Anime, Shows

A Flawed Character Worth Rooting For: Wandering Witch Season 1

Anime Review:

Wandering Witch: The Journey of Elaina Season 1

Rating: 7.5 out of 10 stars

Overview

Pros

  • Entertaining, flawed main character
  • Good storytelling
  • Some strong, impactful episodes
  • Beautiful animation and art style

Cons

  • A little hard to get into at first
  • The episodic feel made it seem a bit plotless and like it was going nowhere

Observations

  • Almost all of the character development focused on one character

Warning: Spoilers Ahead!

Review

This anime is about a young traveling witch who visits various countries, cities, and towns.

When I started watching this anime, one of my first impressions was that I didn’t like the main character. I simply hadn’t considered her value to the show as someone with obvious flaws yet capable of change and development. It was a simplistic way of approaching the anime and I wish I had thought more carefully about it, because that attitude left me dissatisfied with the first few episodes.

As a writer, I should have realized the reason that Elaina grated on my nerves was not because she was a bad character, but because she was well-written and had a set of flaws composed of ones that annoyed me more than most other flaws would. It’s okay to have a character that is not likable as the main character, as long as she is well-written and has strong narrative purpose. And it took a reminder from my sister and a friend to help me see it that way.

The main reason Elaina bugged me at first was because she is so full of herself, especially as an adult. At the beginning and/or the end of most episodes, she describes herself as beautiful or amazing. For example, at one point she says she is so brilliant, the sun squints involuntarily upon seeing her. At another time, when asked about her specific talents, she says “I’m good at pretty much everything.” Sure, she’s right. She is a prodigy who became a witch in record time. But man, that gets annoying pretty fast.

She was apprenticed to a witch named Fran, who tried to teach her the power of failure by overwhelming her. That was a lesson she wouldn’t really internalize and learn until later, however, when she failed in more significant ways than just being defeated in a duel by a powerful witch.

Her parents have her make three promises when she leaves them to travel the world.

First, to run away from danger. She doesn’t do that very well. Even though she is apathetic most of the time and tries not to get involved in the conflicts and problems of everyday people, she gets in danger plenty of times without running away.

The second promise is not to think of herself as anyone special. I laughed upon thinking back at that one. She failed that promise with style.

The third promise is that she will come back someday and tell her parents about her adventures. She doesn’t do that, either, at least in the first season. She writes and publishes a book about her adventures, if that counts for anything. Perhaps her parents will read it.

She basically fails at all three promises.

It takes a botched mission to make her realize that she is not perfect, and what she experienced during that mission traumatized her. In episode 9, A Deep Sorrow From the Past, Elaina is the Clock Village of Rostolf. She is low on money and must take on a job.

The Lavender Witch Estelle offers her a job. Estelle had a close childhood friend, Selena, whose parents were murdered by a burglar. After their murder, Selena is sent to live with her uncle, who was abusive. Eventually she turned on her uncle and killed him, afterwards becoming a serial killer. She kind of reminded me of Toga from My Hero Academia. Estelle was eventually order to kill Selena, and she did it by beheading her. This traumatic event left Estelle obsessed with finding a way to go back in time and change her friend’s terrible destiny.

When Estelle tells Elaina this story, Elaina appears to be completely apathetic. She is truly only in it for the money.

Estelle reveals that she has found a way to time travel. She has been sacrificing her own blood to get enough magic to prep the spell. She wants Elaina to come with her since she will be drained of magic after the spell. Estelle gives Elaina a ring that allows them to share magic power.

When they go back in time, Estelle convinces Selena’s parents to leave the house so they will not be murdered. Meanwhile, Elaina watches the house so she can catch the burglar. The burglar never shows. Eventually, Elaina notices from the ring that Estelle is using her magic power. She follows the source of magic to find that Estelle is bloodied and lying on the ground next to Selena’s murdered parents.

Selena is standing there with a knife. It turns out she was originally the one who killed her parents, not a burglar. Her father had been sexually abusive and her mother had gotten jealous and hit her repeatedly.

Estelle rises to her feet and starts to strangle Selena with magic. Elaina is horrified that a friend is killing a friend and tries to stop her by taking off the ring. Estelle sacrifices all her fond memories of Selena in order to get the remaining energy necessary to behead her.

Once they return to the present, Estelle has no memory of Selena. Elaina holds herself together until she gets outside, and then breaks down into tears. She recognizes her own failures and is devastated from having watched love turn to hate and from seeing a child brutally killed. She admits to herself that she is inexperienced and occasionally helpless to stop bad things from happening.

The extent to which this experience impacted her is revealed in a later episode, when she enters an enchanted place in which there are multiple versions of herself. One of these versions is violent and exhausted, deeply hurt by what happened with Estelle and Selena. The true Elaina must come to terms with all the versions and aspects of herself before she is able to escape that place. This offers her a sense of closure and helps her move on.

Those were my two favorite episodes, although there were many other good ones. Those were one of the few that seemed strongly connected as well. Most of the season felt somewhat plotless, with Elaina wandering aimlessly to various destinations. Each episode was like a vignette, a piece mostly independent of the others. The episodic feel was interesting, though not always satisfying.

In conclusion, I would recommend this anime to anyone who appreciates somewhat dark anime with an interesting lead character.

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Books

Beneath – an accident on the Atlantic Ocean, a secret underwater world, a must-read novel guaranteed to leave you wanting more.

by Maureen A. Miller (c) 2018

10 out of 10 stars!

A mostly spoiler free review

When?

It is the year 2019, 2 weeks before first semester college courses begin.

Who?

Stella Gullaksen is on her best friend’s family’s sport fishing boat (the Starkissed) in the Atlantic Ocean, 100 miles off the coast of New Jersey, ready to vomit. A supposed casual overnight tuna-fishing trip has turned topsy-turvy as a non-predicted, yet wretched, storm has hit. Jill Wexler is that best friend. She, her mother Anne, her dad, Don, and her older brother Colin are also on the boat.

What?

The unexpected storm is so bad that the boat capsizes and sinks. As Stella is sinking, she is pulled into a siphon so strong that she cannot break out of it to swim back to the surface. She is sucked down, down, down . . . and then a tow pulls her sideways and she loses consciousness.

Where?

When she awakens, Stella is in an undersea cavern system – 2000 feet below the ocean surface! (though we later find out it may actually be 6000 feet below) Oddly, she is able to breathe. The entire cavern system is oxygen filled! Colin is already there. Why can she see him? Colin had strapped a flashlight onto his wrist before he went overboard. As they are discussing why the flashlight is working at such a deep distance, a hand shoots out of the pool and slips back under the water. Colin jumps in. Moments later he returns to the surface with his father in tow. Not long after, Jill also surfaces.

Still somewhat in a state of shock, Colin and Jill hand the flashlight to Jill & Mr. Wexler and decide to explore as far as the flashlight’s glow would allow them to go. As they reach the farthest distance of the light, they both agree that there seems to be a glow coming from deeper within the caverns. When they decide to push forward and beyond the distance of the beam, they run into a man who appears with a lantern.

Wait! There are other people in the undersea cavern? Real, live, people? Yes! People who have been missing at sea or pronounced dead from long ago have made a small colony with the flotsam and debris which has been sucked into the cavern too. The man takes Stella and the family into the bowels of the cavern system where a village exists, a product of years and years of salvage.

Although the riders of the Starkissed are surprised to see them, the people aren’t surprised by their presence. Apparently they were expected after Mrs. Wexler showed up in another of the various arrival pools. Mrs. Wexler, however, did not fare well in her journey and was not in good shape. She was laying in critical condition in the village’s “infirmary,” a gutted torso of a sheared aluminum airplane.

Others?

What’s the status of these people who disappeared decades ago? They are malnourished looking, pale, and their skin appears to be super thin. Oddly, they appear to be much younger than they are. They haven’t aged at the same rate they would have on the surface, perhaps due to no exposure to the sun’s harmful rays and the pollutants in earth’s atmosphere.

Currently there are a handful of residents, but we discover others have come before and after these ones, only to die from their injuries, CO2 disorientation, or from trying to escape.

Spoiler alert: We discover later that although the residents of this underworld don’t seem to age, the longer they stay in this atmosphere, their bodies begin to change into something other than human.

How?

Hydrothermal vents sustain the oxygen in the caverns.

How about the neighborhood? It is actually formed from wooden ship carcasses, pieces of old war planes, remains of cargo containers, pieces of yachts, naval ships that have sunk in battle, and such. Items such as medical supplies, cans of food, soap, clothing and whatnot have been gleaned from the flotsam that’s been sucked into the pools. Items are sorted through and those not used immediately are kept in a supply cavern for later needs.

The residents have a system of torches dotting the walls which provide light.

Each resident is assigned a chore to keep the ‘village’ going. Laundry, re-oiling the torches, gathering and moving toilet waste to a designated cave so as to regulate the carbon dioxide in the cavern, sorting the “inventory” that arrives, and fishing, are some of those chores.

The start of each new ‘day’ is marked by the ringing a bell after the long sleep time of ‘day.’ Speaking to one of the residents, Colin discovers that they think it is getting close to the year 2000. Although in actuality it is the year 2019, Colin doesn’t think there method of tracking time is too bad considering there is no actual way to track the rotation of the earth .

What now?

We learn that people don’t leave the cavern because there is no way to leave. People who have tried to leave have been sucked back by the siphon … or have been apparently eaten by sharks – the body parts that have returned indicate that.

We also discover that unbeknownst to each other until this event, Stella & Colin have an attraction to each other. They want to get out of this place and return to the world above. As they question the residents about possible ways out, they discourage the two from exploring the cavern system. They so stongly affirm that there is NO way to the surface through any other part of the caverns that the two feel that there is something important being kept from them. Of course that only prods them forward. They begin to explore the cavern system when everyone is sleeping at ‘night.’

The residents begin preparing for their ‘New Year’ celebration.

And we musn’t forget Mrs. Wexler. She has been unconscious since her arrival. … When her outcome is clear, things change almost immediately. One of the residents, who now realizes how much she misses her own mother, shows Stella & Colin a possible way out of the caves. …The remainder of the book revolves around this possible way out.

Nope, I’m not spoiling the end!

The overall premise of Beneath was truly different from most of the fiction I read. The shocking things that were unveiled were explained plausibly enough that I could ‘buy’ into it. The main characters were people I cared about: I was rooting for Colin and Stella the whole time. The end was satisfying, but left me wanting to know MORE – so much so that I bought the sequel to find out what happened next!

It was an excellent book too!

I highly recommend this book. It is different. It’s well told. And, it is definitely memorable.

Anime, Shows

RWBY Volume 6 Gives the Real Story of Salem

Anime Review:

RWBY Volume 6

Rating: 10 out of 10 stars

Overview

Pros

  • Memorable heroes
  • Effective villains
  • Focus on pivotal character backstories
  • Unique weapons and apparel
  • Phenomenal fight scenes
  • Interesting setting
  • Original music
  • Attractive intro
  • Balance of comedic and dark moments
  • Groundbreaking American anime
  • Beautiful art style and animation

Cons

  • No specific cons

Warning: Spoilers below!

Review

Trigger Warning: Suicide

There are so many things I love about this season. The new characters and Grimm, the epic fight scenes, the beautiful intro, the depth of the character backstories….

Let’s start with my two favorite new characters…

Maria Calavera is a wonderful addition to Team RWBY. Her eyes, once grey like Ruby’s, were destroyed by the villain Tock. She has mechanical goggles that allow her to see, even though they need tuning from time to time and they cause her to be colorblind. As the Grimm Reaper, she was highly skilled and even inspired Qrow to make a weapon modeled off of hers. I love the part where she tries to get away with using a military airship by using jargon. She pulls off the jargon, but is given away because the military does not employ the elderly.

Tock

Even though Tock is a side character shown only briefly in a flashback, I found her character design to be fascinating, and her semblance and focus on the passage of time interesting. She was inspired by the crocodile from Peter Pan and carries a watch with her. Tock’s semblance allows her to be invulnerable for 60 seconds, although it does sap almost all of her aura. She tends to play with those she intends to kill. Formidable, snarky, and sadistic, she is a character to be appreciated. Before her death, she was trusted enough by Salem to be a part of her inner circle.

The Sphinx is one new type of Grimm the heroes face pretty early on in the volume. The train fight is phenomenal. You can see how the characters have grown as fighters.

The Apathy are by far the creepiest Grimm I have ever seen. They slowly sap one’s will and volition to live. They killed a whole town because the people slowly lost the will to move and died in their beds one morning. Their cry is frightening, and they don’t even have to be fast because their prey will move slower and slower as its energy is sapped.

The battle of the team vs. the Colossus, which is manned by Caroline Cordovin, is utterly fabulous. I love that when the good guys finally get the upper hand, the city is threatened by a Leviathan. And they just took down the only thing capable of stopping the Leviathan. The guilt and determination are superb as enemies turn to reluctant allies. Ruby using Jinn to stop time was super smart and gave her what was necessary to succeed. Then Cordovin drilling into that Leviathan Gurren Lagann style…nice!

The intro is great, creating so much foreshadowing and tension. You can tell that it is shaping up to be a great volume just from watching the intro. I know some people ship Ruby and Weiss so I bet that final scene with Weiss helping Ruby up will make them happy–it looks very sweet.

Also, can I just say, the animation of this volume was much better? It really was. People were even freaking out about the detail on the trees near the beginning of the volume. A big improvement.

The backstory for Salem and Ozpin is phenomenal. Their love story seemed so sincere…until love turned to hatred. Salem went to terrible lengths to try to bring Ozpin back to life. She even turned the humans of the world against their gods, and every human was obliterated except for her. She became immortal until she could appreciate the value of life and death…a terrible sentence for the crime of turning against the gods and trying to bring back the dead. Salem tried to commit suicide at least twice, once by the sword and again by casting herself into a pool of darkness.

I found it interesting that the brother gods got along decently well despite their vastly different outlooks, one being creation and one destruction. They respected each other, and were not enemies even though their goals did not altogether match.

Qrow’s struggle with alcoholism and his loss of authority over the younger characters were pivotal in this volume. The younger characters decide to do things their way and Qrow’s permission is no longer sought or needed. This changes the power dynamics in the group. Luckily, things turn out pretty well after the the young’uns take charge.

I loved this volume and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys action and anime. Did you watch this volume? Let me know what you think in the comments.

Links

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Shows

SRPOP Season 3 Reveals the History of Etheria, She-Ra, and Hordak

Show Review:

She-Ra and the Princesses of Power Season 3

Rating: 8.7 out of 10 stars

Overview

Pros

  • Great for children and adults
  • Fun plot with high stakes
  • Well-made characters
  • Representation of different body types and skin colors
  • LGBTQ+ representation
  • Some Catra and Scorpia bonding moments
  • Backstory for Hordak

Cons

  • Overly childish intro
  • Poor art style choices

Warning: Spoilers Ahead!

Review

This season was only six episodes long, so this will be a short review. Nonetheless, it was a really good season and a wonderful experience.

This season begins exactly where we left off with the previous season. Shadowweaver is standing over Adora’s bed, but collapses after Adora draws her sword. Since Bright Moon has no dungeons, Shadowweaver is imprisoned in a spare room that had the cushions removed but otherwise is super comfortable.

I am not sure how I feel about Shadowweaver switching sides. Sure, it’s good for the heroes. But Shadowweaver is abusive toward Adora and Catra and makes a problematic hero. I do think they dealt with it pretty well though, establishing that she has selfish motives even when on the side of good.

It is just like Adora to be concerned about Shadowweaver, and for Adora to heal her. Adora obviously has an unhealthy attachment to Shadowweaver, but remains compassionate despite Shadowweaver’s transgressions.

Catra’s punishment is harsh considering she has increased the productivity of the Horde by 400% and has retrieved plenty of First One’s relics. Entrapta tries to stand up for her, which says a lot about her character. This season certainly strengthens Catra’s character arc as she becomes more and more unhinged.

I love that Catra and Scorpia become closer as friends, at least for the first part of the season when Catra is sent on an apparent suicide mission to the Crimson Waste. Also, when Catra is introduced to a party for the first time, it hearkens back to when this happened for Adora as well. It’s a sweet moment. For Catra’s sake I wish she had left the Horde and stayed in the Crimson Waste, at least for a time. The experience was really good for her and Scorpia.

The Hordak and Entrapta bonding moments were touching. Entrapta emphasizes that she enjoys being Hordak’s friend and Hordak points out that no one should underestimate Entrapta. As they build the portal together, Entrapta cools Hordak’s temper and accepts him as he is, flaws and all. She is a person who appreciates imperfections. It honestly made me like Entrapta more, even if she does frustrate me at times.

Getting to learn more about the history of Hordak and how he is a defective clone of Horde Prime was interesting and made him seem a little more personable, and less like a one-dimensional big bad.

Knowing that Etheria was separated from the rest of the universe and that a portal could compromise the safety of the planet really helped build the narrative. Revealing Adora is a First One and that she came through the portal as a baby is a nice touch.

Angella’s sacrifice and loss was a poignant part of the season, and showed how high the stakes had been. I never loved her as a character, but her being brave and spontaneous for once was a sight to see. Glimmer is young to be the next queen of Bright Moon, but her inheritance of the throne will no doubt change the dynamic of the three best friends: Adora, Glimmer, and Bow.

Catra snapping and sending Entrapta to Beast Island was incredibly sad, especially when she told Hordak that Entrapta had betrayed him. It was painful and yet fitting.

Like in the previous seasons, there is a lot of representation of different body types and skin colors. That is refreshing honestly, especially when you compare it to the original She-Ra franchise.

The intro is the same as the previous seasons. I know a lot of people really like the intro, but I don’t. It’s too childish compared to the rest of the show, and I don’t care what people say, it is not catchy. Not to say it’s horrible, but it’s not that great.

Also, the art style makes them all look young even though Adora, for example, is 17. They look like a group of 12-year-olds. It could have been better.

In conclusion, this season was even better than the first two and I would recommend it for all ages except the very youngest children.

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