored. But I’d also agree with akagami that it’s more that Honoka is the damsel-in-distress.

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