Elaina arrives in a town ravaged and left in fiery ruin. In need of a place to stay, she discovers that the last building standing is a lavish castle. The lone inhabitant is an amnesiac princess name Mirarosé. She explains that the town is actually currently still under siege, by a monster names Javalier. Her plan is to slay the beast and stop its bloody rampage once and for all.
Despite this episode being set in a run down city that’s constantly raining ashes, the art looks great. Continuing its strongest suit, Wandering Witch somehow manages to add beauty to the most mundane of things.
I’m also in love with the The ending song (Haiiro no Saga). It’s haunting and enchanting all at the same time. I love it. I called my husband over (because he’s a musician) and asked him to listen to it, and tell me the technical details of what I’m feeling here. The bookend piano motifs are actually played in a waltz time signature, but there’s a twist. Instead of the classic 3/4, this one is in 6/8. That speeded everything up and gives it that “haunting yet elegant” feeling. Couple that to the ethereal vocals in the beginning and you’ve got yourself a mesmerizing song. The more you know!
Alright, with that out of the way:
I’ve been waffling with Elaina’s personality since Episode 1. I’m not as miffed at her childish behavior as Brendan is. The girl’s got more confidence and agency than most other anime girls this side o’ Moe Town. I’m also glad Elaina has learned the power of saying “No” and makes choices that seem logical given the circumstances. That being said, I am…concerned about something.
In Episode 2, I felt that Elaina was oddly kind to a soon to be witch girl that had deceived her and delayed her travels for a whole week. In Episode 3, I found it unnaturally callous, the way that Elaina ignored the problems of the Kingdom with flower zombies marching on it, and how Elaina chose to up and abandon Nino to her fate. In this episode, Elaina is initially uninterested in Super Witch Mirarosé’s plight, but eventually comes around on wanting to help. Elaina…do you only…help witches or something? We have a saying in the scientific world that “one point doesn’t make a line”. Let’s hope two points don’t make a pattern, because this leaves an icky taste in my mouth, and a dislike for our lead character that I don’t want to have this early in the game.
I’m not going to be able to get some of my thoughts across for Episode 4 without spoilers so either take heed, or watch the episode before reading this. The crux of this episode is: “Revenge is bad and it only ever brings destruction on those who seek it”. The main problems stem from its execution of this moral. We don’t know Mirarosé or the players in her backstory well enough to stew in the tragedy that unfolds here. The battle with Javalier and Mirarosé’s memory returning are anticlimactic. We get about 3-5 seconds of flashback about a lost lover and child, and I think we are supposed to feel bad about the situation. Sure, I feel…bad…but I also don’t have an emotional stake in these people.
From a narrative perspective, Elaina isn’t going to stick around to feel the impact of Mirarosé’s choices, nor does she seem particularly disturbed by the whole scenario. It’s like the episode knew it wanted a revenge story but was too lazy to write it, so it just hand waved some hints of tragedy in your face and called it a day.
To top it all off, the ending is nonsense. Mirarosé just has crazy dinner with her imaginary…family? It’s totally unprecedented and comes out of nowhere. This woman is like the Über Witch and then suddenly goes Snap, Crackle, Pop Rice Kripies loopy at the end of the episode. Girl seemed pretty lucid to me while she murdered the bejezus out of Javalier. What happened?
Before getting to what I felt was the message here I want to point out the magical elements presented in this episode. I’m pretty sure the writer of the light novel intended Elaina’s world to have a soft magic system. That being said, I am curious if any of the “rules” we’ve seen in this episode will come back later.
– Mirarosé mentions having to recharge her magic. Does all magic need to recharge?!
– Mirarosé exchanges her memory for a certain spell to go off. Are there equivalent exchange rules or something for large scale spells?
– The power balance of magic seems to scale wildly. We finally get to see the limit of Elaina’s powers in this episode (thank goodness), but it’s ruined by Mirarosé being some sort of human wrecking ball. What’s stopping her from leaving the kingdom in the end and just…taking over someone else’s land? Her power is INSANE.
I’ll end with what I think is a potential take away here. When Elaina enters this broken kingdom, there is a monster therein that has wrought destruction and murder. When Elaina leaves the kingdom, that monster is still there. This took me forever to think about. Let’s hope the show’s upcoming vignettes are stronger than this one.
This episode knew what it wanted to say, but didn’t execute well on that desire. It’s storytelling doesn’t leave an emotional impact, Elaina’s actions continue to baffle me, and the magic rules presented here seem made up on the spot. Let’s hope there are better stories in Elaina’s future.
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