「魔女と獣堕ち」 (Majo to kemono ochi)
“The Witch and the Beastfallen”
Another season, another fantasy, another show with Zero in its name. Thus the illustrious Japanese naming trend continues as White Fox returns to fill—slightly—the hole left behind by Re:Zero’s absence. While there might not be any Subarus or Emilias this time around, I think a rambunctious witch and her pure of heart, half-beast companion should more than make up for that trick of the eye. Well, at least it does for me :P.
Looking on it, Zero occupies a unique spot this season in not being your “typical” fantasy. Yeah we have the magic, witches, and a church ascendency premise vaguely similar to Spice and Wolf, but the story veers more towards Hitsugi no Chaika than say Shingeki no Bahamut. This one—at least currently—is about finding a book and helping a cat, not saving the world or heading off on an adventure. Obviously that can change in due time (as Chaika eventually did), but so far Zero has enough to thematically separate it from its seasonal brethren. Helping matters here is our main duo in Zero (Hanamori Yumiri) and her mercenary (Koyama Tsuyoshi)
bed companion. Zero has bashful banter down to a fine art, hilariously playing off well against our nameless (deliberately) mercenary who secretly likes our little fur lover, but cannot admit just yet. I particularly enjoy how both actually have a reason to hate one another as well, but do to circumstance and a sort of “opposites attract” situation end up coming together. A pretty refreshing twist on the usual fantasy character types, and a relationship I hope is increasingly explored going forward. After all, it would be a waste leaving those melancholy flashbacks as is.
The serious surprise for me, however, lay in the world building. I never anticipated Zero would feature much beyond the bare basics, but lo and behold a magic system with actual reasoning behind it. While the Fullmetal Alchemist similarities are obvious (ex. magic circles, some form of exchange), the subtlety is in the difference between the FMA-esque sorcery and magic. This separation intrigues the hell out me, especially when noting both that magic has “natural” (i.e. law-based) limitations upon its use, and can potentially require sacrifices—well, at least I heard sacrifices. The magic foundation gives Zero an immediate leg up on similar series, especially when noting that the concept of magic here was all but invented (i.e. codified) by Zero—I would be lying if my inner engineer wasn’t chomping at the bit for more. Considering the emphasis on names too I’m pretty sure we do not know every component of this magic system just yet. Specifically, however, it calls into question just what the “end of the world” here means and what the incantation specified in the Grimoire requires for it. I seriously doubt the higher level magic is as straightforward as currently made out to be.
In the immediate future though it looks like it’s party collection time as another witch (wizard?) joins the fray and we hopefully find out a little more about this world. Where’s the book? No one knows, but with little blonde boys throwing around Zero’s writings at whim you can be sure it’s not in a good place. I may not know yet if I’ll end up covering this one, but Zero definitely has me locked in for three episodes. With all these details tickling me right, I’m quite eager to see what lies ahead.
ED: 「はじまりのしるし」 (Hajimari no Shirushi) by Chima