The Wandering Witch — Gets Left for Last

Posted on Oct 19 2016

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Welcome, all, again. We’ve begun a viewing season chock-full of magical girls and witches, and so–especially with October bringing Halloween–I just had to pick one such series for review. So I went right to what promises to be one of the best of the lot, Izetta: The Last Witch. This is a well-built show! Izetta is fast-paced while still allowing for character development, an action/adventure tale given to moments of inspired visual artistry. Honestly, watching this show reminds me of attending a favorite ballet: it’s just a sweeping, mesmerizing poetry of movement. And as with both 91 Days and Alderamin on the Sky from last season, I fully expect Izetta to raise and set standards within its genre.

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The show’s premise is simple enough: a witch aids her friend in defending that friend’s country against invasion during World War II. It just happens that Izetta’s friend is Princess Fine, daughter and heir to the ruler of Eylstadt, a small Alpine duchy facing military invasion by Germania. Fine and Izetta had met as children and befriended each other, with Fine as amazed by Izetta’s magical abilities as Izetta was by Fine’s delicate beauty and poise. Years and fate had separated them, but they are suddenly reunited as prisoners aboard a Germanian airplane. And it would be fairly accurate to say that Izetta strongly disapproves of Fine’s treatment by their captors–strongly enough, in fact, to break a vow to her deceased grandmother and rid the world of a few Germanian airmen. This is a defining moment for Izetta, who has now irrevocably chosen the present over that past which has so long governed her life. It was, after all, her grandmother who reared her, the rest of their clan having been hunted to extinction for witchcraft. But even amidst such prejudice and hatred, her grandmother taught Izetta not just that her power must be hidden for survival, but that such power also demands strict self-control as a moral obligation. Still, what’s a witch to do when she’s about to watch her only friend in the world be brutalized and probably killed? To quote an old Kenny Rogers song, “Sometimes you gotta fight. . .”

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Fighting comes a bit more easily for Princess Fine, who has been attempting to forge a treaty with the Allied powers (at this point, pretty much just Britannia remains) that she hopes will shield Eylstadt from invasion. Those plans come to naught, however, as the invasion begins before the treaty can be concluded. Still, the princess has been a firebrand back home, inspiring her people to prepare to resist invasion, and even leading Germanian forces quite a chase en route to the treaty negotiations. It is little wonder that the Germanians want her silenced or–better yet–noticeably compliant. After all, she would be of inestimable value as a propaganda tool. Trouble is, Fine tends to run towards a fight rather than from it–witness the nasty scar on her abdomen, earned as a child when she placed herself between Izetta and a mob hellbent on a witch hunt. This girl does not scare! Oh, she grieves (and grieves), but she does not scare. She does, however, lead a people determined to follow her brave example.

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Of course, with this series being set during wartime, the audience is given plenty of generic baddies to boo and hiss. But most good stories have a villain, that specific someone who is uniquely dedicated to inflicting ruinous pain; Izetta has Major Belkman. It is well-documented that the Nazis made great efforts to acquire items and relics linked to occult knowledge and power, sending expeditions around the globe in pursuit of such. The SS, the Nazi state police, were most often associated with these efforts. Major Belkman belongs to Germania’s version of the SS, and he takes his duties very seriously. It is he who was escorting Izetta to Neu Berlin when the attack on Fine spurred Izetta’s wrath. He is accompanied and assisted by Rickert, and they are determined to reclaim Izetta to captivity. They seem to be linking her to the regional legend of the White Witch from centuries past, a connection that some in Eylstadt also seem willing to make. . .well, desperate times, right?

Izetta: The Last Witch is a stand-out show, even in a season which has also given us Brave Witches, an extension of the Strike Witches franchise (and a rollicking good show in its own right!). Izetta came in with a story to tell, and it does so smoothly, confidently, and entertainingly. Meanwhile, strong character development and moments of stunning visual imagery invite emotional engagement despite the show’s fast pace. This one is going to hurt–it’s too good not to! But I’m already convinced that this is a story I want to hear. Don’t you?

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