First Impressions are important. When we meet someone for the first time, we generally get a vibe off them that effects the way that we see that person however, this isn’t always the case for TVs and Movies.
While a show can have a great pilot, the show can fall apart in the later episodes. The same could be said for a bad pilot leading to a good show.
While a bad pilot might not lead to a series at all, there are still times when shows can turn themselves around for better or worse.
That being said, I think you can guess where this review of Wizard Barristers is going.
Wizard Barristers: Benmashi Cecil is an anime directed by Yasuomi Umetsu and produced by Arms.
The story takes place in a futuristic world where society is filled with two types of people; humans and Wuds.
These Wuds, or Wizards are beings whom look like humans but have the ability to command a number of things including water, air, metal, fire or even the universe itself.
With these powers Wuds are seen more as threats than regular people, so a series of rules are soon formed. Wuds are unable to hold public office or use their powers in anyway other than self-defense.
However, they still do have legal rights and if they’re charged with a crime they are defended by Wizard Barristers, lawyers who also have Wud abilities.
One of those law firms, the Bufferfly Law Offices, hires our main character, the young half Japanese half Canadian Cecil. After spending years in Canada she returns to Japan as the youngest Barrister in history.
The reason for her return is due in no small part to her mother, whom was arrested for defending a young Cecil from attack years before. In the attack her mother killed a man and she was arrested and charged. It’s Cecil’s goal to prove her mothers innocence and help the many clients that walk through the law firm’s doors.
During my First Impression of the anime, I noted that a Magical Legal Procedural was a subgerne that I never knew I wanted. That being said, this show works best when it sticks with that idea.
Over the course of the 13 episodes the majority of the show focuses on the Butterfly team defending a number of clients. Each of the cases we follow features Cecil working with a different member of the firms learning more about them and the legal world. However, as the show progresses Cecil is put into more and more dangerous situations.
The events end generally with her using magic and awaking a new massive power. As it turns out these awakening are part evil plot created by several characters in the series. Cecil soon becomes the focus of a cult whose goal is to summon Satan himself to earth. Why? Cause power I guess.
With the basic idea thrown at the characters the main plot starts to faultier a bit. This is made even worse through the final batch of episodes when the Barristers soon have to face the corruption that comes from the cults leadership. The show ends up throwing a number of things at the audience and hopes that they’ll make sense of it. In short it feels grossly out of place.
Barristers had a good thing going with the legal side of the narrative however, I understand that it needs to grow into something bigger. That being said the twist makes it feel like a totally different show.
What makes the plot worse is that the cult all but succeed in their plan but are stopped seemingly for no reason when one character get’s cold feet. Adding to the confusion is the twist that Satan was already on earth and possessing one of the characters in the whole time.
Once Cecil finds out about this she shrugs it off as a dream not thinking twice about it. Cause you know when Satan has possessed you and your friend for god knows how long, the best thing to do is to ignore it.
All of these narrative issues are compounded by the fact that the final two episodes feature some horrible production.
Fight scenes are awkwardly cut where the action isn’t shown. Instead a close up of the person using the power fills up the screen then cut to dead people on the ground. Characters look unfinished and even lip flaps don’t match up in certain scenes.
It’s annoying when even the basics of dubbing are done better by a group of geeks doing an abridged series on YouTube.
Despite the production issues, during the majority of the series animation and character designs are strong.
Each character has their own look and fashion. The show even tries to make Cecil look different due to her Canadian heritage. However the majority of them look a lot like many of Umetsu’s older characters (Most notably Cecil’s resemblance to Sawa from Kite).
The creators even create new fashion styles for the world adding to the universes development. That being said, stating that some of these fashions are odd would be an understatement, the best example being the blue headcrabbed Seseri, whose aforementioned hair makes me laugh every time he’s on screen.
While the series does have an interesting art style it fails to really hammer down a proper tone.
While the majority of the show is serious and deals with murder (and Satan for some reason) but there are plenty of moments where this goes out the window due to the cartoonish animals that follow some of the characters.
A number of Wuds have these talking animals that follow them around much like a pet. These characters have little to nothing to do with the plot, yet the show is more than happy to give us scenes with them interacting with their owners as well as each other.
These animals seemingly are there for comedic relief however they end up making the show feel bipolar at times. We’ll get Cecil focusing on a difficult case only to have a talking frog to fondle her. It’s annoying to say the least.
While a show like this does needs to lighten up at times, the majority of these scenes don’t work that well and come out of nowhere.
Another thing that’s off at times is the show’s soundtrack. While the first episode featured some interesting instrumentation the majority of the soundtrack doesn’t match the promise of the first episode.
The songs do feature a number of different instruments but ultimately the soundtrack isn’t that impressive.
In summation, Wizard Barristers has a lot of good things going for it. It features a lot of interesting ideas, mixes two genres together and for the most part works.
But, when the show moves towards comedy or Satan it ends up feeling like a totally different show altogether. The main thing that made this show interesting was the Legal Drama in a world of Magic…focus on that not talking frogs. Additionally the show’s final episodes fall apart both in storytelling and production.
Overall, the show is interesting enough to watch, but in the end the production team shows off why they normally only work on erotic titles and not major dramatic releases.
Wizard Barristers: Benmashi Cecil was produced by Arms, a subsidiary of Pierrot Plus. The title is licensed by Sentai Filmworks.