Majo no Tabitabi Episode 1 Review
Wandering Witch: The Journey of Elaina
No much in the pilot episode of Majo no Tabitabi struck me as impressive. It feels more like a lower stakes character focused show than a grand epic journey to save the world. The main character Elaina is a quaint young witch who is of extraordinary skill. She is competitive, but not aggressively competitive like many anime might be want to drive home.
Elaina is a witch not driven by a love of magic and the ethereal, but rather a love of adventure. The first episode makes it clear. Her goal in life is to travel the world, and becoming a witch at such a young age is just the tools to meet that end. I find that to be a relatively interesting motive for a character in a fantasy world where witchcraft is semi-commonplace. It is this facet of the anime I hope gets ample screen-time throughout the rest of the series. What drives a witch who is a master of her craft to travel the world to see everything there is?
A Critical Flaw in Character Building
Majo no Tabitabi has the feel of a character piece in addition to an adventure show. It is a journey of self discovery of Elaina. What bothers me the most is where I see a lack of character growth potential. Much of the first episode focuses on setting up her character. Pointing Elaina in the direction of becoming a young witch traveling the world. The problem I see is in how flawed the main character really is.
Most of the first episode of the anime is setting up Elaina’s passiveness. She arrives at Fran’s treehouse, and proceeds to withstand casual abuse for a month at her mentor’s hands. The conceit is that her own parents have paid off the Stardust Witch to take on naive Elaina’s apprenticeship, and mold her into a stronger person.
Even throughout her trials and tribulations at the hand of Fran, there are no critical flaws to point out. Her passive nature undoes itself when she finally confronts her mentor. Any boastfulness the young witch has is clearly broken up earlier in the episode when she is turned down by the other witches. At no point do I feel the show is setting up Elaina for growth in her journey. Something I hope changes over the next couple of episodes. An anime about a single character’s journey needs some direction to grow to be impactful.
Setting up Elaina’s World
Aniticipation for the rest of this anime comes mostly from the promos of Elaina flying through a fantastical world rather than anything the pilot offers. So much of the first episode spotlights two locales, Elaina’s home and Fran’s forest lodgings. I especially love the treehouse design of Fran’s home. It has a mystical element, and a look I expect of a good witch who is bewitched by magical butterflies. There just isn’t much beyond a few random establishing shots of the town/country Elaina is from.
I think I went into this first episode expecting the journey to be on the way. Not seeing any actual adventures of a wandering witch was a slight letdown, but you have to expect some setup. At the very least, Elaina’s character is well-established. Hopefully the second episode can really spend some time establishing the world.
Elaina makes a point of calling her witch outfit as boring. Honestly, I think the costume design in the first episode so far is rather charming. It mixes a bit of the good witch of the north with a classic medieval depiction of witches. It isn’t overly complex in design, but also isn’t as simple or bland as Little Witch Academia. Fran’s costume design even has its own flair different from Elaina’s final cloak with the hints of the magical stars under the brim of the hat.
While I don’t come off as excited by the pilot as I was when viewing the previews, I am not necessarily alienated by the episode. It doesn’t get right into the action of the journey right away which is a problem for me as a viewer, but at least the teaser at the end opens the series up for the adventure I am promised by the title. Majo no Tabitabi has a good bit of potential, but the first episode falls just short of demonstrating it.
[Image via Official Site]