Witch Craft Works Is A Fun Twist On Knight And Princess Tales

Witch Craft Works is a Fun Twist on Knight and Princess Tales

When I was growing up, everyone knew that boys get to be the knights and girls the princesses. But Witch Craft Works has a lot of fun turning this idea on its head.

Good — Gender Role Inversion

Witch Craft Works is a Fun Twist on Knight and Princess Tales

As an anime series, Witch Craft Works is a fantasy/fairy tale story built around an inversion of gender roles. Takamiya is a normal high school boy who happens to sit next to Kagari, the most beautiful and popular girl in school — though it's not like they are friends as he has never even so much as had a conversation with her. One day Takamiya is suddenly attacked by a witch and thus discovers that Kagari is a powerful witch as well — and one whose sole mission is to protect him.

Kagari is an archetypical knight character. She is strong, silent, and completely devoted to her mission. This makes Takamiya — despite his gender — the "princess" character in the anime. He is weak, innocent, earnest — and is constantly getting kidnapped.

But their personalities are merely the start of the gender role inversion. In Witch Craft Works, Takamiya's dialogue tends to be line for line what the typical princess character would say in that same situation. On the surface it sounds like normal dialogue, but if you replace Takamiya with a stereotypical female princess in your mind when he is talking, it is always worth a bit of a chuckle with how perfectly it fits.

Good — A Quirky Sense of Humour

Witch Craft Works is a Fun Twist on Knight and Princess Tales

While a modern fantasy adventure is one half of Witch Craft Works, the other half is pure comedy. The series enjoys breaking the mould and bringing the unexpected into the fantasy setting. Of course, much of this humour comes from the inversion of the gender roles, but that's not the end-all-be-all of the humour.

Witch Craft Works loves to go over-the-top without any kind of prior warning, often to ridiculous extremes. Simply put, this anime includes a pro-wrestling match between a giant teddy bear and a giant robotic rabbit held in the middle of a city, complete with Godzilla-style damage. That should give you an idea of what you are in for.

Good — Bumbling Baddies

Witch Craft Works is a Fun Twist on Knight and Princess Tales

Medusa's squad of teenage witches fills the "team rocket" role of Witch Craft Works — i.e., the job of being easily defeated with staggering regularity. They are never a real threat but rather serve as comic relief. But what makes them so fun is that they aren't incompetent, just supremely outmatched. They are also lazy and would rather hang out in a coffee shop or go to karaoke than do anything overtly evil. And to top it off, every episode ends with their torture as they sing a happy song that will put a smile on your face all day long.

Good — The Beauty of Fire

Witch Craft Works is a Fun Twist on Knight and Princess Tales

As Kagari's powers are fire-based, there are more than a few fire effects in the series — and they look amazing. The lighting and heat effects add a rare beauty to the animation, making the fire and explosions in Witch Craft Works become some of the best-looking I have ever seen in anime.

But the fire isn't the only visual high point, the broomstick-flying sequences are great as well. And while it's obvious (from the complexity of the shots) that the backgrounds of these scenes are rendered CG, the art matches well and feels simply awesome with its dynamic camera movement.

Artistically, there is a lot to love in Witch Craft Works.

Good — Not Just Two Sides

Witch Craft Works is a Fun Twist on Knight and Princess Tales

So often in fiction, there are two sides: the good guys and the bad guys. At first look, the world of Witch Craft Works appears to be just that — a battle between the "tower witches" who care not if their actions kill normal humans and the "workshop witches" who strive to protect and live alongside normal humans. However, the tower witches are not at all unified in their goals and thus war against each other as much as against the workshop witches.

And while you'd assume that Takamiya and Kagari are on the side of the angels, this is most certainly not true. Kagari is very much on her own side with her own goal where "good" and "evil" are not even part of the equation. As a yandere character , her only goal is to protect the one she loves at all costs — up to and including betrayal and murder.

When faced with the possibility of her mother, the head workshop witch of the town, coming to hunt down Takamiya, Kagari has no qualms about making a pact with the most powerful evil witch she can find to better protect him. If it weren't for Takamiya constantly worrying about normal people and making his wishes known, Kagari would likely do nothing except watch over him.

Bad — Not a Lot of Answers

Witch Craft Works is a Fun Twist on Knight and Princess Tales

Early in the series, Takamiya asks why he is special — why everyone is after him. Kagari gives him a non-answer as she doesn't seem to know the whole story herself. By the end of the series' 12 episodes, it's still a question we don't really know the answer to. Oh, we know he has a great power sealed within him, but how he got the power and how the evil witches plan to take it/use it is never explained — even as we see them begin to put their plans into action.

Also, while we are given many teases, we also never discover the origin of Takamiya and Kagari's relationship and thus don't know why she is the way she is — i.e., what caused her to become yandere in the first place. In fact, it's not just her. We learn almost nothing about the backgrounds and motivations of the entire cast — hero and villain alike. And while mystery is an important part of any adventure, the lack of any major personal reveal to help with the development of the main characters hurts the series greatly.

Final Thoughts

Witch Craft Works is a Fun Twist on Knight and Princess Tales

In the end, Witch Craft Works is a lot of fun. It's filled with beautiful art and quirky humour — not to mention that listening to the dialogue with the gender role inversion in mind is never not entertaining. If you like magical school stories like Harry Potter and don't mind that very little will be explained beyond the surface layer of the plot, Witch Craft Works is very much worth a watch .

Witch Craft Works aired on Tokyo MX in Japan. It can be watched for free with English subtitles in the US on Crunchyroll.


    Agree about the lack of information about any character in any meaningful way what so ever. Would have really like by now some more information about either lead or more information about the tower witches in general.

    The music and art are great. It's quite funny at times and wanting to know the main characters back-story keeps you watching.
    The majority of it is lighthearted and random though, even when it's supposed to be important. And for every male character you see, there's about 20 female ones...
    Still, quite charming.

    Finding it a bit difficult to get past the neutering of the male character. I mean... Japanese men are neutered enough in anime as it is, when you see just... so many harem animes where a supposedly red-blooded teenager is apparently swimming in tail and not taking a bite of any of it... why? It just gets so powerfully contrived that the only conclusion is that they're completely emasculated pussies. And these are what... role models? Wish fulfilment?

    It's really difficult for me to enjoy watching a guy getting so thoroughly feminized - in what looks like against his will.

    I'll give it a few more episodes to see, but man, there's nothing much endearing about a guy who's just so... pathetic.

      I think the fantasy these types of anime are based on is centered around a different conception of masculinity, not so much based on sexual aggression and power and more based willpower and resolve. All the "neutered" male characters are usually mentally and physically weak, but when the chips are down, when their protectors are defeated by the evil alien witch, they always pull through. They might try and throw down with big big bad even though they have no chance of survival or shield their companions with their own body. But one way or another, they're strong when their strength is needed.

      I think the fantasy is being a weak character who goes strong(mentally/physically/socially/etc..), rather than being a character that just starts out strong.

      But I agree, it seems like half the animes they make these days have these cookie cutter protagonists, who spend the first 5 episodes whining and freaking out. I don't mind the archetype,but so many of them gets old.

      As for the sex thing. I dunno, maybe the Japanese aren't very sexual. I tend to watch a lot of older anime, which feature the manliest men in the universe fighting the mecha-dinosaurs from the center of the earth or something. And even amongst those paragons of masculinity, promiscuity is pretty rare, and kinda looked down. Usually, they just have their woman, who they love with the burning hot intensity of thousand suns. Maybe it's more a romantic fantasy than a sexual one?

      I should mention now that I've big sweeping generalizations about a cultures' outlook on masculinity, fantasy and sex , that I have almost no knowledge of Japan or Japanese culture other than the themes I've interpreted from their cartoons and comic books. So you should probably disregard anything i say :P

        At one point in time I would have agreed w/ you on that analysis. From your comment it seems thats because you've been watching "older" anime.

        However you will find that as of late a huge majority of male neutered characters tend to stay annoyingly neatured for a majority of releases lately.

        And thats the annoying part. The characters never really "mature" out of the "lovable idiot" phase. They never really stick up for themselves or always get the stupid situational gags ad infinitum just to further emphasise on how much of a "wimp" they are. Even the one's that technically improve immediately regress back to the neutered wimp right after the crisis is over.... and it's an annoying break in character development.

        As for the sexuality angle.... my friend the amount of extreme stuff I've seen on eroge and JAV leads one to believe their probably much much much more open or tolerant of it =P

        Last edited 30/03/14 4:35 pm

      You have put words exactly on why i have been utterly disenchanted w/ anime as of late.

      I mean when Love Hina came out the comedic value of the neutered male was a funny change of norm. Even then most "neutered male" heroes pre LH on a harem like scenario were still decent. Tenchi Muyo and Keiichi had matured a lot from the lovable idiot to somewhat acceptable levels of maturity on their accounts (Tenchi eventually learning to use the light sword among other things, Keiichi being the "dependable" human who can still figure things out on a "common sense" level when everyone else has gone the "fantastical route" of magic, curses and godesses) and yet ever since Love Hina the main protagonists just keeps getting worse.

      My issue is the lack of the "happy middle" males like the one's I mentioned before. They don't have to be completely dependable but I want some character develoment or improvement (ie. Tsukune from the Rosario to Vampire manga... who unfortunately fell victim to the useless idiot syndrome on the anime version). Instead you get the usual overly powerful male fantasies on the pure shonen action stuff.... or the annoyingly neautered males on the other end of the spectrum.

    I very mush agree with most of what this review & the commentators said but here's my take on it all: http://andthegeekshall.wordpress.com/2014/04/19/subversion-succumbs-to-cliche-anime-review-witch-craft-works/

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