Friday, December 28, 2007

Looking Back: Night Wizard

Night Wizard was possibly the biggest surprise for me this season, since it's one of those series that at a glance sounds like it should be just God-awful, and I had zero expectations going into it. First of all, it's based on an RPG, which many would argue is generally not a predictor of anime excellence (whatever that means). After the first episode, the plot seemed amazingly simplistic--a party of adventurers have to go collect seven gems that can help save the world from corny looking Skeletor-wannabes. But with a likeable cast, great character designs, solid animation, and some interesting plot twists down the road, I got sucked in and ended up enjoying watching it from start to finish.

Good Points:

(+) Good Characters. The characters make or break anime for me, and Night Wizard's cast was almost universally likeable. Hiiragi's determination, Elis's caring about her friends, Kureha, Akari, Anzelotte--there's nothing more subjective than if you like a given character or not (just ask a group who watched Sukuran who should end up with Harima and watch the brawl ensue) but for me the whole cast of Night Wizard was great, and impossible not to root for.

(+) Character Designs. The character designs were brilliant, hell, even the 'bad guys' were moe (Bell Zephyr in particular). Elis may even have the most moe character design I've seen all season, proving once again the Shirakawa Kotori White Beret Rule: namely, that white berets double the moe factor of whoever is wearing them (although Kotori is uber-moe regardless). Maybe it's a holdover from watching Manabi Straight and Potemayo, but I loved the gradient hair too.

(+) Plot Twist. The plot is where Night Wizard really surprised me, with the plot twist after all the gems are collected taking something that looked generic and making it much more interesting. The first episodes, the ice skating one in particular, were good in their own right, but once all the gems are collected is when the shit hits the fan and things get really interesting. It reminded me of Cardcaptor Sakura in a way, how at first you think the plot's as simple as it can get, since all she has to do is collect all the Clow Cards and the story will be over...but it's not that easy...

(+) OP and ED songs. Both pretty addictive, the OP up-tempo, the ED more ballad-like. Even a real anime blogger singled out the ED as good.

Bad Points:

(-) No Kiss at the End? I'm with Hinano on this, maybe it would have been corny if Hiiragi kissed Elis after he is reunited with her in the last episode, but so what? They were probably just too afraid to piss off the Akari or Kureha factions, but come on, I want Hiiragi x Elis damn it.

(-) Monster Designs. Night Wizard's skeleton-like things are better than what we got in Venus Versus Virus, although I realize that's like saying something's warmer than absolute zero.

She shoots...she scores!

You could argue I'm easily entertained since I survived re-watching Yoakena, but I can say I looked forward to watching Night Wizard every week, and when I sat down with a choice between a couple different series' new episodes to watch, Night Wizard generally won. Having said that, this is not the kind of series you want to watch with someone who thinks anime should be profound, or wears all black all the time and thinks if half the cast isn't dead or dying by the last episode then it's not worth a damn. It's basically a feel-good, everything-ends-well anime series, with some action, drama, and plot twists thrown in to make it interesting. In movie terms, it'd something like "National Treasure"--better not analyzed too closely but still fun to watch if you accept it for what it is. In the end, while I can't say it's the best anime of the season or anything, it still passes my "DVD test" and makes me glad I'm an anime fan--if this makes it to region 1, I'll add it to my collection in a heartbeat.


Anonymous said...

I actually disagree with seeing too deep into the anime. Night Wizard is actually fabulous, both inside and outside. I've just rewatched it recently, and keeping the ending in mind, the series actually foreshadows many things that lead the watchers to the eventual plot twist and perhaps even the ending.

:) But each to one own, eh?

suguru said...

I just finished re-watching it too, and it passed the "re-watch test" and was just as entertaining the second time. I think that it's entertainment more than trying to be deep or make a statement, but that's not to say the plot's bad by any means, and you're right, there is some foreshadowing that I missed the first time. Good to see I'm not the only one who liked this :)

Anonymous said...

I agree with the comments about the ending, needed Renji/Elis action. Seemed to be more Renji/Kureha, which kind of emphasises the tsundere custom in anime. But that's something fanfiction can fix. *Whistles*
Other than that, a good anime to watch through the first time. All things considered, it's too awkward for me to watch again, though. Maybe in a half-year period.

Anonymous said...

I loved it also..... I fell in LOVE with all the female characters.... Most of all Lion Gunta and Akari.... Bell was good too.... Lots of fun.... And funny...

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