Check-in Station: Wizard Barristers ep1(perhaps it’s too good?)
So this is an interesting predicament. How do I get so much enjoyment out of an episode, yet don’t want to continue watching the series? Oh boy, this is going to be a chore to explain.
Alright, we’re given the somewhat standard action show set up, as we’re thrown directly into a new unknown anime world for a new series. Things are off to a rocking good start as some flame-wielding homicidal *sshole is running through a train as he’s being chased by a heavily armed SWAT team. On a nearby roof, two detectives wait for the oncoming train.
It comes as no surprise when the SWAT team get their *sses handed to them by the wizard. Hell, he doesn’t just kick their ass, but derails half the train, causing massive damage on top of the murders of all those officers. It takes the two tough-as-nails detectives to hop on the train and take him down.
The story quickly moves on to the perpetrators trial, as it’s incredibly obvious to many likely important and recurring characters that the man is guilty, and he’s sentence to a spectacular magic death right there on the spot (impressive animation). After the execution, everyone begins to leave and we see an eccentric group of weirdos leave the building and talk to the two detectives who apprehended the now dead man. It’s clear from the conversation and earlier ones, that the detectives are normal people who do not care at all for wielders of magic. Though they don’t seem like bad people. The weirdos they’re talking to are actually a group of magic lawyers. While the two shoot-the-sh*t, they start talking about a famous new recruit the law firm will be getting soon.
Naturally, the narrative switches over to that recruit. Cecil Sudo, a talented half-Canadian (can that be counted as a race?), half-Japanese girl who at this moment can’t f*cking wake up on time for her first day of work! Good thing she has her creepy frog familiar, Nanagenie, to wake her up and give her sh*t the whole way out the house and to her job.
On her rush to work, she ends up getting pulled over for going the wrong way down a side street, and it’s here that we see her lawyer skills put to work, as she puts down an unwarranted search from two officers. A search that they only initiated because they found out she was a magi (forgive me as I struggle with all these magical terms). Her journey to work is further postponed though, when a giant metal dragon flies by and crash lands in the distance. It’s a situation she just can’t resist.
That was one hell of an opening to an episode! We’re just now getting to the opening credits.
The scene now moves to the law firm where Cecil is supposed to have arrived at by now. Some of the girls working there are going over her profile and anxiously awaiting her, though they’re disappointed when another new recruit by the name of Natsuna Hotaru shows up. Little do they know that they’re missing all the excitement going on further in town.
Cecil arrives at the location where the metal dragon crash landed, but she’s far too late to catch any of the action. The dragon is long gone, but there’s destruction at the bank where it landed, and a dead body. Cecil runs in and sees the two detectives that took down the flame wizard from the other day. Once she’s informed them that she’s a magi lawyer, they give her the heads up on the bank robbery, and how one of the bank robbers was killed by some fat, sad looking magi who happened to be at the bank and is in their custody. Cecil wastes no time saying that she’ll be the suspect’s representation, much to everyone’s surprise.
After that, Cecil finally arrives at her law firm and is promptly scolded by her boss, Seseri Chono (that won’t be easy to remember, but his face will be). Once her other boss, Ageha Chono calms him down, they start talking about the case she’s taken on.
It seems that the giant metal dragon was a tool used by the bank robbers working under the name of a criminal organization called, No Face. They were deploying a bold blitz-style bank robbing of the bank’s vault. One of the bank’s customers fought back with magic and killed one of the robbers. That customer is Cecil’s first client, Sota Kohinata.
Cecil and one of the other girls from the law firm, Koromo Sasori go and attempt to interview her client, but he’s completely silent. It’s not a very good start to her case, and suggests that he has something to hide if he won’t even communicate with his lawyer. To make matters worse, a case is being built against him by the police, as they reveal in their morning briefing the next day that he’s been seen coming and going to and from that bank for weeks, even after being an employ that was fired from that business. The evidence is painting the picture of him as a suspect for the robbery who turned on his accomplice for an unknown reason. To counter this, Cecil and Koromo go to the bank to interview the employees there, though they’re strongly shunned.
Things do clear up when one of the employees offers to talk to them after hours. The employee tells them that Kohinata intervened to protect her. It’s the just the testimony that Cecil needs. She’s able to get some words out of Kohinata finally, finding out that he was harassed at work for being a wizard, and that he had a crush on the employee he saved. The path looks clear to her now, as she’s decided to go with self-defense to protect her client.
We’re then shown a brief scene where Cecil goes to a women’s magic prison to visit some older woman. The connection is clear, the type of connection is not. Mother, friend, lover? Who knows?
Later that night, one of the girls from the law firm, Moyo Tento, pulls Cecil away from her work for some snacks and fresh air. Too bad you can’t be a young talented female in anime and not get attacked by some *ssholes out for quick cash. The girls are attacked by a wizard wielding electricity and a guy with a knife, but Cecil is able to fend them off by summoning a large metal familiar. It’s even more unfortunate that the prejudice against magicians gets her thrown in jail for using magic in public. Sheesh!
End of episode.
Off the bat, this is a great first episode! The animation is spectacular, vibrant and smooth as silk! I didn’t take much notice of the music, but there will be plenty of time to soak that in as the episodes continue. Besides I’ve never dropped a show based solely on music anyway.
This show just screams quality. There’s a large cast of characters so far, and though they haven’t distinguished themselves much yet, I’d like to believe that there’s going to depth, or at least an attempt at it for the entire cast. Everyone on this show is just so vibrantly and distinctly drawn, that I can’t help but go with that impression. On top of that, I love the concept and generally its execution. There seems to be a healthy dose of very, very smooth and exciting action, along with the possibility for good cop/detective drama and mystery. And I’m anxious to see how the whole courtroom drama aspect will play out in this series. With a show focused on magic wielding, ass-kicking lawyers, you’d expect the courtroom drama to be pretty important and in-depth. I suspect that in this setting, it will actually be the climax of story arcs.
First of all, I hate the character designs. I’m not saying their bad, like those for CLAMP. Nor am I accusing them of being lazy or generic. A distinct look is great, but this one does not sit well with me. I’ve never liked the perfectly round glass eyes that many cute girl characters from shows like Kite and Mezzo Forte had, and that’s what I’m constantly staring at here with Cecil and this show. The eyes look vacant, glassy and creepy to me. It’s why I’m more accepting of those eyes for a robot or a doll than an anime character with emotions. And Cecil’s are bad enough, I really can’t stand Moyo’s golden vacant gaze.
Another concern is just how they’re going to balance all this action and drama. Despite everything I saw, I can’t nail down a specific tone for this show. Right now, I just kinda get this generic action anime feel. It’s hard to fully articulate, but it feels like the show just threw a bunch of awesome and interesting stuff at me in a basket. But now I have to sort this stuff out and figure out what I really do and do not like that’s in the basket. Can I really expect this show to balance this large cast of characters, possibly looking at storylines from multiple angles and multiple settings, and now fall apart or become too complicated?
My last concern is that I just can’t stand dealing with shows so full of ignorance. By that, I mean I hate seeing gross prejudice in my media. I kinda see too much of it already in real life. And seeing stuff like that in a show gets me real pissed real fast. In the show’s world, it’s clear that the general populace, or at least law enforcement, doesn’t care for magi at all. They don’t trust them, and they’re more than willing to throw them under the bus given the opportunity. It’s not too bad here, but I see this being a major theme of the show going forward. Couple that with the fact that I don’t like cop and lawyer shows at all, and this show really doesn’t seem like it will be for me. I hope I’m wrong though. This show looks like it has the potential to be really good, and really dense. And if it lives up to those hopes, then this may be an early contender for anime of the year. And in a crappy season like this one no less.