October 8th, 2016.
Mirroring Magic and War:
I absolutely love the backgrounds in this show, I’m a big lover of lush backgrounds, and this show definitely delivers. Character design is fine and the train scene reminded me of Baccano!, animation also seems to be fine. Nothing bad to say there.
Music doesn’t appear often, but every scene where there’s music, whether it’s the haunting vocals for Izetta’s scenes or the tense music on the train was on point. Voice acting is solid and Hayami Saori is giving a very good performance. She’s always better in more serious roles.
Basically, I’ve got nothing bad to say about this show in terms of presentation, and it’s all above average at the very least. This show as a pleasant to watch, aesthetically.
Oh, a couple of words on the nudity, well done overall. I thought they did it to show us the scar, but then they showed it to us in a more tasteful manner. But hey, this looks like the sort of “casual non-ogle nudity” you get in western live action, so it’s way above the normal anime standard.
ED – Calm, mostly, unexciting. But it’s alright. I do like it when it picks up, but then it sort of ends.
Themes / Story:
I am watching this series not because it’s being worked on by a convincing team (the Director had done nothing notable, but the Series Composer has done things I like), but because of its premise. As such, it’s quite surprising to me that I managed to forget that this series is set on the eve of World War 2 during its opening scene. And what an opening scene it was, where they tie the wonderment of magic to the wonderment of childhood. Because that’s what “Wonderment”, “magic” and well, entertainment are all about, about transporting us to a different time, where we were still children.
And then we get to the war, where naiveté dies, and you can certainly see it in the scene where a passenger says “You can’t do this, this is a neutral country,” because he’s used to a world that makes sense, a world that obeys rules. But war, and magic, do not work like that, and as such they make an interesting point of comparison. And it’s also sensible then that so many magic systems are just that, systems, designed to try and make the ridiculous sensible. Just like all the rules of war aim to make it as sensible, and end up getting thrown out of the window when war actually breaks out. There’s the real world, and then there are hopes and dreams. Everyone waited for Germany to start playing by the rules in World War 2, and we all know how it ended.
The final aspect of themes I’d like to discuss here is the notion of loyalty as a “coin,” and of fairy tale loyalty. Note how in the wartime negotiations between Fine and the Britannian ambassador, her people’s loyalty is offered as a chip. Even loyalty is nothing more than a bargaining chip in war, which reduces people to symbols and statistics. Yes, a symbol is less than human just as it is more than one.
And then we have the notion of loyalty raised indirectly, with Izetta paying her debt to Fine who had saved her in their childhood. That is fairy tale logic, because even the most senseless of stories are there to teach us how to make sense of our world. Good deeds are repaid, as are crimes and misdeeds.
And the final non-theme part I’d like to talk about is Fine. Yes, they keep telling us how much of a tomboy she is, but damn, they showed it just fine. She defies gravity and leaps into the air not just once, but twice this episode. She lets go of gravity on the airplane because she sees an opening, and she takes it. She leads rather than follows, taking ownership of every situation she’s in. I like her.