It’s too early to tell (Witch Craft Works was also immensely promising in its first two eps) but we may have chosen to watch the wrong magic-themed show this Winter! Wizard Barristers (which we’ll refer to as WizBar for the rest of this review) storms out of the gate with a bold and bodacious opening episode with a little bit of everything. It’s high on style, accompanied by enough substance to hold our interest and leave us eager to watch episode two.
First of all, we must explain why we’re approximately three months late with this review: we weren’t aware of its existence—or at least in its existence as a show we’d want to watch—until it was recently recommended by a friend. We also dove in knowing that Umetsu Tasuomi is an immensely capable director (even when he has to insert hentai in his works) and that scriptwriter Itou Michiko is responsible for a lot of stuff we’ve liked (Working!!, Moretsu Pirates).
This show also gives us a sneak-peek of Tanabe Rui, who will be voicing a main character in an upcoming Spring series. She attains a nice balance of cuteness, confidence, idealism and intensity as half-Canadian rookie wizard barrister Cecil Sudou. Her introductions at the Butterfly Law Firm serve as our introductions to the eclectic legal staff, whose opinions on Cecil range from admiration to haughtiness.
But as she’s already brought in a client before setting foot in the office (snagging him at the crime scene where he’s arrested), senior partner Ageha Chouno forgives her tardiness and lets her take the case. We’ll admit to being fans of law procedurals from Law & Order to Boston Legal, so it’s great to see the genre represented in anime form, and with a magical twist.
An important part of enjoying a show is liking the characters it throws at you, and our initial impressions of Cecil are very positive. She’s bright-eyed and bushy-tailed; an immensely talented legal prodigy still getting accustomed to life as an adult that we can’t help but root for. We also appreciated the show pulling out all the stops from the get-go, featuring a Die Hard film’s worth of action and ‘splosions.
But we’re not under any illusions things will be that intense every episode. Despite that, we’re definitely going to continue watching. While both shows are heavy on the oddly-dressed people, the world of WizBar has a decidedly more mature and serious feel to it than the more Candy Landish-Witch Craft Works, and even minor criminals have a dangerous edge to them. We figure by about the fourth episode, we’ll know if in fact, we watched the wrong magic show.