While there were plenty of magical girl series before, and countless magical girl series since, it can never be denied just what an impact Naoko Takeuchi’s Sailor Moon had on the world. The tale of school-aged girls, sharing a close bond of growing up and learning about the world while taking on evil forces that seek to disrupt all they found familiar and loved dearly.
So yeah, we are talking about W.I.T.C.H., Disney’s own animated magical girl series, noted by its creators to be inspired by Sailor Moon.
Originally an Italian comic written by Elisabetta Gnone and published under Disney’s Comic publishing branch, W.I.T.C.H. would be adapted into a full animated series in 2004. W.I.T.C.H. focuses on five teenage girls who learn that they are destined to be the Guardians of the Veil, giving them each magical control of a single element each. Wilhelmina (Will) can control energy, Irma gets domain over water, Taranee gets fire, Cornelia controls earth, and Hay Lin can control air. Thus was born the show’s title, as when you combine the initials of their first names, you get W.I.T.C.H.
The new team then has to set forth to protect magic, stop the machinations of those who would abuse it, and of course, have plots that focus may be way too much on the crush of the week, some challenge at school, or bully.
W.I.T.C.H. – A French-American animated series based on an Italian Comic.
Wow, just like Sailor Moon?
The showrunners have made it clear in the past, that the W.I.T.C.H. animated series loosely was based around the established tropes and stylings of Sailor Moon, and honestly, nothing wrong with that. W.I.T.C.H. used them well.
Like most franchises in the genre, greater importance and inherited will would become a part of the story. Eventually, the importance of Wilhemina becomes a bigger part of the story. Like other magical girl series before it, her destiny is a higher status than the other Guardians. Again though, while dancing with the tropes, there is a factor of how it eventually made them, it’s own. The animated series has a bit of its format inspired by everyone’s favorite Sailor Scout based series, but the comic’s unique strength and interesting plots gave the cartoon a voice for itself.
Overall W.I.T.C.H.s plots were actually pretty cool. Sure they had their baddy scheme/villain to attend to each week, being broken up by whatever drama they had to deal with in school, but there was this air of an overarching story. Each master villain’s plan was slowly unfolding, and while the girls’ victories would set that arc’s villains back, it wouldn’t exactly derail them.
One of their school enemies is a pair of gossiping twins, and it just feels so perfectly over the top.
W.I.T.C.H.s ability to keep people invested was impressive, as W.I.T.C.H. was originally meant to be a limited run comic, but due to its quick success, found itself extended.
W.I.T.C.H. was great and very well done. The animated series had heart and managed to easily make itself loved. It was charming and the characters had that quality where they sort of seemed easily definable, but had a lot of space to grow. A lot of heartwarming and dynamic relationships were formed in the show during the Guardians journey. I will say, despite some of its more lackluster scenes, the art could be downright beautiful. The series could convey the emotion of this group of girls as they adjusted to the new situation they had to balance.
There was also a video game! A terrible video game! Oh, joy!
Like most people in North America, I caught episodes on Toon Disney’s Jetix programming block, and it was heavily marketed as being one of the pillars of it. The adventure for the Guardians had those moments where they had to deal with their school principal or hiding their powers, but then the show would also have to planet hop to different realms to protect the worlds.
Man, it feels like we have a habit of talking about awesome shows Disney would air on Jetix, huh?
And like many Disney animated series before it, W.I.T.C.H. would find itself canceled while its third season was being developed, losing to its main competition at the time, Winx Club. And oh boy, what a season would it have been! W.I.T.C.H. Season 3 promised to be darker and serious, making the girls face dangers on a whole new level. Previous antagonists would return as anti-hero maybe-allies for the Guardians, and the season’s villain sounded like they would have been a challenge and interesting. Add that to the fact the girls’ families would learn about their abilities, it seems like a great way to shift the series’ balance.
A big bummer that we didn’t get to see the third season.
I would say W.I.T.C.H. is an interesting watch just for the way it plays with the tropes of the genre that inspired it, but honestly, if you are in the mood for a cheesy early 2000’s fantasy series, I say give W.I.T.C.H. a watch. The Guardians adventures and stories are worth it.
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