Anime DVD Review: Tweeny Witches Volume Three

Tweeny Witches Volume Three is a two-disc set that includes six episodes of the Tweeny Witches television anime series. Technically, each “episode” included on this set is made up of two 8-9 minute episodes, so there’s actually 12 episodes here. Both discs include three “episodes.”

Tweeny Witches Volume Three
English Publisher: Anime Works
Format: DVD
Release Date: July 22, 2008

A human girl named Arusu who is a fan of witches and magic, mysteriously enters the world of witches. She meets two witch apprentices named Eva and Sheila, and discovers that they are capturing sprites. Arusu doesn’t like this, and she sets them free; this gets her branded as a troublemaker. Sheila is put in charge of Arusu, and Sheila and Eva are given the job of trying to reclaim the sprites. It’s quickly revealed that Arusu has the ability to do magic. In fact, a book she had with her in the human world that came with her into the world of witches turns out to be an important book from the witches’ world.

This set opens with Arusu trying to get away when the warlocks invade the Witches Realm, and how the True Book of Spells reacts to the anger she feels about magic being used to hurt people. In this set, there’s a strong emphasis on both the True Book of Spells and the concept of the magic of light. I was able to figure out early on in this set that somehow, Arusu would discover how to use the magic of light in order to save the day.

Atelia summons Sheila, Eva, Arusu, and Lennon. Several revelations happen at this point: Lennon is human, his mother is Atelia, and his father is Arusu’s father. Of course, I’d figured out that Lennon had to be Arusu’s half-brother back in Volume Two, so that didn’t catch me by surprise. And due to a scene with Atelia that takes place shortly before Lennon’s parentage is revealed, it was obvious that Atelia had to be his mother. Tweeny Witches has had a habit of being heavy-handed and obvious, which really destroys any surprise value that these revelations should have had.

At first, Lennon is angry with Atelia because he thinks she abandoned him and his father. But after the Magical Realm is threatened with destruction later in the set, he decides he needs to spend as much time with Atelia as he can in order to get to know her. Unfortunately, Lennon’s change of heart comes across as being forced because of how soon it seems to happen. But at the point we’re at, there’s not many more 8-9 minute length episodes left to tell the story.

Arusu’s father, who’s being held captive with Sigma in the Warlock World, tells Sigma about how Lennon and Arusu are both his children. At least this scene between them wasn’t as choppy as some of the scenes of the two of them together earlier in the set had been. “Choppy” and “rushed” are words that best describe the writing that’s used in these last 12 episodes.

The story ultimately climaxes with a group of witches overthrowing Atelia and allying with the Warlocks after Arusu ends up giving them the True Book of Spells. This alliance gives someone that no one in the series expects the ability to use dark magic to try to bring about the destruction of the Magical Realm. The leader of the Warlocks seems to be under the impression that destroying the Magical Realm will allow him to create a new world that he can rule over. It’s up to Arusu to figure out how to use the magic of light to save the Magical Realm.

As I said earlier, the storytelling in these episodes ends up being choppy and rushed, to the point that there are jumps in time where we suddenly see characters in what appears to be the middle of a scene. Because of this storytelling, it could be a little hard to follow what was going on at times. It also didn’t help that the series seemed to change tone and storytelling direction at least twice during its run. Honestly, I have to say that the episodes that appeared on Volume One were the best of the entire series. After that, the storytelling and animation just started falling apart. And when the series came to an end, I found it to be an unsatisfying ending. It was like, “I watched the entire series for this?”

When it comes to the animation, there were sections where very little details were includes for characters, and the cheating methods that were used in Volume 2 re-appear here (such as having characters talk while their back is turned, for example). There were even a couple of times where the animators were trying to create an interesting effect. But instead of enhancing the story, these attempts at effects drew too much attention to themselves and took me out of the story. And I have to say that Sigma probably got some of the worst animation in these episodes. Some of the animation on him looked so rushed that the animators made his outfit much more puffy than it was supposed to be. I could imagine Sigma looking in the mirror and asking, “Does this make my butt look fat?” I also had the thought that the overly-puffy outfit also made Sigma look like an Oompa-Loompa from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

In the end, I have to say that Tweeny Witches has an interesting concept, but the execution of that concept just wasn’t very good when all was said and done. I never thought it was a great show when I first started watching it, but it was at least interesting in those early episodes. And while I’m glad I can say I finally saw this whole series, it’s one I won’t be rushing to watch ever again, that’s for sure.

As for the DVD set itself, Media Blasters used one menu design and used it for both discs. The only difference is the disc number changes. Both menus claim to have trailers and bonus features. However, if you choose “Bonus Features” on the first disc, all you get is a splash screen that tells you the bonus features are on the second disc. And if you try to access the trailers on the main menu of the second disc, you get a splash screen telling you the trailers are on the first disc.

The first bonus feature is an almost 13-minute long interview with Yoshihara Ashino, the director of Tweeny Witches; the interview is in Japanese with English subtitles. He talks about how he got involved in the project, as well as the evolution of the project. This interview also includes a little bit of the first ever actors’ recording in Japan.

The other bonus feature is an 11-and-a-half minute interview with Daisuke Nakayama, the person who helped develop the characters and the story concept. Again, it has Japanese audio with English subtitles. He talks a little bit about the original personalities of some of the characters and how things changed after he came on board. We also get to see him going over designs with Yoshihara Ashino.

Some interesting things could be gleaned from these interviews. Ashino had made a reference to “the first 40 episodes,” which makes it sound like this project was initially meant to be longer, but was cut short for one reason or another. If there’s any truth to that thought, it would probably help explain why the storytelling became so choppy and rushed later on in the series. If the amount of episodes they were given was cut down, they had to find in ways to cram in information and plot points that were meant to appear much later. Also, Nakayama admits that the secondary characters were developed before the main characters. In fact, the main characters still weren’t entirely finalized when the main voice actresses came in to record their parts. After seeing these interviews, I couldn’t help but think that Tweeny Witches should be used as an example for how not to create an animated television series.

In the end, I can only truly recommend this DVD release to viewers who are already familiar with Tweeny Witches, enjoy watching the series, and want to add it to their anime library.

Additional posts about Tweeny Witches:

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