Izetta: The Last Witch has begun its run on Crunchyroll. In the first two episodes (Beginning of the War and Scars and Gunfire), we met Ortfiné (Finé) Fredericka von Eylstadt, princess of Eylstadt, as she journeyed to a neutral country. She’s seeking allies to help defend her people against Germanian invasion. We also meet some of the Germanians who are trying to stop her; we discover who was imprisoned in the large metal tube that Finé discovered on the train; we witness Izetta as she awakens and frees Finé from the Germanians; we see what a White Witch can do against Germanian air power; and we see what Izetta is willing to do to protect princess Finé. Which is a lot.
Episode 1: Beginning of the War
Flanked by two loyal bodyguards, Princess Finé takes a train to a neutral country in an attempt to secure political and military help from Britannia to fend off the Germanians. As she’s escaping a random Germanian search, she finds a large cylinder with a frosted glass faceplate. She tries to open it, not knowing why, but before she can finish, the enemy arrives. She had to jump out of the train. One of her guards doesn’t make it.
She meets with a Britannian representative in a boxed seat during an opera. He tries to set her expectations by saying he doesn’t think he can help, because of his own country’s recent losses. She sweetens the deal by saying she’ll marry the eligible Britannian prince, whose proposal she had already declined. Their discussion’s interrupted by Germanian soldiers, who take Finé into custody and kill her remaining guard.
They force her onto a tri-engine plane heading for Nu-Berlin, their capital. The cylinder she had seen on the train is on the plane, too. As the Germanian officer tries to intimidate her, the plane’s enveloped by a strange cloud of glowing green crystals, and the engines stall. Unable to seize the situation, she’s wounded just as the cylinder’s occupant awakens.
Finé turned to see Izetta sit straight up in the opening coffin. Overcome with emotion, weakened by blood loss, she barely has time to say, “Izetta! Am I seeing things? My… White Witch…” Izetta is horrified to see the princess in danger. Her power rips the plane in half. Imbuing an anti-materiel rifle with her power, Izetta uses it to rescue the princess as she fell from the wreckage.
Episode 2: Scars and Gunfire
A squadron of Germanian fighter aircraft were in radio contact with the tri-engine when it cracked in two. The fighters investigate and find Finé and Izetta astride a rifle. Remembering the horrors the Germanians had put her people through, Izetta breaks her own taboos and engages the fighters. Within moments, the squadron is no more. Finé passed out, overcome by blood loss.
The Germanians destroyed Fort Schweizen on Eylstadt’s norther border. Its survivors, given time to escape by a squad who sacrificed themselves to destroy a key bridge that stopped the Germanian pursuit, retreated through the woods. Izetta carried Finé on her back until she found them. They immediately recognized their Princess and treated both of them. Izetta resisted, saying she wasn’t worthy, remembering the wound on the Princess’ side.
Izetta’s grandmother had told her to keep her magic secret. All of the other witches were apparently dead, and using her power in front of others would provoke fear and loathing. When she first met Finé, Izetta found for the first time a friend who not only wasn’t afraid of her powers, but who was delighted. Their meeting changed Izetta’s life. Yet, she can’t forgive herself; she blames herself for the Princess’ injury.
After Finé regains consciousness, they continue their retreat. They find an abandoned mansion and stop there for the night. They weigh their options: the enemy will likely cut off their retreat at the capital; there’re few others places they can go. When Finé tells Izetta to run away from Eylstadt’s war, she counters with a proposal: if the Princess will become her hope, Izetta will protect Eylstadt.
What I Liked
Princess Finé is absolutely fearless. While on the train, she has her mission clearly in mind, and she stays focused on it regardless of the obstacles. At the same time, she has no super powers and great physical strength. She has only her intellect and drive. I think she’s a great protagonist; very easy to root for and very eary to relate to.
I almost felt sorry for the Germanian soldiers who caught a glimpse of Izetta in the cylinder. The special agent just gunned them down. Of course, they were completely cool with doing that to Finé and her men. Remembering that, I’m suddenly less inclined to feel sorry for them.
The juxtaposition of the beautiful opera music and the montage of the Germanian crushing their opposition was effective, even if it bordered on cliche.
During Izetta’s awakening sequence, the music was fantastic. It evoked memories of an Irish dirge and images of magic from the deep primeval forest. In fact, the entire last scene, from Izetta rending the aircraft to her enchanting the rifle and rescuing the Princess, was absolutely beautiful. The whole first episode existed only to setup that scene, and it was awesome.
Yeah, we’re only one episode in, and I’m already a fan of the series.
Izetta was so overcome with emotion that she wasn’t paying attention to her flight path, and she nearly crashed herself and the Princess into the sound of a mountain. Given the gravity of the situation, a little humor was welcome.
The animation for the aerial combat looked authentic to me.
My deadpan quote of the day is, “Captain, it looks to me like two girls flying on a rifle…” How does one enter that into an official report?
Destroying the attacking aircraft extracted an emotional toll on Izetta. Her powers aren’t optimized for killing, yet she was willing to accept that cost to protect the Princess. Characters making hard decisions are the essence of drama; so far, this series is doing well in that regard.
As Izetta’s power failed, Finé came up with the idea to use the anti-materiel rifle to shoot down the remaining plane.Finé said she didn’t want Izetta to be the only one with blood on her hands. I really respect Finé’s leadership. She’s someone I wouldn’t mind fighting for. It’s a little sad to reflect that her kind of leadership is in such short supply…
The first episode gave us a quick taste of the flashback where Finé meets Izetta for the first time. This episode gives us more details. Izetta crashing into the water and taking Finé with her was sweet and funny and a perfect showcase for Finé’s unquenchable curiosity. More than that: Finé not only didn’t judge Izetta’s powers, she delighted in them.
Watching Izetta trying to build her confidence to declare her resolve to the princess was a beautiful moment. This show’s shown a real respect for its characters.
What I Liked Less
The first episode used the shower scene trope. In the show’s defense, the scene showed the scar Finé earned defending Izetta when they were young. That’s an important plot point and an important motivator for Izetta. So you could say that it was at least partially justified. But the slow camera tilt upward from behind Finé was excessive.
I’ve always been attracted to themes of prejudice and oppression — and the heroes that oppose them. Growing up before the Internet, I loved the X-Men — the comic book that existed well before the movies could be made. They really delved into this theme.
Based on the flashbacks we’ve seen of Finé first meeting Izetta, it looks like this show’s taking a similar route.
Finé came upon Izetta as she hovered above a pond. Swirling green crystals representing her power, or nature’s response to her power, swirled all around her. Izetta wore a smile of quiet joy. Finé’s arrival broke her concentration, and she plunged into the water, along with Finé. Izetta was horrified that someone had seen her use her power, and that the “someone” would judge her — like the mob would judge her — the mob Finé would protect her against.
But Finé accepted her, even encouraged her. Because what Finé saw was beautiful. Not evil, not something forbidden or shamful. Just something beautiful.
Now, I don’t want to turn this into a Christian Scriptural debate.* I also don’t want to get into a discussion of the power of women as represented by the concept of witch, and how that concept has descended from being viewed as a power based in nature to an abomination.**
But I do want to make an observation: Izetta’s power was beautiful. Her grandmother’s warnings were for her own protection because of how European society would react to her. How a patriarchal society would react to her. It took royalty like Princess Finé to recognize Izetta’s potential to contribute to society.
To do something like defend Eylstadt from the invading Germanians.
This is well and good; and in and of itself, it would be enough to carry a series. But Izetta: The Last Witch takes one more step, one that I think sets it apart. It does not frame Izetta’s power as one end of an ideological spectrum. Izetta’s power doesn’t take away from Tobias’ (one of her guards her died early in episode 1) power to defend Finé. It doesn’t take away from Sieghard Müller’s (we saw him briefly in episode 2) authority or power to assist the ArchDuke of Eylstadt. It is, in fact, not a commentary on male power at all.
In other words, Izetta’s power doesn’t threaten the men in Finé’s life. Nor does Finé see it that way. Instead, their strengths combine into new ways to protect her people.
That’s what makes Finé such an interesting character to me. Her dedication to her people preclude wasting her time on agenda, or prejudice, or fear-based approaches to maintaining power. Finé is the complete opposite of the Germanian threat, which is a parallel universe incarnation of Nazism in everything but name. Finé will do whatever she can to help her people survive, including accepting the offer of protection of Izetta, the Last Witch, because it’s the right thing to do.
I’m really looking forward to watching this series unfold!
* Though, as someone who holds a degree in theology, I often wonder how one can go from “Love one another as I have loved you” to Exodus 22:18 saying “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.” Either the Gospels were lying, or Exodus was superseded. And if the latter, why attack witches? In fact, how can anyone calling themselves Christian justify attacking anyone at all?
** Patriarchal societies are pretty aggressive at confronting what they perceive as threats to their base. And female power certainly qualifies! I mean, there’s a reason that the early Church, under the authority of Constantine, suppressed locally popular works like the Gospel According to Mary Magdalene. A work of fiction like The DaVinci Code worked precisely because it built on real history…
Other Posts about This Series
Other Anime Sites
- Reddit: [Spoilers] Shuumatsu no Izetta – Episode 1 discussion and [Spoilers] Shuumatsu no Izetta – Episode 2 discussion
- 100 Word Anime: Izetta: The Last Witch Episode 1 and Izetta: The Last Witch Episode 2
- The Con Artists: Rolling Review – Izetta: The Last Witch (01) and Rolling Review – Izetta: The Last Witch (02)
Other Posts of Interest
- Cooler Nights — That Means It’s Time for the Fall 2016 Anime Preview (Part 1) (discusses Izetta: The Last Witch)
- Review of The Sword in the Heavens (episode 3)
- Izetta Episode 4: The Secret of the Witch
- Izetta Ep 5: A False Miracle
- Izetta Ep 6: On a Quiet Day
- Izetta Ep 7: The Battle of Sognefjord
- Izetta Ep 8: A Cruel Fairy Tale
- Izetta Ep 9: The Sellun Corridor Burns
- Izetta Ep 10: Iron Hammer of the Witch
- Izetta Ep 11: Finé