Maria the Virgin Witch starts with a girl meeting a scary but nice old witch, who turns out to be a young and cute witch, who gets requests from both the French and British sides in this middle-ages story to stop all the bloody fighting, already. A couple guys, the father of the little girl, and Joseph, a vassal or something for the French, are getting dragged off to fight. We watch them almost die in battle a few times and then Maria intervenes, much to the annoyance of the mercenaries and witches who are in the war business for profit.
I enjoyed episode one, quite a bit, actually, and I hope the premise can hold up. There’s a cynical feel to the war and the politics, and because we’ve met and like some of the fighters, we can be outraged that they might die so that others might get rich. Same goes with the more complex issues of religion here, and the fact that Maria is a witch and a heretic, but she’s doing more good work than any of the catholics we see (they’re mostly exhorting others to go in and fight, and sometimes dying), and the irony that one of the men she swore to protect is a devout catholic and afraid of ramifications. Finally, Maria is in fact a virgin, as someone points out, “the apotheosis of christians,” though it’s not because she’s a prude, but because she’s young. I understand that the plot won’t really kick in until next week, but for now they’ve created a very interesting mix of characters and themes.
Seiken Tsukai no World Break starts with a flash-forward, better than average, where a bunch of magical kids team up to defeat a dragon. It would have been better except the centerpiece of the fight, Moroha, spends too much time writing weird phrases in the air. Then we switch to the present, and the first day of the magic school he’s attending, where he’s befriended by two girls: Satsuki, whom he knew in a previous life, and Moroha, who just comes on to him. Satsuki is a bit extreme, so much so that she challenges the class bully when he says something I didn’t understand, and gets her ass kicked. Later Moroha tries to defend her honor and get HIS ass kicked, well, until big powers suddenly well up during the closing credits, and you can guess the rest.
In spite of the derivative story and the pointless fanservice, I found I want to like this show for some reason, and I still might watch another episode. This is in spite of a terrible, terrible scene after Satsuki’s ass-kicking, going from a nice talk to a fight about boob size when Monoha shows up. Insult, retort, insult, retort, it just goes on and on, just like Monoha’s air-writing in the first bit, and the fight with the bully later. How many times did we have to see him get knocked down again, before something happened? As I said, something about this setup appeals to me, though I can’t place what it is, but if we get more deadly scenes like those, I’ll quickly drop it.
Finally we have Sengoku Musou, a tale about the unification of Japan. After a long prelude with lots of men posing and fighting, we get to the matter at hand, the one bit of Japan that hasn’t given in to, er, whoever it was. The names fly fast in this show, and while your average Japanese high school student who stays awake in class would probably recognize most if not all of them, I was pretty much lost. All I know is there’s a castle under siege, and debate as to what to do about it. One of the Sanada brothers attacks single-handed (the troops inside the castle are, naturally, terrible shots) to challenge the warlord to a duel.
This warlord, whose name I didn’t get, loses, but doesn’t mind because of Sanada’s straightforward honesty or something, and just like that, the war is over and the country is unified! This is usually what you get at the END of series, not at the beginning. Apparently the series is about keeping the country unified, in spite of squabbling bits and pieces of it. It’s not a bad idea, really, but this episode didn’t make me want to watch it. Apart of some flashes of visual prowess during the battle scenes, and a few nice background scenes, the art and animation was pretty poor. None of the characters interested me that much, and there’s also a jumping girl with a flying squirrel that I’d have to put up with.
And there we have it. Not as many new shows as usual. I’m interested in a handful of them. I’ll decide later, but you can probably guess what they are based on these reviews. Even when you add Shirobako and Your Lie in April, it looks like a slow season.