ANIME REVIEW | An "Irregular Witch" Casts One Riotous Spell After Another
There are times when you just need some good stupid comedy. Yes, the art of the joke can deliver some intelligence, but high-leveled stupidity is something that requires real talent. After all, if a joke is too stupid, it might not even get a laugh from its audience; worse, it could be on the receiving end of synchronized eye-rolls. Fortunately, The Family Circumstances of the Irregular Witch has nothing to worry about, as its kind of stupidity has seemingly been crafted in a Harvard University laboratory.
The premise of The Family Circumstances of the Irregular Witch is not too special. A small 200-something year-old witch named Alyssa (Aoi Koga) one day finds a baby abandoned in the forest. With no family in sight, Alyssa brings the child into her home and starts to raise her. Sixteen years pass, and the baby has grown into Viola (Nana Mizuki), whose looks and height make others think Alyssa is her child. While magic is the name of the game, it’s the people and animals in their lives that make Alyssa and Viola’s days nowhere near mundane.
Based on the manga by Piroya, the anime takes a sitcom route with its storytelling. Although there are some situations that may interlock with past narratives, one could easily just jump into an episode without any context. It makes for The Family Circumstances of the Irregular Witch to be an easy watch, since there’s enough told in each episode about these characters that newcomers won’t find themselves confused. It also helps that this anime is simply funny as hell!
Earlier, I mentioned the art of stupidity, and this series masters that art in many ways. Whether it’s a storyline involving butt fairies, cookies that look like poop, or giant elf-eating monsters, these narratives deliver one joke after another. It’d be one thing if this show had half of its humor work, but this anime manages to smack one grand slam gag after another thanks to how smart it is with its dumbness. There were times where I had to pause the show because I was laughing to the point of needing to breathe!
A great example of this can be found in the fifth episode. Elf friend Fennel (Takayuki Kondo) and orc buddy Grind (Daisuke Ono) visit Alyssa while the overprotective Viola is out. As Fennel does his best to woo Alyssa, Grind keeps segueing the conversation into talks about hot elf girls and the village Fennel is from. It results in a plethora of fantasy-destroying tidbits about old elves, townsfolk laziness, and even some more poop jokes. Every setup and punchline is tied together tightly, as the jokes roll off the show’s tongue and hitting the bullseye perfectly in the listeners’ ear drums.
I haven’t even mentioned the part of The Family Circumstances of the Irregular Witch: Phoenix (Takaya Hashi). What could’ve just been a one-off summoning gag is legit the funniest animal character of 2023. Whether it’s his dorky looks, his sleeping melody ability, or how he turns into a parakeet after eating bad food, Phoenix always steals the spotlight whenever he makes his appearance. (All that’s missing is a 90s sitcom cheer every time he enters a scene.)
Surprisingly, even in a fast-paced comedy like this, there’s some room for a little heart. It’s clear that Alyssa loves her daughter Viola, and vice versa. Flashbacks to when Viola was a baby showcase how hard Alyssa had to work to raise the child, which she got a little help from her friends when times got tough. One episode involving the Sandman (Takaya Kuroda) ends things with some legit advice on how to better one’s sleeping habits. Even the butt fairy episode has a sweet hidden reason behind why one fairy is rebelling over a nobleman’s daughter’s impending marriage.
That mixture of comedy and heart is showcased strongly thanks to its top-tier cast. Koga brings a cute, sweet personality to Alyssa, with her moments of panic upping any punchline. Mizuki is both adorable and sultry as Viola, as her wacky persona amplifies the crazy shenanigans that occur. Of course, it’s Hashi’s Phoenix that brings an elegant voice to the silliest character of all, as his aristocratic vocabulary hides his truly dorky (and sometimes jealous) mannerisms.
Studio A-Real has done a bountiful of secondary work for series like Attack on Titan and Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon?, but it hasn’t helmed many of its own series. But they do a surprisingly great job with keeping with Piroya’s original art style from the manga. Although there are some choppy action parts, it’s when the show goes for the joke when the visuals shine. It’s also quite colorful, especially when a spell may be cast or a little chaos ensues for our main characters.
Composer Miyu Nakamura takes a minimalist approach to the soundtrack, which is not entirely a bad thing. The toy piano-featured melodies do well with making silly moments sillier, and even the little eyecatch jingles act like their own take on a Seinfeld bass slap. Mizuki takes the reins in the opening theme “Sugar Doughnuts”, a charming song about mother/daughter bonding that fits perfectly with Alyssa and Viola’s dynamics. angela goes the 1930s swing jazz route with closer “Welcome!”, one of this year’s catchiest anisongs!
We all need a show to turn our brains off and enjoy immensely. The Family Circumstances of the Irregular Witch is that show to watch. It’s not as smart as something like KonoSuba or Nichijou, but it takes its level of stupidity and goes for the gold. And it succeeds every time, thanks to its terrific gags, fantastic cast, and punchlines that sometime come out of nowhere. You may stop for a spell, but The Family Circumstances of the Irregular Witch will find many ways for you to stick around to see the madness that unfolds.
Final Grade (not an average):
The Family Circumstances of the Irregular Witch can be viewed on Crunchyroll, and has been licensed by Crunchyroll. Episodes 1-8 were observed for review. Promotional consideration provided by Crunchyroll.