Concerned your favorite character might be a warlock in disguise? Look out for these warning signs!
All around the world, Crunchyroll is celebrating Halloween with an exploration of the myths and folklore of various cultures and how these manifest in anime. And frankly, this author thinks it's time someone addresses the elephant in the room. So, I'm here to ask the hard question: Is it possible there are witches lurking among us in the realms of Japanese animation?
After a lengthy consultation with the local Witchfinder General, I have compiled a short, educational list of warning signs that scrutinizes whether or not a given anime character is secretly practicing the dark arts. And so without further ado, below please find the top seven warning signs your favorite anime character is secretly a witch.
Dressing in Dark Clothes and Wearing a Big, Pointy Hat
In European folk tradition, witches are often portrayed dressed in somber black clothing. So be on the lookout for long, flowing robes and a large, conical, broad-brimmed, pointy hat. Rurumo from Magimoji Rurumo (above) valiantly volunteered to model this behavior, for educational purposes.
Image via Funimation
Possessing a Distinguishing "Witch Mark"
According to traditional folktales, witches often have a distinctive "witch mark" that reveals them as practitioners of dark magic. Much trouble was made to inspect the accused for witch marks during the Salem witch trials, but this practice is frowned upon in modern times, so instead be on guard for otherworldly features, such as snake tattoos that move on their own or eyes patterned with spider-web motifs, like the Gorgon Sisters possess in Soul Eater. I'm not entirely sure, but I think Arachne Gorgon (above) could be a witch ...
Gathering Herbs and Brewing Potions
Witches are known for practicing herbalism and brewing potions for all sorts of nefarious purposes, so if your favorite anime character tends to an herb garden, it's probably a good idea to tackle them and accuse them of frolicking with El Diablo. Luckily for Subaru, Echidna (above) from Re:ZERO -Starting Life in Another World- is interested in more ordinary hobbies, such as hosting fancy tea parties and showing off her own innovative blends.
Flying on a Broomstick
The act of flying on a broomstick may be tied more to a Pagan fertility ritual than to actual witchcraft. Historically, witches could fly using anything from pigs to cauldrons to ... boring old poles, as believed was more commonly "practiced" during the Salem witch trials. Luckily we have Makoto Kowata from Flying Witch (above) to demonstrate — hypothetically — what a flying witch with a broom would look like. Thanks, Makoto.
Chanting Incantations and Casting Spells
You can't spell "witchcraft" without crafting spells, so if you see your favorite character uttering long-winded incantations that invoke power from dark and unseen forces, there's a fairly good chance the character in question is a witch. Megumin (above) from KONOSUBA -God's blessing on this wonderful world! is a Crimson Demon Arch-Wizard, which she assures us is a completely different thing, and she hangs out with a goddess, so she's probably okay. Probably.
Image via Funimation
Consorting with Familiars and Other Spirits
Traditionally, witches and warlocks form a contract with a familiar — a spirit made manifest that takes the form of an ordinary animal. Familiars often possess human-level intelligence or the ability to speak, and the most common familiar associated with witches is a black cat — although toads, lizards, snakes, bats, crows, and other such animals can also be familiars. We've been assured by Maria of Maria the Virgin Witch that her owls, Artemis and Priapus (above) are just good friends, so she should be in the clear.
Being Burned at the Stake
All joking aside, countless people throughout history have been harassed, tortured, and executed after being accused of witchcraft, and the form of execution most commonly associated with witches is being burned at the stake. During the Salem Witch Trials of 1692–1693, 19 people were hung and another was pressed to death with rocks after being accused of witchcraft.
Western-style witchcraft is a perennially popular subject matter, and so if those after-school TV specials that I watched back in the '80s are correct, the entire anime medium is crawling with witches. Be vigilant! Even as you read this, a witch could be in your anime queue!
Who are your favorite anime witches? Who do you suspect might secretly practice sorcery and perform pagan rites beneath the light of the full moon? Are you a good witch, or a bad witch? Let us know in the comments section below, and have a safe and happy Halloween!
Paul Chapman is the host of The Greatest Movie EVER! Podcast and GME! Anime Fun Time.
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