Historically 72% of all the deaths in London are related to dragons, fantastical beings invisible to the majority of the people. While unknown to most, some people have been standing up to these dragons. Only inhabitants of Reverse London who live in the hidden “reverse” side of London can see the dragons. The protagonists of the story are witch duo Noel Niihashi and Ninny Spangcole. They are protection agents for Wing Bind. Their mission is to protect and manage the dragons within London on behalf of the people.
This movie is an introduction to a wannabe long running series that failed to be satisfying on its own. Story and Adaptation Problems This movie is the adaptation of Burn the Witch and in some ways also of the Burn the Witch Pilot. During this movie a lot of things didn't make sense and in order to write this review I went and read both of the manga afterwards. I should also mention that I have no knowledge of Bleach in any way and this review will only consider this show on its own merit. The movie manages to both deliver obnoxious exposition for half of the run time while not giving us critical information about what is going on. Here's an example: There is a scene in both the anime and manga in which they explain the "Dragon Interaction Law" which states that anyone that touches a dragon without permission is to be sentenced to 100 years in jail or executed. A critical problem arises right here from the adaptation. In the manga this is explained in text boxes on the side of the page which makes sense and works perfectly fine. But in the anime Noel says it out loud. She has no reason to explain any of that, those are basic informations of the setting that literally everyone in the show knows. In fact, she's not even explaining to someone really, she just suddenly starts to explain stuff to the benefit of the viewer even if there is no motivation for her to do so. Another example of this is when she says to Ninnie: "Our duty as Pipers is to take dragons to pasture and harvest from them". Can you imagine suddenly telling your colleague (senior colleague in fact!) what your job description is for no reason? Despite the heavy handed exposition the world building is still a mess. In the show they tell us the Dragon Law as I reported but then in the same scene we see Balgo do that exact same thing, touching a dragon. This is never explained. We can assume that this is because Balgo is a Dragonclad right? But what is a Dragonclad? The anime never clearly states it, the only thing it says about them is that they attract Dragons.And here the problems start to derive from the source material. While this movie adapts both the manga and its pilot, these two actually contradict themselves. In the Pilot the Dragon Law exists for the vague "benefit of everyone"and Balgo became a Dragonclad only because he was in contact with a dragon for 10 years and was a special case. But then in the following manga they say that everyone that comes in contact with dragons becomes a Dragonclad, and don't bother explaining then Balgo backstory in any way. Why did he not get imprisoned or executed? Why is he special?The show then goes even further, it doesn't explain neither why the Dragon Law exists nor what is a Dragonclad.Oh and, spoiler warning, the only time we see someone break this "extremely important law" guess what happens? They obviously don't get punished or killed at all but instead recruited in the group. Why authors make laws and rules importance when they don't give a fuck about following them I will never understand... The problem of a "future long running series" Other than contradictions the main problem with the show it's the sheer overconfidence that this will be a long running series. When in an hour long show with a tight runtime I see them wasting time showing of a council of some sort and present EIGHT DIFFERENT COUNCIL MEMBERS when only a single one is in any way relevant to the story told in this installment I can't help but roll my eyes. The show oozes a "I don't need to explain anything right now, I can always do it later" attitude. What is Balgo backstory? Find out next time! Who are all those characters that played a role in the story? Find out next time! Why exactly is the Dragon Law in place? Find out next time! Etcetera Etcetera.As it is right now, with this one entry the story is extremely weak. We focus half the runtime on character we don't really learn anything about. And the actual story was forcibly resolved by story elements that are gonna be relevant in the future. All these problems wouldn't exist if this was what is was supposed to be, the first 3 episodes of a show. This is what this is, it's the only thing that makes sense. And I would have been satisfied with a new seasonal that started off this way. But since they packaged it a movie they are forcing me to judge it as such. And on its own it's terrible. Technical aspects The up-and-coming Studio Colorido did a good job considering the material they had to work with. The animations are really well made. The colors pop of the screen and the characters design are even more visually striking than in the manga. The only small problem I had with the technical side was with the OST being a bit bland and generic. But other than that this was a solid adaptation. Unsatisfying Non-ending This movie was unsatisfying on so many aspects. The second biggest fight ended with an off screen attack, as in we see the character that was fighting attack but not the attack landing. And the final fight ended with an off-scene attack, as in the fight was won by a character that was somewhere else and just walked in, won the fight in a single hit, and then left.Balgo gets a random power out of nowhere that never gets explained but guess what the show expects of you? That's right, shut up and wait.But I have to say that the biggest disappointment is how little the two supposed main characters of Noel and Ninnie actually mattered. Sure they were on screen and had some action scenes, but as far as the story is concerned Balgo, Bruno, Macy and arguably even the Chief were a lot more important. Don't market a story about two characters if you don't intent do write a story about them.
I gotta give credit where credit is due, Kubo did a fairly good job with what he had to work with. Given that BtW was originally a oneshot and was then turned into a limited 4 chapter series (also what was animated) taking place directly after the oneshot events it's no wonder the story and characters feel flat/lackluster sometimes and can be an overall confusing experience for someone who found it through these episodes and not the original oneshot. If given enough time I'm sure this could become a good series if Kubo ends up adding more to it in the future. Right now I just think it's solid for what it is.
Harry Potter meets Hayao Miyazaki movies and adds some ‘can I see your pants jokes,’ so that no one will copy strike Kubo-san.Burn the Witch is not worth the ‘Bleach’ hype. The anime follows the adventures of Noel Niihashi (Rukia should have stayed petan) and Ninny Spangcole (Hiyori is finally boing-boing). The two are Witches that work for Wing Bind in Reverse London, the western branch of Soul Society, which is also populated by Dragons. This, however, is being kept in a secret from the Human World's London.This all might sound as an absolutely gem, as a candy that you will rush to savor. Unfortunately, the movies are mediocre: the characters show hardly any development, the ‘pantsu’ jokes somewhat interfere with taking this anime seriously, and the storyline just does not make any sense whatsoever. For example, why are humans the main focus of Burn the Witch? Why did not Wing Bind offer any help to Soul Society in Quincy Blood War? What are these dragons, when they do not even remotely resemble hollows? Where are hollows? There are just far too many questions.Unfortunately, it looks like Burn the Witch does not even care about making even a grain of sense. Of course, it is near impossible to show enough development in only 3 episodes, however, what is the point of mentioning the Bleach universe? There is none. It is an open secret that Bleach, too, has way too many flaws. But one thing is obvious, the series had its drama and there was a story. Not the best one, but still an okay one. And then comes this. I do not know, Burn the Witch might have been the best prank of Kubo-san so far, 10/10.
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