And so, I bid farewell to one of my beloved pet shows from the Winter 2014 season, Witchcraft Works, a show that gets better the less seriously you take it. Although Witchcraft Works wasn’t the best show of the season, it was probably the most fun. And I’m partial to fun. Fun things have good re-watch value. And they make me happy.
On the strength of the fun factor and the ridiculously lovely art from J.C. Staff, I am pleased to award Witchcraft Works with a rating of 7/10, to be found comparatively ranked over at the Ongoing Rankings Page.
J.C. Staff has been one of my favorite studios for a while now (blog post coming on that subject soon), so between their name and the name of the anime, I was pretty excited for this show when it started airing. For the most part, I was not disappointed, with Witchcraft Works even spending a couple weeks at the top of my seasonal rankings before inevitably getting pushed out by Silver Spoon.
In this review, I want to keep in mind the primary objective of this show (at least as I see it), which is: to have fun. It is in viewing the show through this lens that I am able to justify giving it a 7/10, which is a pretty good ranking, all things considered. So, what makes it fun? What makes it worth watching?
As per the norm, let’s begin with the presentation. Witchcraft Works has an undeniable sense of style, one that is very much at the service of its humorous, random and fun-loving nature. The artwork actually reminded me of Kyousougiga at times, which is a huge compliment considering the esteem with which I hold Toei’s work on that show. It’s bright, colorful and punctuated with self-referential humor and images. I will admit that the general aesthetics of the show fall directly into my personal preferences, but to some objective degree, the show just looks beautiful. The OST didn’t particularly stand out to me (and I can’t recall any moments where it made me sit up and pay attention), which probably means that it was serviceable, but not incredible. As I’m a huge fan of fhána, I love the OP (the full version is much better than the awkwardly cut TV size), and the ED theme is a strangely cute depiction of chibi witches getting tortured. But it’s cute!
In a sense, I think those final two phrases are emblematic of the show as a whole. Witchcraft Works is full of things that make you go, “Well, that wasn’t so good…but it’s fun! Well, that was a bit oddly paced…but it’s so random and funny!” In some ways, the show being built in this manner forces the audience to make value judgements each time one of these binaries comes up. The question effectively becomes: does the fun factor cancel or balance out the flaws in the show? My personal answer is yes. Whether that’s true for others, I can’t say.
Talking about story and character in this review seems a bit out of place considering the focus, but it also doesn’t seem right to totally ignore them. As one might expect of show with the goals of Witchcraft Works the narrative takes a backseat to the shenanigans for most of the anime. Hilarity trumps plot, at least until the final few episodes, when a villainess actually capable of standing up to the overpowered Kazane and Kagari shows up. The engagement capabilities of the show struggle a bit with the shift, but the moments of humor persist, if in lesser quantities. The story can’t really be called well-structured, but again, the story in Witchcraft Works is more a vehicle for the fun than the actual goal.
The characters are likewise included in this, as they all play their roles with exuberance, even if the roles aren’t particularly exciting ones. I enjoyed the shift of having the strong female character protecting the wimpy male character (Kagari was one of my favorite female characters through the first half of the season), as well as how absurdly overpowered she was. I had been clamoring for a main character who could just blow their enemies out of the water, and Kagari fulfilled that want quite well. Honoko isn’t much of a main character (he fits very well into the “normal protagonist” role), but he shows some guts on occasion and makes some poor decisions, which adds at least one layer to him. He’s a very passive character, which doesn’t make him a whole lot of fun to watch, but his reactions were good enough to keep me from totally hating him.
There’s not really much else to say about Witchcraft Works. It’s an anime that wanted to be fun to watch. It succeeds. It’s gorgeously rendered, and appropriately random and whimsical. It’s fun. And, as The Eccentric Family taught me, “What’s fun is good!”
If you don’t mind a lack of structure and just want some good, solid fun, Witchcraft Works is an excellent choice. Filled with gorgeous artwork, great humor and some occasionally sweet action, this anime has no deeper meaning, unless it’s a subtle deconstruction of the idea that anime has to have a deeper meaning. Whoa…
So, unless you are allergic to fun, give Witchcraft Works a try.
Reasons to Watch:
- Incredibly pretty animation from J.C. Staff.
- Random things, funny things, straight up fun things.
- Kagari is totally BA.
- It’s just fun! FUN DANGIT.