I don’t think I need to talk about the overarching style, like how the series is trying to present itself as a high-ideal fairy-tale, but is filled with shots of Izetta’s breasts that make it feel like a murky ecchi (though the way episode six justifies a close-up of each and every female character’s boobs by comparing bust size to military might is some kind of mad genius). Suffice to say, the show is clearly trying to pitch itself as a fairy-tale to the broader audience, while still getting the attention of fan-service viewers. It emphasises the juxtaposition that causes fanservice to be distracting in the first place, but it’s so normalized that as an anime fan I actually had to go out of my way to be bothered by it.
But I can’t complain about what the show is going for because, when I ignore the roughly 90% that I don’t like, it does entertain me. So let’s talk about that 90% and 10%
Let’s start with the setting, fantasy WWII Europe. Where Germany is actually Germania, and has a king who isn’t Hitler. Why not have Hitler? Because that’s politically complicated. If we’re dodging politically complicated stuff, what is Germania at war over? Uh…
Why is this World War II? Why is it fantasy? If you want a witch in WWII, show me a witch in WWII; and while you’re at it, turn down the saturation on that art and give the series more of a military industrial aesthetic. If you want a fairy-tale about a witch and lesbian princess lover, then don’t name countries Germania, Britannia, and The United States.
In episode six there’s a lighthearted scene where Izetta and Fine are eating pie at a bakery, and we’re supposed to just forget that the holocaust is about to happen.
Izetta tries to split this baby between realism and fantasy, and ends up spilling its oversaturated guts all over the place. And with that ironically distracting and distasteful metaphor, let’s move on to the worst part.
The characters in this series outright frustrate me. All two of them. With little exception, Izetta and Fine are the only two characters that The Last Witch acknowledges most of the time, and both of them are dull.
Fine is the princess of Eylstadt. Princess by what mode? The Disney kind of princess, where she’s default the most beloved person in the land! (Since watching The Crown, I’m getting real tired of this shit). She’s kind, and strong-willed, and the most beloved by her people, which is a few commas short of quoting her Wikipedia description, but what else is there to say about her? She is the beloved princess character.
The frustrating thing about her is, I want to say she makes a good wartime leader because she actually is providing strong leadership during a war. But all we really see of that is her at the roundtable with a bunch of advisors. We don’t even know her thoughts on the broader conflict, or how the war has affected her. Was she born as this strong-willed leader? Was she prepared to carry her country through a war, or did she have to learn and grow? If so, then why did everything interesting about her take place off screen, before the show starts?
By the end of the first episode, I had already realized Fine was never going to be an interesting character, and had moved my attention to her red-headed friend, Izetta.
As the title implies, Izetta is the last witch. Whatever happened to the witches, whether humanity knew about them before Izetta, and how being the last of her kind has shaped Izetta are all apparently not questions worth asking. Instead, her character can be boiled down to these three questions; What is her cup size? How many cool uses does she have for her powers? And would she be called sexist if Fine was a prince?
I already talked about the fascination with Izetta’s tits above, and you can also learn all about them from the first half of any given episode after episode 1. The ways she uses her powers will be talked about below. So for now let’s just look at that prickly third question.
Izetta is a sweet girl. She describes herself as feeling guilty or anxious whenever she’s not working (which, as it happens, is something I’ve never heard actual hardworking people say, but I can tell from personal experience that it’s pretty resonant to a procrastinator). As someone who has eaten a spoonful a jam straight from the jar, I can say that much sweetness is nauseating.
What keeps her from being a Mary Sue is the actual guilt and debt she feels towards Fine, all because Fine stood up for her one time some years ago. She takes it to the extreme of being willing to give her life for Fine, and still feels that isn’t enough.
I know shows like Sword Art Online like to create dynamics like this between their male lead and every single female character around him. When those shows do it, even the more men’s-rightsy critics are willing to break out the word “sexist”, so why is it okay when Izetta does it between two female characters? From a writing perspective, the problem with a character dynamic like this (unless it actually has a point and is properly explored) isn’t that it somehow demeans one gender; it’s that it shows what the writer’s ambitions really are. Wish fulfilment. Making a cuet waifu, or pretty husbando. Izetta and Fine don’t have a healthy relationship; they have the type of one-sided admiration that Toradora did such a good job criticising. And it doesn’t look like it’s going to relieve Izetta of this; if anything it seems to be moving towards two-sided admiration between her and Fine, which isn’t much better.
Izetta was written with a shallow purpose. She’s meant 1) to have nice tits, 2) to make a good waifu. And while that makes for a dull character, I’m a hypocrite to complain because I like 3) has powers to make some cool action scenes.
What I like of this show so far are the two good action scenes, and the expectation for two or three more. Everything else is just not quite so bad as to make me drop it. The characters, while I don’t like them, are defined enough that I can at least root for them against the Nazis. Which is what keeps it from being just dumb action. But it is, by far, the worst of the show’s I’m still watching this season, and I doubt I’ll finish it.
Don’t Lose Your Way