「たたかいのはじまり。」 (Tatakai no Hajimari)
“Der Anfang der Schlacht | The Beginning of the War”

When I wrote the preview for Shuumatsu no Izetta I described it as the laziest fantasy World War II I have ever seen. Now, WWII, being possibly the greatest story of 20th century history, is an excellent time to set any anime. Alternatively, one can just loosely base their show on a large-scale continental conflict. There’s a lot of material to play around with, whether in alternate history or just anime-with-tanks. What Shuumatsu no Izetta does, though, is not really commit to either approach. It is basically geographically identical to the Europe we know and love, but to drape a thin veneer of fantasy over it, they’ve changed the names around (Thermidor, Westeria, Germania, Britannia), given Liechtenstein a bit more relevance beyond just a corporate tax haven by carving some extra land for it out of Austria and calling is Elystadt (and a cooler flag, lamer motto), and going back to the Kaiser instead of Hitler (sans swastika, but similar fascination with the occult). Come on, guys, if you’re just going to be WWII with witches, why be coy about it? I don’t mind if you do it like Joker Game and tiptoe around the history all season, but this Shuumatsu no Izetta‘s re-branded war seems at once trying too hard and not trying hard enough.

Luckily, I can’t resist any kind of European war in anime, and everything can be easily forgiven once things start exploding and we fully immerse ourselves in the setting. It also helps that Shuumatsu no Izetta almost immediately jumps into the action and offered up bribes of all the things Passerby loves most in his anime. I have waxed lyrical about it before when I was blogging Joker Game, but I do love steam trains, and starting the show in media res with a pursuit sequence on one is a certain way to win me over. It certainly wasn’t what I expected from the show, and it was a very pleasant surprise. It’s not (just) a matter of my subjective preferences, though; it was also a very effective way to introduce the character of Ortfiné Fredericka von Elystadt (Hayami Saori). It takes a specific personality , I think, to so decisively jump out of a moving train, and from there it’s quite easy to tell what type of character Finé is. At the very least, she’s not just a hapless damsel in distress at the top of an ivory tower, which is a refreshing change to the old ‘princess’ archetype. She is still stuck serving as cheesecake, though, but at least they worked in an important-looking scar into the shower scene. Still, I liked her character well enough, after learning a good deal about her without any lengthy exposition sequence.

That last point is an important one, for it speaks to some solid execution in this pilot. Lots of good things were in it overall, including the obvious good art (the period costume design is great, including Finé’s snazzy hat which she unfortunately lost) and animation (e.g. whilst midair) but there’s still something to be said for plain old tight storytelling. While the actual plot may rely a bit much on convenient coincidence, I always give points to anime that manage to avoid outright narration, and Shuumatsu no Izetta scored well there. Sure, to do this they tried all sorts of alternate exposition techniques—exposition by newspaper, exposition by awkward documentary, exposition by diplomatic dialogue—with some more successful than others, but it was a worthy effort. The important thing is not breaking the experience overmuch, for we don’t actually need to know all that many plot details so long as the experience is compelling. To that end I should offer a second commendation to both the sound design and the soundtrack. It’s not just about epic music, but also when an anime plays around with their soundtrack—it shows that someone is thinking about all dimensions of the medium. And so I liked both the ironic Mozart opera juxtaposition as Germania invades and the creepy choir that heralded the witch’s awakening. The latter, I think, goes a way to build the mystique of the show. How many of you watched the Mahoutsukai no Yome OVA? In a medium saturated with fantasy variations, how do you make magic feel actually magical, and supernatural, and otherworldly, beyond just the flashy light effects? I think the music plays a big role in this, in creating the appropriate atmosphere. Our first impression of the White Witch who is actually red would hardly be the same without the children’s choir.

So, yeah, very solid start to the series overall. However, I’m not really sure where it will go from here. My favourite part of the episode really was the start, on the train, and I really could watch an entire season of that stuff. Even without the trains, I would have been quite fine with just plain political action thriller set during the War. I don’t think that’s what we’re getting, though, signified by both of Finé’s retainers dying speedily so they can be replaced by Sleeping Beauty (I get the feeling men aren’t going to do very well in this story). I’m not sure how the supernatural elements and this Izetta (Akaneya Himika) are going to play into things. Yeah, I know she’s the titular character, but I think Finé would have carried the plot well enough, so Izetta will have to add something more worthwhile than just Elystadt superweapon. Perhaps I’m prejudging, since Izetta hasn’t had much in the way of lines other than variations of, ‘Hime-sama!’. Well, at least a magical readhead with an anti-materiel rifle reminds me of Darker than Black (/obligatoryreference), so I’ll give her a chance. And the rest of the show has intrigued me, so I’ll definitely watch more regardless. For those of you just scouting out the original anime this season, this one has promise. Take a look, and give it a few more episodes to see what direction it takes its story, because there are many paths it can take and may not actually be a alternate-history drama at all, despite how it opened. Come back next week, when we’ll figure out whether Shuumatsu no Izetta has the chops of a long-term proposition.


ED Sequence

ED: 「光ある場所へ」 (Hikari Aru Basho e) by May’n



    1. It’s the general blend of magic and steam, I think, like Castle in the Sky. Heck, there’s even a scene where they fall out of the sky. I think Miyazaki was basically responsible for pushing steampunk into the anime canon.

  1. My guess is this show is going to be quite similar with Maria the virgin witch but in WWII. That said, i love the intro scene as it was very enchanting and a nice hook for me, the music was definitely the best part of it.

    its got a great start, i hope it continues strong to the end!

    1. I doubt it. Maria was all about Maria, the witch. It was about the conflict between her ideals and the reality surrounding her.

      In this show, on their other hand, is the princess’ world view what matters. The witch seems to be relegated to be her companion.

  2. https://randomc.net/image/Shuumatsu%20no%20Izetta/Shuumatsu%20no%20Izetta%20-%2001%20-%20Large%2015.jpg
    Nurmberg Rally, check

    Panzer vor, check

    Stuka airstrike, check

    Golden luger, check

    Bad guys with cool uniform from Hugo Boss, check

    Princess who would not sit still and watch the world burn, check

    Witch, check

    Invasion of Gallia, Britannia being left alone and Liberion still away from the war, check

    Alright. I’m ready for Girls und Panzer, Aldnoah Zero, Strike Witches and Izetta. By the way, are the people behind HaiFuri, Girls und Panzer and Strike witches behind this as well? You know it’s not your average military themed anime when you have period accurate military hardware.

    Inb4 the Germans field the Maus and Ratte

    Velvet Scarlantina
    1. Director: Masaya Fujimori (hasn’t directed anything of this target audience except children shows)
      Series Composition: Hiroyuki Yoshino (varied success/fails such as code geass, guilty crown, accel world and creator of seikon no Qwaser)

      so far theres nothing in the staff thats worked on all of the titles you mentioned.

      1. According to a poster on Animesuki, the “Slava Makarov” listed in this episode’s credits is the Creative Director for World of Tanks.

        As for Hiroyuki Yoshino, my impression is that he -like many anime writers- is there to serve the director’s creative vision, not than the other way around. I also think that despite the western fandom’s focus on his failures his writing career has been far more successful than not. He was a lead writer on several of last decade’s most successful anime projects. I’m actually glad to see him working on a new anime original series rather than another light novel adaptation (I tend to consider his adaptations “serviceable”).

      2. whoever did mecha design has done excellet job of recreating WW-2 early blitzkrieg imagery
        down to the ferries that carried the panzer thru Meuse in 1940 blitzkrieg “race ot the sea”

    2. soldier 1: wtf is that girl in fancy coffin anyway?
      major: didnt you listen? this is top secret!
      …and belongs to Emperor himself only

      no better way to show off truly evil character than executing own loyal subordinates

      1. well…
        “Der Anfang der Schlacht | The Beginning of the War”

        German: “Schlacht”
        = Battle, Combat, Fight

        English: “War”
        = Krieg

        But, never mind. *use Jedi mind trick* You did not see anything. It is all right

      2. Either that, or they’re using some older version/different dialect of Deutsche. I have no idea, I don’t even know 99% of Deutsche but that’s just my… guess

        Nishizawa Mihashi
  3. The witch would normally be the wise one the fated royalty would look up to for wisdom and guidance. Here, though, it’s quite different.
    Finé is the wise, grown up one while Izetta is more like her little, loving, protective sister, and whether or not Izetta’s knowledge and wisdom of the world is Merlin level remains to be seen. While I’m sure some other people would not like that, I myself find it an interesting dynamic (if only because it’s different), though I also feel it cannot last for long. It needs to develop while keeping the childhood friend part, and that’s where Izetta has to change. Just like you stated Passerby, this will depend on how she will play into things.

    But other that, this pilot was really better than I expected. Really atmospheric with all the different production elements and events being fantastic. The ED was also beautiful. I’m already looking forward to the next episode.

    1. Quite so. Izetta seems hardly the mythological witch or even a Wizard of Oz witch, or the sage archetype. Mostly, at this point, I think she needs any kind of characterisation at all, or else she’ll just be a magical superweapon. Or maybe we’re going Saikano, I don’t know.

  4. No mentions of Valkyria Chronicles? Fantasy WWII, check. Imperial/Nazi Germany lookalike, check. Little, previously neutral aristocratic country being invaded, check. A woman with mysterious powers tied to ancient legends, check.

    The show seems promising. And loved the sound design: you can’t go wrong with classical music and (not!)WWII. However, with this kind of shows in anime I always fear the Imperial Nostalgia rearing its ugly head.

    1. well, the Princess and the Witch..

      if i compare my feelings for this two ones, with up to date animes, then the Princess are equal to Alisha and the Witch (minus the magic) are Rose

      Princess is expert in Politics fight and the Witch take care of the fights on the battlefield

      but back to be serious, i place my two eyes on how this Anime threat the Witch. Is she an living being like Maria the Witch or use they them like an Magic Power gun girl, like a Weapon for war

      It all depend on this, the War and CGI around them are just background noise for me

      1. If the witch is just the princess’ weapon or side kick, this show won’t hold much interest to me. I think focusing on the conflict between the witch’s world view and everything that’s happening around her would be a much more interesting approach. The witch inhabits a “different world” and can offer a unique perspective. It would be a waste not to capitalize on this.

        That been said, the first episode didn’t give me too much hope. Fine’s interesting because she’s a strong princess, but that’s all. She’s still just a human and can’t offer the unique world view the witch could bring to the table if the writers chose to explore that angle.

      1. I’m shamed, because there it was and I only read the first paragraph of the preview and the second only until “possibly the laziest one I’ve ever seen”. It’s strange it didn’t catch my attention so much in the preview, despite being a fan of the Valkyria Chronicles games.

        Well, better late to the party than not arriving at all.

  5. What i find it suspicious is that the Witch power only activate when they overflow the Country borders.. As if Magic is bound to Human created borders.. Are Witch not one with Nature? Come on, why this chains on her?

    1. I don’t think it has anything to do with borders. The guy with the glasses noted that because the princess played with the coffin that the witch could wake up, hence the transportation by plane. Once she woke up, she saw her beloved in danger and her powers activated. It’s the tried and true powers by emotions variant.

      1. these sparkling lights kill the Planes Engines, so that the Plane drops like a stone (well they still would glide gently.. but oh well, its forced)

        These Lights is what cause me this feeling. Nature spirits?

      1. Well I expect a political marriage for the Princess.
        The bait and switch section misses the fact that Japanese society has a public facade side and private side. I can go into detail but basically there is an assumption that a Japanese female is bisexual and that the females can continue their romance in private at love hotels. The vast majority of Japanese have more than one lover. Thus the switch is something the female is expected to do but is allowed to continue the yuri relationship in private while their male partners take lovers of either sex as well.

  6. The materials (art, sound, etc) are lovely, but I feel that the direction isn’t as tight as I hoped (with this level of ingredients).

    This is still good, although the show could head either way depends on what the witch will bring to the table. Witch + Anti Tank Rifle is a nice sight to behold, tho.

  7. Man, this show is technically really competently produced. But, I dunno. Just, just can’t get into it. Perhaps it’s the witch. Yeah, I think it’s the witch. Sorry guys ( ; _ ; )

    I’ll still stick around each week to read the posts though, without a doubt.

    Nishizawa Mihashi
    1. On the flip side, this isn’t the ONLY mahou shojo show this season. We’ve got another anti-tank rifle riding air craft riding gun trotting multinational mahou shojo coming soon!


      “Seriously Kuprinski. Again… How many times that been for this month!?”

      Velvet Scarlantina
    2. @Tetsu: It ain’t about the story like I said, just that my personal senses don’t really jive well with the witch’s overall design- physique to personality to voice acting. It’s just a personal thing really, don’t really look into it all that much. But I’ll still read the posts as they come by each week though so that’s that.

      @Velvet: There’s like what… 5? 6? Magicaru Gyaru shows this Autumn? Though I have like no idea what you meant by-… Owh… Brave Witches… Right… 😛

      And no, I ain’t got a clue what series you’re referencing that line from… 😛

      Nishizawa Mihashi
  8. I like it so far.

    A good reason to avoid the Nazi part is if this Germany does not have the racist component. There still will be a nationalistic we are better thing but no Gypsy, Gay and Jew hunting. It is also a believable alternative history especially if communism is not involved as there was no mention of the Soviet Polish invasion mentioned. Here German nationalism not needing a counter to communism stays more center of the road and puts the Kasier back in power, or WWI never happened and the Kasier stayed in power which would not match the map we have well.

    Will go into more detail latter but it turns out that the special new Blitz tactics never existed. To the German officers they simply were using traditional doctrine adjusted by the speed of the units and the fact that the air units could travel above ground. The operational tempo part of the Blitz where the Germans did stuff faster is a tactic that goes back to ancient China and is used in the 7th century Arslan anime.

  9. That weapon was called a anti tank rifle at the time although it was a bit out of date. The anti tank rifle was designed for WWI tanks and could not longer effect WWII tanks from the front and often the sides except in a lucky hit. The anti tank rifle was still effective vs light armored vehicles which were used for scouting and carrying troops. The weapon could take out important things on a tank though. The weapon was also helpful in firing though brick and rock walls as the splatter of shards on the other side was effective. Still during WWII the anti tank rifle was phased out for more effective anti tank weapons.
    I belive renaming the weapon anti material rifle has allowed the weapon to come into use in the modern battle field as it is still useful as long as you don’t tell the people paying for them it kills tanks. The single shot 50 caliber rifle derived from the 50 caliber heavy machine gun is the most common anti material weapon. The 50 caliber heavy machine gun was designed with a anti tank role thus having a single round firing ability. Amazing that a weapon designed in 1918 and fielded in current form in 1933 is still in use and kicking ass.

  10. Promising start, it helps that they jump straight into the action like you said, and show rather than info dump the plot. The whole steampunk + magic is pretty interesting too, although the direction of the anime is still unclear. Hopefully the witch is more than just a plot device and used for power, and she has a will of her own. If they can somehow balance the witch’s power and not let it just overpower everything, then it’ll be good~ She is the “last” witch apparently so I’m not sure what her weaknesses would be. Also, it’s of course nice to have a competent princess. Not the most original design, but she works well as a central character. Definitely giving this at least 3 episodes to see what they do with it, but I liked what I got here~

  11. Now where do i begin, I actually finish this Show, and i was thinking that this is a Sequel…or sort! About 12 to 15 years after and now they are in Europe. so i wonder where is this Guy now or this guy, well who knows! i heard that they will be had an extra episode

    Anyways, So a witch is somehow exist in Central Europe, but i wonder what the Axis Powers want to her, is it some sort of a secret experiment or sort, Okay, And there is the Princess there that who awakes her, i can’t go on for a moment so…

    Yeah, Let’s see this show can’t appeal more, than the previous one…so, again, i just doubt it! but good luck!

  12. Best thing that I noticed was that from very first scene I knew Finé’s retainers would die and probably in this episoe itself. Yen when first one died after 5-6 minutes I felt some emotion. Totally unexpected feeling for a character who appeared for only 5-6 minutes. So attention to such minor characters is superb.

  13. I watched the first episode purely on a lark. I fully planned to give up halfway through. I am tired of World War 2 stories in general, not just in anime. To me it is lazy writing. I must admit that this was a strong start. I have a lot of questions about what could happen next and I will probably watch quite a few more episodes.

  14. I agree, I could happily watch a whole series about the princess dealing with politics while evading the enemy. I have the horrible feeling this great 1st episode is going to be a short lived high, when the red/white witch takes center stage & the series devolves into generic magic nonsense trumping the evil Germans at ever turn.

    Hopefully I’m Wrong.


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