Wandering Witch: The Journey of Elaina has caught many anime fans’ attention for different reasons. The idea of a fantastic journey when many people are isolated and stuck in their homes can be therapeutic. More dividing, though, is the main character herself, Elaina. Her adorable looks are a stark contrast to her detached and cold nature to things that don’t have a quick fix. She doesn’t seem to hold much dear to her except her freedom but even then, she’s not a particularly ambitious character. Let’s look closer at what makes Elaina an intriguing yet not readily understood character.
Episode 1 is quite different from most of the episodes of the show, with a lot of hard work and a positive attitude from Elaina who learns valuable lessons. She doesn’t shy away from challenges and has a pretty impressively positive attitude especially for one so young and so talented. Even after getting unfair treatment from the townsfolk and her teacher, she diligently carries out her meaningless tasks for a whole month before she snaps in the middle of a battle with her teacher. Once she’s finally able to study magic, her normal, cheerful self returns, now with a slight tendency for sarcasm.
She seems a rather easy-to-read character at first. Of course, she’ll be OP as most protagonists are which will earn her some enemies. Seeing her study so hard and not wavering even in the face of great hardship gives the impression that she won’t shy away from painful things in the future. She seems to not care too much what others think of her but is quite grateful for those willing to help her achieve her dreams.
By the time Elaina leaves the first town she visits on her journey, we have a different view of her. She’s a little more full of herself than anticipated, though mostly in her head and she still acts polite to others. Elaina is quite proud of her looks and her power but when meeting the first witch we come across in her journey, we can see why. She truly is exceptional. She’s very level-headed upon discovering Saya’s deceit and even shows her kindness. Once she’s no longer bound by obligation to help Saya, Elaina moves on despite Saya’s pleas but urges her to find strength in herself.
The next few episodes paint a less positive image of Elaina. She moves from one disaster to another, involving herself only in the easiest of tasks and turning her back to problems festering for others. In bringing a simple bouquet of flowers to a town, she inadvertently sets in motion the death of a young soldier. Even more tragic is Nino, who Elaina only saves from a beating before turning her back on the whole unfortunate situation. Elaina vows to never return to that town because she doesn’t want to know if Nino ends up killing herself over her hopeless situation. Elaina is, in fact, just a wanderer, a passing presence in the stories of the many towns and kingdoms she visits.
Even at this point, it could be assumed that we were initially wrong about Elaina and she is inherently selfish and shallow and won’t use her incredible magic for anything more than simple tasks. In the latter half of the anime, the wandering witch starts to think about what she wants and what she learns from the people she meets. A particularly horrifying encounter in episode 9 leaves her in tears and disgusted at her weakness. This time, Elaina’s inability to enact meaningful change torturers her.
In episode 12, Elaina literally analyzes her many different possible selves right before her eyes that she meets in the recreation of Mirarose’s castle. She had previously mentioned the transformative importance of journeys and how she felt it necessary to grow as a person and how every choice will have reward and consequence. This analogy is taken a step further by making some of the Elainas very similar to each other such as the three depressed ones and how some just seem to be Protagonist Elaina’s bad habits personified. While we may not see every thought and feeling that crosses Elaina’s mind, it doesn’t mean she doesn't have them.
One of the things that makes Elaina so frustrating for others is the thought that, were they in her shoes, they would make different, more virtuous choices. Elaina indeed has great power that rival mere mortals… if she were to use deadly force. The thing is, the world is vastly more complicated than a few moments can convey. This is why we don’t immediately break a car’s windows to free a dog or snatch a child from a parent spanking them or get in between 2 people fighting at a bar. Even some small attempt at good can have horrific consequences, such as when Elaina brought those cursed flowers to the city.
Elaina’s composed, reserved, interesting, and adventurous sides are what make her the perfect protagonist to take us on so many journeys without being too bogged down by the happenings around her. What was the most enlightening moment of Elaina’s character for you? Let us know in the comments!