Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Series Review - W.I.T.C.H.
Country of Origin: France
Produced by: SIP Animation Paris
Distributed by: Disney
Episodes: 52 in 2 seasons
Original Broadcast: Dec. 2004 - Dec. 2006 on ABC Family
Not all magical girls come from Japan. W.I.T.C.H. is a popular French animated series about five young high school girls who find themselves chosen to be the next generation of Guardians of the Veil, and are given power over the five basic elements of Chinese mythology: fire, water, air, earth, and quintessence (aka. lightning/stuff of life). Together they must stand against a tyrant seeking to breach the Veil between dimensions to find the true heir to the throne of the planet Meridian and destroy her. Just a snap when you're trying to make the grade, find a boyfriend, and enjoy your normal high school life!
Told in true Western fashion, the English version of the show is full of wise-cracks, witty banter, and teen angst. It borrows the typical episodic-in-an-arc method of storytelling made famous by Japanese animation, and the fluidity of the plot is strong throughout. The characters are very believable and the conflict nicely balances between the tensions you'd usually expect in a teen's life with those created by trying to help hurting, repressed people. Due to the in-depth portrayal of the characters, girls will probably connect with the series more than boys. The animation is fluid and colorful with a simpler but effective approach to detail. The overall effect is a fun, action-packed adventure with less drama than a typical Japanese magical girl story.
Like most best-selling anime in Japan, the W.I.T.C.H. TV series is based on the best-selling comics of Italian author Elisabetta Gnone, currently at 89 issues and still publishing. Disney is also handling the distribution of these comics overseas and in the USA. In the US, Disney has published the comics as a series of graphic novels containing 2 issues of the comics per book. There are also 26 books based on the series at this time, and Danish author Lene Kaaberbol has successfully published 9 spin-off books in the same universe. Unfortunately DVD releases of the series are limited to Region 2, but the show consistently runs on JETIX in the US.
This is one of my more recent discoveries and it has quickly become one of my favorites. The AO gives this show a 4/5.
DVDs: Season 1 Parts 1 and 2 from amazon.uk
Sources: W.I.T.C.H. on Wikipedia, W.I.T.C.H. (TV Series) on Wikipedia, JETIX - W.I.T.C.H., W.I.T.C.H. Magazine