Back in 2002 I saw some artwork in Newtype for a new show: Witch Hunter Robin. Sometimes I can see something and know instantly that not only will I like it, but that the creators made the show personally for me. My instinct is not often wrong. I found a forum where fans were subbing the show as it aired in Japan, and I greedily grabbed each episode as it became available.
Some say I was partial to the blonde main character because I had a blonde wife, but my wife didn’t have handlebars on her head, so I felt the comparison was superficial. When the series was released on DVD, I snapped up each volume, taking particular care to get the releases with the promotional shaded cels. But I wasn’t an otaku, even thought I did used to watch the show in my basement. However, I was married, so there was no stigma. Honest.
Witch Hunter Robin was a stylish and gritty original series that felt like a wonderful hybrid between American comics and Japanese anime. It was produced by Sunrise, the studio that brought the world shows like Gundam, City Hunter, Cowboy Bebop, and Visions of Escaflowne.
The story begins with the STN-J, a Japanese branch of the global paramilitary group, SOLOMON. It is their job to monitor witches who are on the watch list. Those who carry the gene for witchcraft are called seeds. If their powers awaken, they need to be dealt with. Witches, as you can imagine, don’t like being watched and regulated. Unfortunately, many of them also like to use their power on inferior humans.
Robin Sena is a young Witch Hunter who still needs training. Although she is an outsider at first, she soon fits in with her co-workers, each of whom either have a craft or are seeds. There is the Amon, the dark, brooding gunman who is her partner. Then there is serious Miho, with her ability to touch objects and know more about their owners, and not-so-serious Yurika who seems a flake at first, but actually has an agenda of her own. There is also Michael, the live-in hacker. It seems he had cracked into SOLOMON’s system, so he was given the choice to work for them—imprisoned—or die. He chose work. Smart lad. The other characters that fill the series are wonderfully colorful and each add their own mark on the show.
Witch Hunter Robin begins with Robin learning to fit into the STN-J. This is difficult because her pyrokinetic powers are formidable, but uncontrolled. She is often a liability on missions. Eventually, she solves her control issues, and the story begins to weave a darker plot thread after the monster-of-the-week episodes of the beginning. Politics begin to play their hand, and soon the staff of the STN-J wonder where their allegiance should lie when SOLOMON sends Witch Hunters to hunt Robin, who knows too much and whose power poses too great a threat.
Aside from the somewhat rushed last episode, I don’t have many complaints about this series. The animation is of good quality, the humor is situational and clever—not goofy and juvenile. The plot is gripping, the main characters are entertaining and attractively designed, and the bad witches are wonderfully creepy. Beyond that, there is convincing character development for almost all of the main characters we began the series with. Witch Hunter Robin is truly an excellent series most anime fans should see. Also, there is Robin and her cute handlebars. I think I’ll stop writing now and go watch all twenty-six episodes all over again.
Original Airdates: July 2 – December 24, 2002 (Japan)
TV Parental Guidelines Rating: TV-14
Network: Animax, TV Tokyo
Original Title: ウィッチハンターロビン (Witchi Hantā Robin)
Alcohol/Drugs: 3 (frequent social drinking)
Language: 1 (deity, and TV swears)
Nudity: 2 (bodies in tanks)
Violence: 4 (gunplay, suspense, brutal & macabre deaths, ichor, goo, and other bodily remains)