I don’t consider myself a big war buff or anything of the sort, but I’ve found myself to rather enjoy anime set around wars. From something right on the front lines like the Macross franchise to war just being a prevalent backing like So Ra No Wo To, war is a theme that anime tends to execute very well and has created some fantastic shows with war as a central theme. Naturally, I was very excited going in for Shuumatsu no Izetta, or “Izetta the Last Witch”, and the first episode has definitely not disappointed for me. There are a lot of things that this first episode does right and a lot of ways the show could set itself as one of the underdog hits of the season.
In a slightly-altered representation of 20th century Europe, war breaks out in the year 1939 C.E. The imperialist nation of Germania launches a sudden blitzkrieg invasion on the neighboring country of Livonia. War breaks loose within the European continent as the Germanian military begins sweeping across and conquering several different countries within Europe. As Germania grows in power and conquers the powerful nation of Thermidor, it sets its sights on a small Alpine duchy to its south, Eylstadt.
This is where our story begins as the crown princess of Eylstadt, Fine, being hunted by the Germanian military aboard a train passing through a neutral country. As she and her bodyguards flee from the encroaching military forces, they discover a strange coffin-like device towards the train’s rear. Forced into a corner by the Germanian military, the three are forced to leap from the train into a nearby lake, with Tobias, one of the guards, dying from gunshot wounds during the chase. Later, as Fine attempts to negotiate with a Britannian leader for their assistance against the Germanians, it is revealed that the Germanian assault on Eylstadt has already begun and Fine is captured by the military. As Fine is about to be executed, the coffin-like device explodes, taking the plane with it as a young girl emerges from within. Wielding magical powers and riding a rifle like a witch’s broom, she rescues Fine who reveals that the young girl is a girl named Izetta and that the two seem to know each other.
The story of Izetta had me instantly hooked from the beginning. The comparisons to World War II were nothing new from a storytelling perspective, but the show has an interesting feel to it, combining war with elements of magic. Intrigue and mystery abounds within the show as the first episode sets up several plot points from very early within the episode, with the war overtaking Europe mixing with magical elements and the mystery behind Izetta and why the Germanians were carrying her.
Production for Izetta is being handled by the animation studio, Ajia-Do. While Ajia-Do has been in the industry for over 20 years, they’ve never really seen much success or any highly-regarded series. Nevertheless, animation for the first episode was pretty, flashy, and very high-quality. The backdrops were detailed and each setpiece really captured the feel of the environment it was trying to display.
For me, the staff and cast of Izetta is where the show likely shows the most promise. Direction for Izetta is being handled by Masaya Fujimori. While not heading any main portions of a big name series, he has been involved with several extensions of popular franchises, such as serving as Director for the first Fairy Tail movie and Animation Director for the Inuyasha movie Affections Touching Across Time.
Leading the Sound Direction for Izetta is Yukio Nagasaki. While he was involved with sound direction for several well-loved shows such as Beck and Gatchaman Crowds, I personally love him for his work in the Love Live franchise, which features some of my favorite sound direction in anime. Izetta looks to live up to my high standards as the OST was beautifully arranged with particular highlights coming during the train-top escape scene and Izetta’s appearance near the end of the episode.
Heading up Series Composition in Izetta is Hiroyuki Yoshino, another director with several well-liked titles under his belt. Yoshino has worked on several highly-regarded series such as Macross F, the previously mentioned So Ra No Wo To, and serving as Assistant Series Composition for the highly-praised second season of Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion.
Should You Watch It?
I personally would definitely recommend you give Shuumatsu no Izetta a try. From the outset, the character designs are beautiful and the characters themselves are charming and each has their own unique qualities to help them stand out within the show. The show has a lot of potential to set up some interesting storylines and could be a sleeper hit of the Fall season. Fine is a very dynamic, forward main character, so seeing how she handles each event and twist of the show will be very interesting to me as a viewer. Definitely try not to pass over this one, it could just be a knock-out.