Wizard Barristers: Benmashi Cecil – 05

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As is usually the case with these kinds of shows, WizBar chronicles the daily lives and trials of magical people who are really just people if you take away their magical abilities, but parallel to that, and somewhere either up in the stratosphere of those daily lives (or down in the subterra), Big Bad People Planning Big Bad Plots With Their Big Bad Organization. It should come as no suprise that with WizBar, as with the various Index/Railgun series, we prefer the former to the latter.

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So far, we’ve only gotten bits and pieces of the “background plot”, but they seem to be steadily gaining momentum, as well as Cecil’s awareness of them. But this week the spotlight is thankfully on the daily lives part. One of the great things about a series that takes place in a law firm is that, unlike a police department where you have more-or-less long-term partners, there’s a lot more mixing and matching of barristers as the case dictates.

That brings us to the first matching up of 17-year-old go-getter Cecil with the 86-year-old Kamakiri Tobirou, and it’s an inspired pairing. He’s as comfortable standing still as Cecil is uncomfortable standing still. But the case, in which a member of the rival law firm Shark has been indicted for murdering a bowling alley manager with a knife, is something of a mystery, and diligent observation and investigation are required to prove his innocence.

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Predictably, in thefirst couple days of her pairing Cecil is convinced Kamakiri isn’t taking the case seriously and is actually hampering her progress, to the point she asks her boss for a new partner. Witnessing this, Hotaru, who is a very interesting character in that she’s the only one still not entirely sold by Cecil’s prowess, tells the lilac-haired upstart get over herself. And as we thought he would, Kamakiri turns out to be doing a lot more than Cecil thought, and essentially ends up cracking the case while she’s sleeping.

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The old man is a great “process disrupter” to Cecil, showing that her way isn’t always the best way, and that she still has a lot to learn about solving crimes, defending clients, and court theatricality. Regarding that last aspect of the job, Kamakiri fakes a stroke at the trial when asked if he used magic to acquire evidence. Even better, he didn’t tell Cecil about it, so her reaction would be genuine. The show will be hard-pressed in improving on the dynamic between these two barristers, but we look forward to the attempt to do so. A pairing of Cecil and Hotaru, for instance, could be interesting.

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Wizard Barristers: Benmashi Cecil – 04

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This week Cecil wrestles with her entirely understandable and justified reservations with defending a Wud serial killer who not only murdered fifteen wizards, but by all accounts thoroughly enjoyed doing so. Thus the show brings up the concept of universal versus personal justice: regardless of a wizard’s crime, it’s the duty of a Wizard Barrister to defend them to the fullest extent of the law, countering the prosecution’s efforts.

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Chouno Ageha can understand Cecil’s reticence, but has no intention of sugar coating the profession they’re in, no matter how young and inexperienced she is, Cecil has to understand that some clients are monsters, and even monsters have rights. That’s the law, and as long as it is, Ageha will always defend the accursed, even when their threats and crimes become personal. In this case, they win life imprisonment and remanding to a psych facility due to the accused’s dissociation personality disorder, which his twin brother attests to. Of course, the moment we saw the accused’s twin brother, we just knew he’d turn out to be another bad guy.

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We’re a little disappointed that Cecil lets herself get lured into a giant dark chamber where there’s no metal to form Diaboloids; one would hope such a talented wizard would know the limitations of her powers and mind her surroundings accordingly. Not to mention she went off on her own once she learned the truth, which was just plain dumb. This episode underlined that no matter how bright and driven and talented Cecil is, without the last-minute intervention of her colleagues, she’d have been killed at least five times in four episodes already.

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Mind you, we kinda enjoy the fact that even when she finds out the bad guys’ evil scheme, her fallibility is exposed in how she acts in response to the knowledge. There’s also the distinct feeling that confrontations with her are being set up in an effort to awaken more of her powers (this week she gets sand magic), which, combined with the twin’s knowledge of her condemned mom, suggests Cecil is being targeted for some dread purpose she (and we) know not what. We for one hope Cecil tries to learn more about her “admirers” and perhaps plan the appropriate countermeasures.

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Wizard Barristers: Benmashi Cecil – 03

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WizBar’s appeal for us isn’t merely the fact that they spice up the otherwise relatively dry arena of law with wizards and magic, but the fact that those wizards aren’t wholly accepted members of society. We learn that wizards (or rather “Wuds”) are born human but “awaken” to their power, typically around puberty. In other words, they don’t have a say in the matter, and it could happen to anyone.

Despite this, due to their frightening powers, much of society is heavily prejudiced towards them. Wuds aren’t even allowed to have certain jobs, which is why after Hachiya Mitsuhisa awakened, he was discharged as a prosecutor and took up barristering. Every indication is that the community of Wuds needs all the help they can get to avoid getting a raw deal in the very draconian magic justice system.

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Cecil became a barrister primarily to save her mom from unjustice, but in this outing she learns just how difficult that task will be. Even if the prejudice of non-magical people didn’t lead to trumped-up charges and excessive sentences, there are Wuds who are so sick and tired of how shittily they’re treated that they resort to becoming the very monsters their detractors fear.

Lacking solid evidence that Mayu, the Wud in question, killed her victim to avenge her framed boyfriend (whom Hachiya prosecuted two years ago, before he became a Wud), she is spared the death penalty. Rather than celebrate, she uses the verdict to put the court itself on trial for hypocrisy and incompetence, and racked with guilt, Hachi releases her bindings so she can carry out her sentence on him.

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Only she wants to kill everyone there. What’s so tragic is that she not so consumed with grief and hatred towards her enemies, she might’ve lived long enough to reveal to Cecil the secret conspiracy she’s caught wind of, one that’s been hanging out on the fringes of this show all along, and further hinted at when Cecil is approached by two skeezy headhunters from a rival firm.

Cecil continues to have quite an eventful time as a new barrister, to the point that just her second trial results in her awakening to an all-new form of magic. There’s Something Going On; there’s a prophecy involving Cecil, and parties in the shadows that are interested in her. It’s another layer of what’s shaping up to be a rich and satisfying tapestry.

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Wizard Barristers: Benmashi Cecil – 02

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As big and bold as the first episode was, Cecil’s job was only half-done: she had to save her client from wrongful prosecution and execution, which meant proving he wasn’t a member of the robbery gang and acted in self-defense. And while Cecil is a very capable, driven young lady, even she can’t acquire that proof on her own.

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It’s a team effort, with a sizable assist by Ageha, who seems quite comfortable bending or breaking a couple laws to get the location of the gang’s hideout. And while she seems troubled by such misconduct, with a life in her hands, Cecil isn’t going to sweat the little things. We also learn that her mom is also on death row, and her ultimate goal is to successfully defend her in a retrial.

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The first episode gave us a brief glimpse of her metal-harvesting diaboloid powers, but this week, with the entire Tokyo waterfront as her battlefield, Cecil conjures a massive mecha that she pilots. You might say: what the heck does a lawyer need with a mecha? Well, breaking it out means the gang responds in kind, and once they have a witness in custody, he is the proof that sets her client free in the eleventh hour.

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Collateral damage and ethical shortcuts aside, Cecil gets the job done, but we like how she has yet to win everyone over in the firm, while also attracting the gaze of shadowy figures in her line of work she’s sure to cross paths with in the future. But for now we’ll bask in her first victory, making her 1-0—undefeated so far!—delivered with a plucky blend of giant-robot fighting and courtroom drama.

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Wizard Barristers: Benmashi Cecil – 01

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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).

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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.

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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.

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