Why I Dropped Izetta: The Last Witch

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7/12 episodes

What is this show supposed to be about? Is it about the horrors of war? Or is it about bringing war to an end through diplomacy? How about political espionage? Or maybe finding out the ramifications of combining fantasy with industrial warfare? And what about a lesbian relationship between a princes and a witch? Does this show touch upon any of these themes in a worthwhile way or manage to subvert them while still being meaningful and provocative?

The answer to all of these questions is no, which really bums the hell out of me, as the idea for this show seemed really promising in concept. Sadly, the execution is just plain embarrassing, so much so that I’m dropping it. In premise, Izetta: The Last Witch is about a witch who was saved by a wonderful princess. That princess eventually grew up to be a powerful leader in a devastating world war, one that was not looking fortunate for her side. As if they were bound together by fate, the witch returns to aid her in battle, shocking the world with her magic and bringing hope to the soldiers and citizens of their domain.

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Instead of a traditional broomstick, she rides a rifle through the sky, and along with her telekinetic abilities she’s able to engage in furious dogfights and rain hell upon the troops and tanks below. Whenever she’s not on the battlefield however, Izetta only wants to spend quality time with her beloved, Princess Ortfine. Izetta always rallies behind her, but surely cannot understand the immense responsibility the princess carries on her shoulders. She only wants to be of use to her, yet Ortfine is reluctant to put her dear friend in harm’s way. Not only that, Ortfine has actually only recently been appointed to Archduchess, having to now fill the shoes of her deceased father during their country’s greatest hour of peril. The situation their country faced appeared even more direr by the minute, but now with Izetta here they might just have exactly what they need to survive.

See? On paper this sounds fucking fantastic! Where could they have possibly gone wrong to make this show such an irredeemable mess? Well for one thing, the show is terrible at establishing characters. Other than the princess and Izetta, I couldn’t even tell you who the fuck anyone is, after watching seven whole episodes no less! The show had memorable characters from the get go too! There was an evil Germanian dressed as a distinguished gentleman, posing as a seemingly very significant character. His intense grasp of the situation and insinuated knowledge made him a villain worthy of watching out for. Sadly, he barely appears at all for the next 6 episodes. Then there are the noble guards that were protecting Ortfine during the train attack. They certainly showed promise, but then they just ended up dying. Later on, there was that one soldier with glasses that died, a maid that was only shown during one episode, and a fashion designer with a very archetypal “grabby” personality. Oh, and don’t forget about all the old, forgettable white men that just keep showing up, and are apparently all supposed to be important leaders and generals and whatnot. This show offers up so many characters it completely forgets to focus on those that are actually meaningful to the plot.

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Then there’s this incredibly naive idea of war that seems to carry throughout the story. War is horrific, and probably deserves to be treated as such in this instance. A competent show should be able to portray an idea of what it thinks/wants war to be. Izetta: The Last Witch however, doesn’t seem to care one way or another. There are absolutely signs pointing to the understanding of war in this story that would suggest it wouldn’t be anything less than painful and gruesome, so why is it that Izetta just flies around and unremorsefully annihilates hordes of infantry without a second’s hesitation? Why is it that the idea of what it’s like to sacrifice one’s life for their country and be put in a place surrounded by death and despair is quickly forgotten after the first two episodes? And WHY THE HELL is an actual battle won through a harebrained scheme that’s on the level of something one might find in a cheesy, teenage sitcom?

This show does not understand what realistic war entails, and that only bugs me because it seems like that’s what it was trying to do in the first place. Aside from all of that however, my final gripe is one that I’ve mentioned somewhere on this blog before: Izetta is overpowered as fucked. The show barely shows her having any real limitations besides her critical weak point of only having powers in certain regions of the world. Sure, she’s shown to be battered up at the end of her epic fights, but she’s never actually been wounded in battle. Despite the storms of bullets that have been flung her way, she’s never actually been hit. Furthermore, her limitations are never really known in anything other than a broad sense of exhaustion. In the first episode she uses her blood to erupt ice spears from the snow below her, effectively piercing the fighter planes tailing her. Then she never uses that ability again. For the most part, all she does is levitate any object she wants. It doesn’t seem to matter how many objects there are, or how heavy, she can easily carry them and fling them off at will, sometimes with the speed for an ordinary lance to pierce an armored tank. Izetta does not lose, nor does she to understand what it’s like to be powerless, which in my opinion is just plain boring.

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While this show does seem to be a very nice contender for one of my From Bad Anime Comes Good Inspiration features, I just can’t be bothered to watch anymore of it. It’s like someone shoved a magic-powered Mary Sue into a childish ideal of war, and then only focused on making the first episode look cool. And that’s why I’m dropping it.

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12 thoughts on “Why I Dropped Izetta: The Last Witch

  1. I have to agree that Izetta brought some interesting ideas to the table in the first two episodes wrapped up in some very neat presentation and then proceeded to derail itself at every turn. It just isn’t focussed enough nor does it know thematically what it wants to be. What we’re left with is a mediocre show at best and its pleasant enough to watch but I somehow don’t think pleasant is what the original idea behind the story concept was supposed to be.
    While I haven’t dropped this, it has certainly continued to fall down the list of shows I am watching and I think Izetta is going to be best remembered as the show with the most wasted potential this season (that or Bloodivores, I’m still on the fence there because that was another cool concept delivered as an utter mess).

    Liked by 2 people

  2. prattle says:

    “Sadly, the execution is just plain embarrassing”

    I want to second this notion. Honestly the series is so terrible at its storytelling fundamentals in nearly every major facet, that i’m impressed that you stood by with it for as long as you did. Your metal is in the mail Crispyn. I honor your patience.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Hmmm… so much hatred in this post. Wanna join the dark side? Just kidding. It hurts that you actually don’t get everything what you want in an anime, expectations not satisfied, boring characters, a plot that resembles a fistful of cliches anyone can see from a mile away, and the list goes on and on. Well, for me, I’m enjoying this show very much. Izetta is not overpowered; she has limitations to her powers. Izetta is already committed on doing her task so that would explain why she is already killing enemies without a moment’s hesitation and it would look stupid if Izetta would still be doing the “hesitant act” for the entire run of the show if that is your concern. I guess not everyone can be satisfied on whatever anime people are watching. But it is great that you already dropped this show; at least you don’t have anything to complain anymore, eh?

    -DarkdaemonPK2

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    • To be honest, I try to go into any piece of storytelling-based entertainment with very tempered expectations. When I look critically at a piece of work, I tend to base some of my criticisms on the expectations that the work sets for itself. This show sets an expectation in the first two episodes that it completely ignores for the rest of the season, an expectation that war is indeed gruesome and painful. What I meant when I talked about Izetta’s inability to feel anything in regards to the hordes of people she kills, well, there were two specific issues I had in mind. First, of course she’s not going to have hesitation if she has to do what she has to do, but that feeling would come eventually. From the very start she seems incredibly indifferent towards human life, and that doesn’t really seem to change. People harden over time, with each kill added to their belt (as far as conventional wisdom is concerned). And that just goes back to the expectation of war that the show sets for itself. My second issue regards Izetta being overpowered. She can kill massive amounts of people in a matter of seconds, and not her or anyone else seems to be phased by that. Even the enemy leaders sit back with a “oh, we got a plan for her” attitude, and no one even bothers to contemplate just how dangerous this witch really is. It’s things like this that exude just how little thought seems to have gone into this anime’s creation. To me, it is very much a show that doesn’t care about understanding narrative and genre, and instead only focuses on creating a couple of cool looking episodes as a hook rather than making a story with a purpose.

      But that’s just my opinion on the matter.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Let’s analyze some of the things you just mentioned since I’m in the mood to argue.

        “What I meant when I talked about Izetta’s inability to feel anything in regards to the hordes of people she kills.” >>>>>>>> Well, she did felt bad about killing the fighter pilots on the second episode although it was not shown anymore in the following episodes. You cannot expect her to be like that on each episode because it will be most likely she will either just use her powers to run away every time she encounters an enemy (in which what is the point of her powers aside from flying. I’d rather watch Kiki’s Special Delivery for that) or she will just freak out and her mind will break after each enemy she kills in which it will be the end of the show. She kills enemies, yes. But was she happy on doing it? No, because it is not her nature to do that and she is only doing it to protect her friend and that small country. And anyways, there is a war happening out there; you don’t kill, you in turn will get killed.

        “This show sets an expectation in the first two episodes that it completely ignores for the rest of the season, an expectation that war is indeed gruesome and painful.” >>>>>> War is gruesome and painful, I tell you but there have been numerous anime depicting that, and this show is not an exception. Maybe you should re-watch ep 3.

        “My second issue regards Izetta being overpowered. She can kill massive amounts of people in a matter of seconds, and not her or anyone else seems to be phased by that.” >>>>>> Like I mentioned before, she is not overpowered. It depends on the location of the Leyline, if there is then she can use her powers, if there is none then she cannot use it, kinda puts a balance to her because if she is overpowered, then the show will just end in ep 5 in which she can just storm the enemy’s headquarters and crush everyone with any difficulties. Also, even if she is powerful in battles, she cannot lift really heavy objects like tanks easily.

        “Even the enemy leaders sit back with a “oh, we got a plan for her” attitude, and no one even bothers to contemplate just how dangerous this witch really is.” >>>>>>> The enemy knows she is a dangerous that is why it took a number of episodes to study her and finalize an effective plan to capture her since the Germanian boss is obsessed about her. They can just charge in with the whole Germanian army in just one episode and crush her but that does not work even in real life since it will be a waste of resources both weapons and soldiers just for the sake of one witch. All I can say is that “at least the enemies are using their heads.”

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    • I don’t think anyone is saying they dislike Izetta’s entire lack of hesitaiton. That’s an over exaggeration.
      No, I think peoples’ complains is that there is no sense of GRADUAL, accustomed to the war, from Izetta’s perspective. If the anime actually bothered to characerize Izetta, she’d GRADUALLY get used to the thought of killing others; She’d have moments of hesitation, complaints, etc.
      But nope! After an ep or two, she’s immune to all that shit.

      Like

  4. Izetta comes to the “killed or be killed” realization in the very first episode, and doesn’t seem to feel too bad about it just because she was doing it to protect the princess.

    The show is front-loaded with “gruesome” war scenes, but as soon as that was over we got a mission where Izetta pretended to have powers while the secret soldiers used illusional tricks to put on a magic show and scare the enemy into submission. This is the kind of thing you’d expect to find in a high school sitcom, not a war series.

    Izetta IS overpowered. The show merely pretends like she has limitations, but at the end of the day she always wins and never gets hurt. Because she has magic she can pull out whatever spell the narrative calls for. She is (at least up until the point I dropped it) a Mary Sue.

    Also, it’s not very strategic to let you carriers be bombed and infantry be wiped out, just so you can test the waters and figure out the way to defeat a witch. That one Germanian guy with the gentleman suit can act as smug and mysterious as he wants, but so long as he doesn’t say or do anything (for 7 whole episodes), he might as well not even exist.

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  5. SVT says:

    It’s a shame you cast your final judgement before even seeing this through to the end, because from episode 8 onward, it really comes together and we find out what the story is actually about.

    Like

  6. When watching this weekly, I couldn’t quite understand why this anime kinda bored me. It was my most hyped of the season! WWII and witches. Hell yes!
    After pondering though, and reading this post, I understand why Izetta was boring for me.
    Maria the Virgin Witch is practically the same thing, but infinitely better: It expands on character development, themes, world,

    Like

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