When I first started watching Izetta: The Last Witch, I didn’t know what I was getting myself into, but the first episode certainly managed to draw me in and make me want more. The seamless progression among the first handful of episodes certainly helped to keep me coming back for me, as cliffhanger endings made me eager to see what happened next while also creating a solid sense of cohesion among the individual episodes. Even when this stopped being the case, the show managed to remain interesting and entertaining, and remained solid through the eighth episode. After that, things quickly deteriorated—but more on that in a moment. Let’s talk about Izetta’s good points first.
One thing I have to praise about Izetta is the artwork. Nowhere during the show’s run did I feel that the art was shoddy or skimped on. Now, I’m no expert on this category, so someone reading this review may feel obliged to call me on some detail that I missed. I fully acknowledge that I could be wrong; however, from my point of view, the art was spectacular. My only criticism would be Izetta’s face at the start of the opening credits. Something about it just seems odd, but since it’s just the opening credits (and since I pretty much always skip those), I won’t hold it against the show. Praise for the artwork must also naturally flow into praise for the battle sequences. Again, the artwork here is magnificent, as is the ferocity and intensity of the battles. There is no doubt that these characters are in the middle of a war, and the action manages to keep viewers on their toes.
Praise must also be given to the characters’ personalities throughout the show. While Izetta may be a bit two-dimensional—her whole story is about her gratitude to Fine causing her to put herself on the line despite it being taboo for a witch to interfere with human affairs—the rest of the cast certainly unfolds to be a bit more dynamic. Fine (by the way, there should be an accent on the e, but I have no clue how to make that happen in OpenOffice, so you’ll have to mentally insert it) is thrust into the position of Archduchess after her father passes, and must contend with the new responsibilities that come with it. While she is shown to be confident most of the time, her uncertainties—as well as her concern for Izetta—show through, as does a certain girlish charm that is revealed in her love of a certain bakery’s pie. Secondary characters, such as Germania’s Berkman and Fine’s counselor Siegfried, are slowly fleshed out throughout the series, some with deeper personalities and others with darker, depressing backstories. The show even manages to create pity for minor characters a few times, such as with a young soldier of Elystadt who finds out more information than he should. Character relationships are definitely a highlight of the show, so if you enjoy that dynamic, then you should at least give it a look.
Now, let’s start to work towards my criticisms of the show. First, let me reiterate that the first eight episodes were spectacular. The show managed to establish its backstory, as well as the magic system in the world. We find out that witches draw from ley lines, which are basically veins of magic throughout the world. If an area does not have a ley line, then a witch cannot use her magic. Given that Izetta is pretty much a devastating force capable of wrecking a whole army on her own, it was a good move to place some form of limitation on her. It also serves to challenge the characters, as they must keep this a secret and come up with ways to make it appear that Izetta is still using her magic even in areas where she can’t. The series also sets up a tragic backstory of the “White Witch”, a witch from Elystadt’s past who helped rescue the country once before. Plots to combat Izetta and to uncover the secrets of her power are also hatched, along with tragic love stories. By all accounts, this should have been a spectacular series. So what went wrong?
First off—and this is a spoiler, although probably not much of one—it is pretty easy to guess from the start that, somehow, Germania would acquire a witch of their own. This happens, although the identity of that witch is still a bit surprising. That’s not the problem—as I said, it is pretty easy to assume this development. The problem is that it comes straight out of nowhere. In episode 8, Izetta meets a strange women who bites her, drinks her blood, and passes out. This is weird, to say the least, but it sets the intrigue of what that will mean in future episodes. At this point, Elystadt had been enjoying countless victories over their Germanian foes. Then, in episode 9, Germania suddenly appears with their own witch, and out of the blue Elystadt is on the ropes. It was like the writers realized they only had four episodes to wrap everything up, so they pushed the fast forward button and skimped on any kind of build up. One minute Elystadt is superior thanks to Izetta, the next minute Izetta is being used to wipe the floor. Granted, there is an explanation eventually given, but it comes after the fact, instead of being foreshadowed, which would have at least made this development feel a bit more natural.
On top of this, there are several subplots that are started but never really carried to completion. Basler, a Germanian pilot and the only survivor of his unit’s confrontation with Izetta, is hired by Berkman and given a special, experimental plane that is supposedly able to keep up with the witch. Basically, he is set up to be something of a threat/challenge/rival to Izetta; however, he skirmishes with her once in his new plane, and then never fights her again; in fact, he is barely shown until the last couple of episodes, and he isn’t on the battlefield. On top of this, Elystadt tries to gain support from the Allies by showcasing Izetta’s power and proving that they can beat Germania with their witch ally. The Allies seem to be convinced, but at the end of that particular episode one of the world leaders is shown discussing the need to take out Germania and to then eliminate Elystadt because Izetta could pose a threat to the rest of the world. Again, this could have added a whole new dynamic to the show and could also have created a downside to Elystadt being public with Izetta’s power, but nothing ever comes of it. It’s not even mentioned again until the last episode, where Fine is able to assure the Allies that magic will no longer be an issue after Izetta’s final battle with Germania’s witch.
To sum up my issues with the plot, it essentially feels like the show was not allocated enough episodes. Perhaps if it had been given 26 episodes, or perhaps if the light-hearted episodes had been eliminated to make room for more plot-centric episodes, then more details could have been fleshed out, more conflict built up, and a better story told. That’s not even taking into account the ending, which I feel the writers went soft on. I don’t want to spoil anything, but one of the show’s central themes is Izetta’s willingness to sacrifice herself to the very end, and the way the show ends greatly cheapens that theme, in this writer’s opinion. There is also the fact that the writers seemed to cater to the shipping crowd, as there are many scenes that suggest a lesbian relationship between Fine and Izetta, but none that actually outright confirm it. Still, the shipping community will use something as simple as two girls hugging to imply lesbianism—how much more two women embracing numerous times, taking a moonlit flight on a broom, dancing together, and expressing their emotions to each other? It was like the writers didn’t quite want to go there, but they wanted to encourage the community to have their fun with it, and quite frankly it was just annoying.
At the end of the day, Izetta: The Last Witch settled for just being okay. What started out as an intense and interesting ride petered out to a rushed and unsatisfying ending. There was so much more that could have been explored about this world and these characters had the time and space been provided. I don’t know whether to blame the writers or whoever determines how many episodes a show is supposed to get. Maybe the blame is equally shared. I won’t say that Izetta is so bad that you shouldn’t watch it, but at the same time it’s hard to say that you should watch it when there are, quite frankly, much better anime out there. History buffs, at the very least, would probably enjoy watching it to make the connections between the real life events. The rest of us should probably stick to finding better fantasy anime.
Spiritual Content: Well, Izetta is a witch, which means she uses magic. Magic is a central element of the show.
Language: I do my best to maintain an accurate tally of curse word occurrences; that said, I’m only human, so my numbers may not be exact. I say that just in case someone decides to watch the show and actually count behind me. With that said, this is the language that I observed in Izetta.
10 “d*mn”, 2 “d*mned”, 1 “g**z”, 2 “h*ll”, 2 “b*stard”, 1 “cr*p”, 1 “manwh*re”, 1 “g*dd*mn”
Alcohol/Drug Use: There are a few scenes of characters drinking alcohol and/or smoking cigarettes.
Nudity/Sex/Fanservice: There is a surprising amount of fanservice in the show, although not enough to classify it as a “fanservice series”. The most common element is the fact that a lot of the women wear cleavage-revealing tops/dresses throughout the show’s 12 episode run. There are also a few bath scenes and other scenes that show women in varying states of undress. Bare butts are seen a few times, as well as bare breasts, although breasts are always obscured to some extent—at the very least, nipples are always covered in some way, shape, or form. Some breast jokes are made and Elvira, Fine’s “PR rep” of sorts, is shown to be quite a pervert. She uses the need to take Izetta’s measurements as an excuse to feel her up.
Violence: Since the show takes place during World War II, you can expect plenty of scenes of war time violence. Gunfire, mortar shells, tank and aerial combat all feature heavily. Soldiers are shot and killed countless times throughout the show’s duration.
Blood/Gore: Like the violence section notes, this is a show about war, so expect plenty of blood. Gore doesn’t really feature, so you won’t see intestines strewn about, but to some extent this art mimics reality—when people are shot, they bleed.
Other Negative Themes: Although it is never explicitly shown, there are plenty of scenes to imply more than friendship between Fine and Izetta. The way the two women look at each other, speak to each other and, in some cases, hold each other certainly suggests something more, although it feels more like pandering to the shipping fanbase than anything; otherwise, you would think the writers would have just been outright with the relationship if that was their intention.
Positive Themes: The biggest positive theme in Izetta is that of self-sacrifice. Izetta dedicates herself to helping Fine, simply out of gratitude for all that Fine has done for her, and Izetta will stop at nothing to fulfill the Archduchesses’ dreams, even if it means death.