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Final Impressions: Wizard Barristers

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If this is justice, then I'm a banana

In the final episode of everyone's favorite poorly-written supernatural law procedural, Cecil agrees to defend her worst enemy in court, because no one in this world has ever heard the phrase "conflict of interest." However, since it's all a big conspiracy and the prosecution is actually in her client's pocket anyway, she ends up prosecuting Makusu from the defense podium while opposing council somehow defends him from the prosecutor's stand. I think we're supposed to think that this defense/prosecution switch is clever, but like everything else on this show the lack of logic makes it all just seem disjointed and silly.

Let's do this crazy Wizard Barristers thing one more time, guys.

Don't listen to him Cecil

Important note: Since my beloved Stabler is no more (RIP, Stabler), it's not right to refer to Makusu as Daddy Stabler, so I'll just call him Makusu from now on. He's not even worthy of being Stabler's Daddy, quite frankly.

Starting off with our favorite "talking to the client from jail" motif, Makusu says that he wants Cecil to defend him because that can be his way of making up to her for all the awful, awful things he's done to her. Now, I know that Cecil is so pure and wonderful that she spontaneously grows angel wings all the time and wants to believe the best of everyone, but she looks incredibly stupid for believing him for even half a second here. I mean, he's not even trying to be convincing about his lies -- you would think he could at least muster up some tears when talking about the son he murdered. He's just like "Yeah, kinda sorry that I killed you, got your mother the death penalty, and tried to kill you again -- my bad, whatever."

To her credit though, Cecil is at least somewhat skeptical, but thinks she has to go through with defending Makusu because if he spills his guts in court, that will provide new evidence that could lead to her mother getting a retrial. Okay, so maybe her hands are tied here and she kind of has to go along with it, but I still think it's ridiculous that she looks so surprised when it turns out he was lying all along.

The legal segments are even more unbelievable than usual this week for multiple reasons; for one thing, the prosecution agrees to drop most of the charges against Makusu for no apparent reason. I get that this whole thing is a set-up and the prosecution is working for Makusu, but the basis on which they explain dropping the charges is basically, "Well he was a judge, so it would be rude to prosecute him too much." And Super Judge -- who, up to this point, has been reasonable if not necessarily unbiased -- is totally cool with this? What ever happened to the system being biased against WUDs, especially WUDs who pretend to be human and obtain powerful positions through deception?

Then there's the fact that you can't forget that Makusu is being defended by his primary victim because everyone in the courtroom brings it up once every five seconds. "Her testimony lacks objectivity because she was a victim!" says the prosecutor. Err, well yeah...she can't be objective because she was kind of emotionally invested in nearly being killed, what do you expect? The prosecution also tries to claim that her testimony isn't credible since she was unconscious at Makusu's apartment, so she can't know what happened -- as if a teenaged girl being found unconscious, against her will, in the apartment of a 50-something-year-old man presents no problems for the court. This episode, I just...this is logic poison. This is logic cancer.

Not an objection!

But wait, there's more! Turns out that Makusu's plan all along was to pin Stabler's murder on Cecil, because pinning his heinous crimes on other people is what he does. Fortunately, Ageha and Chouno earn their pay this week by producing a witness who reveals that Makusu is a lying bastard: the judge who we thought Makusu shot to death recently. I kind of glossed over it because it didn't seem that important at the time, but Makusu shot a bunch of people who were involved in the conspiracy 6 years ago to keep them from talking. However, once Cecil started sniffing around, helpful precog Sasori (who's the hidden MVP of this show if you ask me) saw that he was in danger and warned him to don a bulletproof vest before Makusu could shoot him. Anyway, having the judge who sentenced Cecil's mother to death admit that the whole thing was a set-up destroys Makusu's plans but good.

But wait, there's still more! Even with all this going on, Cecil still faces the problem that she has no evidence that summoning magic was used on her, and that evidence is necessary to substantiate the charges against Makusu. Frankly, I think the giant occult symbol that appeared in the sky at the exact same time the summoning was supposed to have gone down could maybe count as evidence; I mean, they made a big deal that everyone in Tokyo could see it, too, but apparently the writers just forgot. Luckily for Cecil, Stabler's last act was to magically hide the Grimoire 365 inside of the Cell Phone Charm of Conscience and Contrivance, so she had the evidence she needed with her all along! Thanks Stabler!

Speaking seriously for a minute, it's pretty lame how little Cecil contributed to the resolution here. Stabler was the real hero for slipping her the evidence in his last act before death, and the Butterfly Law team produced the critical witness without her aid. Given the way Cecil has been for the whole show, it would be out of character if she suddenly came up with a brilliant plan all on her own, but the fact that the tasks that won the day were all carried out by other people is kind of sad; she's seen little to no character growth at all. She's still someone who talks a good game about producing justice, but her own efforts fail and she's reduced to reacting to what the more effective characters do.

BFFs forever, to hell and beyond

In our last dumb courtroom fight, Makusu tries to kill everybody before he can be sentenced, apparently forgetting that Cecil is the BEST MAGE EVER and can take him down without breaking a sweat. Makusu is sentenced to prison, where presumably Cecil's Mom will ensure he has a warm welcome, and all's well that ends well. The series ends with the Butterfly girls having a sleepover, with Moyo on the cusp of revealing who she really is to Cecil: stay tuned for the announcement of the Episode 13 OVA, "My Sleepover With Satan."

Closing Arguments

I've been talking about everything that's wrong with Wizard Barristers for weeks now, so I'll try not to repeat myself too much. Still, this was a series that had a lot of potential that really went awry due to poor writing. For a while, the quality production values were enough to keep the show mostly afloat despite the poor scripts, but even that failed; by the end, production was so strained that the climax was aired with unfinished animation. I really wonder how much of this is due to director Yasuomi Umetsu; between this and last season's Galilei Donna, he seems to have a habit of creating shows with really strong first episodes that disintegrate almost immediately, and become downright embarrassing by the end. Maybe he should just stick to short OVAs, like Kite.

Assuming this isn't all Umetsu's fault, I think this show is a testament to how the breakneck production pace of modern TV anime can doom promising shows before they even hit the screen. This was most obvious when episode 11 wasn't even finished in time for airing, but I think this was the problem with this series at its conception. The problem with Wizard Barristers wasn't the concept; the idea of a supernatural law procedural is interesting, and something that really hasn't been done in anime. I didn't like Cecil much, but a lot of the other characters had potential, and the criminally-underused familiars had a lot of charm. With episode 5, probably the high point, we actually got a tiny glimpse of what a smart anime supernatural law procedural might look like...and then, it was all downhill from there.

The problem was that it seemed like staff was forced to use the first draft of the story, without any oversight or anything of that nature. If there had been time for someone on staff to actually research real law practices, they could have given the courtroom scenes enough grounding in reality that they wouldn't have taken us out of the story all the time. If they'd had time to refine the scripts in general, they might have caught on to why everything about the whole America/Canada field trip smacked of ignorance. Perhaps most importantly, they might have realized that it doesn't make sense to design 6 or so adorable mascot characters and not give them anything to do for the entire series; this whole thing seemed like a criminal waste of the always-great Norio Wakamoto's time.

The gang

Still, the one thing I can say for Wizard Barristers was that at least it tried to do something different; it failed, but the attempt has to count for something. I can only hope that other creators will take a look at this show, think "Hmm, you know this could have worked if only they'd taken it more seriously/given it more time," and will be inspired to take on a similar challenge.

For now though, it seems like a supernatural law procedural was just too tall an order for a weekly anime series.

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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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