Izetta: The Last Witch is an alternate Earth anime that takes place in the fictional alpine country of Eylstadt at the dawn of World War 2. Our titular character is the last surviving member of a clan of witches who swore to not intervene in mankind’s fate in any way after one of their numbers turned the course of a similar war long in the past. This witch came to be known as the White Witch of Eylstadt, and has become a legend and a symbol to the country.
Fast forward to the current era, and Izetta is the last of her people, and the last descendent of that legendary witch. When war threatens Eylstadt, and nobody else seems willing or able to help Eylstadt against Germania, Finé – Crown Princess Ortfiné Fredericka von Eylstadt to be specific – is reunited with Izetta, who she met and befriended at a young age… and Izetta faces a difficult situation. Does she respect her late Grandmother’s wishes and honour what her clan long ago swore, or does she protect her dear friend and enter into what will later become known as a World War.
As with most alternate world historical shows, there is a bit of a disconnect that can prove jarring. The slightly shifted version of reality, the weird combinations of naming conventions and language, and the strange assortment of traditions can lead to a feeling of almost disorientation. For example, it was somewhat weird seeing Finé’s people address her as ‘Finé-sama’ when nobody in the equation is Japanese. Fortunately, they change enough that it never quite made me feel like things were completely out of place… but it definitely came close.
Setting that aside though, Izetta had a few really fascinating characters. While there were some members of the cast who felt a bit akin to the ‘walking extremes’ I disliked in Fate/Zero, the majority of the cast were fairly well rounded characters. The protagonists had this fascinating friendship that I really enjoyed watching develop. The struggles that Finé and Izetta went through trying to weigh their friendship against their responsibilities was quite interesting. There weren’t a whole lot of characters you cared about, though, and the show had a tendency to build up a side character for too short a time before giving them what was supposed to be a big emotional moment. Since the characters were still fairly new, the attachment needed for the type of impact they were going for simply wasn’t there. Fortunately, Finé and Izetta were all the show really needed, and the rest of the characters being largely inconsequential didn’t really hurt it much.
Character development aside though, Izetta: The Last Witch is, at its core, a war show – and no war show would be complete without battles. While 40s technology is really no match for magic, it certainly was fun to watch Izetta singlehandedly tear apart platoons using her unique variant on telekinesis. All while riding a giant gun like a broom. And in the later parts of the show, they build off that to create some pretty interesting battle sequences. The action isn’t exactly the best I’ve ever seen, but it was entertaining, it was unique, and it had a very distinct visual flair that I found myself very drawn to.
Overall, I enjoyed Izetta a lot more than the first episode made me think I would. Alternate reality World War 2 is often a recipe for disaster, regardless of medium. Yet Izetta pulls it off fairly well, and ends up in a pretty good place overall. It has a good mix of action and character building and it is definitely quite pretty. There are some flaws that kept it from achieving greatness, but it is definitely a good show.