The Wandering Witch – Ain’t Eatin’ Stake This Time!

Posted on Nov 17 2015

Wandering Witch Stake

Welcome, all, again. The Fall viewing season is well underway, and I’m having trouble finding enough time to keep up with all of the great shows! One series that continues to impress week after week is Anti-Magic Academy: The 35th Test Platoon. Imagine the training platoon from the old Bill Murray movie Stripes with an anti-magic bias but a magic dependency. Our protagonists are members of a much-maligned and undermanned platoon at an academy that trains Inquisitors, paramilitary personnel who hunt witches and other illicit magic users. Much like Witch Hunter Robin (Sunrise, 2002), however, these champions against magic’s [mis]use must often themselves depend upon using magic to accomplish their objectives. Because of this atmosphere of constant contradiction, students almost expect betrayal from within their own ranks and find trust a rare commodity and valuable currency.


The series begins with the 35th Test Platoon down to just three members–Captain, sniper, and intel–but two new members quickly join: insane killer Bee and POW witch. Now, doesn’t that sound fun? Takeru Kusanagi, the 35th’s long-suffering Captain, must somehow integrate everyone’s disparate talents and personalities into one seamless joint performance during missions. And as might be expected, his biggest difficulty in doing so comes from his newest team members. The original three members of the 35th might have a dismal record of failure, but at least they’re comfortable with each other and knowledgeable of their group’s collective (and individual) abilities. The forced addition of Ouka Otori creates immediate problems–she was previously a full Inquisitor who has now been demoted back to student status because of her habit of ruthlessly killing the witches she pursues. And she is as unhappy with her change in circumstances as she is determined to continue killing witches, regardless of orders. So of course the only logical place to put Mari, the Academy’s newly captured witch, is within the 35th platoon. Hilarity and hijinks en–well, no; actually, Rabid Girl goes nuts and decides to use Little Witch for a biology dissection. Have fun, Captain!


What makes Otori especially dangerous is that she utilizes a Relic Eater to strengthen her attacks. These beings are sentient magical entities which seem to require a human partner through whom to work. They contract themselves to an individual to form a symbiotic working relationship, although additional interaction also seems possible. Because her aversion to magic prevents her from entering into a full contract with her Relic Eater, Vlad, Otori is often just as dangerous to her teammates through her magical limitations as she is to her enemies through her magical attacks. (Vlad sometimes withdraws his powers mid-use in an attempt to coerce Otori into initiating a full contract with him.) Luckily for the 35th, however, Kusanagi’s mastery of swordsmanship–so often making him the butt of schoolmates’ jokes–attracts the attention of Lapis, a Relic Eater whose nature is edged weaponry. Their contract is full and fruitful, and their mutual respect and concern quickly develop into a type of friendship, thus creating a stronger bond and subsequently stronger magic. But in this war, both sides use Relic Eaters. Because of the symbiotic nature of these relationships, many Relic Eaters choose their users based solely upon compatibility, without regard to other attributes. And being sentient, some even crave destruction as much as does any human. Powerful enemies await.


But the biggest problem faced by everyone within this series, hero and villain alike, is trust versus betrayal. (Again, echoes of Witch Hunter Robin). Our protagonists participate in a system in which their actions seem but a blurred reflection of those actions which they combat. This should (and does) generate questions as to the integrity of the system itself and its agencies. And it’s a given that if participants don’t trust the system, then the system itself must respond with distrust and be always ready to sacrifice its own. At its broadest, this invites social scrutiny: Who creates laws, dividing and codifying acceptable from non-acceptable behaviors? Does societal acquiescence actually validate law? If so, does eventual societal rejection then invalidate it? And what motivates those who make–and those who enforce–these laws? Additionally, such a system must and will foster distrust amongst individual participants. As with Plastic Memories, this series provides much more than mere entertainment, offering the opportunity to confront questions of great social importance.

Anti-Magic Academy: The 35th Test Platoon is a joy to watch–it’s fun, probing, and engaging! Definitely not your average harem show. Oh, did I forget to mention that harem aspect earlier? That omission just proves how much I’m enjoying this series! There’s a lot going on here, so you can watch the same episode again and see a completely different show. The character development and storylines have that much depth and quality. See for yourself by visiting Crunchyroll every Wednesday afternoon at 12:45 CST.

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