Overall the anime is just fine, excelling in certain areas and falling short in others.
I really don’t think that Wandering Witch: The Journey of Elaina is much to write home about (get it? It’s a bad pun pay it no mind). In fact I am not entirely sure why the community is really as divided as it is over this anime. I guess it comes down to my philosophy that people think that an anime is good without contextualizing it when they recommend it to someone else. Knowing your audience is a key of communication and relaying information to that audience is important in terms of how information is contextualized. It’s for that reason that I am not going to say that Wandering Witch is the best anime I have seen, or even one that I particularly head over heels for.
In short here are my basic thoughts about it: it excels as an observation journey that passes no judgement on the characters or situations that Elaina finds herself in. In short Elaina doesn’t tell you how to think about a situation but presents the story as impartially as possible from her point of view. This means you the viewer have to apply your own thoughts in determining what to take from each story.
What Wandering Witch is not: it’s not a show that is going to tell you how to feel and how to think about each situation. Elaina doesn’t pass judgement and so you don’t get her thoughts very often. Don’t expect her to moralize or draw a conclusion she expects you to agree with.
There are two main criticisms I have seen so far about Elaina: one is that she does nothing and two that this anime isn’t like other anime journeys of the past. How fair are these criticisms?
Elaina does nothing. I can see where this is coming from but this isn’t entirely true. Elaina is very limited in how she acts, she is not the type to take direct action that doesn’t benefit her. Elaina is a traveler and doesn’t know the ins and outs of the places she is visiting. Elaina isn’t the type who is going to act without information. She is after all a book worm and craves knowledge above everything else. In some cases her actions display her ignorance about the customs and cultures of the world she is visiting at large. Are there times I would like Elaina to step in and do something? Absolutely. One moment in particular I wanted her to set fire to the entire field of flowers. But that isn’t who Elaina is, and it’s wrong of me to force what I might have done in an instance onto her. The criticism that Elaina does nothing is one of her best qualities. She shows restraint wisely in situations that she doesn’t know enough about. After all she isn’t traveling the world to indoctrinate others into a system of morals or values.
Wandering Witch isn’t like other travel/journey anime of the past. I personally don’t really care for much journey anime, so I am not very well versed in this area. So I will not be able to directly confront the criticisms here. What I will say is that I have read journey/travel literature. I like to travel for vacation. So while I might not be as well versed in journey anime, I have plenty of journey experience myself. So in terms of her journey I see nothing wrong with it. I don’t know what an anime character is supposed to do in an actual journey. I guess violence and sex spice up anything, but that is the Hollywood approach which I generally despise. In terms of travel I will share some basic thoughts.
My first thought is that when you travel, you are a guest in a foreign country. It’s impossible without years of study and deep cultural integration to fully understand what is happening in other places of the world. It’s difficult to grasp or comprehend what others are thinking or what they mean. Meaning that it is difficult to place my value system on others, who clearly have other values. I have lived in Germany for two years, and I to an extent speak German. While I wouldn’t call myself a master of German the way I can claim for English, I could live in Germany just fine with the amount of German I know. I can tell you the way that Americans think and the way Germans think are completely different. I won’t go into all the details and nuance but it’s reality.
When I traveled in Japan, I had no knowledge of Japanese. So I was a stranger in a land where I looked nothing like the people who live there. I knew nothing of their language. There were things that I saw there that were certainly questionable by Western standards. But I respect people’s cultures abroad and realize that I don’t fully understand them, even in cases where I lived and spoke the language of the country.
I am not sure what people were expecting from Elaina’s journey but Elaina handles many situations as if she were a guest visiting other countries. This is in spite of the fact that she has awesome power to change the world around her. It’s not her place to intervene, and it’s not her place to tell others how they should live. This is one reason that I like Elaina’s journey despite it not being the sexiest of story lines. There are plenty of things to think about in the anime, and it does a good job of letting you draw your own conclusions. While Wandering Witch isn’t perfect, it is praise worthy.
Thank you for coming to my TED talk. I am getting off the high-horse now.
Do you agree? What are your thoughts? I want to know!
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