In The Sword in the Heavens, episode 3 of Izetta: The Last Witch, the Germanians batter Eylstadt’s defense to the breaking point; Princess Finé declines Izetta’s offer protect her and her people; the view of the battlefield pushes the Princess near despair; and Izetta defies the Princess and engages Germania on the field of battle.
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- A young soldier of Eylstadt who wants nothing more than to go home stands in a trench, awaiting the Germanian advance. Behind them was an ancient fortress, still packed with vintage weapons, that still stood guard over this entrance to his country. He and the rest of his fellow soldiers learn that their foe’s tanks made short work of their armor. Then the enemy’s air force bombed the trenches. People all around him were dying, and only their artillery was able to hold back the Germanian advance.
- The Princess watched the battle from the slopes of the mountain above the field. The surviving soldiers gathered with her were losing their discipline and were in favor of just charging the enemy. Finé had to talk them down, saying that she may have to call on them to lay down their lives, but that now was not that time. Izetta, watching the exchange, found she could no longer bear seeing the Princess in such distress.
The Germanians, stymied thus far by Eylstadt’s artillery, sent another wave of bombers with orders to destroy the artillery’s spotters. The young soldier looked up at the approaching planes and despaired. Then he saw something he could not explain: ancient lances began piercing the planes that then began falling from the sky. Izetta had arrived on the field. The soldiers, seeing her destroy their foe’s air-cover, rallied. As she engaged the tanks, she found that unlike the planes, her weapons (swords this time) could not penetrate their armor. So, she flipped them using her magic. The infantry, however, was easy prey for the swords. And yet, there were so many of them, and Izetta, as powerful as she was, was not bullet-proof.
- Hans Obermayer asked Finé if she understood what was happening on the battlefield, because he did not understand what he was seeing. The Princess immediately concluded Izetta was at work. She ordered her troops to support the witch. Their coordinated efforts — Izetta’s offensive capabilities and the troops’ cover-fire, turned the tide. Izetta returned to the Princess’ side, contrite and convinced that Finé would be angry with her. Instead, the Princess embraced her and said how glad she was that her friend was still alive. The troops, caught up in the emotion of their victory and the apparent return of the legendary white witch, broke into song, led by the young soldier. The Archduke, hearing that Finé was with the white witch, seemed to realize that his time was done. He passed away.
What I Liked
I love how the Master Sergeant gave the young solider a shot of strong alcohol. That’s just the thing I’d expect someone in that position to do. As he said, it’s important not to burn out just waiting, otherwise, when the time comes to fight, you’ll be too exhausted.
I’m not a military expert (thanks for not agreeing so energetically!), but I love the conflict’s realism. The Germanian planes bombed along the directions the trenches were dug for maximum effect; Eylstadt’s armor was far too thin to stand up to their foes; Germanian infantry followed behind their armor for protection. This episode did a great job showing the horrors of war without becoming too graphic or gratuitous.
The juxtaposition of the Eylstadt officers prioritizing the evacuation of the civilians and the two Germanian officers betting a bottle of champaign on which of their forces, air or armor, would break Eylstadt’s defensive line was a great and time-tested trope. Eylstadt is fighting for its life; the Germanians are simply engaged in a game of imperial expansion.
Finé was distressed that she couldn’t even give her soldiers the choice of where to die. The honesty she showed the troops made all the difference — to the troops, and to Izetta. She’s a leader any of them would follow anywhere, for anything, in complete trust that she was doing what was right.
The music again did a great job of setting the mood and tone. Some of it was more modern than I expected, but it still had a Celtic feel that I liked.
Izetta flew as if she were really fighting in three dimensions. She didn’t stay on a single plane; she spun and pivoted to maintain her view of the battlefield and the aircraft above it.
Izetta was nearing the ground, looking back in regret at the lives she had taken, when she ran into a tree. It was a little touch of humor that worked given her character (she almost ran into the mountainside last episode!). Then she asked to borrow a machine gun so she could fly up to the mountaintop fortress so she could enchant the swords — and the soldier said no! Of course, she took it anyway with apologies, but I found the soldier’s dedication to duty, even when faced with a witch who had fallen out of the sky, to be commendable.
She tried to attack the tanks first with the swords she had gathered from the fortress. She’d never encountered tanks before, so I thought it was realistic that she would not know their weakness at first. Giving up on an approach that wasn’t working, she instead used her magic to simply flip them onto their tops. She gets points for not sticking to a failed plan!
I’m very worried about the Archduke’s aide, Sieghard Müller. I understand why he’d ask for hard-data, including the solider’s testimonies, about what happened on the battlefield. But why did he look so serious? Why wasn’t he happier for a victory? What’s his game?
What I Liked Less
I hate to bring this up, because otherwise this was a fantastic episode. But the fanservice just didn’t fit. I was a little uneasy with some of the camera angles of her taking off and landing (perhaps they hired the artists from Brave Witches?). Then, the shot of her bottom almost getting stuck in a tank’s window was just too much. This is a show about an amazingly powerful witch. She’s battling for the survival of an entire country on behalf of a Princess who had saved her life. And instead of focusing on her exploits, we see her bottom framed in a window? Isn’t that the definition of exploitation? “Oh, how charming, the cute girl did something strong. Let’s look at her butt!”
Izetta burst onto the battlefield in this episode, and she had tremendous success. Her enchanted lances easily knocked the planes out of the sky. After she found the right technique, she was also able to thwart the Germanian tanks. Her assault took the Germanians by surprise, and I’m pretty sure that won’t work a second time. Assuming they had observers who escaped to report to the generals…
I’m also worried about Sieghard. Given his name and demeanor, I wonder if he’s actually a Germanian spy? That would be a problem for our heroes, given that he’s the Archduke’s aide.
We’re three episodes in, and I think the show’s picking up momentum. We’ve seen how much the Princess cares about her people, including Izetta. We’ve seen how much Izetta cares about her Princess, and we’ve met the main bad guys — even though we might not’ve met all of them yet. The animation and music continue to be top notch.
The only thing keeping me from completely endorsing this show is its clumsy use of fanservice. No, I am not a Social Justice Warrior (SJW), though I find that term distasteful. But as someone who honestly tries to understand things as they are as opposed to understanding things as I’d like them to be, I have to acknowledge that I’ve witnessed a certain level of dismissiveness when it comes to strong female characters. And I’m afraid I’m seeing evidence of that here.
My rule of thumb is that if the character decides to do something that’d be considered fanservice, then I’m cool with it. If fanservice is something done to the character, then I’m less cool with it. For example, if Akeno Himejima from High School DxD decides to walk out of the shower in a clingy outfit to fluster Issei Hyoudou and to make Rias Gremory jealous, that a good use of fanservice.
Okay, that’s a great use of fanservice.
Showing the witches’ crotches during battle in Brave Witches? Yeah, not so much.
So some of the shots of Izetta in this episode crossed the line. They didn’t move the plot along, and they didn’t express anything about Izetta’s character. I hope
What do you think? How would you even phrase the question? I’d love to hear your feedback in the comments!
Other Posts of Interest
- Cooler Nights — That Means It’s Time for the Fall 2016 Anime Preview (Part 1) (discusses Izetta: The Last Witch)
- Izetta Eps 1 and 2: A Nazi By Any Other Name…
- 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