Spade of Trades’ Winter 2015 First Impressions: Maria The Virgin Witch Episode 1

If there was one thing that has been an indicator for a questionable adaptation, it’s a change of character designs. While at first I was worried because of how drastic the changes have seemed, the first episode reminds me there isn’t much to worry about in that regard because I have forgotten that fricken Production I.G. was behind the animation, the guys behind Sengoku Basara and Ghost in the Shell. Now I’m just worried about the what kind of story I’m getting myself into because this has a lot I was and wasn’t expecting.

For starters, I came into this one totally blind. I haven’t seen any previews, just the characters and promotional artwork. And even then I was thinking fan service was going to interfere with this one. And I was right, to a much lesser extent that I was expecting fortunately.

While there were some small cheesecake moments, like we get to see Maria naked more than once and one character is basically wearing bandages. But it’s not some Rosario Vampire bullshit where they fall down and oops panty shot, there’s none of that. As for the bandage wearing character, she’s a succubus so I’m giving it some leeway. I’m just worried that I might be getting into some lame fan servicey show, especially with Maria’s virginity being a butt of a few jokes and might even be a plot element if we go by the title.

Nothing too much really happens in the first episode, other than character introductions, which I got a good idea of Maria’s character, that she seems to be little naive but earnest. As for the other characters. Other than the succubus, whom I’m not exactly keen on design-wise, don’t really standout. They feel like they’re just first episode fodder and I’d be surprised to see more out of them.
The setting however, is very interesting on paper. Set during the Hundred Years’ War in France. Maria despises war, so she obstructs battles with her strong magical powers like summoning a dragon out of a cauldron. All done with great looking 3d animation, Production I.G. may be off their story telling at times, but they are hardly matched in production values. But, we only get an idea of the place in time it is at through dialogue. Without any knowledge of that It just looks like any other fantasy anime with empty plains, poor looking villages and a dense forest where Maria herself lives. But hopefully we’ll get more out of the setting in future episodes.

And I get why people would be nervous about the character re-designs, but to be honest, I actually prefer the anime designs to the original manga designs. I mean sure it looks like the change was made to be more appealing in a broader sense. But if that’s what they’re going for, I say they succeeded fairly well in my opinion.

Overall, I’m enjoying and looking forward to more in the coming weeks, despite the plot devices and the humor the anime has shown so far.

(animation by Production I.G. / distributed by FUNimation Entertainment / streaming on FUNimation.com)

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