Witch Craft Works – 11

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Ah, the Penultimate Final Battle Buildup Episode…we know them well. If there’s still a fair amount of information to convey to the audience, a PFBBE is the time to do it, so that there’s time for both the resolution of said final battle and a proper cool-down period that checks in on everyone one last time. Cram too much into the end, and the end can feel rushed and unsatisfying. We still consider the second episode to be the best of this series, and we’ve been legging it out in hope of a strong ending.

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After this week, we’d have to say there’s still a good chance of WCW pulling it off, since this PFBBE packs a lot of setup and exposition, identifying the final threat—Weekend will blow up all the people in the city if she doesn’t get Honoka—and fielding the force that aims to thwart her: Ayaka, drawing from Honoka’s power. Honoka’s little dreamworld excursion is suitably trippy, and Mikage-sensei provides enough info for us to get the jist.

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While there’s a lot of talking, there’s also a lot of fighting, first between Kasumi and one of Weekend’s underlings in another giant teddy battle, and we will state for the record we have officially seen enough giant teddy-fighting. We’re also a bit astounded at how ineffective Tanpopo’s crew is this week; they literally just stand around. Fortunately for them their master Medusa managed to escape from her captors and takes the enemy out with some badass petrification.

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As Honoka convalesces, Ayaka leaves him in Atori’s care (she talks through a puppet…HOW KOOKY.) and tries to take her “prey” Weekend on alone, but Weekend has been planning this op for more than a year, and has more than enough magic stowed away to repel her. It takes a feverish Honoka voluntarily going to Ayaka’s side (showing he’s been practicing his broomflying) to charge her back up. So the stage is set for the final battle. We wonder if the powerful Chronoire and/or Kazane will have anything to contribute to it, or if it’ll be strictly an Ayaka/Honoka-vs.-Weekend affair.

7_very_goodRating:7 (Very Good)

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Witch Craft Works – 10

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We asked last week if Weekend could keep the good guys on their toes for more than an episode, something no other villain in the show has been able to do as of yet. After the events of this week, the answer seems to be yes. This is an episode bustling with activity in which pretty much everyone is out of their comfort zone and has to improvise in the midst of all the chaos Weekend has caused.

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You have Rinon and the workshop witches trying to pick up the pieces and negotiate with Weekend, who has wrecked the city, injured several witches, and strapped bombs to others that will go off in a half-hour if they don’t bring Honoka to her. Kasumi has enlisted the aid of the Tower witches living in her house (who can still use magic, since they’re not Workshop), while Chronoire is pissed that her house is wrecked but intrigued by Weekend’s power and gets ready to face her.

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Meanwhile, after witnessing Weekends handiwork (for which Honoka briefly freaks out but then composes himself) Ayaka leads Honoka further below the city to its very core, which kinda resembles the Forest of the Deer God. In order to restore the good guys’ ability to use magic, Honoka himself must form a new contract with the city. On the way to the core (a pretty epic journey in its own right), they meet the stone golem witch Gibraltar, but Ayaka deals with her, not with magic, but with muscle, showing her mother taught her well.

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Honoka gets the magic flowing again just in time for Rinon & Co. to save the hostages, punch Weekend in the face, and capture her, and it looks like another bad guy has been foiled. But then Weekend reveals that, like Ayaka, she doesn’t rely on magic alone, using conventional grenades to blast her way out of her cell. She lost this week’s battle, but the war is still on, with both Kazane and Chronoire likely to enter the fray in the near future. This show’s in good shape to have a strong finish.

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Rating: 8 
(Great)

Witch Craft Works – 09

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Ayaka finally heeds Honoka’s insistence she teach him how to fight properly, unsealed seals or no. She throws him into a regime of unsuccessfully taming fire demons and being dropped off of skyscrapers, certainly run-before-he-can-walk situations. For his part, Honoka does conjure a gigantic translucent Ayaka in a nurse-miniskirt to catch him before he falls to his death. Doing so saps all of his magic, and he passes out; something we’ll call “amagica” (rather than anemia).

We also get a strange and very beautiful dream Ayaka used to have when she was younger, in which Honoka tells her they’ll be together, providing further evidence they were destined to be together, even though Honoka never saw it coming. Most gratifying about this episode, though, is that it finally ends without an enemy being easily defeated or becoming another mouth to feed in the Takamiya household. That’s right: the real leader of the Tower witches, “Weekend” (Hirano Aya) finally reveals herself and executes the scheme she’d been carefully preparing.

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She does so by rather cleverly neutralizing the town’s most powerful Workshop witch—Kazane, whose status as a Crafting/Workshop Witch means she’ll always put the protection of the townspeople ahead of all other considerations. When Weekend sets off massive explosions all over town, Kazane’s magic is drained saving the innocent from harm. By the time she’s all recharged, Weekend plans to be very far away with Honoka, the vessel for the Princess whose power she seeks. In crisis mode, the other Crafting Witches (including Rinon, interestingly) meet with Ayaka and Honoka in a lavish secret bunker

Here, the couple is promptly taken captive and thrown in a dungeon, ostensibly to keep them out of Weekend’s clutches until Kazane can recover. Weekend still finds them, but Ayaka uses her message plushie to blow a hole in the wall, and off they go. But as we said, Weekend isn’t simply brushed aside like previous threats. The battle to protect Honoka is far from over, and Ayaka remarks it will have to be fought without magic, at least for a time; an enticing prospect. Weekend may so far be your typical smug, aloof villain, but at least she’s got the good guys’ backs against the wall. We’ll see how long she can keep them there.

7_very_goodRating:7 (Very Good)

 

 

 

Witch Craft Works – 08

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Witch Craft Works pulls gracefully out of its nosedive with a solid episode in which we learn about Ayaka’s history and Honoka gets to stand on his own two feet, however briefly. The first part introduced Ayaka’s two middle school handlers, Hoodzuki Kanae (Taichi You) and Hio Touko (Asumi Kana) two decent sorts who, as Honoka will later, are persecuted for their closeness to the Princess. The present Ayaka may be an incredibly stoic individual, but she’s made a lot of progress since middle school, when she wouldn’t react to anyone or anything.

Kanae and Touko do what they can socialize her, and when the delinquents gang up on them, Ayaka raises their body temperatures, neutralizing the threat. We also enjoyed witnessing the genesis of her obsession with Honoka, staking out every middle school in the prefecture until she found him. The entire flashback is played off as Honoka’s dream as Ayaka lies in bed beside him; we return to a Takamiya residence in which Tanpopo and her four fellow Tower Witches are embraced as family. Considering how ineffectual they were at fighting Ayaka, it makes sense to go over to their side, though if they do end up stabbing her in the back, she’ll look as silly as she did standing like a statue on a tennis court as balls whizzed by.

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The present day situation, in which Honoka is student council president, deteriorates rapidly as n’er-do-well Otometachibana Rinon—a handful in name and in person—stages a revolution. Within minutes the school becomes a graffito-strewn den of chaos. But Honoka answers the challenge and faces Rinon one-on-one, successfully dodging her punch precisely when Ayaka tells him. Ayaka, hidden from the assembled students’ view by her cape, mops up. Student support for Honoka skyrockets after his “defeat” of Rinon. Rinon turns out to have been a mere pawn of the former president, who fed her lies to her about being assaulted and tossed aside by Honoka.

It was a plan she actually went over with Ayaka—whom she still adores—beforehand, in another flashback. The non-linear progression of the story, as well as the scale of chaos that went down and was just as quickly snuffed out, all contributed to what was a pleasantly rambunctious offbeat outing. More importantly, it successfully legitimized the notion that Honoka isn’t a useless wuss. After all, it takes strength to accept one’s weakness and dependence on stronger parties, while resisting the urge to wish for more power, which is readily available but will lead to the breaking of more seals.

7_very_goodRating:7 (Very Good)