What’s worse: a consistently mediocre show, or a mediocre show that looked like it could’ve been a lot better? Whichever you prefer, Shoemaster no Izetta is the second option.
I’m not gonna sit here and pretend that Shuumatsu was, at any point, even a strong contender for anime of the season. I don’t feel particularly burned or let down by this show falling apart, but at the same time I can’t help but feel a little surprised: Two super hot main characters, one of them being a witch or magician, a story with historical context, a metal-based OP, and one of the best soundtracks of the year come together to form… a light 4. So, what the fuck happened?
To be honest, it wasn’t that anything really happened, it’s just that Shuumatsu put on a nice facade for a bit. That sounds like I’m stating the obvious, but hear me out: This anime was only good on a conceptual level. Beyond writing "MAGIC + WW2" down, the writing team had no idea what the fuck to do. There’s no singular element to Shuumatsu that makes it bad, it’s a consistent series of fuck-ups and bad writing that starts to become apparent after the story’s introduction.
Much of the conflict can be blamed on people being complete fucking idiots, and that’s never a good thing. When you have some pretty high stakes such as… I dunno, a WORLD WAR involved, it’s expected that the people have some sort of responsibility. This involves not discussing the weakness of someone who is single-handedly carrying you in the war, or even discussing this someone period, in broad fucking daylight. God forbid someone hears you and runs back to camp to tell all his friends about it for no reason... ... ... ... ... ...HEY WAIT A MINUTE
Another problem that becomes more apparent as time goes on is the absolute perfect perfectnicityness of the three lead characters: Izetta, Fine with an accent at the end, and Izetta’s Tits, which you better fuckin’ believe are fine with an accent at the end. These are the good guys, so they’re good people. They do absolutely nothing wrong and have no flaws whatsoever. Finemon is noble and brave and lives to defend the country she proudly leads. Everyone that’s not literally Hitler happily supports her. Izetta is the most OP being on the planet, and all she wants to do is use her power for good, which means indiscriminately killing shitloads of Nazis. Her entire character is that she totally wants a piece of dat Fine ass and will do virtually anything for it. She might be a little childish due to literally not having a life for the most part, which doesn’t really count as a flaw.
Meanwhile, the bad guys are Nazis. They do bad things because they’re the bad guys and that’s basically it. I suppose the real context of the antagonists can be summed up as “read a fucking book”, but it’s not like we’re getting actual historical figures in this anime. This isn’t Drifters. This is an original story with not-very-cleverly renamed things like “Germania” involving original characters. Original characters such as Smug Villain who is a villain that smiles in a smug fashion. He has a low voice and talks clearly but quietly while smiling in a smug fashion. Because he’s the bad guy.
Unyielding good versus unforgivable evil. It’s too obvious who you should root for. Tropes aren’t bad on their own, but too many of them will dumb things down and come off as boring, unless you can fully embrace them and use the best parts to tell a satisfying story. I’m describing ‘My Hero Academia’ for the record. Not that it’s related. But meanwhile, Shuumatsu is full of one-note, trope-y, flat basic bitches. Well, not Izetta. She’s not flat. She got some pretty big dynamics nahimean?
In short, despite the serious tone Shuumatsu puts off in its early moments, its story is far from mature. Even when nothing is happening, there’s still something wrong. Like, talking about pie for all eternity, or watching Izetta get molested by some creepy designer lady. I think that’s where they uh… Cross the Line, eh???? Goddamn that song is good.
Okay, so I’ve complained a lot about a show that’s based on a hot chick flying around on a gun. So let’s talk about that for a moment. For some reason, people defend bad writing and fanservice with “she’s riding a gun, it was stupid to begin with!” Just because something’s a little silly doesn’t mean all its faults are suddenly cleared. Like, what? It doesn’t even look or seem that silly. Not only is it cool as shit, but it brilliantly combines both the setting of war and the concept of magic. If anything, wearing a big hat and flying around on a broom would’ve been inappropriate.
But anyway, the battles themselves are actually pretty good. Izetta is OP as shit and just fucking destroys everything in her path. It’s a lot of fun seeing shit like that, and it’s not every day where you see tanks getting thrown around. But, of course, the stakes need to be raised at some point, so the enemy introduces… more magic. Aww… It’s kind of a bummer that they couldn’t stick with Magic vs. Military and had to make it Magic vs. Magic instead. Granted, the story’s timeline gives it very limited technology, but it would’ve been really cool to see the Germans--oh, sorry--the GERMANIANS (you know that's just Germany in Romanian, right? That's not a rename at all, those hacks!) develop some sort of weapon or even a clever strategy to level the playing field a bit, instead of just introducing more magic out of nowhere.
That said, when Izetta has finally met her match, things don’t go downhill. They get crushed, flattened, stomped on, pushed off a cliff, and dropped into the fucking ocean. Shit gets real FAST and that made me appreciate the evil side a lot more.
Nothing’s animated too well, though. Izetta flying around looks quite nice, and let me compliment the character designs one more time because they’re outstanding. But, as expected, the larger animations such as large objects getting tossed around or a collection of swords slicing around… they’re CG. The CG itself isn’t particularly good nor bad, but combined with normal 2D animation, it looks kinda weird and took me out of the experience a little. I don’t remember anything being terrible, though. The general style is very common despite the obscure studio--if you told me this was by A-1 Pissants or J.C. Staff, I wouldn't have questioned it.
The soundtrack on the other hand… now there’s a hidden gem. The mystical, magical music in the back with a rock influence, particularly with Izetta’s fight scenes, holy shit it’s brilliant. It felt a little overdone, though. Exposition could be going on, and the composer’s still going apeshit with dark, jittery, and mysterious music as if the most amazing plot twist’s about to happen. Still, I’m gonna be downloading thi--I mean purchasing this soundtrack in a very legal manner when it releases to the public. And the credits themes were equally outstanding. ‘Cross the Line’ has one of the most hype-inducing introductions of the entire year, and its piercing metal sound kept me on my toes the whole way through. The epic piano ballad used as the ED is equally mesmerizing despite being basically the exact opposite sound.
Would I recommend Izetta: The Last Witch? Given the interesting premise, I might. After all, an anime with historical context always draws in an audience. 'member Joker Game? Talk about awkward! Anyway, just be warned. You’re not getting a very intricately-written story. It has some good moments for sure, but more often than not you’ll want to rip your hair out. Come in mostly for the fights and the occasional charm. And don’t forget the boobies. Hooray for boobies.
Story - 3/10
Art - 6/10
Sound - 9/10
Character - 2/10
Enjoyment - 4/10
Izetta - Fine/10
Overall - 4.25/10 (Score range: 3.5-5.0)
Favorite episode - 1
Favorite character - Izetta’s Ettas
Recommendation level - Mediumread more
What could go wrong with combining a WWII setting with some cute magical girl(s)? Everything I tell you…
Izetta the Last Witch is something I was optimistic for considering it was an alternative take on the second world war which I’m sure many of us have studied at some point before viewing. The Germanian Empire is our like for like replacement for the Nazi Regime which was led by the infamous Adolf Hitler. To summarise, the Germanian Empire has gone on the offensive using arguably one of the best tactics in modern history. The ‘Blitzkrieg’ was designed to create disorganisation among the Allied forces which was composed of countries such as Britannia and Thermidor. The fictional small country of Eylstadt (modern-day Austria) which houses our main two characters Archduchess Ortfine and the last witch in question being Izetta, is on the receiving end taking blows from all the powerful Germania.
The show fails to deliver on providing interesting characters apart from the main duo of Ortfine and Izetta. Ortfine during the war is saddened by the news that her father has passed away due to an illness. This incident has caused her to take up reigns, whilst being designated as the successor at the coronation ceremony giving her the ultimate task of leading her country. Being the sole monarch for such a tiny nation has exacerbated the fact of her wanting to protect to what is deemed as being vulnerable. That is the defining trait for our young Archduchess who for the most part doesn’t exhibit any other qualities which is what sets apart memorable and forgettable characters. She would be in the latter bracket as there is no major characterisation from her as the series progresses.
Izetta is our heroine for the Eylstadt soldiers, who have been demoralised from the current conflict knowing they had no chance of winning against the stronger army. Izetta being a witch allows her to use magic in the battlefield which is not the magic that I had envisioned at first. There are no spells being made that resemble any sort of sorcery. Izetta’s magic is just having the ability to levitate certain objects such as torpedoes and lances which are just some examples. The magic used does create mayhem among the enemy line as it’s used in an unpredictable fashion. What concerns me though is the instances where she is pegged back by the enemies’ retaliation which is evident in numerous occasions. Despite being called the key to winning the war, she hasn’t shown enough for me to acknowledge her as being exactly that.
As a witch, she does have her limitations, which is revealed through the information about the ley lines that are spread out through all of Europe. These hotspots as I like to call them are the areas where she can use her magic effectively without deteriorating greatly in magic usage. The best tactic to defeat Izetta was confronting her at a weak magic location but no there is more to that apparently. Izetta like any other superhuman entity will usually have some form of weakness aka their kryptonite equivalent. Funnily enough it does share a similar appearance to that of the kryptonite.
I’ve been mentioning her magic but what defines Izetta’s character? She can basically be summed as being a sweet-natured girl of a placid disposition. Her objective in the current war is to protect the Archduchess and the country that she governs. It is known beforehand that Izetta has been given a verbal warning by her late grandmother not to use her magic powers excessively to the point it would get out of hand. She inevitably breaks this promise and proceeds to display her abilities in the chaotic battlefield. Her existence is predicated on the fact she will do all it takes to protect Eylstadt even if it means her dying. She’s come close to kicking the bucket but the God of Death hasn’t exerted his influence that much.
The show is suffering from other consistencies preventing me from enjoying it and it’s a shame as it looked promising in the beginning. A significant portion of screen time was given to an average infantry soldier named Jonas, who had survived his fair share of blows at times while it being questionable. The poor man dies because of an information leakage which resulted in his death… what was the point in showing his character for him to be dismissed like that?
Another occasion where the plot felt loose was during the banquet held in one of the Allied nations. The fact that Berckmann managed to appear out of thin air to confront the Archduchess should be raising alarm bells. What I find baffling is how he managed to get past all the security considering it is being hosted for all sorts of delegates during wartime. This just adds to the plot convenience needed to advance the storyline.
There was also the instance where Berckmann’s assistant managed to sneak into the countryside of Eylstadt for his espionage mission. The man was picked up by the retainers of the Archduchess who never questioned the validity of him abstaining from conscription. A spy has just managed to get a ride with Bianca and co who are viewed as being competent and act as being professional. This group managed to harbour an enemy for the whole time without suspecting him once, just convenient if I must say. The writing is abysmal through proper retrospection.
There are countless more but I shared the obvious ones that were glaring to me. Another pet peeve of mine is the fact that the Germanian Empire has somehow managed to invent cloning of humans, which may not sound too outlandish at first. The idea of cloning existing in an alternate timeline that can enable for magic isn’t too far-fetched but if you think about it, DNA mapping was never introduced until the 1950s which is after WWII in this case. My case is closed.
The animation by studio Ajia-do is probably one of the factors that enticed people into watching as well as the setting involved. The character designs are designed for the moe aesthetics, which is evident in Izetta who just seems cute all around. The designs are reminiscent to what was used in Sword Art Online, this show has an A-1 Pictures feel to it but there is no relation whatsoever. The animation is crisp and fluid when it needs to be in the action sequences but is generally consistent with no substantial drop in quality.
The sound for the most part is befitting for a show set in this period. The array of tracks which are mostly heard in the battlefields usually consist of orchestral compositions. The variations of vocal sequences add to the immersion during intense scenes but felt lacklustre with nothing being too exceptional or noteworthy. The opening song used feels more like a J-pop song and does not really match with the themes to be honest. The ending song takes more of a dramatic feel to it and is genuinely feels better to listen to.
Terrible directing along with a poor script. The plot convenience is unbearable at times.
Bland side characters and no variety.
The fan service is heavy with this one and feels inappropriate at times. I didn’t mention the moe maid lol read more
If potential is something that you’re seeking for, Shuumatsu no Izetta (Izetta: The Last Witch) will breathe life into that word. At first glance, anyway. Think about it though. It’s a series that combines elements of military warfare, witchcraft, political conflicts, and other magical shenanigans into a single package. And as an original series, the show isn’t held back by a dedicated fan base or those who lusts for “faithful adaptation”. However, Shuumatsu no Izetta isn’t exactly perfect or even close as the word potential is dragged down each step of the way.
The risk of making a historical fiction war drama story can be viewed from many angles. While it doesn’t always have to rely on historical accuracy, it should still make sense. In essence, the show attempts its best job at that by adapting the setting into World War II style war story. That’s right. It’s when the Allies fought against the Axis Powers that stretched from Europe all the way to the Pacific theater. However, this series doesn’t fly across the globe even though it has a cute little witch. In fact, it focuses primarily on this tiny Alpine country of Eylstadt as imperialist forces of Germania decides to invade them.
Mark my words, the show gets straight to the point pretty fast. The first few episodes easily establishes the fact that there’s a war conflict going on. Ortfiné "Finé" Fredericka von Eylstadt (the princess) is pursued by Germanian forces and even gets captured aboard a train. A mysterious witch named Izetta shows up from a capsule and she recuses Fine. Turns out, they actually knew each other before during childhood. While all this is happening, it’s hard to forget about how Izetta saves her. Literally, she flies on a giant gun and is able to use magical powers to influence objects. So basically, she is a witch although where her powers came from is a mysterious origin. What we do know is that Izetta is among the last of her kind and she enters an alliance with Fine to protect their country. So for standards, the series leaves me a good impression as the storytelling can expand quite a bit with the war drama and mystery. A lot of questions will pop into viewers’ minds like “who really is Izetta?” “Why does Germania want to invade Eylstadt”? or “Who will win the war?”
I’ll be honest here though. Perhaps my expectations for the series were a bit too high from the start but the series seems to dwindle down each and every episode. The first few episodes does a fairly well job at launching the series with its premise. However, the pacing drags back the show as transitions between certain episodes just feels stale. Certain episodes such as ones that info dumps about witch magic or Izetta’s daily life style can easily be condensed to further the storytelling. Instead, they are stretched out with slice of life content with little impact. The series also seems to have a fetish for Izetta’s breasts as the girls often makes fun of them, especially Fine and the maids. On the other hand, it is evident that the series remains faithful to the premise. The war is still the main focus and we see how the roles of characters are played out. Izetta is a prominent figure as a witch so her allies uses her in ways to not just directly engage their enemies but also with psychological warfare. In other words, they want to make the best of what she has to offer with her powers, carrying military squadrons to certain positions, and boosting morale. While it’s not realistic, it does make her character intriguing to watch as we can see what a witch can really do. While I did mention how ludicrous the comedy can get sometimes, this show does not joke with death as certain characters really do die. As such, do expect the violence and war drama to take hold to show how tragic warfare can be.
Even though she’s the titular character, the series isn’t just about Izetta. Fine, the princess of Eylstadt, serves as a good mentor and leader for her country. She plays the role of a strategist, idealist, and also a friend for her people. The most important relationship she has is with Izetta as the latter saved her during childhood. However, I am not overly impressed by the character relationships in the series. Beyond Izetta and Fine, there’s hardly any others that are memorable. For instance, there’s Bianca, Princess Fine’s personal bodyguard who only gets a memorable role in the latter half of the series when she kills a Germania spy. There’s hardly any development between that spy and her so most of their storytelling is easily forgettable. The main antagonist of the series is Berkman, a Major of a Germanian Special Unit. And oh boy, he is about as stereotypical as you can get out of a villain. Egoistic, manipulative, and cunning are just a few words to describe this man. The fact that he also has a secret weapon to counter against Izetta shows him as a sinister bastard.
One thing that does surprise me though is the quality of the visual production. Ajia-Do is practically an unknown studio that most are unfamiliar with. Their most recognizable work might as well be this one so it’s interesting to see how they took on this project. On the surface level, the series is beautiful with crisp animation. The landscapes and country-style feel gives a good impression of its setting. Furthermore, character designs is noticeable as it fleshes out Izetta being distinctive with her white dress and scarlet hair. Fine is noticeable for her beauty and classic blonde hair, fitting for a princess of her country. On most parts, the action has solid choreography without much jerky movements. Camera angles often capture the most intense parts of war that makes the show thrilling. Do note that there’s a bit of fan service that seems to have more fun with itself than it should.
When it comes to soundtrack, Shuumatsu no Izetta, Nagasaki Yukio seemed like a fitting choice for sound director. His most recent work from GATE shows his talent and brings it into this series. The fast pacing of the action combined with the elements of military warfare all seems to work with the instrumental music. The feel of the European style OST also brings credibility for the series’ setting. Finally, character voice acting is well performed for characters such as Fine with haughty personality, Bianca’s toughness, or Berkman’s arrogance.
How do I really sum this up? A massive disappointment or just a show to watch for the pure entertainment? To be fair, this show is probably not suitable for everyone. Fanatics of historical elements and war drama enthusiasts will probably find this series more entertaining than others. However, if you’re seeking for a well-rounded story, then this show will feel like one that dropped the ball. Not literally but just the type that makes you hope there’s so much more. Too bad really. read more
The fact that Japan was on Germany's side during WWII along with how we dropped nukes on them during said war really makes things uncomfortable whenever that country decides to dip their hands into alternate WWII fiction. Especially since they can't demonize the actual Germans, so they have to call them names like Germanians or Britanians or Americans (oh wait) whenever they have to portray actual antagonists. Germanians who are pretty damn fluent in Japanese for a country that wants the world to be ruled by the master race, but what do I know about alternate history? Well I may not know much, but I do know that if you want to show your child a good entry in that genre, Izetta: The Last Witch is better left in that bargain bin where you found it.
The show is centered on a young princess named Fine and her attempts to stop the evil Germanians from taking over her country on the eve of this war that shares the same name as the world-spanning conflict of the 1940s, but otherwise has no relation to it whatsoever. Because in addition to all the usual changes that are made to the history in order to make a WWII story fresh after it's been exploited by the entertainment industry like ten thousand times, we now have magic in this world. And I'm not talking about the cultish Hellboy/Conqueror of Shamballa/Maria the Virgin Witch religious magic, although it wouldn't surprise me if the writers of this show took inspiration from that. This one deals more with basic witchcraft, except witches use anti-tank rifles to fly around rather than brooms and can decimate entire armies in ways that an entire army of Jedi would cry foul at.
Said witchcraft takes the form of a young red-haired girl named Izetta, a witch-in-hiding who was saved by Princess Fine in the past, and now that they've both grown up, Izetta vows to use her magical powers to help Fine's kingdom win the war and launch a thousand yuri fanfictions in the process. However, the opposing Germanians are aware of the existence of witchcraft and vow to discover Izetta's weaknesses in order to tip the war back in their favor. From there, the show basically spreads itself out way too thin, trying to juggle multiple characters, viewpoints, and genres all at once. In theory, this means something for everyone. In practice, this means absolutely no one is satisfied.
See, I know Izetta got a lot of attention from anime fans upon initial watch because it dumped a lot of elements that people were intrigued by to the point that they were interested in what it might become over what it actually is. Every time I read an initial positive impression for this show, they never praised anything resembling actual story direction, always concentrating on individual scenes or characters who seem likable and all that stuff that sends out warning lights that the show is going to turn to shit within a few episodes like 99% of all anime out there. Although to be fair, I didn't expect the show to be as tonally inconsistent as it ended up being, dedicating entire episodes to the breast sizes of the females (because that's totally appropriate to talk about during wartime, isn't it?), only to shift to a no-name male soldier who ends up getting an early perish because he knew too much.
Since this is a war story, that means we have to sit through the usual boring "being a soldier is bad" storytelling with all the pointless deaths, men turning into monsters, and blablabla that I really hate about war fiction. But you know what's worse than a war story that throws out its elementary school-level cliches like we haven't heard them before? A war story that throws out its elementary school-level cliches, only to shortchange it with elementary anime cliches. I mean can someone explain to me why all the high-ranking soldiers that hang around Fine happen to be cute girls with big racks? Why exactly do I have to watch them trying to give Izetta a shower, and why exactly should I care about them getting their own episode when they have about as much impact on the plot as a malfunctioning cell phone? Didn't exactly help that the episode itself was just plain bad, focusing on them taking care of a male soldier who happened to be on the opposite side, and anyone who didn't see that ending coming has obviously never watched a war story in their life, and you should have picked a better one to start with.
The characters themselves are pretty generic. Fine is a headstrong princess who wants to serve her country and protect the people, and that philosophy isn't challenged at all during the show's runtime, making it hard to sympathize with any of the arbitrary struggles that she faces along the way. Izetta is pretty much defined by her devotion to her. Pretty much every other good guy is characterized the same way only they can't lift tanks. And the bad guys are pretty much characterized by either "kill the witch" or "die soldier die". Really, Fine is pretty much the only person who's in a position to spearhead the story, but because she doesn't take much action nor does she have her actions challenged, she's about as qualified to guide the viewer as she is to run the country in general. Just about the only thing she really cares about is risking her friends' lives, specifically Izetta's, on the battlefield - and the majority of what qualifies as her arc involves her making sure that her witch friend is safe whilst dealing with a war that outsiders shouldn't be involved in. That sort of relationship couldn't carry a two-hour movie by itself. Why on earth would it be able to carry twelve episodes?
As for the magic angle, I think Izetta was actively trying its best to make it as bland as possible, because it hits all the usual cliches you'd expect from an anime gimmick thrown into a generally serious situation. It has limits so the good guys don't get completely overpowered. It's used for generic slapstick that no one over the age of eight would find funny. After initial usage, it's never used with the same amount of efficiency again. Oh, and did I mention that the enemy side happens to have someone with similar powers? To which I respond with "how does that make any horse-fucking sense?". If they had someone on their side who could use magic, why would either the writers or the characters need to devote so much time to discovering Izetta's weaknesses in the first place when they can just send someone on her level who would definitely know how magic actually works in this world beforehand? And where the fuck did this girl come from anyways? I can't recall her ever being foreshadowed prior to her initial appearance in the last third of this show, so the only possible answer I can come up with was that even with the Germanians discovering her weakness, the writers didn't have an idea how to make a suitable final conflict so they threw Sophie in at the last minute.
One other way the magic in Izetta is misused is that the show ends up putting so much attention on the gimmick that it loses focus on the actual story that was initially hinted at at the very beginning. The final conflict is pretty much one big magic duel that has nothing to do with WWII and introduces a bunch of out-of-nowhere plot elements leading to a paint-by-numbers ending that makes Luke Cage's finale look like Fullmetal Alchemist's (either anime adaptation). I should point out that Izetta: The Last Witch is made by a newbie studio who I know nothing about, but apparently doesn't have any recognizable veterans amongst their ranks, because the animation in this show is absolute ass. Everything looks way too flat, the magic spells have no personality, and just about anybody could have directed this show. As such, don't expect that final conflict I mentioned to be a suitable payoff for all the mismanaged elements that came before. And if you're watching this show for the yuri, put away those virgin boners, because you're not gonna get much of a resolution out of that either.
There really isn't a single thing I can recommend Izetta: The Last Witch for. It only has one not-so-unique idea that's only on-screen like half the time at best, and it failed to make anything interesting happen with it when it bothered to show up. The show is cheap junk food: unfulfilling and you feel kind of weird after experiencing it, but you can't really describe why. My recommendation? Toss it into the same hellfire we threw Corpse Princess and that shitty Romeo x Juliet show and forget everything about its existence, just like we did with those shows.read more