We live in polarizing times. There are any number of conflicts across the world that seem to grow more tense and more heightened with every passing day. In times like these, it can be important to take a step back, get a look at the big picture, and figure out what's actually worth fighting over. Thankfully Wandering Witch is here to remind us all that no matter our differences we can always bond over what really matters: love, empathy, and anime girl feet.
Ok that'll take a minute to explain. First off though, this week's episode begins with “The Wall Etched by Travelers”, which is perhaps the simplest and most folk tale-esque this show has ever gotten. Featuring appearances by both Nike and Saya before we even get to Elaina, it tells the tale of a pair of countries divided by a wall, each desperate to prove how much better their side is. Through either clever long-term planning on Nike's part or pure dumb luck on Saya's, the adopted tradition of travelers and citizens carving messages into the wall on both sides eventually causes it to crumble, with Elaina arriving just in time to buy some of the rubble as a souvenir. It's a simple moral, and very reminiscent of the episode of the original Kino's Journey with the three men and the railroad, in that you can see the resolution coming pretty quickly once it's set up. It's nothing amazing, but considering this show's struggles to communicate a coherent message, the sardonic conclusion that people bonded over their shared insecurities and embarrassments is a fairly fitting one, and a step in the right direction compared to last episode. They even made a decently funny bit about Saya's crush on Elaina without it feeling mean! See, I knew you had it in ya, guys.
Anyway, after that Elaina starts selling Gamergirl Bath Water.
Okay not exactly. But she does stumble onto a pair of rival villages competing to sell the most wine, where one (confusingly named That Village) has the edge thanks to their marketing strategy of having a sexy woman stomp on the grapes. And in case you think that's too subtle, they literally have the leader of This Village confirm it's selling to fetishists. Of course they loop Elaina into stomping some grapes to compete, and it all culminates in a big drunken food fight that somehow turns into an inter-village tradition. Oh, and the grape-stomping lady and her biggest fan end up together in the end. Good(?) for him? All's well that ends well, I guess? I mean for a story centered around anime girl feet it's at least not as heavy on the fanservice as it could have been, but it still emanates the energy of stumbling onto a stranger's internet history on a public computer. It's an odd, distinctly “anime” kind of episode that left me mostly thankful there's no internet in this fantasy world. Lord knows I don't have it in me to talk about an episode of Elaina starting an OnlyFans. 2020 is stressful enough, I don't need that on my plate too, thank you.
Kinkshaming aside, these really do make for a strange combination of stories. One dirt simple but moderately charming in its simplicity, the other so over-the-top and caked in modernity it loops back around to being funny. Neither are excellent, and I still question the logic of grouping them together, surface-level similarities be damned, but it's at least a more effective display of comedy than the dearth of humor that preceded them. I've learned to stop trying to expect anything particular from Wandering Witch, so I'll just hope to avoid any more Horny on Main stories for the rest of the season.