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11 March 2014: Witch Craft Works is what IS Infinite Stratos should have been like

Tanpopo and Honoka
Witches don't really keep a low profile.

Suppose you should be whiling time away in a cosmopolitan airport when a comely stranger inquires about the 501st Joint Fighter Wing decal on your notebook computer, asking if you serve in the military. Chances are, even if you do sheepishly admit that it comes from an anime, you'll probably neglect to mention that its valiant stars don't wear pants.

Nice hat.

I think most people will agree that there are multiple tiers of anime that correspond with the so-called "power levels" of one's audience. Discussing Miyazaki films that received a U.S. theatrical run? Totally different from arguing whether or not Mayoi Neko Overrun! is an overlooked, brilliant experiment in stunt staffing.

Tanpopo and Honoka
Sure, go ahead, take some time to gloat.

So where does Witch Craft Works lie? I think from most accepted "objective" metrics, Witch Craft Works is not air-quoted, speaking-from-the-sinuses, capital G "Good." Even if your Strike Witches decal outs the comely airport stranger as a fellow grunt in the War on Pants, you may be hesitant to offer Witch Craft Works as one of your favorite shows of the current cour, even if Comely Airport Stranger doesn't think you're a doofus for calling an anime season a cour.

That is some frizzy hair.

Nevertheless, this is not to say that Witch Craft Works is undeserving of being on a short list of winter 2014 shows that are fun to watch. I initially dismissed Witch Craft Works after hearing early reports that it was just another Potato-kun disaster, but decided to give episode five a try after learning it was MAMIKORE. I promptly discovered Kawasumi Ayako in the cast as well. With the AYAKO DOCTRINE fully invoked, I went back and caught up with the previous episodes. It turns out Witch Craft Works is quite a lot of fun even though the the two leads are sort of dull. Honestly, even after nine episodes now, I can't really describe the male lead in anything besides the most generic terms. Ayaka, at least, I can describe as tall.

Ayaka and Honoka
Specifically, slightly more than medium-tall.

However, the supporting characters are very amusing. I particularly enjoy the hapless Tanpopo and her gang of low-level miscreants. I may be biased due to my affection for Kayano Ai's post-Anohana work, but I even like Honoka's kid sister, Kasumi, a lot despite my general loathing of brocon imoutos. (Imoutoes?)

Nice hat.

By now, you're probably wondering what I meant by the IS Infinite Stratos part. I say WCW is what IS should have been because both shows feature boring schmucks who are surrounded by freakish chicks due to some convenient characteristic which serves as the putative reason why these girls should pay attention to them. In this sense, the largely useless Honoka from Witch Craft Works is arguably less of a chump than Ichika from IS Infinite Stratos, simply because he appears to be less dense, and because he doesn't have every girl with any sort of screen time throwing herself at him.

Tanpopo and Honoka
I like that even the hat is perturbed.

Both Ichika and Honoka also have nascent superpowers despite living in worlds where only females tend to have magic (or a significantly advance technology that is indistinguishable from magic). Although Honoka is a bit slower in developing these talents, he will likely also mirror Ichika in being the Chosen Male who can show these broads how it's really done. Hopefully, this sudden proficiency won't come to Honoka anytime soon. It is his dubious worth that makes Witch Craft Works, err, work, since it allows the world to go straight to Hell all around him without any ability to improve the lot.

Ayaka and Honoka
Sure, why not?

That's basically why Witch Craft Works is "better" than IS Infinite Stratos from a construction standpoint. Because Ichika was too good at all that IS jazz, IS Infinite Stratos sort of had to make him the actual centerpiece of the show and the focal point for the plot (which was never interesting) and plot-like maneuvers (which also sucked). This would have worked if Ichika was a more interesting character. Unfortunately, he's a waste of space. And when the waste of space starts taking up most of the show, it crowds out anything that might actually be entertaining. Honoka is not an interesting character either, and is also a waste of space, but he's (thus far) worthless enough that Witch Craft Works can keep him on the sidelines and focus on the entertaining parts: Witches thrashing the Bejesus out of each other (even though these witches probably don't even believe in Bejesus), and deadbeats getting smoked.

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