With Witch Craft Works, Magical Warfare and Wizard Barristers all streaming via Crunchyroll this winter, there’s certainly no shortage of representation for the practitioners of magical arts at the moment. With three shows all hitting at once its suddenly become an all out (magical) war for the attention of the viewers, with each series vying to carve out its own unique little niche from the legal shenanigans of Wizard Barristers to the throw-it-all-at-the-wall-and-see-what-sticks approach of Magical Warfare. So, let’s take a quick look at what this series from the prolific J.C. Staff can bring to the party.
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before – Takamiya is your everyday high school boy (cliché count: 1) with no discernable special traits that would make him stand out in any way (cliché count: 2). Unbeknownst to him, he does in fact hide a secret (cliché count: 3), a secret which will drag him into a war waged beyond the sight of regular people (cliché count: 4) by forces of powerful witches. Takamiya’s classmate Kagari Ayaka is the schools idol (cliché count: 5) who also happens to be a powerful witch (cliché count: 6) that's been tasked with guarding him (cliché count: 7) from the evil (probably) Tower Witches who want to obtain his ‘white stuff’ (cliché count: 8 – well, if you’ve ever seen any hentai it’s a cliché anyway). This for Takamiya becomes a double-edged sword, for whilst it will drive him to a decision to learn magic himself (cliché count: 9) it also earns him the ire of the entire school, who hate him for monopolising the time of their idol (cliché count: 10). Rivalling our dynamic duo are a nonet (thus far anyway) of Tower Witches who attack them at every opportunity along with a variety of evil minions (cliché count: 11) including an army of mechanical bunnymen and a giant crocodile that drinks tea (cliché count:....okay, actually that one’s pretty original).
From that synopsis you may possibly be getting the impression that Witch Craft Works isn’t very original but to be fair that’s not entirely the case, no more than a lot of shows these days anyway. The thing is that it doesn’t do much in any way that makes it stand out all that much. In fact when it came to writing this review I was sorely tempted to write the word ‘generic’ in a large font and leave it at that. Whilst there are a few moments of brilliance within the series, such as the aforementioned crocodile or the character designs of the baddie Tower Witches (not to be confused at all with the goodie Workshop Witches – naming things clearly not being one of the original author's strong suits....) which are really fun; they just aren’t enough and frankly without marathoning the episodes you’ll likely have a hard time remembering much of what happened last time.
Aside from some neat character designs here and there the whole thing stinks of being made on the cheap, with uninspired animation and CG effects that would have looked cheap and nasty in a 1980s straight to video movie. The fire effects in particular are abysmally bad, with the fire not seeming to have been integrated into the accompanying scene at all! Admittedly J.C.Staff have a mixed back catalogue but one would have thought that a studio capable of the likes of A Certain Magical Railgun, Nodame Cantabile and the like would at least tend towards the upper end of average visually. The one area where this isn’t the case is in the ending credits - these feature not only an addictive song (Witch Activity by KMM-dan) but also an utterly hilarious set of visuals featuring the series' villainous Tower Witches being submitted to all of the classic witch tortures as they sing along with deadpan expressions. When Witch Craft Works is dead and forgotten this end sequence will surely live on to prove it existed!
Witch Craft Works is by no means a bad series, but it literally brings nothing noteworthy to the table. Whilst you’ll likely be happy enough to have it playing on the TV you’ll likely find your attention quickly wandering away as you remember that it’s been a few weeks since you really gave that silverware a good polish...
With some stellar shows starting to come out of the pack this season, this one certainly doesn’t deserve a place on your viewing schedule.
You can currently watch Witch Craft Works in streaming form via Crunchyroll.
Japanese audio with English subtitles. Video is available in 360p, 480p, 720p and 1080p resolutions; HD formats and removal of advertisements available to paid subscribers.