“We must be the great arsenal of democracy…I believe that the Axis powers are not going to win this war. I base that belief on the latest and best of information.” —Franklin D. Roosevelt
In an alternate history where the Empire of Germania begins a war of conquest for the European continent. Seeking to capture the small country of Eylstadt, Germanian forces capture princess Ortfiné “Finé” Fredericka von Eylstadt with the aim of using her as a bargaining chip, but inadvertently awaken a Witch, Izetta. Her promise and friendship to Finé unforgotten, she promises to help protect Princess Finé and defend Eylstadt, demonstrating the nature of her powers against advancing Germanian forces at Coenenberg and Single-handedly turning the tide of battle. This is a reasonable and succinct account for what’s occurred in Shuumatsu no Izetta (English, Izetta: The Last Witch) thus far, another one of this season’s historical-fantasy anime. Three episodes in, Shuumatsu no Izetta has proven to be quite entertaining, but is also strikingly familiar: the previous historical-fantasy I beheld was Valkyria Chronicles, which similarly involved a large empire invading a small nation amidst a continent-wide war, as well as supernatural beings with the ability to influence the outcome of a battle on their own. However, Shuumatsu no Izetta‘s world is more similar to our own, as opposed to the greater number of fictional elements seen in Valkyria Chronicles — Junkers dive bombers and Panzer IIIs can be seen, along with real-world anti-tank rifles. The question then becomes: how does the quasi-realistic setting contribute to Shuumatsu no Izetta‘s enjoyment factor?
The answer is a simple one: so far, the opening shots of a war and the inclusion of a magical girl equivalent of John-117 or the Doom Slayer have come together to create an intriguing universe. Finé herself strives to play a greater role in maintaining her country’s security as it becomes entangled in conflict, hesitating to ask her friend to fight on her behalf, while Izetta, longing to aid Finé as gratitude for accepting her when no one else would, wishes to play a greater role in defending Eylstadt even if it means using her magic with lethal consequences. Three episodes in, the main theme in Shuumatsu no Izetta has yet to be presented, but all of the aspects shown thus far together suggest that audiences are likely to be in for an interesting showing this season as all of the different aspects in both Finé and Izetta’s character come into play, in conjunction with the larger war at hand. Without the might of Roosevelt’s Arsenal of Democracy and a Witch in its place, the journey to see Elystadt liberated will definitely be one I follow keenly for this season.
Screenshots and Commentary
- I never thought I’d be watching, much less writing about Shuumatsu no Izetta. This additional series comes courtesy of Jusuchin of Right Wing Otaku, who’s concurrently writing about Shuumatsu no Izetta with Brave Witches. Curiosity soon took hold, and I decided to check out the first episode. What I saw was something that impressed me sufficiently for me to pick it up, so I’ll now be watching this one alongside Brave Witches and Hibike! Euphonium.
- Ortfiné “Finé” Fredericka von Eylstadt (center) is the princess and last heir to the throne in the nation of Eylstadt. Honourable and determined are two adjectives that capture her spirit: despite being of nobility, Finé is not hesitant to risk death for her country’s sake, standing in contrast with the sort of courage deficiency seen in other cases. At the start of Shuumatsu no Izetta, she and her guards are on a train trying to evade Germanian forces.
- There’s actually no point in me having this screenshot here beyond the purposes perhaps amusing those who read this post, and in fact, I probably could have included another screenshot with military hardware such that it could be discussed in greater detail. With respect to military hardware, Battlefield 1‘s launch is this Friday, and having seen the footage for the campaign, as well as the multiplayer maps, I’m rather excited to see where the game goes.
- While I’m very curious to try out Battlefield 1, I’m not sure if it’ll be in my pocketbook’s best interest to purchase the game; poor exchange ranges mean that I’ll need to shell out eighty dollars for a standard edition, rather than sixty. Of course, if an opportune sale occurs, I’m almost certain to buy Battlefield 1, and in the meantime, may purchase one month of EA Access to play the trial. Returning to Shuumatsu no Izetta, I introduce the antagonists. Belkman (left) and Rickert (right) are two Germanian characters, who are, according to documentation, cites the former as the primary antagonist holding the rank of major, and Rickert is is assistant.
- Blitzkrieg is utilised by Germanian forces to great effect in Shuumatsu no Izetta: Junkers Ju 87 (Stuka) dive bombers are used here to soften targets before ground forces arrive. The German techniques in blitzkrieg made use of a combination of close air support in conjunction with armour and infantry. These high-speed tactics allowed German forces to avoid stalemate and overwhelm an enemy prepared to fight static warfare as seen in World War I, and while effective, historians debate whether or not blitzkrieg can formally be considered a tactic.
- Against the Eylstadt ground forces, the Germanian forces roll through the countryside unopposed and regard the resistance as a mere nuisance. The start of their campaign is quite similar to Russia’s ground invasion of Estonia in Tom Clancy’s Command Authority, where T90s begin a campaign to smash alleged terrorist positions. After American Apaches and their Hellfire missiles intervene, the Russians withdraw their forces on short order. No such support exists for Eylstadt at this point, and as such, they rapidly begin losing ground.
- After her capture at an opera while discussing with Britannian Lord Redford to gain their support in the war to repel the Germanian forces, Finé is captured. She had considered marriage with Prince Henry to consolidate her position, illustrating her commitment to Eylstadt. Here, she clashes with her Germanian captors in an aircraft noted to be carrying materials of great importance, along with a capsule with a certain individual inside.
- After awakening, the Witch Izetta commanders one of the anti-tank rifles (identified to be a PTRS-41, a Russian model firing an 14.5 x 114mm AP round with a five-round magazine), bewitches it to fly and realises that Finé has fallen. Making haste to save Finé, she is overjoyed to be reunited once more with her. Although anti-tank rifles were widely used following the introduction of the first tanks in World War One, improving armour meant these weapons became obsolete by the Korean War.
- The function of anti-tank rifles have diverged into two families of weapons, anti-materiel rifles, and man-portable anti-armour weapons. Although incapable of outright destroying a tank, they can be used to immobilise or damage tank components sufficiently to render them mission-incapable. After she’s saved Finé from falling to her death, a squadron of Germanian aircraft soon arrive, forcing Izetta to engage them. She utilises this boomstick as a broomstick, and the story behind why witches are commonly associated with brooms are discussed in an earlier post about Flying Witch.
- Izetta’s magic is decidedly more visceral than those of Makoto’s, matching the spells of Harry Potter in terms of effectiveness. It appears that she can transmute blood into different elemental effects and here, uses it to drive ice shards through one of the pursuing aircraft. In games, such as Ragnarok Online, World of Warcraft and even Elder Scrolls: Skyrim, I’ve never been too fond of ice elemental attacks, preferring fire and lightning builds for my mages.
- After returning to the ground, Izetta discards the anti-tank rifle and resolves to save Finé. They soon run into a battalion of dejected Eylstadt soldiers, and Finé is taken in to recover. I remark that, although this post may have its usual twenty images, it was a considerable challenge to pick and choose. Ultimately, I went with a combination of combat and character moments: this is an anime where the fight sequences are worthy of mention, so the combat is better watched than read about on a blog such as this.
- Another element I’ve come to enjoy deeply in Shuumatsu no Izetta is the depiction of landscapes and cityscapes in Eylstadt. These stills brilliantly capture the colours and atmospherics of a mountainous nation, and similarly, the fortress that Eylstadt forces defend in the third episode is set on a cliffside reminiscent of Sora no Woto‘s Clocktower Fortress. The artwork in Shuumatsu no Izetta is amazing, even if there are other scenes where lower level of detail can be plainly seen (such as faceless characters).
- The French FT-17 light tank was a beast of a weapon that will be balanced for Battlefield 1‘s release (I believe the changes are that it will have weaker armour and a longer self-repair time, which should give infantry a chance to set up their AT rocket guns and other anti-armour weapons to defeat them), and historically, could deal some damage to early German Panzer models, being used right up until the end of World War II. However, in Shuumatsu no Izetta, the FT-17 is shown to be outclassed by the Germanian Panzer IIIs that constitute their ground forces — the Eylstadt forces completely lose their armour on short order on the ground.
- Izetta and Finé’s friendship is a particularly strong one because during their childhood, Finé immediately accepted and found astounding Izetta’s Witch powers, whereas Izetta had grown accustomed to being ostrisised for possessing them. Her grandmother asks that Izetta avoid using her powers in front of others, but Izetta decides that their use is necessary for Finé’s sake.
- Finé’s wounds are tended to as Izetta looks on with concern. Realising that Finé’s kindness is exceptional, she later negotiates with Finé to help her defend Eylstadt, although Finé initially declines, stating that Izetta’s safety is of a greater priority. One wonders whether or not Izetta’s devotion to Finé might resemble a Wookie’s Life Debt: in Star Wars, Chewbacca pledges his life to Han Solo after Solo saved him from slavery and accompanies him on his adventures.
- The Germanians are presented as being quite confident, almost to the point of arrogance, in their own military might, although they mention as answering to an emperor rather than a Führer. Save for a short moment in Children Who Chase Lost Voices From Deep Below, I do not think I’ve ever seen Hitler in an anime before. In Germany, law strictly prohibits the use of any Nazi symbolism except for historical purposes, although in the United States and Canada, these symbols are allowed under free speech (although in Canada, such symbols are not permitted to convey messages of hate).
- The battle at Coenenberg is a rather thrilling one to watch after Izetta joins the fray: earlier, it is particularly one-sided, with the Eylstadt forces sustaining heavy casualties. She makes use of medieval lances as makeshift funnels and quickly shoots down most of the aircraft, stops to borrow an LMG and returns to the fortress to obtain some swords. It took considerable effort to ensure that for this talk, I spelt the location as “Coenenberg” rather than “Cronenberg”: the latter refers to David Cronenberg’s signature style of body horror, adopted for use in Rick and Morty.
- In many forms of media, armour is shown to be decimated to emphasise how powerful a character is. Tanks, powerful vehicles in the real world with exceptional durability, are usually destroyed with ease to make clear this point: Izetta flips several tanks with her magic and even stops a Panzer III’s main cannon with a magical shield, as Selvaria had done in Valkyria Chronicles. However, these feats are assisted by magic, and I note that in Halo, the Spartans could right flipped Scorpion tanks, which weight three times as much as Panzer IIIs. Originally implemented as a gameplay mechanic, since vehicles in Halo have an unfortunate propensity to flip on uneven surfaces, Frank O’Connor (development director at 343 Industries) has stated that Spartans can indeed do so.
- Realising that Izetta is single-handedly changing the course of the battle as the Master Chief and Doom Slayer are wont to doing in their respective universes, Finé asks the soldiers around her to provide support. Earlier, she directly orders her soldiers to stand down, asking them whether or not it would be worthwhile to meaninglessly sacrifice their lives now for a fight whose course has already been decided.
- With the battle concluded, and the passing of the Eylstadt Emperor, the third episode draws to a close, as does the weekend. This weekend’s been unremarkable but relaxing: I’ve begun playing Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, and it’s been a smooth experience so far, save the minor drops in frame rates in some areas of the game. I’m still playing through the Prague missions right now, and will probably do a talk on my experiences after I take off for the Golem district. With respect to upcoming posts, I’ll be targeting Hibike! Euphonium‘s second season: owing to the special setup of the opening episode, that post will be a bit longer than usual.
In fact, owing to the multi-faceted features in Shuumatsu no Izetta, I cannot help but wonder whether or not this anime will span two cours rather than one. Given how the narrative has opened up, Shuumatsu no Izetta appears to be utilising its earlier episodes to showcase combat sequences and slowly flesh out Izetta and Finé’s characters, while leaving the Germanian forces as a hirtherto unexplored antagonist. This approach is less appropriate for the time constraints in a one-cour anime, and given that Shuumatsu no Izetta‘s world seems to be a reasonably complex one, having double the runtime would easily allow for a fully fleshed-out story to be adequately explored. With this in consideration, I’ve got no plans to do episodic reviews for Shuumatsu no Izetta at present, but I do look forwards to watching the events of Shuumatsu no Izetta unfold, as well as seeing what writer Hiroyuki Yoshino (who’d previously done the composition and screenplay for Sora no Woto) has in mind for this anime. If this ends up being a two-cour anime, I’ll return at the halfway point to provide remarks on how Shuumatsu no Izetta is faring, as well as a talk on the entire series, otherwise, there will be a single post on whether or not one cour was satisfactory for providing a solid narrative for what is looking to be an intriguing show for this season.