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Witch Craft Works is the Best Winter Anime (So Far)

February 19, 2014

wcw1No one was expecting anything out of Witch Craft Works. No one even thought it’d be some spectacularly atrocious piece of shit. This thing was cast aside into the pits of forgotten mediocrity before the first episode aired.

But nope. Just like some damned witch crawling out of the pits of hell seeking wicked vengeance, Witch Craft Works managed to not only crawl its way out of mediocrity, it did so kinda spectacularly.

Most people really latch onto the gender reversal thing. That’s cool. She’s the cold, calculated, stoic one and he’s the emotional dudesel in distress. People have talked about that and done so better than I would, so we’ll leave it at that.

The thing that makes Witch Craft Works work for me is the fact that you can’t trust a single one of these characters.

The main girl is probably the most trustworthy, but even she’s a bit sketchy. She keeps the main dude in the dark, revealing things to him only when forced to do so or when another character has said too much to him. It doesn’t seem like she’s doing it just to be protective, though. There’s certainly an element of “I must protect you because you’re a delicate, helpless flower” to her actions, but we’re still not entirely sure if her intentions are completely altruistic. In episode six, we find out she’s made a deal with a character we assume is a major villain in order to obtain powers greater than the already intimidating ones she already possesses. She’s willing to go against her mother and the other Workshop witches, who are supposedly the good, order-maintaining witches. Is it all out of devotion to this dude? There has to be more to her agenda if she’s willing to do the shit she’s doing. It ultimately may be some greater good thing, but there’s some serious plans within plans shit going on with her.

Then there’s her mother/the school principal. She works for the “good guys,” but she has a thing for torture and interrogation. She ignores rules that are inconvenient. She’s perfectly OK with seeing the city she protects blow up on a daily basis, because she can just pay for all the damages and pretend nothing happened. She may be on the side of law and order, but she’s pretty much a corrupt bureaucrat. She’s using her position to further her position. She has despotic rule over her school, what with her daughter taking the ridiculous role of “queen of the school,” who can expel students and fire teachers at will. And she’s apparently willing to kill the main dude to fulfill her goals while simultaneously releasing witches from the opposing faction despite said witches actively going around and stirring up shit. Yeah.

wcw2As for said opposing witches? Most of them are harmless Team Rocket-like bumbling dorks. I wish we got to see more of them so they could get a bit more distinguished, but I like how they’re used mostly as gags in opening scenes and stuff. And while they’re going around trying to capture or kill the main couple, that’s the only real nefarious thing they seem to do. Sure, they work for some monstrous witch who may be the Medusa from Greek mythology, but they seem like nice kids otherwise. They go to karaoke bars after school, and that’s one of those universal anime cues for “these guys are normal,” right? They aren’t playing the scheming game, despite being the recurring villains.

The villains as a whole want to release some all-powerful(ish) mega-witch trapped inside of the main dude. People tell us it’d be a terrible thing if these seals were released, but during the scene where we get to meet said mega-witch, she doesn’t seem to be that bad. And other than the fact that they wanna kidnap the main dude, we don’t really see anything bad about the Tower witches. The audience is made to assume they’re the bad guys because the characters the main guy interacts with the most say they’re the bad guys.

I doubt the Tower witches are all nice and goody goody, but it seems like this is a case where no one falls into the classic good guy/bad guy roles. It seems like we’re dealing with order vs chaos to some extent, with the Workshop witches using their powers to maintain a semblance of order in the world, while the Tower witches adhere to a philosophy less structured. Witches from both sides hang out in the same cafes and share cake with one another. It’s like they’re opposing magical political parties rather than warring factions trying to protect/destroy the world.

Hell, maybe this White Witch lady is some political prisoner, and the Tower witches just want to release her.

So yeah, Witch Craft Works is playing the morality line better than any anime since Book of Bantorra. Bantorra did the whole “there are no good guys or bad guys” angle much better– better than any other anime ever if you ask me– but that’s why Witch Craft Works works. Don’t trust any of those witches.

Also: The main dude likes penguins. The guy has awesome taste.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. February 20, 2014 12:47 AM

    Not only all of what you wrote here, but Witchcraft Works also inserts those little character nuances you’d expect from a KyoAni show in a likable a manner. The character designs are also distinct from most other anime, while not as much as, say, Wizard Barristers. Also, I noticed there are a lot of similarities between the typical KyoAni anime and WW, but the latter pulls it off much better.

  2. February 20, 2014 7:00 AM

    welp, damn. Now I just have to un-drop this. Can’t see it unseating Hozuki and Space Dandy as my favourites though.

  3. February 20, 2014 7:25 AM

    I’m still waiting for the show to finish before writing about this surprise. I’ve seen a bunch of manga fans claim that we haven’t even gotten to the good part yet and I’m not sure if the anime will make it there within its time frame. This could end up being another “prologue” to the real story ala Aku no Hana and whilst that’s enjoyable in of itself, it doesn’t make for “best Winter anime” material.

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