Like a genderswapped otome game with a wicked sense of humor.
What They Say
Takamiya Honoka is just an average student who just so happens to sit next to Kagari Ayaka, the “Princess” of the school, and has never said a word to her. However, one day when Takamiya’s life is put in danger, Kagari arrives to his rescue dressed as a witch. It is revealed that Kagari is what is known as a Workshop Witch within the city and Takamiya is under her protection and shall henceforth protect him from any danger that ensues…
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Viewers are right to be skeptical of Witch Craft Works on first glance. Preview art shows what looks to be a typical harem, and our lead girl has breasts so massive it borders on the absurd. But fear not, for Witch Craft Works is not the awful harem it seems to be: It’s actually a shoujo otome game, with a kind of twist.
Main character Honoka is an unpopular kid at school who seemingly has no friends. Honoka is smitten with the coolest and most popular kid in school, Kagari, but whenever Honoka gets next to Kagari, Kagari’s fan club over-reacts and starts to bully Honoka. So it’s a big surprise when Kagari appears to favor the lonely Honoka, causing all of the girls in school to get incredibly jealous. When an evil witch attacks, the heroic Kagari protects “Princess” Honoka, and states that she has been sent to guard him. It’s a shoujo story we’ve been through countless times before, but this time, the helpless maiden is the hapless male character, and the popular, beloved hero is a girl.
The twist on the standard cliche isn’t the only thing Witch Craft Works has going for it, however. The show also has a surreal sense of humor to it. One of the thugs that beats up Honoka early on is named Obama, who shouts political slogans while delivering body blows. Kagari shares lunches with Honoka, and her sausage is carved not into a simple octopus, but a detailed phoenix. Another time Honoka is menaced, Kagari cleans him up by tying his necktie into a bow. Are these all displays of dominance, or just weird eccentricities of Kagari’s?
While the show relies a little too heavily on CG animation for my liking, the aesthetic taken from the original manga is very attractive. Despite her unfortunate bust, Kagari is like a refined, self-assured version of Sakaki from Azumanga Daioh. The evil witch Kagari fights this episode commands an army of clockwork bunnies, who are both cute and deadly. The episode ends with a five transfer students moving into Honoka’s class, and as we might expect, they are all witches, and they each look to have a different aesthetic and power. The ending theme itself is a surprise, with a sickly subversive twist that will either have you laughing or cringing.
There’s always one or two shows a season where preview material can be deceiving. Witch Craft Works at first glance appears to be yet another degrading harem series, but from the tone of this first episode, it’s clearly skewering that genre ever so slightly. For once, the male lead is the hapless gimmick thrown into a battle between powerful witches. It will be entertaining to see if the show’s cleverness holds up.
Streamed By: Crunchyroll
Review Equipment: Sony VAIO 17″ HD screen