Not All Fairy Tales have Happy Endings…
What They Say
Firiel’s life has always been a little unusual… after all, how many girls are raised by caretakers because their father spends all his time studying in a tower with his apprentice? But when Firiel goes to the Queen’s Ball wearing a necklace that belonged to her mother, she makes a shocking discovery: she’s a missing member of the royal family and a contender for the throne! Trapped between opposing factions and manipulative parties, Firiel finds her life in danger, and her best hope is to learn the queenly skills her rivals already know. Unfortunately, the place to do that is at the same school her bloodthirsty competition already attends! Things are looking Grimm indeed as the darker side of fairy tales is unleashed in THE GOOD WITCH OF THE WEST!
I’d like to say it’s because this anime is older, but it might just be that DVD audio from Japan isn’t very good. While it says Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0, the sound has a bad tendency of everything being the same volume. Of course, this means that explosions, which should be loud, are no louder than someone talking. It’s the same with shouts and so on.
As expected of an anime that technically came out in 2003 but only just got released in the US, The Good Witch of the West isn’t that good in terms of video quality. Lines are grainy, colors look pixelated, and some of the animation feels like the rendering speed went from x1 to x.0001. I’m not sure if that was because of the animation itself becoming clunky, or if the video quality has something to do with it.
The brown cover is lined by a simple motifs near the edgings. On the top it tells you the number of discs (3) and episodes (13), while the bottom tells you this is the complete collection. A gold line surrounds the box showing the main characters—Firiel and Rune—up front, the side characters behind them and to the left. The background is of a tower and floating object that looks like the cross between a flower and a sun. The back has the same brown background, along with the “headline” up top, and a split down below with the two main characters embracing each other and the blurb on the other side. Below that is more information plus several screenshots.
The three discs each feature a different character(s). Because this is only available in Japanese with English subtitles, there’s no selection to change the audio or subtitles. The only choices are the episode selections, which you can choose to start from one of the episodes based on the disc loaded in your player.
Clean opening Animation and Clean Closing Animation.
Content: (Please note that this portion of the review may contain spoilers):
Despite the headline being “Not All Fairy Tales have Happy Endings…” this anime does actually have a happy ending. I feel like I should get that out of the way first. That headline is very misleading.
In the land of Ghral, a young girl named Firiel has just turned fifteen. This is a big time for her. Being fifteen means she can officially attend balls and parties. It’s never really explained why a girl needs to be fifteen to attend a party, but we’re just supposed to except it. That’s not important anyway. What is important is that this girl is being cared for by a pair of caretakers because her father spends all his time studying with his apprentice. This naturally causes some friction between father and daughter. Oddly enough, Firiel and her father, who she calls the Doctor, are never seen together outside of flashbacks.
Firiel attends the Queen’s Ball wearing a necklace that belonged to her mother, which Rune literally gave to her just minutes prior in the series. Of course the necklaces causes problems. It’s known as a Queen’s Touchstone, and apparently only members of the royal family are supposed to have one. What’s more, the one that Firiel has was supposedly stolen when Ediline, a young woman and member of royalty, disappeared some ten years before. Naturally, we soon learn that Firiel is the daughter of Ediline and a rightful candidate for the thrown.
The Good Witch of the West is an anime that I have some very mixed feelings on. It does some things well, some things not so well, and some things that make me shake my head.
I think the biggest issue with the series is that it creates plots that are never followed through. Sometimes we’ll be introduced to characters who seem like they’ll have a big role to play, and then we never hear from them again, save one or two scenes that show them doing nothing really important. One girl who Firiel met when she attends an all girl school is literally a killer who thinks she’s doing God’s work, and not only does nothing really happen, but she gets several more scenes where all she does is pray, and that’s it. Nothing important happens during these scenes to further the story.
Another prime example is when one of the antagonists, a member of the heretics known as Hermes, tries to convince Firiel to marry him. Nothing ever comes from this outside of some drama. Then the whole matter is dropped and never shows up again. This lack of certain plot twists going anywhere is mostly because they have to cram 8 volumes worth of story into 13 episodes, which is impossible to do. This causes some of the plot to suffer, and sometimes characters that should get more development are left by the wayside.
On the other hand, I really had fun watching this.
The whole story gets thrust into motion when, on the holiday of the Queen’s birthday, Firiel’s father, through her friend Rune, gives her the necklace that thrusts her into this whole mess. Immediately after episode one, Firiel is being shoved into various conspiracies, political intrigue, action, and romance. Despite the story moving along so fast it makes my head spin, I did find the story very gripping and some of the characters were compelling, especially recurring characters who show up throughout the series.
I think my favorite aspect of this series was the romance. While I’m a sucker for good romance, I’m rarely compelled by it in anime thanks to the general lack of anything resembling romance. Sometimes romance can take 12 and even 20 episodes before going anywhere, which is so slow that I can’t even bring myself to care by that point. The romance in this anime happens relatively quickly. While the two main characters do walk around each other to some degree, we’re given enough romantic moments—true romantic moments—that I was never frustrated by the romantic subplot. It helps that the subplot is resolved before the story ends.
This was an overall good anime that I feel was slightly ruined by the break-neck pace of the story. Everything happens so quickly that we’re given no time to rest. What’s more, it felt like the director was getting sloppy toward the end, as if he realized they needed to finish things up and rushed through to the ending. However, while the resolution of the main plot leaves something to be desired, I can say this was an interesting series overall.
Content Grade: B
Audio Grade: B
Video Grade: C
Packaging Grade: B
Menu Grade: B+
Extras Grade: D
Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: September 5, 2017
Running Time: 325 minutes
Video Encoding: 480i
Aspect Ratio: 16×9
55″ Class AQUOS HD Series LED TV LC-55LE643U, Xbox 360 DVD player