Maria the Virgin Witch (Hulu) was a series that regularly exceeded my expectations but I was somewhat disappointed by the ending. When an anime is based on an ongoing manga the ending is often a problem. Usually they just try to find an appropriate stopping point. Sometimes this works well and sometimes it doesn’t.
An alternative is for the anime production staff to come up with their own ending, different from the manga. That seems to be what was done here. This is problematic, especially with high-quality source material. The better written the original source is, the less likely it is that the studio screenwriters will be able to come up with something that lives up to its standards.
What’s particularly frustrating about this ending is that the idea seems basically sound. It might have been quite satisfactory if a few more episodes had been spent laying the groundwork, establishing the motivations of the characters and explaining why it makes sense under the rules of this fantasy universe. As it is it feels somewhat abrupt and arbitrary.
So the studio might have done a better job if they had had two cours to work with. Or maybe they could have pulled it off by leaving out some of the original material, but that might have been unsatisfactory in other ways. It’s not as if there seemed to be a lot of slack in the material that they left in. Probably this story is just too big for 12 episodes.
I want to give credit where it is due. This is a high-quality production and the writing is clever and original. Notably, aside from the fantasy elements, the depiction of medieval European society seems surprisingly realistic by anime standards.
Of course “by anime standards” is a pretty low bar. In anime even depictions of modern Europe and America often contain gross absurdities. And even Hollywood’s depictions of the middle ages are usually bizarrely wrong, based more on nineteenth century fairy tales than on actual history.
So I’m not sorry that I watched this. It certainly had some good moments. It just leaves a nagging feeling that it could have been better.
Earlier post: Maria the Virgin Witch–Anime Early Impressions.