Posted on 17 May 2006 with categories: Good Witch of the West - Astraea Testament

Okay, I was wrong. Roux didn’t come to Toras in order to protect Firiel, he came to Toras because he wanted to get out of the castle, which backfired a bit, so he ended up dressed as a woman in the Secret Garden. The episode answered a number of small questions which came up in the previous episodes. They’re more like details, though they’re good to know.

Whenever the story turns to Roux, the overall mood remains horribly dark. There were no Princess Princess references at all. On a side-note, there were plenty of Utena-references, though. These really made me rejoice. The scenes weren’t as obvious, but the fencing, the stances and the elegance really reminded me of the style that Utena posessed.

Anyway, when the story turns to Firiel, however, the mood of the show suddenly turns light. She suddenly has friends, when compared to the previous episode, and people actually start to notice her. This episode was sortof like a room with a broken light: light-dark-light-dark-light-dark, et cetera.

Anyway, the episode starts with Firiel questioning Roux. Roux gives his explanation, and reminds Firiel that she’s easy to fall for traps. When he walks alone a couple of hours later, he gets cornered by the student council. Apparently, they run some kind of policy to check the underwear of each of the new transfer students coming in. (Hmm, why wasn’t Marie a victim?) Roux, however, reacts totally different than Firiel did, and he manages to get away.

Later, when Firiel, Marie and Roux have lunch (or breakfast, though it seems too late for breakfast), Roux tells what happened, and Firiel is glad that the student council didn’t discover Roux’ identity. Then, they notice that everyone suddenly stares at them. Not with anguish, but with awe. This is either because Roux looks cute in some strange way, or they found out that Firiel made friends with Adale. I’d put my money on the last one.

That night, Roux decides to pay Firiel a visit, and invites her for a play of chess. It really was a good idea of Eusis to introcude Roux to this game, as he’s quite fond of it already. During this game, however, Firiel discovers that not everything of the Ephemeris (Firiel’s father’s research) was burned in the first episode. This was probably the first time that Firiel managed to surprise Roux with her knowledge. Roux then teaches her a few things about the link between chess and the real world.

Another interesting fact is that the main sister of the school, Sister Lain, is often compared to the Astraea statue in Toras. This is why everyone calls her the affectionate spirit. (Roux again uses this moment to point at her slow thinking. Even though she’s one of the smarter main characters out there. But then again, Roux’ awareness is a very extreme example).

We then turn to the end of one of the classes. Roux is sleeping (after all, why would he want to follow courses in order to please men, except for giving Adale a huge source of inspiration?) and Vincent asks Firiel to come with her. She wants Firiel to challenge Ravenna (the leader of the apparently “Fake” student council. Makes you wonder what happened to the “Real” student council) to a sword duel. In sword duels, not the strongest ones win, but the most elegant ones win. I like this. It really reminded me of Utena.

Anyway, we turn to that night, Roux takes a bath, and suddenly he recieves a love-letter. He shows this to Firiel, and she really gets angry at the line at which the girl professed her love for him, though the viewer’s attention was more directed to the sentence above: “In my mind, your back looks just as graceful as stars.” This can’t be a coincidence, after what happened in episode two, and yes, our suspicions get confirmed the day after.

Firiel is determined to find out who the girl was, though she gets dragged off by the Uo and Hana-clones, bringing her to Vincent for her first training. Roux, meanwhile, gets visited by this girl who wrote the love-letter. It appears to be Sister Lain. She mentions Hermes Trismegistus, otherwise known as the leader of the bad guys. She then forces Roux to obey, otherwise she’ll hurt Firiel. I’m very interested to see what he’ll do in response to this. After all, he’s got brains for a reason.

Firiel, meanwhile, gets introduced to another character: Igraine. She’s a master-swordsman, and she’ll be the one to train Firiel’s swordsmanskills. Firiel’s a fast learner, and judging from the battle-choreography from the mock-fights shown in this episode, the swordfights in the next episode might become extremely worthwile. Ravenna then decides to pay the two a visit, after which becomes revealed that the late Roselite was very good friends with Igraine, though she eventually chose for Ravenna. Igraine hates Ravenna because of this, explaining her motivation to train Firiel. Another Utena reference: the more Firiel fights, the more people become to admire her, and watch her duel. Meanwhile, we see Lain staring from a window, with a big smirk on her face. This should promise something for the next episodes.

That night, Firiel discovers a chess-piece from Roux’ chess-game, which she knocked off a night earlier. When she comes to bring it back to him, she finds him in a nightmare, and she discovers all of his scars. What follows is a very nice emotional scene (very early as well, considering that this is only the fourth episode). It becomes even more clear that even though the two of them argue a lot, they will be protecting each other.

Posted on 12 May 2006 with categories: Good Witch of the West - Astraea Testament

When I first heard about the show, I never would have imagined that it would be dealing with such heavy themes. That certainly became clear with this episode, after the previous one had been hinting with Roux’ torture. Anyway, this episode plays inside the Toras Academy (also known as The Secret Garden and the Demon’s Hideout), in the Kingdom of Gulair, nicknamed The Good Witch of The West. Yes, it’s not a person, it’s a kingdom, this Good Witch of ours. Its pride is the Secret Garden, the most elite academy in the world, practically everyone’s looking up to it. Ah well, this expains why the series is called the Good Witch of the West: it’ll be centered around the Gulair Kingdom. An interesting fact is that during the entire episode, there were absolutely no suggestions that the Secret Garden might be a very important place in the anime. Though the fact remains that it IS the main reason why the Gulair Kingdom got its fancy little nickname. There still is something major which has to happen, which will put the academy in the spotlights. But then again, we’ve only hit episode three. There’s still lots to come.

Anyway, this episode’s main purpose was to introduce the Secret Garden, and although it’s such an incredibly famous academy, it’s actually a very nasty place. This mostly is because of the three student-council members, who are absolutely evil and really believe that the nobles are the only people worthy enough to exist. Such a concept may have been done before, though this anime carries it one step farther, and provides some subtle differences as well. For starters: this is the first anime which actually shows what is being taught at these elite-schools: proper etiquette, and how to get a guy in 10 steps. The council members actually order people to just search through Firiel’s properties, in order to investigate. She then gets declared as a spy, and the council members make sure everyone in the entire school knows about it. Even the friend Firiel managed to make ignores her, which is totally different from other anime which tried the same. Another interesting, yet subtle difference is that an actual expelling request is put on Firiel, but it’s refused by the school direction.

Though the biggest difference, and in fact, the thing I really liked about this episode, is that the council members actually go a step farther than just making the life of our main character horrible: they plan to kill her. Not just in person, but they order one of their servants to do it. The planned setting was during a school-play. The council-members selfishly took up all of the roles, and play one of the oldest stories imaginable. Though apparently, it has great value for the academy. Rosellite brings Firiel to a balcony, at which she’s supposed to commit the murder. Though then the two of them start talking, and Rosellite begins to doubt, especially if you realize that Firiel’s incredibly talkative and thinks on her own, instead of following crowds. Then, when you think the two of them made peace, an assaulter similar to the ones from episode one appears, and attempts to strangle Firiel. Rosellite gets worried now, though in the midst of Firiel’s struggle, the assaulter pushes her off the balcony, killing her. The lights were out at that moment, though the noise makes the council-members turn the light back on. There they see Rosellite’s body, and what do they do? They label her as a sacrificial offering. I know such a concept has been done before, but damn… there never was an anime so straight about this, not afraid to hide people doing horrible stuff, or saving this for the last moment.

I also loved Firiel after this. She doesn’t wait, and immediately decides to leave the Secret Garden. Then she finally manages to run into a couple of protagonists, who appear to be a huge fan of Adale. I only noticed this after taking a good look at them, but their character designs have so many similarities with Uo and Hana from Fruits Basket! Their personalities are totally different, though, but I wouldn’t be surprised whether this anime had something to do with Fruits Basket. Anyway, when the two of them try to join up with Firiel, they come to the unpleasant discovery that Firiel actually plans to leave the academy immediately. I’m also wondering why nobody blamed her for seemingly killing off Rosellite. After all, it would be a good chance to make her look bad.

It also was nice to see that the creators really planned to turn Adale into an old-fashioned fangirl. Ever since the previous episode, she’s been acting very enthusiastic towards Firiel, if I do recall because of her love for fairytales. It was very good to get my suspicions confirmed, when it became clear that she wrote a very passionate story about Roux and Eusis.

Speaking of the devil, Roux and Eusis, meanwhile, are spending the whole week that Firiel spends in the Secret garden playing chess. Roux never heard of the game before, so Eusis teaches him. It takes a week for Roux to be able to beat Eusis in a game, which is extremely good for a beginner. This also fits his personality well. Episode one really made clear that he’s a good thinker. Anyway, the reason he started playing chess in the first place was because Eusis promised him that if he won, he’d do whatever Roux asked him to. Roux actually uses this to dress up as a girl, and get a place in the Secret Garden. He takes Marie with him. I really was a bit startled at first when I saw Roux’ disguise. His glasses totally gave him away, though. XD

I like the couple of Firiel and Roux. Normally, we would have a boy, protecting the girl. At times, creators try to be a bit original, so what do they do? Right: we have a girl, protecting a boy. Talk about extra dimension. Anyway, this issue lies different with Firiel and Roux: they really protect each other. It’s not a one-way road at all. They both love each other, and they both want to protect each other at all costs.

I’m also getting curious about the coming episodes. Firiel planned to leave, though at the end of the episode, Roux shows up in his disguise, trying to enter the academy, which makes her biggest reason for leaving the Secret Garden suddenly gone. Will the two of them actually be remaining on this place, or will they move on? One thing’s certain, though. This will be one of the central places in the anime. I’m also wondering about the girl called Cisaria. She obviously has a secret. Though what could it be? I’m guessing that she’s somehow aligned with the assaulter from this episode. Also, what happened to Adale? Didn’t she say to Firiel that they’d be attending the same school together? And why does Adale think the school’s such a good place?

Overall, I like Good Witch of the West. The art is incredible, the story shows lots of potential for later, and I actually like the main character for once. In fact, all of the characters have something unique. The current episodes aren’t the best ever, though I’m fairly confident that this anime will get better and better as the episodes progress.

Posted on 6 May 2006 with categories: Good Witch of the West - Astraea Testament

This episode was a bit confusing and hard to understand, though if I’m not wrong, the following things became clear:

– Firiel is Adale’s sister, I guess this would be a half-sister, as her father isn’t the same as Adale’s.
– Roux is the easiest way for the enemy to find out about Ephemeris, as Firiel’s father’s now nowhere to be found and the books regarding the Ephemeris are burned.
– Roux really hates all kinds of nobles.
– Whoever’s blood can react with the queen’s stone, has the right to become queen.
– Somehow, the queen can also be called the Good Witch of the West, though I have no idea why.

Apart from that, we have a very deep storyline going on, though I don’t understand any of it yet. I think we get more info on that in the next couple of episodes, because after all, this only has been the second episode. A scene that caught my eye was where Roux got tortured. This was probably the first time ever I’ve seen a mere child get this treatment.

This was clearly an intermezzo-episode. It wasn’t as good as the first one, but still I enjoyed watching it. The characters, for one, were very interesting, apart from perhaps Adale. I don’t know why, but she’s a bit too friendly with Firiel.

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