So much for the Surgeon General’s warning…
Alright, I’d actually written much of this originally for my week in review post this week, but then realized it’d probably gotten much too long for that… and, well, I’d been toying with the idea of blogging it anyway, so, hey, here we go.
This episode, admittedly, was a bit silly compared to the previous two. Yeah, sure, we have a wrongful conviction that set in motion a future murder and created a situation in which several more people could’ve been murdered, as well as some material about social and legal discrimination, but we also have a guy who should know better acting like a dope and a dupe. Hachiya has been previously portrayed as the slightly cold, rather serious member of the Butterfly Law Agency, but here he truly believes that if the culprit is allowed to kill him it will make up for his involvement as a prosecutor against her boyfriend who was wrongly convicted and subsequently executed. Mm hmm. Makes perfect sense! But of course the culprit reveals that that isn’t the intent at all and its only through Cecil’s efforts that the entire courtroom isn’t wiped out.
We’ve gotten strong indications previously that being a wizard in Japan isn’t all that much fun, but here we learn that wizards are legally barred from serving in the public sector except as wizard barristers. Hachiya was a prosecutor before his powers awakened, at which point he was forced to find another job. Of the other wizards we’ve met who don’t work for a law firm, we’ve had robbers, an ex-bank employee who became unemployed in part because he was constantly being bullied at work, and a circus performer. While it probably isn’t totally legal to bar wizards from private sector jobs, it probably isn’t totally illegal, either, and I don’t think its a coincidence that we haven’t met, say, a wizard idol yet or a wizard retail worker or a wizard dentist. Before his awakening, Hachiya stated that wizards weren’t people, and it definitely seems that this is the ruling opinion in society at large.
Mind you, we don’t witness anything like wizards being barred from going into shops or taking the train. Though, there isn’t a way to visually identify wizards, so it’d be a bit hard to. However, if most wizards are impoverished, you end up with a sort of de facto discrimination system for them, anyway, because society sans wizards already looks down on the poor. People who don’t look like they “belong” in particular places and establishments because their clothing is older and worn, or their teeth are in bad shape, or their hair looks unwashed are made to feel unwelcome in those places, often being followed by shop attendants in stores, or arbitrarily stopped by police officers or security workers. So, sure, not being stopped specifically for being a wizard, but if wizards are disproportionately likely to be poor…
As I was watching this episode, I was reminded of Witch Hunter Robin – it feels like a less self-important version of that, although there are a number of other differences, too. Witch Hunter Robin concerns an agency that works to track down witches who have been killing people. Robin is a new arrival to the agency, and is treated with some skepticism initially over her young age, like Cecil. Both are also half-European of some stripe. Cecil’s characterization makes a ton more sense, though, because despite being cloistered with nuns her entire life in Italy, fifteen year old Robin is able to navigate Tokyo just fine and later dons tight pants without batting an eye even though she’s worn a floor-length dress since she was a kid, but, hey, I guess you have to try hard to make her seem more mature to lessen the creepiness of her budding romantic spark with a guy who is in his mid-twenties.
Err, I digress. The point is, Witch Hunter Robin is about a group that hunts down witches whereas Wizard Barristers is about a law agency that defends wizards accused of crimes. Hell, in WHR the witches don’t even get a trial – they’re just locked up, and experimented upon! (WHR also gets into a false dichotomy of craft users and witches where the only distinguishing factor, really, is that craft users are those the government approves of, and only then because they can be used to combat non-approved magic users.) There is still the strong element of magic users not being trusted by the government, though, and facing persecution as a result. Thankfully, Wizard Barristers doesn’t seem totally hung up on its pretensions as Witch Hunter Robin did, and I feel confident that it’ll remain that way.
Before closing, can’t forget to mention the attempted poaching of Cecil by a rival law firm, Shark something or other. They tell her they’ll pay her better, but she politely refuses, although they leave her seemingly sure that she’ll change her mind. Back at Butterfly, the others express some awe, and note that they’re more prestigious… and also that they don’t have any women working for them. Interesting! So are they more prestigious in part because they’re all men and Butterfly is mostly women? “But wait, Butterfly also is a lot more casual – those men were in suits, but the Butterfly people just wear whatever and they’ve got a fairly average-looking office!” We don’t see Shark’s office, but we can sort of envision it based on the suits of the men – very neat, and quite modern corporate (glass and steel!). I’m curious to see a bit more of Shark since I would like to be able to compare the two a bit more, as there’s a hint of a dichotomy here that may be grounded in gender, and Umetsu handling the reins does make me feel inclined to think there probably is something to it. HMM.
Anyway, could still do without the frog familiar groping Cecil. It isn’t funny, even if it is
Norio Keroro Wakamoto voicing the frog. Although, apparently, familiars being creepy isn’t something unique to the frog, as Hachiya’s pig is introduced and seems just as interested in being a harasser as the frog. Is this a stealth Muppet’s reference, by the way – a frog and a pig?