6 June 2017 | arorashadow_2003
World War II, there's no shortage of stories revolving around it. Anime of course is no different, there's plenty of stories about the war and usually they're serious dramas.
I've been growing more evasive of fantasy anime as more and more feel like they're the latest attempts to cash in on Sword Art Online or Attack on Titan or just another lousy light novel spat off the assembly line filled with every tired cliché imaginable. Izetta reminded me of why I really love fantasy anime and filled a gap I haven't had in quite a while.
The story is wonderful, it's a really refreshing take on WWII by making it more alternate history with fantasy as opposed to another war time drama about how hard it was in Japan at that time. No one denies life was terrible during those times but we have plenty of movies from Grave of the Fireflies to Barefoot Gen that explore that already.
Watching the two girls, Fine and Izetta share a bond and a common desire to bring a quick end to the war and building what feels like a sweet romance (though never going beyond subtle) makes for wonderful dramatic pathos the show needs and keeps it from being just another generic action show.
The visuals of the characters take a little getting used to at first, they're not quite as smooth and clean looking as some others but by no means does the animation feel cheap or rushed. They just looked a little strange to me at first but I was also watching Sound Euphonium which had wonderful visuals so maybe just a little whiplash. The great thing about anime is there are so many visual styles to pick from and it's that kind of variety I truly enjoy about the medium.
There's a lot of excellent special effects work with explosions, flight, dust, smoke and other little things a list that could go on and on; the combat scenes use just enough CGI that it looks good without being gaudy or distracting and naturally there's some very beautiful art direction with great color choices and great scenic art from the little capital city nestled in the mountains to the cold industrial heart of Germania.
There are moments some would say are fan service oriented but I'd argue otherwise. Yeah some of the camera angles might be misplaced and we all saw the scene of Izetta being squeezed into a corset which is played for laughs than usual play for the senses.Frankly after seeing the gratuitous amount of pointless fan service in Dragonar Academy, yeah I'm not still over that, everything in Izetta is tame rather reminding me of Murder Princess.
Izetta's music was handled by Michiru and it's actually pretty good on its own though I'd question some of the arrangements during some of the more intense scenes but it's overall a nice package and certainly a score that is worth a listen. I picked up the original soundtrack and love every track on it, but none more so than it's signature motif that shares it's name with the anime title. The score does remind me quite a bit of Yuki Kajiura; not to take away from Michiru's own accomplishment with the score. I really hope to see some more anime soundtracks out of her, I think she's got real potential as an anime composer. The opening theme song is okay, it does have a weird fusion of J-Pop with heavy guitars, so it's pop-metal? That might be pushing it. I guess it does fit the industrial feel of the opening animation, with many shots of tanks, military might and equipment. The ending theme song was a favorite of mine from 2016, "To Where the Light Is" by May'n a very solemn and somber song very perfect for the mood of the show. I really enjoyed the ending as a solemn song to counter the high tempo opening. You know this reminds me of Chrono Crusade with the spirited opening by Minami Kuribayashi and the solemn ending by Saeko Chiba.
I watched the show in Japanese with English subtitles and have been able to hear of Funimation's dubbing, it's okay sounding, might take more getting used to after some watching but I think they've had better dubs in the past. Makes me wonder how the eagerness to dub brand new shows as they are coming out is starting to affect quality but I'm not ready to panic yet. For those wanting to stick to Japanese you won't be disappointed with our leading lady, Saori Hayami as Fine and Himika Akaneya as Izetta.
I think Izetta the Last Witch is a wonderful and underrated show worth a watch for fans of action, history or just those looking for a fun fantasy that isn't another cheap SAO clone. Unfortunately for Izetta, while gaining some early praise opinions largely dropped off into criticism. It's the nature of the beast at times with TV shows they can start strong but falter, I've seen my fair share of shows that have done that but regardless of what everyone else thinks I found Izetta a fun experience from start to finish and one of my favorites of 2016. Who knows this may end up on my list of anime I love but nobody else does. It just hits the right notes, historical fiction, fusions of magic with technology without going to mechs and great action sequences. Lord knows we can use some more original anime and it's a shame when it doesn't capture the imagination of the masses. Regardless, I can only hope this anime does well enough to spur other creative original productions to come.