Izetta: The Last Witch – Mid Season Review
Izetta: The Last Witch:
Original Air Dates: October 1st, 2016 – ???
Synopsis: Europe is on the brink of World War. As the forces of Germania lay waste to the rest of the region, conquering it with few to stand in their way, the country of Elystadt struggles to hold out. But without a strong military force to combat the enemy’s advance, there’s little hope they can hold out for long. Finé, princess of Elystadt, sets about securing aid for her country in their great time of need. As the Princess sneaks out across Europe, she finds herself hunted by Germania’s intelligence forces, bent on capturing her and bringing about an end to Elystadt’s defiance. But perhaps there is another savior of Elystadt, a magical little girl Finé once met as a child. Whatever happened to that witch she met on that fateful day?
Mid Season (6 Episodes) Review (Warning: Some Spoilers to Follow):
Tom: When we last talked about Izetta I’d been a bit iffy on the animation in longer shots and the terrible CGI blending that had affected the train sequence. I’m happy to say that the animation has otherwise held up quite well over the last six episodes, and there hasn’t been another train escape sequence (or similar) that suffers the same faults as early on. Unfortunately the animation is only one of the few places that Izetta still deserves significant praise.
Linny: In the earlier episodes of Izetta, I was genuinely concerned that the lead females would be revealed to be mostly vehicles for offering cheap yuri fan service as can be the case with anime that has a mostly female main cast. While there’s definitely a need for well represented same sex relationship and romance, it’s disappointing when they become nothing more than a sleazy attempt to fuel male fantasies. Thankfully, there is none of that in Izetta so far. The girls seem to care for each other but there are no oversexualized scenes of the two making out. However, for a show that started off having two girls who seemed powerful in their own ways, the more recent episodes have been disappointing in that regards with male characters taking centre stage and the girls both reduced to showpieces that are flaunted for the media and sneak around to grab a slice of pie while a war rages around them. There’s also some random scenes of fan service where Izetta is unceremoniously stripped and groped by other female characters while picking out clothes for her. It’s unnecessary and cheapens the strong female atmosphere, replacing it with girls squealing as their breasts are mauled by another woman.
Tom: Strong characters like Princess Fine are undermined by this cheapening fan service so awkwardly forced into the story through unnecessary plotlines. I understand a need to allow Fine to grow in different directions, offering a more three dimensional character than the stalwart Princess we were introduced to, but what’s offered cheapens her character. The same goes for Izetta, a likable enough girl, if ultimately a bit bland. Izetta is mostly characterized by her willingness to do the ‘right thing’ even if it goes against everything she’s been taught. But in the effort to inject levity into a story that really didn’t need it, our leads come out damaged, their strength undermined. The forced ‘boob’ humor is entirely unnecessary considering the series tone up until now. It’s even more aggregious as an entirely new character was introduced just to offer up groping and bulging bust moments to pander to the male gaze. It takes Izetta’s already ‘subtle’ appreciation of the female form and brings it front and center as if that’s the main attraction. It doesn’t help that other humorous offerings paint Fine or Izetta as far less composed and intelligent than before, making them seem far more inept and silly. There’s a way to do comedy right here, but Izetta takes the most pandering and basic approach, shoehorning it in where it just doesn’t gel with the rest of the flow.
Linny: It feels all the more disappointing in the case of Princess Fine, who started off as such a smart and tough girl, unafraid to risk life and limb, devoting her all to save her tiny nation from war and ruin. However, in the most recent episode, , she pouts and sulks and becomes all depressed when she notices she has the smallest bust compared to all the girls around her. Apparently this makes her feel so dejected that she start mulling over how her ‘small country’ can possibly win when surrounded and attacked by ‘huge nations’. Subtlity is definitely not Izetta’s strongpoint when it comes to boob humour or references and it feels extremely frustrating when the show tries to insert it in relation to a war where people are dying by the hundreds, or even thousands.
Tom: It doesn’t help that, outside of Izetta or Fine, there’s no one else to really gravitate towards. All the other characters have remained quite stereotypical and their influence on the story extends little beyond acting as pawns to drive the narrative forward. The maids are expectedly silly, the generals plotting and harsh. The villains of the piece remain surprisingly ill-defined, with only a handful of scenes to even educate us on what they’re working towards to counter Izetta. We’re half way through the show and the most I know about any of them is that they’re the bad guys! It speaks to the larger problem within Izetta: It’s story, the narrative progression. Izetta takes the easy path to instigate drama, often allowing characters to act like complete idiots in order to force certain issues. It takes away from the vague under current of realism that allowed Izetta to feel so intriguing early on, as if we were getting a real look into what World War II would’ve been like if witches did indeed exist.
Linny: When the show tries to be more light hearted, it becomes silly and idiotic, clashing heavily with the sombre war atmosphere it started off with. The transition feels unnatural, out of place and is likely to disappoint those who picked Izetta up for its serious tone. Izetta’s storytelling format and style is definitely its biggest downfall as it fails to tell a cohesive and convincing story, leaving out proper development for characters beyond its main two leads and introducing twists and reveals in the most hamfisted manner possible. For example, in episode 5, a big secret is revealed because the two men who know it just decide to discuss it openly right out in the open without bothering to check if they are truly alone. There’s absolutely no need to say the exact sentence that one of them says that ends up giving the whole jig up, yet he says it so that it can be overheard and thus introduce new drama and tension. To make matters worse, the person who overhears it, comes to immediately realize the importance of this secret and then decides that his first reaction is to mention it to the first soldier he comes across even though it could destroy their army’s morale.
Tom: Izetta is at its best when its focused on the World War II atmosphere, battles, and strategic planning for how best to utilize Izetta’s magic. The trouble is that’s taken a back seat of late and feels increasingly less of a component to Izetta’s weekly offering. The nuance and detail of the story is exceedingly poor of late, making characters behave in idiotic ways to force drama, or allowing tone deaf comedy to take center stage when that’s not what the show originally offered.
Linny: The switch between intense World War II drama and action , and the everyday life of Princess Fine has definitely changed the tone and feel of the entire show. While there’s still plenty to love, it seems to be undoing the good as it proceeds. From contrived twists to underdefined casts and cheap fan service, you might find your initial fascination with the show depreciating as it goes on. Hopefully, the show will refocus on the more brutal side of war as it does do that very well, and prove to be an overall enjoyable show in the long run, reducing its mid series episodes to a minor hiccup rather than its ultimate undoing.