I must confess. My initial hype for this show came from word of mouth. I heard of the high praise this series got and of there being content that would interest me. In 2019 an anime was announced. The wait was long but in Fall 2020 the long awaited premiere came. Question was whether a story about a witch traveling to different lands would be an interesting viewing experience. Let us find out as we take a look at The Journey of Elaina.
Note: This review is by someone who has not read the light novels or manga. For a review from someone who did check out my good chum Rory’s.
- Wandering Witch – The Journey of Elaina.
- Majo no Tabitabi (Japanese)
Genres: Adventure, Magic
Themes: Coming of Age, Dark, Yuri
Number of Episodes: 12
Plot Summary: Elaina was inspired by the stories in The Adventures of Nike to become a Witch herself and travel the world like she did. After overcoming an arduous trial she had successfully become a Witch and set off on the titular journey filled with many different kinds of adventures. Some mundane, others fantastical and even somber. One thing was for certain, there would always be a new experience for Elaina, the Ashen Witch.
The simplest way to describe this show would be that everything it does it does very well.
- The silly moments are often amusing.
- Elaina and the recurring characters are all very charming.
- The magic battles are very intense
- The animation is gorgeous, especially during magic battles.
- The soundtrack, while simple, is lovely with a fun OP and ED.
- Every visited location has an interesting story to tell even if some appear mundane on the surface.
- Although the author specifically insisted in an interview the sexiness be toned down in the anime what we did get was still quite lovely.
- The yuri is delightful and sometimes deliciously naughty. More on this later.
Although each episode, some early ones are split into multiple visits, feature self-contained stories Elaina’s experiences are carried over to later episodes. She does not bring up past events all the time but she does recall them and they play important roles from time to time, including some recurring characters like Master Fran. The coming of age theme does not pop up all the time but as mentioned in the plot summary every land or country visited provides a new experience for Elaina and she grows little by little with each one.
As mentioned in the bullet points the animation is excellent, especially during magic battles. This screen grab does not do the magic on display when Witches go all out justice. Picking a favorite is tough. Trust me when I say the animation is stunning. The soundtrack is simple but enjoyable and the OP and ED are delightful.
I mentioned somber in the experiences. It is what I like to refer to as the “Dark Trio Episodes”. These are Episodes 3, 4 and 9. Each of these episodes gets progressively darker with 9 being…let us just say there is good reason why there is a warning at the start of the episode. My big mistake was watching all “The Last of Us” cut scenes in preparation for “Part 2” before Episode 9. Had I known what was to come I would have waited a week before checking out LoU cut scenes. OH GOH. Like I said what this show does it does very well, including dark themes…
On a more uplifting note before the end of the G-View let us go over who I believe are the top two stars of the show.
First if Elaina herself. She is a lovable narcissist. She is greedy, scheming, self-serving (most of the time), smug, vain (though has the looks to back it up) and petulant. She is also kind, caring, brave, honest and a great ally to have on your side. She’s selfish but selfless under the right circumstances. There are also multiple instances throughout the show that indicate she is on the side “justice”, if you know what I mean.
Then there is who I believe is the MVP of the show, Saya. A fun girl to be around who had a rough start, specifically the main reason Elaina and her first met. After that rough little patch near the end of her debut episode however, she’s an instant show stealer each time she was on screen. Unlike Elaina who was somewhat subtle most of the time Saya’s openly fought for “righteousness” from the very beginning, growing stronger every appearance. A true heroine indeed. Also pay very close attention to Elaina and Saya’s interactions. There may be an “uh-uh” but at no point was there a “Begone! I never want to see you again!”. Viewers will know what I mean as they watch the show.
There is more “goodness” on the side but the main source of “bliss” is between these two.
Overall The Journey of Elaina is definitely a journey worth experiencing. What the show does it does very well from the amusing, the awesome and the dark. Be VERY CAREFUL with the third one. While each episode is its own contained story Elaina’s experiences carry over throughout the show popping up at certain points along with the recurring characters. Recommended to many. Hopefully more of Elaina’s journey will be animated in the future.
PS: I mentioned sharing my thoughts on whether Episode 12 could outdo what I believe was the pinnacle of awesomeness that was Episode 11. While 11 was more fun to watch 12 had an EXCELLENT story to tell. Pay close attention to as much as possible during 12.