The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

Wizard Barristers: Benmashi Cecil

Title: Wizard Barristers: Benmashi Cecil
Genre: Action/Drama
Company: Arms
Format: 12 episodes
Dates: 12 Jan 2014 – 30 Month 2014

Synopsis: At seventeen, Sudo Cecil is the youngest lawyer ever to become a Wizard Barrister. Her job is to defend the rights of magic users, called Wuds, in the Court of Magic. Motivated by an incident from her past, she joins the Butterfly law firm to protect those she sees as being treated unfairly under the law.

The Highlights
Premise: Promising but wasted.
Tone: Bounces from serious to silly.
Entertainment Value: Never boring and fun to pick apart.

Wizard Barristers is a study in missed opportunity. The premise — examining a world with magic through the lens of the law — is intriguing and not something we have seen before in anime. At first it seems the series will be a collection of one or two episode short stories concerning different cases, but this is quickly overshadowed by the emergence of an overarching plot. As it continues, the series focuses less and less on legal matters and more on Cecil herself and an incident from six years earlier. Even this alternate direction could have made for a good story. It has the elements of a solid mystery, revealing information piece by piece and throwing in some unexpected turns, but it falters. The story feels forced and often far too convenient, leading only to another action scene instead of any real progress in the narrative. By the end, the story makes little sense and nothing is fleshed out enough to really care about.

Not helping is the fact that Wizard Barristers doesn’t know what it wants to be. It mixes drama, action, comedy and even a splash of mecha and ends up with an ugly mess. The series would have been much better off if it had taken itself seriously instead of throwing in giant mecha battles and rude frogs. The inconsistent tone is not helped by the characters, most of whom are fairly bland and underdeveloped. At best, these characters are given one episode to shine and then never fully utilized again. Some of the side stories, especially the episode concerning Hachiya, are the best part of the show. But all the interesting questions and issues that are raised are left behind as the story focuses increasingly on Cecil, a protagonist who spouts ideals and goals but ultimately feels empty. She is simply not engaging enough to carry this story.

The last two episodes are especially poor, wrapping up the tale in a way that feels cheap and unfulfilling. It’s really a shame this series didn’t amount to more. There is an interesting story to tell here, but it gets lost in the mess around it. Despite everything, however, this series is not boring. It’s fast paced, action oriented and fun to dissect and pick apart. There’s some nice animation at times and some interesting ideas are presented about the legal and social implications of magic even if they are not really explored. It’s an entertaining but frustrating experience that should have been better.

The Rating: 4

Reviewed by: Kaikyaku

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