Maintaining order in a world where Wizards (WUD) and Humans co-exist side by side presents authorities with some serious issues. WUD criminals are trialed harshly under the Magic Prohibition Law, and they call on the Wizard Barristers (Benmashi) to represent them. Enter 17 year old Cecil Sudo, one of the youngest ever Barristers to step into the courts. In a world of adults, crime, lies and magic she fights hard to one day free her mother from Death Row.
The first episode wows us with a fantastically animated opening sequence of the authorities chasing down a WUD criminal. The amount of destruction in the first 2 minutes puts into perspective how dangerous the WUD can be. Cecil lives with Nana Genie, a frog familiar thing who seems to do most of the housekeeping and cooking for Cecil. She runs late for her first day at Butterfly Law, and along the way takes on a job without her new employers approval. She is scolded by Seseri Chono, the second head of Butterfly Law. He’s a strange looking man, with blue hair and sunken looking black and yellow eyes. He is by far one of the strangest character designs in the show.
Several other women are employed at Butterfly, and three other men. The other new recruit Hotaru very much dislikes Cecil and sees her as irresponsible and unprepared for her new job. Most of the Butterfly team are WUD, and they frequently use their powers to get them out of trouble or ‘help’ the investigation along. Cecil is quite naive when it comes to dealing with people, and she really learns a thing or two from the other staff when they are partnered up. The Metropolitan Police are also some of the first on the crime scenes, so she often runs into Quinn and her partner Shizumu. Quinn is not terribly fond of the WUD, which is not uncommon in their society. The discrimination is pretty deep even within the government.
Kiba and Shibuki, two young men from opposition Shark Knight Law firm try and coax Cecil over to their side. They usually also show up to the trials along with Quinn and Shimuzu so they are spotted frequently. It becomes common for Cecil to get caught up in dangerous incidents, either through work or by coincidence. Usually ending in a fine for herself or Butterfly Law, it’s no wonder she isn’t fired or suspended yet. Her saving grace is Ageha, the leader of Butterfly who is a bit more relaxed than Seseri. Ageha is a regular human, one of few who seems to hold no ill towards the WUD and employs them willingly. Moyo is another employee who fawns over Cecil, she is a paralegal assistant and is also a WUD, but it soon becomes clear she is a bit unique.
There are several magic types and the standard Wind, Water, Earth and Fire are common, while Metal magic is a bit rarer. There are also Clairvoyant types, and children start developing powers as young as 10 years old. The metal power though seem a bit out of place. It is significantly more complex than the elementals, and very destructive as it takes metal from the surrounding buildings. Cecil’s magic is Metal, and she can create mecha called Diaboloid with her little scooter as the cockpit. There are other variations we see throughout the series.
My first impressions of Wizard Barristers gave me great hope, as the opening sequences were animated beautifully. The initial starting episodes were also very engaging, and the character designs were unique and colourful. Not since Howl’s Moving Castle has a magic themed anime really caught my attention. This series could have shone brightly as a mature Law action/drama series, there were a few things that really bought it down. For one is the type of humor they decided to go with. As such a serious show the comedy relies almost entirely on perversion. This isn’t too surprising though, as director Yasuomi Umetsu is know for including such themes in previous works. I have mentioned in other reviews that sexual assault on young women isn’t particularly funny. It’s outdated, needlessly crude, creepy and shows the creators lack of writing skills.
There is also the issue of inconsistencies in the Magic Prohibition Law, where most incidents involving magic end in severe punishment or the death sentence. In episode 3 we follow Hachimitsu as he is teamed with Cecil on a case. During the trial, he releases a criminals restraints in the courtroom (past personal issues) and she goes berserk and wrecks up the place. Endangering everyone’s lives she is eventually shot dead by Shizumu. Hachimitsu suffers a few days confinement at home, and probably a hefty fine. If that were anyone else, he would have been thrown in prison. The trials are often quick, and the Barristers don’t have much time to prepare to defend their clients. The discrimination is a bit much considering they have their own Magic Court and laws.
After a few episodes we see a pattern in Cecil’s life, and after continuous incidents using magic her powers start to evolve. There are a few unbelievable coincidences, like meeting Shark Knight in Canada when she goes to visit her father. Things aren’t as they seem and the chaos drawn to Cecil is suspicious. Quinn and Shizumu’s relationship starts to break down as his hidden agenda bubbles to the surface. We learn more about Labone and Macal and the mysterious book Grimoire 365 and how it is all connected to Cecil. Coincidences are not what they seem, and after re-watching the series you pick up on small things that foreshadow what’s to come.
I quite enjoyed Wizard Barristers, even though it was a bit all over the place and sloppy with some of the story telling. It’s a unique look at a modern magic society where the more powerful WUD are discriminated against and humans maintain order. I would have liked to see more from the Familiars, they didn’t really seem to do much other than housekeeping and the occasional magic assistance. The Wizard Barristers Complete Series is split between 3 DVD’s with English and Japanese, and special features like Web Previews and textless open/close themes.
I think if you enjoyed series like Psycopass, Fairy Tail and just magic in general you will appreciate Wizard Barristers take on Magic and Law.
A review copy was provided by Madman Entertainment to the author for the purpose of this review.