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Annotated Anime: Wizard Barristers, Ep. 11

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They sacrificed the animation to Satan

It's been a few days and I still can't quite get over just how bad the animation in this episode was. Really, "bad" isn't quite accurate, because scenes have to actually exist before they can even qualify as badly animated; what this episode really is, is shockingly unfinished. Sound effects are forced to do the brunt of the work in telling the story while the camera frequently stays trained on still shots of characters' faces, entire sequences seem to be missing, and even the sequences that are animated are poorly composed. We're encroaching on Kill La Kill-levels of using animation so limited that it borders on a motion comic -- except at least with Kill La Kill, you can tell they planned it that way from the beginning. Whatever plan existed for this episode, it clearly went awry.

You know, I feel like I should have be having fun snarking about how awful this episode looks, but the truth is that it's honestly just sad. Remember the nigh-theatrical quality animation from the first episode? How in God's name did we get from that to this? What the hell happened in the studio that could cause this deep a dive in quality, and during the story's climax no less?

Cecil is badass for half a second.

I guess the only thing I can do at this point is act like this is an actual episode of Wizard Barristers instead of the colossal embarrassment for everyone involved that it is, so let's get into the story. Stabler has taken his police crew to raid Butterfly Law searching for Cecil, and I have to ask; what's his legal pretense here? At least he made up the ridiculous human trafficking charge to get into Shark Knight, but he has no reason at all to hit Butterfly. Hachimitsu and Nana Genie run off to confront the police threat while Cecil tries to get to safety, and waitaminute-- Nana Genie went off to fight the police like the manly frog he is, and we don't get to see a single second of him in action? This episode should get a 0/10 just for that, and we've barely even started.

Hachimitsu uses his water powers against the SWAT team with some success, because there's some kind of rule in effect this episode that only the men are allowed to kick ass, despite the fact that the show's been pretty gender-neutral about that up to this point. However, his efforts are for naught when Stabler catches up with Cecil, Sasori and Natsuru in a subway tunnel. Our favorite corrupt detective uses his wind powers to easily knock out Sasori and Natsuru, and okay -- I can buy that. Sasori's powers aren't useful in combat, and it's never really been established how strong a wizard Natsuru is supposed to be. But then Cecil gets up, all full of piss and vinegar now that Stabler's hurt her friends, and he knocks Cecil out as well, and that's...kind of ridiculous bullshit.

How exactly did Stabler overpower Cecil in Mage-to-Mage combat? We've been shown continuously that she has powers faaaaaaaaaaar beyond that of your average WUD, and we saw just two episodes ago that she's perfectly capable of blocking his magic with her own. It would be one thing if he played dirty by sneaking up on her or something, but no-- you can clearly see her summon her magic and prepare to face him head-on, so he didn't have the element of surprise. He shouldn't be able to beat her in a fair fight, and the only possible explanation is that Cecil was too nice and was holding back; of course, since the scene wasn't animated and all we see is the subway tunnel wall while the two of them actually fight, we'll never know. I hate this goddamned episode.

The Devil is surprisingly nice

In other news, Quinn dies in the hospital, and it's pretty sad. It looks like I was wrong last time when I guessed that she wasn't hurt that badly; I can't believe the bastard actually killed her. Bad Stabler, bad! You're off my Imaginary TV Boyfriend list now, that's how mad I am!

Fortunately, Moyo is conveniently omnipotent and brings Quinn back to life, since it would make Cecil sad if Quinn stayed dead, and Moyo just won't stand for a frowny-faced Cecil. I'm glad Quinn was revived since I do like her, but this scene would have had much more impact if Quinn and Cecil had any significant interaction; as it stands, it's kind of odd that Moyo would save someone that Cecil's barely even talked to for the entire run of the show. I know I, know: Cecil is so pure and wonderful and honest that she loves everyone equally, even characters she's barely acquainted with. Everyone bless Saint Cecil of Cecilun.

At Macal HQ, an unconscious Cecil is surrounded by sexy mood lighting while tons of cult members give their lives in the process of putting Lucifer (Moyo's) soul into Cecil's body. So Moyo was Lucifer all along! That makes sense: she kicked way too much ass, so she had to be a dude in disguise. Interestingly, being possessed by a demon the devil makes Cecil's limiter hair clips snap off, and with her hair down she looks less dumb than she has for the entire series, even with a giant forked tail poking out of her skirt. Daddy Stabler thinks that as part of the summoning ritual, he's now entitled access to Lucifer's powers, but Lucifer puts an end to that notion: he/she wasn't summoned. Moyo's been in the human world for six years, ever since Cecil was brought back to life the first time; you can't summon something that's already here.

Morrigan lite

"Summoner? Dahling, I hardly know her!"

Now, that's neat. For once I'm being serious, but the whole summoning deal is actually pretty darn cool. Daddy Stabler is probably a pretty crappy summoner if he didn't realize that the devil he summoned six years ago was never dismissed, but the whole "the laws of summoning don't apply to me because I'm already here so I'll just hijack your ritual-in-progress, thanks ttyl!" plan of Moyo's is probably the most clever thing this show has done. Moyo/Lucifer says that she/he wants to give his/her power to Cecil since Cecil has the purest, most wonderful soul in the world; what a shame for Moyo that she/he never met Super Sonico, who is a lot like Cecil only better in every conceivable way.

Of course, Wizard Barristers then has to go and ruin the cool thing they just did by having Stabler rescue Cecil by blasting the Cecil/Lucifer hybrid with his wind magic, which apparently disrupts the ritual and undoes the entire thing. Really? Like 30 cult guys gave their lives so that Lucifer could be magically bonded to Cecil, and one little blast of wind ixnays the entire spell? You'd think that a ritual you can only do once every few hundred years would be a little harder to cancel.

Daddy Stabler is obviously kind of miffed that the thing he's been planning for his entire life was just destroyed by his own idiot son, so he shoots Stabler a whole bunch of times. However, this is one of those instances where the animation gets really lazy and we can barely see what's happening, so it's more like we see a gun and hear gunshots and then assume Stabler is maybe dead; he essentially dies off camera. Before going to the big WUD jail in the sky however, he does manage to give Cecil back the Cell Phone Charm of Honor and Contrivance, so err, good for him I guess? I would say he redeemed himself, but he still killed Quinn, so meh, he would still be off my Anime boyfriend list even if he weren't dead.

Robot fight posture

Attention all Cecils, mecha fight imminent, STICK YOUR BUTT IN THE AIR

In the climax of the episode, and the show, Cecil and Daddy Stabler each summon their own diaboloids (hey, remember when we were told that being able to summon diaboloids was a rare power? LOL) and have a huge mech fight. This 3D sequence is actually animated, only there's one problem; the mechs look a lot alike and it's really hard to tell who's doing what to whom. Daddy Stabler's mech is red, but with the dark lighting, it's often hard to make out the color. Natsuru, Tsunomi and Sasori come to assist Cecil at one point, but the animators couldn't be bothered to draw them, so we just hear their voices from offscreen. There's also a few frames of Daddy Stabler where the animation is so borked that it looks like it was taken from episode 4 of Gurren Lagann; see header image.

Cecil wins the robot fight, because she is Cecil the Super-Mage, despite what her fainting like an 18th century woman with the vapors from Stabler's assault earlier in this episode might lead you to believe. In typical Cecil fashion though, she can only beat Daddy Stabler by essentially destroying both their robots in midair, leaving both of them to plummet to their deaths. Naturally, to deal with this, Cecil spontaneously develops the new power to grow wings (off screen, because that's how this God-forsaken episode rolls) and saves both herself and Daddy Stabler. Why did she save her mortal enemy? So he can face his day in court, but of course!

Sera Muuuuun

I liked this scene way better the first time it happened in Sailor Moon Super S.

Finally, we've reached an end to this nonsense -- or have we? Apparently Daddy Stabler wants Cecil to defend him in court, because someone on the writing staff just remembered that this show is called Wizard Barristers and not Wizards Intermittently Blow Shit Up and Go To Canada. This likely means that the last episode will focus on courtroom drama, which is appropriate for this series, but do you realize what this probably means? It means that the next episode is going to be largely talking heads, thus relatively cheap, and they still didn't have the money/time/whatever to animate this episode -- the climax of the story with actual action -- properly.

Anyway, Cecil shouldn't have to defend the guy who nearly had her killed and destroyed her family, but she totally will because she is Saint Cecil and letting one of her partners defend him, like a sane person would, is just not something she'll stand for. One episode left, guys; man, I know I'm repeating myself, but I honestly can't even believe what happened to this show. I can't even.

WHUT

What a coincidence, I was making the same face for this whole episode.


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Karen Mead
Karen MeadContributor   gamer profile

Hi, I'm a former newspaper journalist who got tired of having a front row seat to the death of print. There probably could be some interesting story there about a disenchanted reporter moving on ... more + disclosures


 



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