The story takes place in Tokyo in 2018, where normal humans and those who can use magic coexist. As a result, there are laws against using magic, and a "magic courtroom" exists to preside over lawsuits regarding magic use. In these cases, "Benmashi" or wizard barristers defend those who use magic. The anime follows Cecil, the youngest Benmashi in history, and her associates as they defend clients in these cases.
Wizard Barristers. Those are two words that might spark some curiosity in your head. We have the term ‘wizard’ that would automatically mark this series with magic themes and then, there’s barristers, a lesser familiar term. By definition standards, barrister deals with the law and essentially is a lawyer found in law jurisdictions. So combining those two terms would result in lawyers who can use magic. You’re not wrong if that’s the first thing that came to your mind. But there’s something else to take consider for our main female protagonist, Cecil Sudo. Starring her career as a wizard barrister, she is the youngest known
member in history at age 15. But in a world of crime and politics, there’s no such thing as young. Crime existed for centuries and for Cecil, it’s a world that she takes on as a wizard barrister.
Yasuomi Umetsu is involved with the show, who is known for his previous experience in working with action packed science fiction anime series such as Kite Liberator and the more recent Galilei Donna. Judging just by the premise alone would bring out curiosity especially for fans into fictional detective stories. Take it on the surface as Law & Order but with magic elements. There’s no such thing as being fair in the world but being a wizard barrister is more than just about bringing criminals to justice. It’s about dignity and bringing out the best of whom they are in their line of business in a world of despair.
With its standards, we get a futuristic setting taking place in 2018. Technology has developed efficiently in Tokyo to hire wizard barristers to represent the accused and guilty in the Court of Magic. It’s also noticeable that society has adapted the co-existence between human and wizards (aka Wud users) in their world. Rather than a revolution breaking out, the show adapts its standards by which individuals commit crimes with magic and having wizard barristers deal with them. Throughout the first half of the series, it follows an episodic format where each episode represents a different case focusing on different characters and the crimes they commit. One prominent feature is often revisited involving Cecil’s mother. It is the primary focus of Cecil to get her mother out of jail for an event that she sees a travesty of justice. But what motivates Cecil is more than just that. She wants to help people and protect society. In her mind, ‘justice’ is the law and everyone deserves a chance; well, the majority of them anyways.
Despite being accepted into society on conditional standards, there’s a sudden decree of prejudice against Wud users. Some of them are bullied while others are ostracized just for their abilities. Even inside the courtroom, there are remarks of discrimination against them that often or not result in outbursts. The judges themselves don’t seem to protect their rights on many occasions. Their purpose seems to rely on the safety of the public rather than society as a whole. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why Cecil’s mother is behind bars. There’s injustice and this show explores the rights and wrongs of such a world.
Representing the majority of the main cast are female characters. When you have to deal with Wuds who can use magic used to commit crimes, you’d have to be badass. That’s what describes the majority of the main characters such as Moyo, Ageha, Sasori, Quinn, among others. For Cecil, she comes off as a newbie in the business. She realizes that the world is not fair and there are faults in the justice system. In some episodes, Cecil finds out that some criminals may be beyond redemption by the crimes they have committed. More importantly is the fact that she has to so much to learn beyond just following the laws. There’s time when she has to make the decisions herself even if she has to do it alone. By taking on a more basic approach, Cecil is an easy-going girl who is able to make friends with just about anyone. Her honesty, self-less sacrifices, and courage makes her a character of admiration. However, there’s one character that seems to despise her for her attributes.
Enter Natsuna Hotaru, a young woman that also works as a wizard barrister. Unlike Cecil, she has a more stoic attitude and take her occupation as serious at it can be. Her relationship with Cecil is strained on most parts that is seemingly based on jealousy. In essence, Hotaru is an insecure girl and whether she likes it or not, there’s a gap between her and Cecil in their abilities. But relationship wise, the two does get more characterization after some events combining together that draws the duo closer. On a more general terms, most of Cecil’s co-workers adores her as a cute girl. Even her perverted frog seems to enjoy the company of messaging her back or whatnot. Still deep down, Cecil is a girl that has potential in her profession.
Through its approach, Wizard Barristers define itself as a more experimental anime, at first anyways. Each case presents a new challenge or some sort of morality that Cecil learns about her job. Despite feeling like a police story, there’s a somewhat realistic mood from each case as well. This is evidenced by Cecil and her book smarts because of her knowledge in the law. Surprisingly enough, it’s depicted accurately as being symmetrical to real world orders. By fantasy standards, it goes overboard with its magic tropes and points that doesn’t make sense. Then, there’s the main story itself that gets clustered with questions that invites confusion. With such a premise, the story should match up with its caliber but fails to do so with strange plot twists and asinine formulations.
Unfortunately, the show withers itself with its blend world building regarding its settings. Most of the cases takes place in Tokyo despite various law firms existing in other places in the world. This become a problem as there’s a lack of diversity in which viewers whom desires to see cases taking place in other locations. Not only is that but the setting this Tokyo represents hardly different than its modern standards. In essence, it doesn’t feel too futuristic or like a neo-Tokyo.
There’s also a lack of characterization in most of the other characters. Most of them just seems to be doing their jobs as a way of life. There’s a lack of exploration in their character background that makes us wonder their motivations of why they are wizard barristers in the first place. Furthermore, Cecil can hardly be taken serious on some occasions. Her co-workers just loves her and some of them tease her on borderline sexual levels with yuri-undertones. Unfortunately, most of it comes off as just teasing and can be repetitive to watch. If the show wants to imply actual relationships beyond a professional level, then it should make itself more prominent by presenting actual depth. And speaking of depth, the justice system is flawed and not everything is understood in the end with some cases. To sum it up short, there’s miscarriage the justice system for which the term ‘unfair’ is best to assess certain episodes. The show focuses less so on its justice system but more on the criminals.
Despite the serious concept of the premise, there are various levels of comedy throughout the series. Most of this is focused on Cecil that can be met with mixed results. There are running gags such as the way Cecil is dressed, sexual harassment teasing curtsey of Moyo, Nanajiinyi (the frog) being its outlandish self, among others. Surprisingly, fan service is minimal on most occasions despite the fact that studio ARMS is in charged with the production. Otherwise, the show has an odd mixture of its premise and humorous gags mixed with violence.
The artwork will persuade you to watch this show by a heartbeat at first. Studio Arms really sets the bar high with its glamorous world setting of 2018. Action is categorized by a mixture of police action, mecha-like movements, and magic. It’s presented with a solid flow and alluring appearance of its world. Some of the mecha-like action combines usage of CGI and movements that is also unorthodox. But be aware of one particular episode that for budget reasons omits any credibility to match its artwork style. It defiles it. Otherwise, the majority of the cast members are designed to look professional. Only Cecil stands out despite her moderately designed clothes that earns her some humorous remarks from her co-workers. If you’re familiar with Yasuomi Umetsu, then some of the designs will bring back some similarities. The nefarious criminals themselves also holds credibility that makes them look dangerous enough to be accepted as threats to society.
Music and soundtracks comes off as one of its lesser dynamic features. While the music itself is tolerable and has its style, not all of them stands out in any distinctive way. The voice cast does its job on most parts but some character voices can be irritating to listen to. Cecil has both a childish and mature voice mannerism mixed together. Other characters represents themselves with their personalities such as Moyo’s flirtiest voice, Nanajiinyi’s playfulness, or Seseri’s mentoring manners. On another note, the OP song holds degrees of its catchy tones.
Watching Wizard Barristers will feel like you’re on a journey of discovery although it’s not something to remember by heart. For Cecil, she discovers the laws of justice. With each episode, she experiments her occupation on various levels to explore her full potential. But taken for granted, this show is more like a police story with magic additions with moderate characterization. The story isn’t something you’ll praise well and neither are the laws that bound their world.
This series is somewhat of an enigma. The concept of Wizards defending Wizards in a Magic Court was a very unique idea and plot. Sudo Cecil is your lead character, who happens to be a "Wizard Barrister" working for Butterfly Law Office. She is looking for answers about her past and discovers not only the truth, but is thrown into many difficult, dangerous situations. The characters development in the series is extremely well done. As is the relationship development between them. You get a clear idea of the relationship each character has to each other. With a few exceptions of course. Each episode takes
you on its own journey, while keeping its own place in the main storyline. The characters were unique in design and animated extremely well. There was also instances of comedic perversion/fanservice that had me laughing on frequent occasions, but wasn't something that was being pushed on fans.
The negatives I have are why the overall rating isn't higher. First, the story tends to drift at times which causes some confusion, for me at least, at times. Also, though beautifully animated, a few episodes seemed to be very choppy and did not transition well between scenes. Finally, I feel as if there are more episodes (a 2nd season) there will be ample times for better closure and for the storyline to mature and develop much more.
This series has great potential, especially with the unique premise for the series. But, as it stands, it doesn't live up to that potential. At least not yet.
I haven’t done a review in almost a year. So, you would think Wizard Barristers: Benmashi Cecil is ‘that’ special. Let me tell you why it ‘almost’ was.
First, the concept. You could more likely compare Wizard Barristers into being a legal representative of Wuds (people who possess magical powers) in Tokyo Year 2018. Cecil Sudou, being the youngest ever Wizard Barrister, tries to make use of her knowledge to ‘defend’ Wuds and give them an unprejudiced trial.
However, being involved with strange people along the way, she discovers more about her past, and something about herself.
Don’t get me wrong. I would say that the
story is ‘quite’ original as I haven’t really watched a lot of animes that involved Law in them. Or, maybe because I haven’t encountered those kind of animes, so I don’t really have a standard.
A story combining law and magic? I mean, who wouldn’t love that? And they even made a separate law, called the Magic Probihition Law, which Wuds are subject to. That really got me, especially when the protagonists casually say it just to make a statement.
Now, I was thrilled as I typed those from above, and then I thought: What made Wizard Barristers suck? Easy. That would be the story in totality. I love the law-plus-magic idea as much as the next guy, but this was not implemented well with the whole series. The story gets you thinking, “Is this even going anywhere?” Sure, the story was fluid. Sure, the story had continuity. But, for what? For Wuds to have to have a fair trial? That doesn’t really apply when you could see there is already an over-complexity between the characters themselves, which makes a case insignificant all the way.
Then, a question again popped in my head. “What made Wizard Barristers TOTALLY suck?” That, my friend, would be the pace of the story. It goes from one scene to another, having no proper transition at all. And don’t even get me started on the eye-catches.
‘Colorful’ would be the first word to say of Wizard Barristers. The anime had vibrant colors that are such a sight. And the neon-glowing ‘circle’ thingies really add effect to the spells they use. And the CGI for the Metamoloids are relatively superb.
I think no one would disagree that the opening animation of the anime was splendid. But, like they say, you should never judge an anime with its opening animation (and theme). Really. Unfortunately, Sentai Filmworks did a terrible job with the animation itself. A lot of inconsistencies would be seen in it. Strange movements (and etc.) made the anime unpleasant to watch. I think it would’ve been better to just put your earphones on and just turn off the monitor.
There is also that one episode that looked like it was a Microsoft Powerpoint Slideshow of still pictures, with dialogue. What? The producers are getting lazy because they already knew that it sucked that they got tired of ‘actually’ doing the movements?
Also, maybe it’s just me, but it had that Saber Marionette J-type of feel.
For a reason that I don’t know, Lia’s themes strike me in the heart. Angel Beats! And Clannad would second that. That Lia opening was just amazing. The ending theme was also good. But the producer of the song Rui Tanabe sang didn’t get you that I-have-to-watch-the-next-episode-but-I-need-to-listen-to-this-first kind of feeling.
I think I should give praise to the soundtrack itself, as it gave suitable ambiance for most scenes, like when trials are about to start, or when the employees from Butterfly Law Offices are just slacking off. Voice actors were also good. Most notable would be Wataru Takagi, voice of Seseri Chono, which gave justice to the character himself.
Character development was good, but it wasn’t great at the same time. There were still characters that have the right to have more background stories. There were also no explanations to how one possesses magic, or how they got this specific type of power.
And although it wasn’t clear, at least these characters are likeable. Especially Cecil who, at the same time, was the center of humor in the entire show.
There were 2 major discrepancies on it though. Who is Moyo Tento? I certainly don’t want to end the anime without having to get to know her first. And the other: WHAT IS THE IMPORTANCE OF THOSE USELESS FAMILIARS?
Something to look forward to in this anime would be the action. As a fan of magic-related animes (like To Aru Majutsu No Index and Alice Academy), I definitely can’t get enough of those kind of action. They were spectacular. Too bad there wasn’t much of it. Even the trials, which are something that would interest a viewer, didn’t last long enough for it to actually be considered a ‘proper’ hearing.
They just weren’t enough. That aside, they were still awesome.
Should I recommend this to you, reader of my review?
If you want magic and action, combined with wacky (and some, cold) characters, with Law (just an amount) being the underplot, and Lia having an opening theme, then yes.
If you want to watch an anime that is fully detailed, does not miss facts and provides broad character development with great animation, I suggest you watch something else.
All in all, Wizard Barristers: Benmashi Cecil would have been a great anime. Really. Maybe it was just the number of episodes. Or, it just lacked that ‘total feel’ which most viewers would think so, too.
DISCLAIMER: I tried to conceal most spoilers, but some information will leak through, namely the kind of plot the series develops, but not the specifics. Also, this review was originally made with scores on a scale of 100, so values will be rounded down or up to arrive at the desired final score on MAL's scoring system, and what I tried to evaluate isn't the same as what MAL seeks to evaluate.
There are so many shows and series out there that feature mages and wizards concealed in the midst of our real-world society. Sometimes, large-scale battles take place. Did you ever wonder how
"magical criminals" might be handled post-incidents, or how the law might account for the existence of magic, and for the resulting destruction?
WELL THEN, this anime was made for you!
...Or so I would like to say.
In reality, this show is about as much about lawyers as it is about groping breasts, since an almost comparable amount of time is dedicated to either subject. But let's take a look at each aspect individually:
Story - 5.5/10 (rounded to 5):
The setting is introduced as being seemingly like our world, only with certain humans adquiring magical powers. It is established early on that this is common knowledge.
The plot is centered around Cecil Sudo, as she joins a law firm and struggles with becoming a competent barrister, surrounded by a variety of other characters who all have at least mild interest in her.
Back to the setting though: Even though mages with considerable power to summon automated/controllable constructs and manipulate the elements and objects exist, society has evolved just like ours, with no additional technological/"magical" advances taking place.
Instead, there are now laws and discrimination towards mages, to the point that they can't even hold public positions.
It's hard to fathom that no experiments took place or attempts were successful to use magic to better our world, and that instead laws were put into place that would prevent the use of magic in nearly any situation; this sort of contrivance could be explained away by giving some insight on how things ended up like this, but the show doesn't really try.
The whole plot could be described as a somewhat generic "prophecy" scenario about a certain character, and it progresses in a linear fashion. The unusual setting (the wizard barristers and whatnot) could in theory make the deal sweeter but in practice the main characters could've been ordinary mages and not barristers, for the most part, and the story would've stayed the same.
They cite one of two different laws, sit in court, talk to suspects or look for evidence (this last one happens a lot in many shows independently of the characters being barristers or not). The "barrister element" is there but it's not all that important to the central plot, which revolves around Cecil searching for clues regarding her past and a certain event that took place years ago, and soon this element fades into the background.
Even in the end, when the real story hidden behind the daily routine and "issue of the week" format gets explained, the reasoning offered doesn't answer many of the questions posited in the beginning.
Some of the key motivating events of Cecil's past make more sense in the initial excuse plot given than they do in the grand scheme of things; the story is so focused on providing evidence for the wrongdoings of certain characters, that it completely neglects to explain why the first and most important events took place.
Also, there are a few panty shots and groping of breasts/butts, mostly courtesy of the frog familiar Nana Genie (not sure if this is the correct spelling but it's the one that makes the most sense). He and Koromo Sasori incorporate all of the direct ecchi elements of the show. Sometimes they clash with the surrounding mood, sometimes they don't (just kidding, they always do).
I should add that I'm heavily biased against ecchi in most shows; depending on how it's handled it can erode the serious tone of any scene. Cecil keeps Nana Genie around despite all the groping, and even though she always eventually slaps him away, I can't help but dislike this frequent unsolicited contact.
Characters - 4.5/10 (rounded to 4):
This was the show's greatest flaw (aside from animation problems when it aired, of course). A great deal of characters were bland and/or stereotypical, sometimes aggravatingly so, including the protagonist.
In particular, the majority of the barristers on the show were one-dimensional and their personality traits and interests could be completely summarized in one sentence each. Right at the start of the show it's easy to catch on to what are the major traits of each character and they never change much beyond that.
A few episodes are dedicated to expanding the backstories or just introducing different traits for some of the barristers, and yet, they went through little character development. When they did go through some, it was the kind that you could see them going through right from episode 1 (like a "tsundere" type character becoming softer and nicer to her target).
Cecil is pure, innocent and always optimistic. As a 17 year old, it is shown that she's far younger than the other barristers and therefore may be a tad immature and unprepared for field work. These traits leave her feeling generic as this is the typical description of any "innocent little kid" for most shows.
The issue with her characterization becomes more relevant later on as she goes through quite a few traumatic events, but after a display of emotions on the spot, remains seemingly the same character-wise.
The character lines and conversations were alright. Nothing too insightful or surprising from the majority of the characters. There were quite a few times where the dialog between characters would also sound less like what a person might say to another in that situation, and more like said character was addressing the viewers specifically to provide some info you'd be wondering about, but this apparent fourth-wall breaking felt very unintentional and awkward given the setting.
Visuals - 7.5/10 (rounded to 8):
The strong point, in my opinion. Beautiful color usage for the character designs (right off the bat, just look at the different hair colors in the show's opening! It's indicative of the rest of the palette). The magic duels were also very beautiful.
The scenery was also very colorful, but it was often rendered through CGI, and as such would sometimes stand out a bit compared to the hand-drawn characters. Special mention goes to the court-room that looked pretty damn bad and was a reoccurring element in the story.
The metamoloid/mechas had intricate and neat designs for the most part (animation non-withstanding), though the villains seemingly always used the same mecha for most of the show. They also looked very awkward when combined with traditionally animated characters.
It had a rounded approach to character faces and the body proportions were realistic. The characters wore normal clothes for the most part, a tad outlandish sometimes given their profession. No two characters on the main cast wore the same outfit, and a decent bit of detail went into each specific design, further differentiating each barrister.
Overall, the visuals were nice enough, mainly the hand-drawn ones. Since they were the focus, for the most part it was easy to ignore the CGI in the background, though not always.
Animation - 6 /10:
I won't take into account animation failures that took place when it was airing, but if I did, then the only thing to say would be: they were terrible and completely ruined the mood, immersion and interest for what could be considered the climax of the entire show. I would not advise anyone to watch the version of the show that aired.
Now, putting those aside, and only considering the fixed scenes in the blu-ray:
The traditional animation was good overall. The normal day-to-day scenes were nothing to scoff at, but it was during the magic fights where it shined the most.
thought the way they animated anything not-solid during magic duels was very good: the fire, the water, the air, the dust, they all had significant movement and felt like they were actually gaseous/liquid, instead of solid blocks of orange or blue.
It's a real shame that the mechas were animated at a rather low framecount and looked very dated technology-wise. Even worse, many of the fights would overlap segments of hand-drawn magic flinging with the dreadful mechas slowly lumbering and swinging away, drawing away the viewer's attention from what was actually worth watching.
If the mechas weren't there I'd rate the animation a 8/10.
Sound Quality - 7.5/10 (rounded to 7):
The soundtrack was cheerful and upbeat for the scenes that warranted it, and somber for the more darker scenes, though these were far and in-between. So cheerful were most of the tracks, that when the show got harsher and darker the accompanying BGM could come across as trying too hard, or lead to some mood whiplash.
But overall, as with the animation quality, it's standard, nothing too catchy but not bad either.
The opening theme bears the distinction of going through a lot of "phases" in the song; contrary to most openings these days, the song doesn't cycle from the beginning to the refrain/chorus (as in, they're not versions of the same thing), and I found that quite refreshing. It feels a tad too serious for the initial episodes, but matches the ending ones better.
The sound effects used were alright. Nothing too garish, but nothing impressive either.
The voice-acting, as everything else in the sound department, felt mostly average. Maxwell and Moyo Tento's voice-over stood out as particularly appropriate compared to the rest; the former's was calm, focused and lent some strength to the otherwise bland lines he belted out, and Moyo's was playful and with the proper tones to leave the viewer wondering if there was more to her.
On the other hand, Cecil's voice-work was for the low-point, being very high-pitched and too energetic. In a show where everyone else had deeper or more subdued voices, spoke slowly/mysteriously or calmly, her voice left my ears ringing more than once. I think I understand the kind of character they wanted to portray but they went overboard.
I don't usually take this into account when scoring, but since everyone likes to mention whether they liked the show or not, I'll do the same. MAL even requires you to add a score for this, so I rated it a 7, but it doesn't matter for the final score.
A few characters (Moyoyon best girl) were great fun for me, even if some of them were one-dimensional, since they happened to have the character traits I like.
I enjoyed both the beginning and the end episodes, since in the beginning they were still introducing what magic and wizards are capable of, and in the end the story finally settled down to what it really was about (without going into details). The magic duels, as I've mentioned more than once, were also great fun.
The middle of it was rather dull, plagued with the introduction of numerous stereotypical characters in need of aid, ecchi moments with very bad timing, and in general I couldn't get a feel as to what the show wanted to do; focus on magic in general, on wizard barristers specifically, on Cecil as a person of interest, or deliver some vague lesson on morality, humanity and discrimination.
A somewhat unoriginal plot masked in a setting that could be very interesting and unique, but was left greatly unbuilt and unexplored. Bland characters, decent but unremarkable soundtrack and bad CGI. The traditional animation and the art-style was definitely enjoyable though.
All added up, this means a 6.2/10. In MAL's system I rounded it down to a 6/10.
If you are just feeling like watching an "average" mystery show for the sake of nice magical fights, then this might be worth a try. I would also encourage anyone to check out the opening and a few stills of they can, since the visuals are the main selling point.
A bento is a famous home-packed meal that can be seen very often in anime. It holds a special place in Japanese cuisine because it is prepared and arranged with love and care, therefore symbolizing an intimate connection. Let's take a look at 20 of the most delicious bento anime has to offer!