Wandering Witch: The Journey of Elaina Review

I’ve done a few review posts for some past shows, but I thought I would turn my attention to something a little more recent. Fall 2020’s Wandering Witch: The Journey of Elaina was this close to being on my main Otaku Theater watch list. The reason I changed my mind, I think, was because despite […] The post Wandering Witch: The Journey of Elaina Review appeared first on TheOASG.

Wandering Witch: The Journey of Elaina Review
I’ve done a few review posts for some past shows, but I thought I would turn my attention to something a little more recent. Fall 2020’s Wandering Witch: The Journey of Elaina was this close to being on my main Otaku Theater watch list. The reason I changed my mind, I think, was because despite it being a long-running light novel series, I wasn’t entirely sure on what kind of show it would end up becoming. I had heard some stuff online that, despite what we initially see in the PVs, the story ends up going in another direction. Almost as if we are lulled into some false sense of security and cheerfulness not unlike what we got in Madoka Magica or Netflix’s Lost Song. Even while I was watching my Fall 2020 shows, my curiosity didn’t disappear, and I was itching to see what this was all about. Now here’s my chance to look at the show in full. I’ve only ever known the newbie studio C2C for Harukana Receive and Hitoribocchi, two recent shows that I really loved. The first was a cheerful and feel-good sports show that was a perfect summer season watch, while the other was something that blended funny schoolroom comedy with the more serious topic of social anxiety. So hearing that C2C might go down some offbeat fantasy route, after releasing both those shows, initially didn’t set right with me. As I said, curiosity really can be something… The show starts very strong. As a young child, Elaina looks up to Nike, a legendary witch who wrote a diary that acts like essential reading for up-and-coming witches. As she passes the academy with flying colors at a young age, local witches become extremely wary and reluctant to let her be their apprentice. It isn’t until a travelling witch, the Stardust Witch Fran, decides to welcome her in. Curiously, she doesn’t get into spells from day one, and this was something that got me hooked into the show straightaway; we see that there is much more to being a fully-fledged witch than just casting spells. Fran gets her doing chores around her treehouse, making meals, massaging shoulders, dealing with spiders in the bath, etc. As a young and naïve child, Elaina couldn’t understand why her teacher asked her for all of this, but as we watch her get slowly annoyed by all of these mundane chores, we understand why Fran does this: to test her patience and resilience. This made me think of The Karate Kid, and how Miyagi teaches Daniel defensive karate via doing dull chores like washing the car, painting the house, and sanding the floor. Not quite the same thing Fran is does here with Elaina, but this same patience and resilience that Daniel had to be shown is the same thing Elaina had. I could understand why some viewers immediately took to comparing The Journey of Elaina with Kiki’s Delivery Service. They both tell a story about a young witch who goes on a journey/pilgrimage and finds meaning in their lives. I, on the other hand, see something completely different. From episode 2 onwards, the show is told by ways of diary entries from Elaina, just as the light novels were. Looking up to this legendary witch who wrote an extensive book made her want to write her own one, you see. Each ‘story’ is very different, and is all told from Elaina’s point-of-view. An awful lot of things happen on this great journey of hers; some quite cute and fun, but others pretty dark and uncomfortable to watch. One thing I can say about Elaina is that while she is extremely sympathetic to a lot of people, and grows to mature extremely quickly (although perhaps that could be down to the fact that time moves so fast in the show), she can be quite full of herself sometimes – to the point of “you can praise me more”. The people she meets along the way (Fran, Saya, Sheila, etc.) all are very unique and also very human despite being witches, and that’s another great thing I like about the show. The more conventional and predictable attributes of a magical witch show mixed along with something wilder and even tragic. For instance, in episode 2 we meet Saya for the first time and we see she has a serious inferiority complex that drives her to steal Elaina’s magical brooch in order to get better at magic, and in turn forcing Elaina to stay so she won’t feel alone anymore. Crazier still, in the very next episode we get to see a border guard who has lost his younger sister become physically drawn to a neighboring flower field containing poisonous plants that eventually consumes him, with Elaina completely powerless to stop him. As episodes get wilder and more uncomfortable to watch, we can’t help but want to know what happens next. Both to Elaina, to the other main characters, and to everyone else she meets. Like for instance, the amnesiac princess seeking revenge on her father who had her lover executed. Or even stranger, the slave girl desperate for happiness, only for the story to give the hint that seeing all this happiness would turn her mad and even murderous. The pace of each episode can be a little strange to follow, however, and I worry this might be something that could put off the viewer. Diary entries/’stories’ do not always take up entire episodes, and can sometimes have 2 parts to it. This in turn means The Journey of Elaina has so many unique characters (main, secondary and fleeting) that we can’t always keep up with them all. This is just me nitpicking though; Elaina’s journey starts with her seeing life with fresh and naïve eyes, and moves on to her learning that being a witch can’t solve every problem in the world. It both motivates and frightens her, and we see this all first-hand. It really is enticing to see, watching Elaina ‘grow up’. I had previously watched a couple of episodes in the season it came out, and had given it an honorable mention, but after watching this properly, I really do regret not seeing it in full. The Journey of Elaina was something that would have definitely made my top 5 of 2020, had I chosen to stick with it for the duration. That is completely and entirely on me. A show with bright and colorful animation, outstanding character design, and a plot that grabs you and never lets go…shows like these don’t come along that often, but when they do, it’s a real treat. I knew that C2C was a newbie studio to keep an eye on, and this show only proves it. The post Wandering Witch: The Journey of Elaina Review appeared first on TheOASG.