Wandering Witch #04 — In Defense of Genocidal Supervillains

October 23rd, 2020


One injustice justifies all retribution against anybody and everybody.


I feel like I probably have a little more to talk about or say with this than Sorcery Fight, but that's largely because this continues to be incredibly tone deaf and oblivious. It thinks that it's being insightful or deep when it declares that there are many sides to things, while trying to rationalize mass murder and genocide as a response to injustice. At the same time, the protagonist has immense power, but chooses to never use it or even try to make things better… and this was after the first episode post-origin story where one girl's insecurity was too much for her to overlook. Now, letting entire nations burn, slavers abuse people, and stark raving mad supervillains run free are all things she's not going to get involved with? Really?

In any case, I think this was actually the marginally stronger episode overall, but it spent the last few minutes undermining itself. To sum it up, she finds a ruined kingdom and a baker witch fighting a giant monster, who she says she'll help kill, but ends up sitting on the sidelines watching the entire time. Turns out that the witch was the princess whose child and lower-class lover were executed by her father, so she turned him into a monster and forced him to destroy the kingdom before killing him, and now rules over a dead kingdom holding empty banquets for herself lik e a raving lunatic. Elaina learns all this and once again goes "Welp, not my problem. Peace out, dead dudez!" This is literally DC supervillain backstory, and our main character is just walking away from someone who committed genocide on an entire kingdom as revenge for one dude's wrongdoing. How the goddamned hell are you trying to both-sides this?

Posted in Elaina | 13 Comments »

13 Shouts From the Peanut Gallery

  • Fede says:

    If the mad witch was so strong and powerful because she didn’t stop her husband and son from being killed? Or because she don’t runned away with them?

    • Anonymous says:

      nice spot. Did not even think of that. Was more wondering where the mom was in this and just assumed she died ages ago.

  • Frank says:

    Excuse me, but when was stated that Elaina has immense power? She’s better than the average apprentice, not better than everyone, I think this was clear since the first episode. Pay more attention people.

    Also, what the heck do you want her to do? It’s not like she can do anything against a witch as powerful as the one portrayed in this episode, she promised her mother not to get into trouble and return safe, so why would she waste her time trying to stop or intervene in affairs that are beyond her power? What else can she do? go on, enlighten me.

    • Aroduc says:

      First, you're completely ignoring the previous two episodes where she absolutely was the strongest thing in a five mile radius by a landslide and it was zero danger to herself to intervene and she similarly chose to ignore the suffering.

      Second, you're reducing the entire range of possible responses to Dragonball power levels. X is (supposedly) stronger than Y, therefore Y is helpless. Maybe that's the direction the story could have gone. Maybe she was indeed helpless. But we don't know that, because she didn't try. She didn't even think about trying. She felt no guilt or regret over her hand in this, or the other horrible tragedies she helped engineer, and come to pass. It is not her lack of agency that makes her a sociopath, it is her indifference to the suffering around her and caused by her. She is the master of her own destiny, if no other, and she is appallingly apathetic.

      • Frank says:

        You do remember she’s just a traveler right? She’s not a super hero chosen one messiah that solves everyone’s problems or trains every day to be the very best to help everyone. Sometimes the best course of action is leaving things to more capable hands or simply, not doing anything that might bring bad consequences not only for her, but to whoever she is trying to “help”.

        Helping is easier said than done, and it’s shown on this episode, Elaina decided to help this time, but she realized how powerless she felt in comparison to that other witch that absolutely wrecked a big ass monster with little to no effort. Not just that, imprudence out of experience might have caused a bigger tragedy.

        • abc says:

          In Episode 02 she saw the problems in front of her Eyes, she did not even try to help. As if nothing happen

          in this Episode she is not strong enough, but this time she did not closed her eyes and run away

        • Frank says:

          @abc Why would she try to help? Do you go to random towns to stay the night and the moment you see misfortune you go to aid without thinking twice? I certainly wouldn’t. Countless times I’ve seen homeless people on the streets but I continue my way because there’s nothing I can do for them and I don’t have the means for doing so. It’s the same on episode 3, there’s nothing that a newbie witch can do about something she knows little of. As for the slave, she considered beating the town’s chief but decided not to and repaired the pot the slave broke, remember, actions have consequences, I can’t imagine the amount of consequences that would befall for intervening in affairs that are not of your concern. As far as I know, there isn’t a guild for “justice witches” that travels around the world aiding people at random.

          As for episode 4, she decided to “help” Mirarose indirectly by helping her doing that hole to trap the monster, she’s not in direct danger there, and she acceeded to help for 3 reasons, because she’s also a witch, because she offered Elaina a comfy bed and food and because Elaina was fooled into thinking that Mirarose was the victim here. Elaina was imprudent and curious at the end tho, going straight to the battlefield which could have ended up in a tragedy, but she realized her help wasn’t needed at all, she felt powerless in comparison to that amazing magic display, there was nothing she could have done and then, she decides to leave. Imagine this happening in episode 3 after realizing how futile her actions were if she decided to intervene without knowing the entire story, possibly making things worse.

    • Anonymous says:

      her rank!? as seen in her previous she is a prodigy and a witch, witch is the highest rank of magery known in their society. Think archmage, even travel wise you can see that more travels have happened off screen beyond the ones we see on screen. She is powerful and indeed too powerful for the types of stories they seem to want to tell. If she was dead set on avoiding trouble she would be smarter in her travels, not stop in a city where ash is raining from the sky,be more cautious in her interactions. Why does her promise only translate into in action? as I have said she could confront trouble or at very minimum warn off people from falling directly into danger. you also seem to be using regular human traveler logic, like you might seen in kino’s journey but unlike kino Elaina has magic and in many cases the means. hell in other shows the often annoying protagonists try to help everyone and learn a bitter lesson when they cant, both behaviors reflect on the characterization of the character. The “you could make it worse for a person you are helping” is a typical lesson but also kind of runs counter to the spirit of travel, she could have stayed safe at home had safety or pleasing her mom had been her top priority but she chose to travel because she deemed it important to her, in the same vain the “possibility” that things might turn out bad in the future is no reason to leave this bad in the present.

      same with the slave. you are thinking for a human point of view but even from a human point of view I would hope you would act if you saw someone enslaved and molested. again, magic. need I remind you that the woman can literally reverse the flow of time? she could likely have freed the girl, burned any documentation of her purchase, mind wiped the father and maybe few other people and dropped the girl off in a new town to with hand full of gold and a chance to work as maid/waitress freeman. beating his ass would have accomplished nothing.hell sassy anti hero who could not be bothered with all that would have at least made him important but I guess all her sass is saved for into’s were she heaps praise on herself or when she disrespects the city guard. Who would even know something had happened, who would even care to investigate case of some 20 house towns mayors missing slave? you dont think there is guild for “justice witches” but you are sure there are international wizard cops in this setting of disconnected city states where gov has not even cleared a field of mind controlling plans in 20+ years nike wrote about it in her book? you might take this as proof that elaina could not have done anything but its not, since we never get told why nothing was done.

  • suguru says:

    I don’t know, I found Elaina’s indifference with the flower field and Nino much worse than this week’s episode – what could she have really done this week? She had no idea the monster was really the king, and in the aftermath she can’t exactly arrest the princess for wiping out her own kingdom. There’s literally no one left to judge her for what she did, and this world doesn’t seem to have any kind of United Nations High Tribunal for Wacko Princesses outside her kingdom to judge her either. If she wants to have Crazy Tea Parties, well, she’s already had her lover and child murdered and will now be alone forever, and maybe that’s worse than any jail or execution. Although that bread did look good.

    With the flower field and Nino, in both cases I think you’re right on that there were things she could have done – hell, if she’d just tipped the other guards off maybe they could have stopped him from meeting the same fate as his sister, and if she used ball-crushing magic on the town chief and given Nino a pep talk and a flight to the next kingdom over, maybe with town chief’s son in tow, that could have had a much less depressing ending too. In that case, the town chief was clearly no threat to her, so it’s not like she’d have put herself at risk either.

    I give the author props that she’s not a typical MC, and real people do have real flaws and all that, but it’s true her indifference can make her a lot less sympathetic at times, especially given she has the power to defeat even a “legendary” witch like Fran and could do a lot of good with that power.

    • Anonymous says:

      I agree about the flower filed. I mean there peoples lives were on the line but here in theory nothing bad would happen to anyone yet living, still I think she could have at least done something to warn off future travelers and its more about how she carries herself.We never see her considering warring the nearest town about the dragon or anything like that(after all she does not trust the letter so who is to say it would stop after it killed everyone in the city). Its fine to think a kind thing but not go trough with it,chicken out or get lazy. not heroic but its fine human thing(depending on the situation). not even thinking it means you are not a good person and that is fine in a sense that protagonist does not have to be a good person but i think us acknowledging that they are not and having less sympathy/investment in them is fair. I think town chief’s son is bit of an ass so I would not have taken him.

  • Anonymous says:

    I find it funny that she knocked and just because no one answered in few seconds she decided to “reluctantly” burn down the door and go squad there instead of 100 other buildings that while damaged could still house someone, just not as comfortably.I mean there is a dragon but she did not know that. hell her actually picking a regular house, dragon showing up and her having to run to seemingly only place that is safe (the castle) would make an impactful introduction but I guess there would be the question of why does not she just fly off but I dont think its a big problem maybe she saw the princess in the window and rushed to help her evacuate. It makes as much sense as princess not offering her gold from the treasury to help her fight the dragon on the first night, Why dont they attack it during the day or why she has not started digging the hole herself in time before Mc showed up(in another story you would think it was a ploy to weaken the mage before a betrayal).They do try to cover memory loss with “it was a cost of the spell” but she was writing a letter to herself and had no reason to be cryptic.

    also how she “deduced” that she is indeed a princess after reading it in a letter and going “well you do live in this big room” instead of going by portraits at the entrance, for a traveler who walked into a strange situation where she does not even trust the latter she seems to lack any inquisitiveness or proactive action and is just waiting for info to fall into her hand or the mystery to go unanswered, she does not seem to care one way or the other. I would not trust meat in this situation. I do agree with your view of Elaina but I dont think she is trying to both side it, it really is that she cant be bothered. now the crazy witch is super powerful and taking her down would need a team and people might die plus normal people cant even enter her castle but Elaina could not even be bothered to put up a sign for mages that can and what will happen once the crazy witch needs food? I cant recall if they can magic food in this universe.

    all this made me think of a story in gosick where Mc reads a book in which there is a human and a monster living together in a tower next to a city. human is the monsters heart/morality chian/beloved. citizens decided to kill the monster but they cant tell which of the 2 is the monster so when the human is shopping they kill him and the monster destroys them all in revenge.imho would have made a better ep and mildly more justified since citizens would actually be involved.

    not sure about DC supervillain backstory, cant recall one with backstory like this but netflix castlevania dracula unleashed amry’s of hell on the whole country (which was bigger than a city shown here) because the church burned his human wife while he was away and no one even spoke up for her. imho that show did this development of events better than this ep.

  • ZakuAbumi says:

    Why risk your life with almost inevitable death at stake over someone who won’t ever do anything dangerous again?

    You’d get yourself killed for standing in the way of her delusional family life. The damage is already done anyway. By that point, “seeking justice” is just an abstract concept that won’t do any good. Nothing worth losing your life over.

    • Aroduc says:

      Just like in that movie, “I Know What You Did Last Summer, But The Damage is Already Done and It Was Clearly An Accident, So All Is Forgiven.”