I’ve just finished watching the last episode of Izetta, the one show that so far I’ve managed to watch from 2016’s fall season, although at this rate any future ones I watch will be watching something retro – so spoilers for everything abound). Overall, what I thought of it? I must admit I was attracted by the main character’s name and the alternate history bit so I want to say it was better than it was but it certainly wasn’t perfect, yet it’s better than the reviews of disappointment I’ve seen. I think its worst crime is that it was confused on tone and even then I don’t think it’s the worst example of that, the light, fluffy, faux-lesbian bits were heartwarming and enjoyable, the dark bits were grim reminders of the horrors of war, when it went from one to the other it was a little jarring but both sides were okay. I was not so keen on most of the villains, who were hammy and a little boring through having faces that looked obviously evil. Berkman and Ricelt aside and the former ended up switching while the latter looked like he might have had he survived.
The first episode, The Beginning Of The War, was the strongest so let’s go from there, this being where the potential was laid out. Finé’s on the run from the notGermans and has two loyal bodyguards defending her, train chase scenes and subsequent talking in theatres making it feel really Bond and therefore quite exciting. And the notBritish ambassador’s regret that they cannot help notLiechtensteinTyrolia as Germania has already started roflstomping the alpine peasants is sad but true to political intrigue so points for that. Then the titular Izetta enters the picture, awoken by some magical wisps of light and Finé’s title-reciting. She destroys the plane, mounts a huge gun like a witch’s broomstick and swoops down to save Finé. That was good.
I quickly realised the show wasn’t going to be as good as that solid opening episode promised though, Izetta is very cute and sweet and well-meaning (as she shoots down Germanian planes) but it quickly becomes apparent that this key part of her character is the only part of her character and as much as I hate to say it about a character I have to like because she’s cute and her name is halfway close to mine, she’s not all that interesting beyond that. We do get The Sword In The Heavens that is half about the horrors of war, particularly one where a brutal invader is coming for some less well-off people (including Eylstadtian generals look like they feel bad about having to throw lives away), but this is changed when Izetta enters the fray using magical lances and swords to destroy tanks and it is glorious. The first instance of this is glorious. Unfortunately, and I don’t know how they could have changed it, it doesn’t become more interesting seeing her walk all over Germanian forces.
And the next episode, The Secret Of The Witch, brings on the fanservice and more cute girls who are not what this show needed at this point, far too much lewdity than before with Izetta’s boobs being free game for lots of people at the castle, particularly the publisher. But at least we get some development about the White Witch not being so good. There’s more playing for politics as they look to keep Izetta’s limitations of power secret. And that continues to the next episode and is mostly good, more political intrigue is always good. There’s a plot development of how they fake Izetta’s power with well-timed earthquakes at a mountain pass, that came together pretty well. Berkman starts to figure out some things, as I’d expect him to, he is a bit too clever for his own good but this isn’t the worst part. The worst part of A False Miracle is the kid Jonas overhearing people who should really have known better, talking in the middle of nowhere where any random asshole fishing for family photos could hear them. He could have been a Germanian spy.
And that’s exactly what happens in the next episode, after a mostly fun episode of cute stuff (cunningly called ‘On A Quiet Day…’ to throw people off), we get the sudden tone-shift of Sieg executing an ally because he cannot risk the information getting out. Jonas was stupid and it was necessary but damn.
They launch a new attack on a battlecruiser with Izetta still not showing enough character beyond really really really wanting to protect her Archduchess and her people.
The next episode, A Cruel Fairy Tale, is probably the best of the mid-season, because it focuses on Ricelt, who looks like he might switch sides (particularly as his character design is in a style more commonly used for heroic characters) or at least has an infatuation with Bianca, you see most of the episode from his perspective, worrying about the side characters in Eylstadt that we’ve also come to appreciate and he comes across rather heroic for someone who is a bad guy, so much that you almost think he won’t go through with his mission. And it’s genuinely hard to take when he inevitably gets killed because of the mission he has to carry out (and his dying success also invalidates Jonas’ death and makes it that much more sad). That’s good. What’s not good about this episode is that it introduces Sophie, who takes over the last lot of episodes far too much with her hammy evilness and desire for revenge, I’ve seen that far too much. Even if it does make sense with the fairy tale ending revealed, I was not excited by that development. There also was a bit about Izetta being threatening to Atlanta but that never really came to anything in the end.
I have in my notes that in episode 9, The Sellun Corridor Burns, that Izetta just continues to be ‘I love my hime-sama’ and nothing else which I suppose is accurate for most of the story but is especially pronounced here as it’s now three-quarters of the way through and very little else about her has emerged. I must have been getting frustrated. Even though she’s my favourite character in this, that’s because it’s hard to resist someone who comes across as cute and willing to help as her. We get a bit of backstory about Sophie which I’m not really interested in, and then suddenly Eylstadt is outmaneuvered, everything is hopeless and everything you ever love destroyed. The anime cannot decide on tone and so goes for these sudden switches. The next episode does little for me except to reveal that Izetta is only 15, meaning she gets a second character trait. All joking aside, the last few episodes do build stronger on her character but it’s too little too late.
Finé, the episode, is strong, as we get Izetta finally forced to make a choice with a huge cost to save her hime-sama (who was getting ready to surrender with Eylstadtian soldiers murdered right in front of her), she’ll live much shorter. We also get the pleasing shot of Berkman turning face and killing an SS officer who managed to impress me in having only half an episode to be repulsive and more of an effective villain than either the Germanian king or Sophie had been this entire time.
There’s a good conversation between Sieg and Berkman comparing and contrasting them. Then we find out that witch nukes are now a thing because that was the next logical step, I guess. Izetta then stands up for herself and DEMANDS that she be allowed to take the dangerous mission to stop it. But has a nice witch moment with Finé first. In that she learns to say Finé’s name and hopefully respect her as an equal instead, if this character growth had come half a season earlier, I’d find this a much better anime! And you know what, I’m glad that Izetta survived in the end considering this, if she had sacrificed herself for everyone else (but principally Finé, come on) after that moment in episode 11 it would have been as bad as Shirou and his constant self-sacrificial attitude except Izetta actually went through with it (having said that UBW is leagues ahead of this). But here she obviously found a way to save herself, drawing on enough magic to keep her protected from the explosion and find a way to the ground – yet still bearing a cost of lessened lifespan I imagine.
So yes, last episode, Sieg dies after finding a Jonas brother in the Germanian army (sometimes the shots are so open you must take them), half a full-circle death, half disappointing for one of the cleverest characters in this anime, Berkman manages to survive in the end because… I don’t know, there was no real point to him surviving. He should have died. Izetta and Sophie’s final battle was pretty good, drawing all the magic out of the world and making sure Sophie went back to the oblivion where she belonged, I thought they had killed off Izetta for a while and initially I thought that was good but as I’ve said above, I think it’s okay in this circumstance for her to survive – the show is mixed in tone but I also think that would have been too jarring – I’m mixed on whether she survives or not, it doesn’t harm the show either way I think, there are bigger issues at stake.
Overall, I’ve given Izetta a 6/10, and yes, that is coincidentally rated ‘Fine’ on My Anime List. It had some good moments that I enjoyed and some chills, mostly related to the world of alternate history,that I’ve written a separate post about, or Izetta being cute, and was a half-grounded realistic depiction of WW2 but it had some gaping problems in the plot’s villains, keeping the same tone for five minutes straight, and too much fanservice to be any better. But I still enjoyed going through it, so a slightly above half-score.