Majo no Tabitabi Episode 1 Review

Title: Majo no Tabitabi / The Journey of Elaina
Length: TBD
Genre: Fantasy
Year of release: 2020

No use holding back: I’ve had a fucking shit year. Going back as far as 12 months, I feel like life’s beaten me down again and again and again and again and again and again… every respite I’ve found has been short lived, a case of me trying too hard to escape reality that I put more into something than I get out of it, or is hope dashed into disappointing. I say this because The Journey of Elaina feels like one of those respites – but it leaves the ephemeral at the door. In just one episode, where we are invited to see Elaina struggling to reach her potential, all of the tension I was building up began to unwind. It’s cosy, in a way that I need right now and will always clamour for; the warmth it creates isn’t a blanket – it’s one that gently caresses the heart and holds you tight.

Elaina’s dream to travel the world is something she has tried very hard to achieve since childhood, and this episode is not a test of her strength of ability, but a test of her strength of character. She aces the test exam first-time at 14 to become an apprentice, and because of her famous aptitude, no witch wants to train her. When she finally finds one that will, she puts up with the crappy – but nice, amicable teacher; she is made to do chores endlessly and never given attention or taught for a whole month. We see her slowly breaking, but she endures through it all.

The Journey of Elaina is magical. You can feel the magic breathed into each scene, as we see the quirky world of witches excite gorgeous, detailed background art of cities and of forests; the magic spells of glowing, shrinking appearances and disappearances of light and items. You can feel the magic guiding the actions of its actors, as we’re quickly immersed into the oddities of this world, where Elaina flinches not because eating weeds is disgusting but because it is ‘compromising’; the ‘test’ battle near the middle of the episode is brutal in its destruction, too, with the unspoken spells surprisingly easily to follow and the novel battle magic easy to understand, and our hearts crumbling as Elaina is beaten to a pulp and the scenery shot into flames.

The moral of the episode presented itself bluntly but effectively, with the enigmatic Elaina’s three-dimensional character pairing with the intimate script to brim with emotion. Elaina finally loses it, and in a scene that draws the line between funny, charming and heart-wrenching with a masterful touch, we all learn a lesson more powerful than any spell.

Don’t just endure it. Speak out. Say no.

God, I needed to hear those words said with this much conviction.

Truthfully, I only learned timestamps for the episode when I went back to get screenshots. So gripped was I to Elaina’s magical, beautiful, difficult, real world that I lost the concept of time. The heart-to-heart she has is a much longer scene than I realised as it went by in a flash. True, the large span of time covered in this episode is handled via montage, but not lazy montage; Elaina is shown working her ass off to meet her dreams, with attention put into the building sweat on her brow, and the increasing tension in her shoulders. The inspirational ‘can-do’ attitude of the opening ends contrasted with depth of will in the finale – depth earned in one episode’s duration that few anime can match in entire series. Journey of Elaina pools every strength it has to make that happen, from its loving characterisation to its busy, lived-in domestic backgrounds to its tender tone and tightly executed tone shifts, too.

I can’t be the only one that’s had a shitty year. I can’t be the only one clamouring for a bit of magic right now. Continue to whisk me away, Journey of Elaina; continue to show me a magical world, one with humanity that I can understand and whimsy that I yearn, and continue to relate the struggles of Elaina so passionately – I want to continue crying with her, laughing with her, learning with her, smiling with her, because that shared empathy between you and I is more powerful than any medicine.

Back to Fall 2020

2 thoughts on “Majo no Tabitabi Episode 1 Review

  1. I think plenty of people had a rough year! I am nearing a turning point myself now luckily with a new place and a new outlook on things but for a big part I also had a few major lows. Thank you for highlighting how these shows exist and how powerful they can be to someone! I think that is the greatest review anyone can give!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s rough living in a pandemic. It’s hard enough living every day tbh, but in the midst of a pandemic? Shit’s not fun!
      I’ll always be here 🙂 Sometimes it’s weird for me to make things a little personal, but I’m glad that’s resonating with you ❤

      Liked by 1 person

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