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First Impressions: Wizard Barristers

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A wizard (lawyer) did it

I'm so disappointed right now-- though not because of Wizard Barristers, which had a great first episode, and you should probably drop whatever you're doing and watch it right away. No, I'm sad that I missed my opportunity to make a dumb joke. I was going to title this post "Law and Order: Magical Victims Unit," but other people have already made that joke, so now I just feel like a lame copycat for even going there. Yet, it's an area so rife for humor that to ignore it seems almost criminal.

Look, Wizard Barristers is like a buttoned-down, by-the-numbers Law and Order-style crime procedural crossed with an explosive, loopy-as-shit anime schlockfest from the director of Kite, and that's just inherently funny. Everybody make up your own jokes, I don't think I really need to connect the dots for you here.

Deep in thought

The most notable thing about this show, right out of the gate, is the incredible quality of the animation. I had to frequently remind myself that this was an episode of a TV show and not a movie; it's that fluid. Considering that a lot of the draw here is director Yasuomi Umetsu's larger-than-life action scenes, well-choreographed action and buttery-smooth production values prove to be a potent combination for this new series. But it's not just the big set-piece moments that impress; it's the little things too, like the way Cecil's little frog mascot buddy is always hopping around in the background no matter what else is going on. This is a show that moves, on every possible level.

That's not to say that Wizard Barristers gets everything right in terms of visuals; the character designs are a little strange, with way too many same-faced women. I would consider bestowing main gal Cecil with the award for "Most Awkward Anime Fashion 2014," since between her outfit and that hairdo, she's rocking one weird ensemble; however, fortunately for our young lawyer, Super Sonico has a lock on that particular honor for the season. The obviously-CGI monsters also stick out from the rest of the show, but given the fact that they're "magical," that may be at least partly intentional. So while you probably won't find a better-animated 24 minutes of television this season, the quality of the design work is more of a mixed bag.

Interrogation

"Tell me everything you remember about that time you used magic to kill a guy."

"I used magic to kill a guy...and your hair is stupid."

At first, I thought the combination of a police/law procedural and a magical fighting show was completely ridiculous, but the more I thought about it, the more sense it started to make. Procedural shows are notorious for having a huge number of talking-head scenes, letting dialogue drive the plot. In the case of Wizard Barristers, those talking head scenes will be relatively cheap to animate, allowing the show to save its budget for Umetsu's trademark, spectacular action sequences. However, instead of cutting obvious corners on the animation to save money (see: Kill La Kill), the procedural format makes the cheap talking head scenes expected, even necessary. It's such a smart combination that I'm actually surprised it hasn't been done before.

By following teen-aged law prodigy Cecil on her first day at Butterfly Law Offices, we learn about how Wizards (the existence of whom is now public knowledge) have been integrated into the justice system, although it's a bit nebulous how it all works. The beginning of the episode leads us to believe that there's a completely separate court system for Wizards, but if that's the case, then why do defendants have to specifically ask for Wizard Barristers? Shouldn't they be assigned them automatically? Furthermore, why are normal, human cops hunting down dangerous Wizards-- shouldn't there be special Wizard police officers for that? All that said, I think we're supposed to be asking these questions, so I'm hopeful this will all start to make sense in another episode or two.

COPS

"Wait, you mean we need to go after Voldemort with nothing except dinky little handguns and one cigarette? Who came up with this system?"

Plucky Cecil herself is the show's greatest weakness thus far; both in terms of her actions, and the way the other characters react to her. First there's that kind of weird character design, then there's the fact that everyone at Butterfly is tripping all over themselves to gush about how cute and adorable she is. I don't get the point of dialogue like that; do the writers think we won't understand that Cecil is supposed to be a fresh-faced young girl unless we're told about it repeatedly? Distinguishing characteristics in general seems to be in short supply, since there are way too many people at Butterfly Law who all blur together at this point. So far, the most interesting character is Cecil's familiar, by virtue of the fact that he's a horny talking frog for no apparent reason.

LOGIC

SENSE: THIS NEED NOT MAKE ANY

Still, the combination of an intriguing premise, great production values and take-no-prisoners pacing is more than enough to make up for the fact that the characters don't shine yet-- at least for me. This show has oodles and oodles of potential, and while I'm not sure how confident I am that the creative team is going to realize that potential, I'm still cautiously optimistic. I'm certainly looking forward to the next episode, and I really hope that we get to see Cecil use some more of her bizarre magic-- preferably in mid-interview.

Cecil: "Okay ma'am, please tell me everything you can remember about the incident." *takes a deep sip of coffee*

Witness: *sips coffee* "Well, it all started last Thursday, when I checked the accounts as I usually do. Then I went to--"

Cecil: "Wait, hang on-- I gotta pull all the metal out of the environment and summon a GIANT ARCANE GOLEM out of the aether. BRB!" *drops coffee*

MAAGIIIAAAA

[Get ready to yell OBJECTION! only like, magically, on Crunchyroll]


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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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