Somewhere amidst all the exploding, flaming robot bunnies, there must be at least a single soul in this anime with whom I can relate to. Don’t get me wrong though. I’m not asking for realism. Oh no, I would never expect realism from a show like this. I can obviously tell that this is a show about mahou shoujos. As I’ve mentioned before, there are (sentient?) robot bunnies running about. Surely, the “quirkiness” won’t stop there, a fact painfully hammered into us at the very end of the episode:
Truly, a smorgasbord of veritable trouble-making lasses. If I was a different sort of anime fan, I suppose I’d be daydreaming about each and every one of them, fantasizing about their individual capabilities. Our heroine Kagari, after all, is purportedly the Witch of Flames. We’ve also already met Kuraishi Tanpopo, a girl with animal ears and the power to command an endless army of robot bunnies. So yeah, it’s not about realism; I’m not looking for that. It’s about… relatability.
I’m not even asking for one of the characters to be like me. That’s the usual spirit of relatability, after all. When the average person says, “Yeah, I can relate to her,” he or she usually means something along the lines of “That person is similar to me in some form or fashion. As a result, I can empathize with her.” But that’s not even the minimum requirement that I am looking for in Witch Craft Works. None of the characters in this anime are similar to me. That’s fine. I wouldn’t really want to switch places with any of them for even a minute anyway. But what I really mean about relatability in its simplest, most elementary form–you could say–is that… can I just have someone in this anime who resembles a human being?
Let’s start with the heroine Kagari. She’s supposedly rich; she gets her own private room at the school, after all. I’m told she’s smart, though I didn’t see any examples of it in this episode and I’m not even trying to be snarky about it. Hell, she’s probably great at sports too, I dunno. But these descriptors are rather impersonal. Being smart, being pretty, being athletic… these are qualities that might characterize a person, but it doesn’t really get to the core of who they are on the inside. And I guess what I’m getting at is that I don’t see that core.
All that I can tell is that Kagari’s stoic and odd. One has to be a little odd to ask a question like this: “You’re safe, so why are you so mad?” Within the context of the scene and what we’ve previously observed about Kagari, this is the sort of question that implies incompleteness in Kagari’s character. As if she’s robotic in a way, or a sentient being that is nevertheless underdeveloped emotionally.
For me, Kagari isn’t relatable. Maybe you guys can relate to her, but I can’t. I can’t imagine a person who is constantly surrounded by sycophants and doesn’t so much as react to them. I can’t imagine a person who, upon being impaled by a score of sharp blades, wonders why someone else might be concerned for her well-being in light of the security of his own well being. But of course, she’s the heroine. In anime, she has an obligation to be special, eroticized, placed upon a pedestal for all to admire. She has an obligation to be extraordinary. For that, one can forgive Kagari for not being quite human. She hasn’t been given the chance.
No, that’s the job of the everyday man. That’s Takamiya’s job, the self-proclaimed average high school student, mundane and featureless in every way. I can’t help but imagine that he’s the character I’m supposed to identify with. But like I’ve said above, that’s not what I’m even looking for. I’m not even looking for a blank slate to which I can project my wishes and fantasies onto. I’m just looking for a human character, but even Takamiya’s thought process is alien to my own.
I guess my problem is that Takamiya asks the wrong questions. For instance, he wonders why someone like Kagari would even concern herself with a guy like him. But existential doubts of one’s self-worth aside, Takamiya isn’t quite “feature-rich” enough. Does it not seem strange that his classmates are so obsessed with Kagari that it seems like a mental sickness? Does he not wonder why people would even bully him for interacting with her? Does he not want to know why he’s simultaneously her master and her princess? Does he not wonder why he’s being attacked by killer robot bunnies? No, he does not wonder about any of these things.
Rather, his questions are of a different sort. Why is she saving me? Why is she walking next to me? Why does she want to have lunch with me? These are questions about one’s place in society, one’s place within the systemic hierarchal structure. But these are the same questions that Kagari’s mindless sycophants share, however, so it’s hard to distinguish Takamiya from the wailing girls other than that he has, presumably, a dick that Kagari is bound by a soon-to-be-revealed contract to revolve around.
Takamiya is special in his not-so-special sort of way: an average high school boy that our hime-sama dotes upon for reasons currently unknown. It is a fact which is apparently much to everyone else’s chagrin. And its his utter lacking of any sort of distinguishing feature that ultimately dehumanizes him. It would be all too human for Kagari to attach herself to him if he had any sort of talent or skill of note. If he even had a great personality, even. Perhaps it will be revealed that he is caring, funny, sensitive, heroic, whatever, but even if this is to be the case, the reality is that Takamiya has nothing to offer now. He’s just an object that the plot has designated as “valuable,” and thus Kagari finds herself bound to him.
So I guess it’s natural, especially within the context of Japanese society, that Takamiya only concerns himself with the propriety of his “how-dare-he” existence adjacent to Kagari’s own existence. But while that’s depressing in a sort of way, it doesn’t make him relatable to me. He is alien to me.
And that’s my roundabout explanation for why this anime is so goddamn boring.