‘Takamiya-kun is my princess’ declares the school beauty, as she holds a boy bridal style. The audience tilts their head in confusion, princess? But it’s a word we get used to as we continue the series. Witch Craft Works is an enchanting anime series based on the manga of the same name. Throwing anime gender cliches out the window, the series follows the lives of an over-powered witch protecting her male classmate and crush from those that wish him harm.
Honoka Takamiya’s life would be perfectly normal except that he sits next to the school’s beauty. Any action towards or near Ayaka Kagari is seen as flirting by her vicious fanclub. Even something as simple as dropping his eraser near her has him beaten to a pulp. But even this becomes a sad everyday mundanity. His life is truly turned upside down when he’s protected from a witch’s attack by that same school idol that has been causing so much trouble! Kagari is a fire witch whose life mission is to protect Takamiya and the ‘white stuff’ inside him. Throw in two competing witch groups, the fate of the world, and a little bit of romance – poor Takamiya has a bit more on his plate than he can handle!
Plot & Story
The story starts as a feel-good comedy with some action elements. Witches attack Takamiya, Kagari saves him, rinse and repeat. It almost has the same cyclical nature as Ash defeating Team Rocket every Pokemon episode. Despite this, it’s enjoyable to see what new scheme the other witches will concoct to capture Takamiya. It’s mostly fun and games but the audience knows something big is going on in the background, and everything comes together in an explosive three-episode conclusion. These three episodes are the highlight of the series, and without them, Witch Craft Works would have been a pretty average anime.
Perhaps where the series fumbles is in its characters. Starting off with Takamiya and Kagari, the two feel very one-dimensional, almost caricatures of personality types. Takamiya is awkward with occasional bouts of bravery – essentially a generic male protagonist. Kagari is the stone-faced beauty who will do anything to protect the one important to her. The exact same character as Kanade Tachibana (Angels Beat), Homura Akemi (Madoka Magica), Mikasa Ackerman (Attack on Titan) and so on. There’s nothing really unique or memorable about each of these protagonists, making them near indistinguishable from the host of side-characters.
Speaking of side-characters, the series has far too many of them. My personal theory is that a series with twelve episodes should rarely have more than seven characters. How on earth can you remember everyone’s name, let alone connect to them otherwise? Witch Craft Works manages to have over twenty. A group of five tower witches (essentially the bad guys) appear at the beginning of the series. If you asked me to name them, I honestly couldn’t. I could give a brief description of maybe four of them. And just when I’m already struggling with these five, another three get thrown in (with a llama) at Episode 2! By the end of the series, it was hard to care about anyone since I never truly knew them in the first place.
Art & Music
Where the series fell in characters, it more than made up for in its art. The fight scenes were stunning. Such incredible detail was placed in the design of each witch’s power, how it moved with her, and its reaction to other magic. A personal favorite was the magic of Chronoire; her water magic was like looking at an aquarium. The water rippled and changed with the light, and even the fish had small details to make them stand out. Also, a very special shout out to the adorable design of the evil bunnies which immediately became a family favorite in my household.
I also want to make special note of how much I adored the anime’s ending song. It was a really cute pop song that always got my foot tapping to the tune. The animation that accompanied it was adorable, and always got a small chuckle out of me. I wasn’t too fussed on the opening sequence, but it wasn’t too bad either!
As I mentioned above, the series does come to a climax during the last three episodes. Yet, it somehow manages to completely miss resolving some major plot points. Can you imagine my frustration when the whole series teases to some hidden history between the two main characters and we’re about to find out, another character interrupts? I’ve never felt more frustrated with something in my life! Perhaps instead of squishing 90% of the plot in three episodes, it might have been better to extend it out over at least half the series!
Themes & Trivia
Matriarchy: The world of witches seems to be a world dominated by women. While males and female alike can practice magic, and are both called ‘witches’, men are looked down upon and are unable to succeed a witch family. An interesting flip of gender rights, as in the Japanese royal family, women are unable to succeed to the throne.
Ending Song: This series’ ending song is definitely not to be missed, the animations make references to various Medieval torture/execution methods used on witches. Not as gory as you might think, with the chibi tower witches bobbing their heads to the music’s beat while caught in devices like the iron maiden or the breaking wheel.
Witches in Japan: The western idea of devil-worshipping witches was not one that was shared in Japan. Instead negative events like droughts or floods were blamed on evil spirits that took an animal form called tsukimono (憑き物). Those that had tsukimono as familiars gained great wealth and prosperity but were considered witches and generally avoided.
Does it cast a spell on you?
Overall Witch Craft Works was an alright series. I went into it not expecting the next Shingeki no Kyojin but thinking I’d have a good time nonetheless. And I did. There were some really great laughs throughout the series, and the animation was seamless. What did let the series down was a mixture of plain main characters and a busload of side characters which never got enough screen-time. Overall, the series is worth a watch on a rainy day but don’t seek it out if there’s something else on.
What’s your favorite anime that features a powerful female lead? Let us know in the comments!
- Fantastic graphics
- Female lead who can hold her own
- Some great laughs
- Takamiya and Akari’s personalities can feel one-dimensional
- Too many side-characters characters in too short a time
- In Episode 11 there’s a scene that hints at something unsavoury
Witch Craft Works
12 Episodes | Winter 2014