Monday, September 21, 2015

Anime Review: Witch Craft Works

Alright, back to the blogging game. The summer anime season is winding down and the leaves are starting to fall on my block, let's get to a few older shows before jumping into the new stuff and the new new fall stuff first shall we?

Witch Craft Works

Honoka Takamiya, like the majority of the school's population, has a crush on the school's "princess" Ayaka Kagari, a great but aloof beauty. He has the shock of his life when he is not only attacked by witches but discovers that Kagari is secretly supposed to protect him and the magic locked inside of him. And Kagari has her own crush of sorts on Takamiya, in her rather straightforward way she would rather protect him by living with him!

I feel that if someone asked me to point to a series that I considered "pure anime" (which honestly could come up one day on twitter) I might point to this one. The 80s/90s had a different, "anime" sort of anime but this is much more in line with the trends of the aughts and teens. It's rather superficial in terms of plot, borrows from a lot of different things from various genres for plot points, settings, and characters, but it's not necessarily a bad thing? It felt like eating cotton candy, there is lots of sugar, lots of air, and at some point I remember that I don't really like cotton candy but why not just go and finish it anyway?

This series is certainly aiming to be silly and succeeding, it does manage to have good, serious moments when it needs to but humor will inevitably follow soon after to make it clear what kind of tone that story is going for. I was amused to find out [prior to watching] that Takamiya was originally a girl and was only changed to a guy for the final version. In some ways it makes sense, his and Kagami's relationship does feel more like a yuri one at times than a gender-reversed heterosexual one, although making him a guy does unfortunately make him feel like innumerable other harem leads. The series isn't truly a harem but as it goes on there are an increasing number of girls sleeping around his house, Takamiya is useless 90% of the time and that 10% of the time when he's useful he's way more powerful than anyone else, and the plot does revolve around him after all, those are pretty standard harem tropes no matter what the window dressing is!

In a show that quite honestly did nothing original, it was the little details that stuck with me the most. Such as, I am a little miffed that the Tower Witches got way better outfits than the Workshop Witches. The show clearly thought the villains were more interesting than the good guys and even the important Workshop Witches had much more dull outfits than some of the Tower Witches who barely appeared on screen*. It's a decidedly unbalanced show like that, it will embellish the bits it likes and merrily skip over others but again, it all feels very deliberate. As far as I can tell this is the manga-ka's first work which is surprising, this adaptation felt very carefully considered and if you want a silly, mostly-fluff piece involving witches this isn't too bad! I've had friends tell me that they like the manga even better and the manga is published in the US by Vertical, the anime surprisingly enough remains unlicensed so the only place to watch it is on Crunchyroll.

 *The CGI for the series was also a little lopsided, it worked fine for Tanpopo's mechanical rabbits, especially when they where the center of the scene, but hideously for Medusa's snakes where everything moves too differently compared to the 2D elements right next to them (and both of them suffer from "we did hard cell shading instead of soft cell!" that you see all-to-frequently in anime).  

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