Witch Craft Works is still a slow burn, but threats to our “Princess” continue to multiply.
What They Say
Takamiya Honoka is just an average student who just so happens to sit next to Kagari Ayaka, the “Princess” of the school, and has never said a word to her. However, one day when Takamiya’s life is put in danger, Kagari arrives to his rescue dressed as a witch. It is revealed that Kagari is what is known as a Workshop Witch within the city and Takamiya is under her protection and shall henceforth protect him from any danger that ensues…
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Witch Craft Works’ lack of urgency in going anywhere is pleasantly perplexing. On the one hand, I’m pleased to see the series avoiding the typical shounen formula. But with a fourth of the series complete, I wonder if it will have time to cover any major events before the season ends. Which is not to say I’m not enjoying the series, because it continues to be consistently charming.
It’s not fair to say that nothing happens in an episode, because quite a lot does. It just all feels like it’s building up to something at its own pace. The episode begins with our five hopeless Tower Witches attacking Ayaka and Honoka, and their quick explosion at the hands of fire witch Ayaka. It would seem that she has no weaknesses, but from last episode, we know that if Honoka is wounded, those wounds transfer to Ayaka. It seems a witch or two knows about this loophole as well. Witch Chronoire creates a bus that Ayaka and Honoka get on absentmindedly, trapping them within her realm. Because of Honoka’s drab, do-gooder nature she’s easily able to stab him with a knife, wounding Ayaka and taking her out of commission.
It was revealed that Honoka’s character was originally a girl, and Witch Craft Works intended as a yuri series, but was changed to a male at the last minute. But I think the lead character being a typical milquetoast actually works here. It’s one thing when a boring guy is your main character, but when he is an object fought over by other powers, he’s not the driving force of the story. His dullness works as a contrast to Ayaka’s power and style. Even his do-gooderism, backed up with no strength or power, serves as an excellent weakness for cruel witches to exploit. The taciturn and world-weary Ayaka would never fall for a witch’s trap. But guileless Honoka could easily stumble into one, and in fact does repeatedly.
Chronoire reveals that the two entered into a kind of contract, and they are powerful as a team. She tries to get Honoka to swallow a pill to release his inner powers, but he refuses. Though it seems Ayaka is out of action, she too has a final form she can transform into when things get touch. There are mysteries upon mysteries, each touched upon to get out of the current predictament, but enough to leave Honoka and the audience in a state of wonder. Perhaps it’s kind of cheap as a storytelling technique, but as long as things continue to get explained as the episodes pass, Witch Craft Works can get away with it.
The best part of the episode is the witch lessons that Ayaka gives Honoka. As exposition dumps go, it’s cutely animated and features the kind of dry wit I’ve come to expect from the series. The flying lessons Ayaka provides, though animated with woefully inadequate CG, are charmingly Miyazaki-esque, and Kiki’s Delivery Service was the last thing I ever expected I would compare Witch Craft Works to. Ultimately the episode ends with Honoka falling into another trap, taking advantage of his helpful nature. This appears to get Honoka’s sister involved in the witchcraft battles, and it seems she’s been keeping secrets of her own.
I joke that my review of Witch Craft Works is that nothing happened, but yet I love it just the same. The storytelling seems to be unstructured, and it’s hard to know where the writers are going with any of this. For the mean time, however, it’s a charming slice of life that manages to be familiar enough with the conventions of the genre to avoid them, while providing fantastic design and oddball jokes to keep things new and entertaining. I’d love to see some changes so that I can bring my review score up, but Witch Craft Works remains one of my favorites of the season, regardless.
Streamed By: Crunchyroll
Review Equipment: Sony VAIO 17″ HD screen