The Journey of Elaina Episode 1: Elaina searched for a witch to study under
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Wandering Witch: The Journey of Elaina Episode 1 Review – Best In Show

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Wandering Witch: The Journey of Elaina Episode 1 Review – Quick Summary

In Wandering Witch: The Journey of Elaina Episode 1, “Elaina, the Apprentice Witch,” Elaina loved reading about witches. Those stories awoke a wander lust in her, and she begged her mom to let her travel the world. Maybe suspecting this would dampen her drive, Elaina’s mom said she’d need to become a witch first, so little Elaina poured herself into the task. She was so good at it that she passed the exams to become an apprentice at the very young age of 14. So young, in fact, that none of the town witches were take her on. Dejected, she overheard her mom and dad talking about the unusual Stardust Witch who had taken up residence in the nearby forest. Can Elaina convince this witch to be her teacher? And if she can, will that witch actually teach her anything?

Note: This post may include spoilers, so be cautious.

Favorite Quote from Wandering Witch: The Journey of Elaina Episode 1

Elaina had been taking care of all of the chores, including preparing the meals, since she started working for Fran. After their heart-to-heart talk following Elaina’s exam, Elaina decided things would have to change. Especially in light of Fran telling her she could be honest about things she didn’t want to do.

Fran, still yawning after just waking up, asked Elaina to fix breakfast.

“Here are some weeds,” she said cheerfully (18:01). Apparently, Elaina took Fran’s lesson to hear!

Best in Show Moment for Wandering Witch: The Journey of Elaina Episode 1

The Journey of Elaina Episode 1: Failure felt devastating to Elaina

Lessons from the real world can hurt. But you can’t know how good you really are until you measure yourself on the world’s stage. Capture from the Hulu stream.

Setup: Extreme Talent Can Be an Obstacle

Did you grow up talented? Maybe, did teachers call you gifted in school? Did you know anyone who was? This might sound like First World Problems in the extreme, but there are certain obstacles that seem to apply to people who “earn” that label, especially early in their school career. There are two problems, basically.

First, it seems like you always succeed. You get called gifted for a reason. In my case, I was a good writer. I wrote my first novel when I was 12. So, anything I turned in earned an A. I was writing college-level material when I was 12; how else would they have graded it?

Second, you never know how good you really are. I ended up teaching some of my college level creative writing courses because I knew more about manuscript preparation and marketing than the instructor. It was an honor and it was fun; it fed my ego. But I learned nothing. I needed to learn, too. Because I grew up thinking I was a great writer. It was half way through college that I learned the truth: I was absolutely not a great writer. Not by the standards that mattered. Not according to the editors and readers in the world at large. I have over a hundred rejection slips to prove it.

The Journey of Elaina Episode 1: The performance of her peers disappointed Elaina

Elaina was disappointed at the performance of her peers. She wasn’t arrogant about it; just disappointed. Capture from the Hulu stream.

It was a tough lesson to learn. But it was necessary for me to get better. Elaina had the same problem that I did. She applied herself and succeeded well above her grade level. The others around here were disappointing, in fact. Remember when, at the party her parents gave her celebrating her passing her apprenticeship tests, she grumbled that (02:10) “The other examinees were so weak…”

She needed a wakeup call.

Delivery: Real Life is a Great Ruler

You Can’t Manage Expectations You Don’t Know are There

Elaina didn’t know it, but her parents had arranged for Fran to be conveniently in the woods. However, Elaina was a bit miffed that the witch only asked her to do menial chores — cooking, cleaning, and preparing potions, for example. Fran never taught her any magic. Until one day, when Elaina almost lost her temper after Fran asked her to toss our the stew and fix something else. Seeing Elaina’s reaction, Fran said it was time for a test.

Little trusting Elaina, the gifted student, didn’t complain when the Stardust Witch Fran led her into a field. She couldn’t believe it when Fran said that for the test, she and Elaina would fight. At first Elaina thought her teacher was joking. That was, until Flan opened fire. Within seconds, Elaina was scrambling for her life.

The Journey of Elaina Episode 1: Fran was a powerful witch

Fran didn’t hold back. In a way, that was a sign of respect. Capture from the Hulu stream.

Keep in mind the Elaina was truly gifted. She knew her stuff. She understood how to cast spells and what spells to cast. After she got over her initial shock, she fought back with everything she had. She approached the battle the same way she’s approached everything in her life: she threw herself into it. It was the approach that had carried her this far.

Fran brushed aside her attacks, then put Elaina right back on the defensive. She almost held her own. Then Fran hit Elaina with a bolt of actual lightning. Seconds later, Elaina was on the ground with the tip of Fran’s wand at her throat.

A Small Pond is Not the Best Measure

Elaina had never failed in anything. Success had come after hard work, certainly, but it had always come. Now, she had not only lost, but she had been completely overwhelmed. She couldn’t even stand. Worst of all, she hadn’t landed a single strike on her opponent. Fran stood, serene and smiling, seemingly without a care in the world.

She reacted like any teen would. She tried desperately to rein in her feelings. Her breathing came in great shuddering gulps. Fran stepped back, panicked, realizing the effect she’d had on Elaina. The apprentice witch still tried to maintain control, and a very awkward Fran tried some party tricks like conjuring butterflies to help. That didn’t work at all. Almost as if it were something she’d read in a book, Fran then pulled Elaina into an ungainly hug.

The Journey of Elaina Episode 1: Fran pulled Elaina into an awkward hug

Talk about an awkward hug… Capture from the Hulu stream.

Elaina poured her anger and hurt and fear into Fran. “You have no idea how hard I was working,” she sobbed (14:47). “I just… wanted you to acknowledge me…”

It was raw, it was moving, and it was authentic. It was so relatable it hurt. It’s one of those moments I look for in every anime I watch, and I feel really fortunate to have gotten such a moment in the very first episode. Even better — I could tell it was authentic because I’d lived through the same kind of thing.

In retrospect, I’m glad there was no lightning involved.

What did you think of the approach Elaina’s parents took to supporting their daughter? What was your Best in Show moment? Let me know in the comments!

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11 thoughts on “Wandering Witch: The Journey of Elaina Episode 1 Review – Best In Show

  1. Great review! I really enjoyed the first episode, the scenic visuals were so pretty and I loved the animations during the magic fight. Like the other commentators I was a little mixed about how her parents dealt with Elaina’s over confidence. Especially since Elaina’s confidence came from hard work over many years rather than her just going smoothly through things on natural talent alone. But anyway, I’m keen to see how the series unfolds, Elaina seems like a very interesting protagonist 🙂

    1. Thank you!

      It _does_ make a difference how the confidence is built, doesn’t it? I agree – Elaina earned it!

      And wow, the animation was, especially during the battle, was great. I was even more impressed during the second episode! I hope you enjoyed it, too.

  2. It was an outstanding episode… But I still question the decision to not start with actual journey rather than an extended prologue.

    1. “But I still question the decision to not start with actual journey rather than an extended prologue.”

      Watching those narrative choices play out is enjoyable. I’m hoping that by the end of the next episode, it’ll make sense, or at least not look like a misstep.

  3. I can relate to having your ego fed – when I was a single-digit-aged kid, I was good at basically everything bar sport and other hands-on/physical things. For English, in particular, I was performing at a level much higher than the norm and even now, I can still brag that I know, without much thought, how to spell a bunch of words most adults don’t know without consulting Google…Then essays came along years later and I got a huge wake-up call…

    I’ve seen a bunch of people who don’t agree with Elaina’s parents’ method, much like Fred. To me, it’s not exclusively a Japanese thing, but rather an Asian thing in general (or Greek – from what I know, Greek parents are a lot like Asian ones), so it just kind of washed over me and that was it. Sure, the visuals are pretty and this sort of fantasy doesn’t come around much in an isekai-drenched state of the world, but it’s mostly set-up for the adventure to come and you have to keep that in perspective.

    1. “but it’s mostly set-up for the adventure to come and you have to keep that in perspective.”

      That may have been why it didn’t bother me more. That, and when I watch anime, I’m aware it’s from a Japanese perspective.

      Still, that fight was pretty intense!

  4. I’m cautiously optimistic for this show after the first episode. Second episode should set the tone a bit more. . .

  5. This is one of the shows I have bookmarked for this year. It is so sweet I do have a glucose monitor to use if I start to feel wonky.

    Elaina’s parents sucked. The best way to teach “failure” to a prodigy is to put progressively more difficult challenges in front of them until it is beyond their current ability. Do it properly and the response is growth to meet the challenge. You have never failed until you are dead and there’s nothing to learn from that. That’s the lesson to be taught. There’s also working with others who don’t have your gifts *so they don’t fail* and still have a sense of their own value.

    Perhaps this is some kind of Japanese cultural thing. Crushing children so they learn they aren’t “all that.” The highest nail gets pounded down first. Sounds stupid to me.Better ways to teach humility.

    1. “Crushing children so they learn they aren’t “all that.””

      That seemed pretty aggressive on their part. If the intent had been simply to help Elaina step up her game, then I agree with you — provide gradually increasing levels of difficulty.

      I’m not sure a lightning strike qualifies!

      And the idea to break down someone’s self-confidence does also seem excessive. It seems like a lot of cultures take conformance very seriously!

Please let me know what you think!

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