First Impressions – Shuumatsu no Izetta

The witch’s song.

And just like that, the fall season is upon us! Let’s see what Shuumatsu no Izetta has to offer with its premiere.



We’ve got a lovely package of magic and history in Shuumatsu no Izetta, coming to us from the long and storied, but rather low profiled (?) Ajia-do Animation Works. So let’s unpack some of the details…


A Fine Time

A woman on a mission.

Suma: Quite frankly, this was a very strong start for the show. The majority of the run time focuses on Princess Finé and her efforts to leverage allied support in defense of her home country, Eylstadt, against an impending Germanian invasion. Yes, the story has an alternate history WWII setting, and there is much that can be said about the reinterpretation of the European states versus real history. But I’m not particularly concerned about the historical side of things. It’s just a backdrop to provide some context for the story, and I don’t expect any faithfulness (or lack thereof) to real history to have a meaningful impact on how the show unfolds. But back to the matter at hand, I’m really liking Finè’s characterization so far. We see that she is a very strong-willed and determined person, with a great sense of loyalty to her country and her people. In fact, Eylstadt is presented as a very tight-knit community in general. Everyone on every standing of society supports each other, ranging from the ordinary people to the leaders of the country. Even the companies refuse to “sell out” to other nations. And on the more extreme side of things, it has been stated that the people would rather fight to their last breath than surrender to Germania. It’s quite inspiring to see such a monolithic representation of a country, though I’m certain the relatively small size of Eylstadt helps significantly in this regard.

Their Past

An explosive entrance.

Moving on, we only finally get to see Izetta, the titular witch, in action fairly late in the episode. Until then, she’s only appeared in flashbacks and seen confined in some sort of sealing casket. I do admit that the way Finé crossed paths and reunited with Izetta felt rather convenient. They just happened to be on the same train on the way to Westria. And even after parting ways when Finé was forced to jump off to avoid pursuing Germanian soldiers, they still managed to reunite yet again in the air on the same plane. Granted, it did make sense to put Finé on the same plane headed to Germania, since there’s no sense in acquiring a separate one just to carry a political prisoner. And I’ll have to give the story some leeway on the first coincidence, because there would really be no story to tell at all otherwise. Conveniences aside, we get a glimpse at the relationship between Finé and Izetta through a couple of flashbacks. The two first met when they were young, Finé being drawn in by some sort of “magic dust” that accumulates around Izetta when she uses her magic, as well as the young witch’s singing. And we also see that Finé protected Izetta from what appears to be a witch hunt of sorts later on, resulting in a large scar across the princess’s abdomen.

Finé protects Izetta.

Now, some things about the flashbacks seem questionable to me. We know that the legend of the white witch originates in Eylstadt. So one would assume that the flashbacks to young Finé and Izetta take place in Eylstadt, since that is where Izetta presumably would have lived. But that makes the wound Finé sustained in the second flashback rather unusual. Given that the people of Eylstadt are portrayed as extremely loyal to the archduke and his family, it doesn’t make sense that they would harm the princess in an attempt to capture or kill a witch. Moreover, while we do not know too much about the legend of the white witch, the story hasn’t been presented in a negative light. In fact, a painting of the white witch makes it seem like witches are seen as some sort of messianic figures in the Eylstadt culture. So it makes even less sense for there to have been a witch hunt for Izetta in the first place. So then how can the events in the second flashback be explained? Maybe they didn’t take place in Eylstadt after all? Or maybe Izetta was the one who accidentally wounded Finé (maybe due to inexperience with her magic), and the people were outraged by this? Whatever the case, I’m sure that the history between the two will be elaborated upon throughout the show. So I’m not too worried about the confusing portrayal so far.

Don’t Know Much About Alt-History

The Germanian advance.

skylion: I wouldn’t get myself to bent out of shape trying to figure out which way is up in the Last Witch’s world background. It’s an alternate timeline, with an alternate World War 2, and I think major chunks of that war are going to be decided by a very powerful witch; our real history is down the list of priorities in this story. It’s going to be about our princess first and foremost.
But that doesn’t mean the fiddly bits of the background don’t tickle my history nerdiness a bit. Germania is obvious Germany, only with an emperor this time, and they invaded the Duchy of Livonia – which does track with Poland. So a rough time period is given and is more or less the same as our own (tacking further to less than more as time goes by?). Westria is the neutral Switzerland featured in this episode, and that leaves Eylstadt, Finé’s home and the crux of the new invasion, as a more or less fictional entity. Britannia is one of Britain’s older names (yes, I know… Code Geass borrows from history just like this show), and Thermidor get’s it’s name from France’s Revolutionary past. But, I’m pretty sure (please correct me if I’m wrong) England didn’t have a Prince Henry that was a direct heir to the throne in 1939, which doesn’t mean England didn’t have a royal Henry at the time, but he was 39 that year and already married. So there is a ton of room for give and take in this timeline. Let’s focus on what’s important…

I am brave and I am pious

Finé’s defiance.

By now in my own anime-watching history, the voice of Saori Hayami is one that inspires a great degree of confidence in the work she does. She’s just got that sure voice and a magic touch that’s hard to define, yet easy to enjoy. While it’s true that her voice is usually the same in many productions, it’s a great voice, and she expands her range to fit the situation and character to a fine degree. This both is and isn’t Kotori, and the same goes for Yotsugi, and it’s closer to Shirayuki, but it is now totally Finé’s voice, and it works so very well for this new character. You can see the section header for the motto on her Duchy’s flag. That just calls out confident main character and there isn’t a single moment she doesn’t show courage, and the capacity to defend her land and people; she never fails to credit them either. So far nothing has held her back or shook her to her core. You can take my life, but you can’t take my soul, is what she says. This is going to be a great character to watch, and I’m looking forward to more.

There is a lot that can be said in terms of speculation about Izetta’s powers. We see that she has to be physically touching an object to exert her powers on it. But there has been no explanation yet as to the “magic dust” that accumulates around her. Maybe it’s just a sort of visual flair to show her powers at work? But then, we’ve seen the dust appear to cause engines to stall. How exactly did that work when Izetta was not directly in contact with the engines? Or perhaps, she can further exert her powers on objects that are touching things she herself is in contact with? Not that this would explain the stalling of the engines anyway, since Izetta was presumably still in some sort of semi-comatose state within the sealing casket at that moment. I make a fuss about this because the way that Izetta’s powers work are sure to make a huge difference in the way the defense of Eylstadt turns out. I don’t think she’s going to end up being ridiculously overpowered, since we’ve seen her captured and incapacitated once before. But I hope her abilities aren’t kept too vague, because that would allow for some very convenient developments thanks to the excuse of “IT WAS MAGIC!” That said, it’s also important for the show not to get too carried away with focusing on Izetta’s powers, because I would much rather see character and relationship developments between the princess and the witch.

So, I’ve left out the titular character? She’s a magic artifact that a fascist WWII dictator wants to use, and that never begins, winds up, or ends very well for anyone. She could tip the balance of power or war, or so they say, or even hope. Plus Izetta knows how to make an entrance that is for sure. She will be one to watch along with Finé, so let’s tune in and see what kind of world they can shape together.

The witch and her princess.


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17 Responses to “First Impressions – Shuumatsu no Izetta”

  1. sonicsenryaku says:

    As i like to say; id rather perfer someone who has versatility in their ability to act i.e hayami saori than be able to display vocal range. I like my voice actors being able to act.

    • skylion says:

      I have a very bad Scotireland accent, an equally bad Cowboy accent, this is in addition to my own native midwestern US accent; which is, regrettably, terrible. Also, I can’t act at all, so I think I know where you are coming from?

  2. zztop says:

    …and that leaves Eylstadt, Finé’s home and the crux of the new invasion, as a more or less fictional entity.

    Comparing to our real-world map, Eylstadt’s location corresponds to Liechtenstein and the western half of Austria.

    • skylion says:

      …yeah, I’m a bad alt-history nerd for not getting that in there. In my defense, the oddish(?) shape of the place threw me off enough, so I didn’t want to add one more bit of speculation to that section…ah well, you picked it up.

  3. HannoX says:

    I think the yuri ship has already been launched and it won’t take much more for it to set sail.

    This was an excellent start to what will hopefully be a great series. I won’t dwell much on Fine’s courage and determination since they’ve already been mentioned sufficiently. But there is one thing regarding those I do want to mention.

    When her younger bodyguard died protecting her, she honored him for his sacrifice and pledged not to forget it. But she did not break down and cry or go to pieces or lose sight of the mission. She knows her country is in a war of which that was the opening round and good people die in wars. A good leader must be cognizant of those sacrifices, but not let them prey upon their mind since that can lead to mental paralysis which can lead to more deaths than otherwise or losing the war.

    • skylion says:

      My only real concern about Fine’s courage is, well they’ve topped that typical character arc already haven’t they. She can’t go from callow youth to brave princess during the course of the show without flashbacks as it stands. But, not all stories need such an obvious arc…

      • Sumairii says:

        Perhaps the princess will rise to new heights that we never could have imagined!

      • HannoX says:

        There is still plenty of potential for character growth. Yes, Fine is already brave and determined. But I doubt she has any experience with war. As she learns she could easily make mistakes that get people killed unnecessarily. How will she react to knowing her screw-ups cost lives? Along with learning to deal with the consequences of her mistakes I’m sure she would over time get better and better until she becomes a formidable war leader.

        Of course, the anime might not take that path. It might have her be near perfect from the start which would undercut much potential for character growth.

  4. Overcooled says:

    Never heard of Ajia-dou before, but they’re doing a great job!

    This one wasn’t on my radar at all, but it turned out to be a pleasant surprise. I like the mix of political intrigue with a witch who can ride a gun like a broomstick. It adds just the right amount of flare. Looking forward to more!

    • skylion says:

      In so far as rules based magic goes, I love it when characters need a “focus”. It grounds it in the real world and just feels like they have to think about how they use the power rather than just go “flash bang, yo!” The gun feels so inspired and improvisational, also giving it a bit of real world feeling…

    • BlackBriar says:

      a witch who can ride a gun like a broomstick.

      Think of the advantage that gives. She can shoot while she flies.

  5. BlackBriar says:

    Well, it was inevitable. The fact of knowing this was a story involving a witch being inserted into a time period where there’s a full scale war ensuing makes thoughts of Maria the Virgin Witch/Junketsu no Maria bubble to the surface. Although, going by this first entry, by comparison, Izetta won’t share the same sassy personality. Her introduction alone shows her experience with people is scarce.

    If Izetta is such a threat a power hungry dictator wants to turn her into a weapon of war, one is tempted to imagine the hardship it took to neutralize and contain her.

    A decent start with an admirable female protagonist in Finé. Not sure what to expect of this series but there’s a feeling of promise I’m willing to entertain so I’ll be continuing with this.

  6. sonicsenryaku says:

    Just as an additional comment, watching this series just makes me hope that chiaki j. konaka is able to get “Despera” produced real soon

    • skylion says:

      …he’s been a jobbing writer the same as being an auteur, so I don’t know if I get the exact connection. Other than the flying bits in Narutaru? Or is Despera alternate history?

      • sonicsenryaku says:

        Yea despera is an alternate period story taking place a year before the great earthquake in kanto, japan. The main character is able to build devices that shouldnt be possible within the time period she exists in and teh sci-fi mystery deepens as the story explores the ramifications of that unexpected scientific knowledge.

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