Elaina’s relationship with others in her journey; how an observer is born, and expectations that come with a main character

{Spoilers for the first 4 episodes of Majo no Tabitabi and minor spoilers for motivations of Itadori Yuuji from Jujutsu Kaisen}

My expectations for this anime where a bit specific to say the least. When I first started watching Majo no Tabitabi, I couldn’t help but fondly think back upon Ascendance of a bookworm. The cozy atmosphere, interesting world and book obsessed main character was all I needed to remind me of it, even if that character is more about the person who wrote the book than all books themselves.

In episode 1 we saw a starry eyed people pleaser apprentice grow into a more blunt and honest ashen witch, which was quite a welcome change, but since then, Elaina has grown into a weird kind of protagonist. She’s blunt and quite selfish, but in a weird kind of way, unusual for the protagonist in this kind of series. One could say, Kino from Kino’s journey, for example, is also a traveler that meets all sorts of people and doesn’t help them all, but I think Elaina’s case is different and very selective in its approach. She travels from land to land and meets all sorts of people, sure, but I first noticed how her approach that just seemed wrong back in episode 3.

She meets a girl in a field of wonderful flowers who asks her to spread that beauty and bring a bouquet to the other town on her way there. Elaina does so, but to her surprise, one of the guards explains that these flowers turn regular people insane with their beauty, lure them to the flowers and kill them, while to the other they serve as a clue to where his lost sister might be. As Elaina remembers from her beloved book, a mutation occurred in one plant that caused it to become like this and she rushed over to the field of flowers only to find the guard already there, covered in vines.

She doesn’t attempt to do anything and one could say that it is too late, but we see no such thing in her thoughts. She asks him if this is her sister and we get to see the grotesque view of the plant itself, as vines creep in closer to the guard, while he rambles on about how pretty his “sister” has become. Instead, Elaina just flies away after a bit of all that and it’s mentioned that he found his sister thanks to Elaina attempting to bring the bouquet in his sister’s mantle to the city. There’s rain, thunder, bees?, and we see a group of people slowly, but steadily head to the town from the flower field.

This made me wonder why did she not even attempt to destroy it. It was clearly a cautionary tale about beauty hiding thorns underneath, but it made me wonder why Elaina didn’t even try to blast it. Was it because her idol, the travelling witch Nike, also didn’t? She just wrote it down as one of her stories in her books and moved on. The situation in the second half of the episode was truly out of control for Elaina, I’ll admit, and she did show and attempt to change the situation, the final realization coming too late, so let’s leave it at that.

The final nail in the fictional coffin for me was in episode 4. Elaina meets a princess living in a castle that is the only thing standing in a town almost completely destroyed and covered in ash and remains of people who once lived there. The princess, Mirarose, explains that she has lost her memories and found a letter addressing her in the castle, which explained that the castle is the only thing protected, but she must be the one to slay the beast, Javalier, who terrorizes the city at night and will follow her if she tries to leave.

She asks her fellow witch, Elaina, if she doesn’t intend to offer to help her, but Elaina replies saying that she’ll cheer her on, after Mirarose appearing somewhat confident. Elaina even adds “Is there something in it for me if I do?” when the latter expresses confusion. Blunt Elaina is nothing new and we saw in the last episode that she doesn’t exactly always go out of her way to save or help people. Elaina decides to help her out in preparing a trap as a thanks for the food she prepared and baked for her and the place to sleep and again, not uncommon for a protagonist and somewhat cohesive for Elaina herself, but this made me wonder whether it was just because Mirarose was nice to Elaina.

At the night of the battle, Elaina expresses how she only met Mirarose yesterday but wants her to return safely (inexplicitly survive and live on) and will fight with her to help her and this is where I stopped and paused the show. Oh, so I guess the guard was a bit rude to Elaina, so it’s a moral story like in Nike’s book and let’s leave it at that. This rubbed me the wrong way to say the least and make me picture Elaina for a bit as some sort of sociopathic god who gets to decide who lives and who dies. Mirarose turns out to be quite a fearsome witch, so in the end, Elaina’s help was never even needed. It is revealed that Mirarose herself is the one who set Javalier into the world, as it is her father whom she cursed to kill his own people without being able to stop, cause he killed her lover who was of a lower class.

The king deserved it, and Mirarose kills Javalier. We later see her descent into madness as Elaina leaves her talking to herself, with a sad look on her face, fair enough.

Either way, I was expecting cute witch adventures but got grim tales through the eyes of someone akin to a sociopath at worse and really weirdly standoff-ish, somewhat pridefully selfish, and selective at best. This season we have another protagonist that in my opinion shows us the other side of the picture, namely Itadori Yuuji who follows his grandfather’s last wish and wants to help out as many people as he can, not leaving anyone behind if he can help it. This is an interesting difference to Elaina, but makes me dislike her even more so I’ll keep this clash of protagonists at that.

It’s safe to say that Elaina is all over the place with her personality and motives and it makes me a bit hesitant towards the next episode. Nevertheless, I am curious to which direction will her character sway and if some sort of pattern will become clear in the future or will it all take a surprising turn.

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