So the male lead Caleb and one of the W.I.T.C.H. girls are trapped under an avalanche. Trying somehow to dig their way out Caleb asks, “So don’t you have any spells or something to get us out of this?” She answered, “We’re not witches! It’s just our initials!” That exemplified perhaps the biggest misconception about W.I.T.C.H., likely shortening its TV series.
If they had called the show “High School Elementals” or “Teenage Guardians” it may have avoided some of the inevitable comparisons to the popular Winx Club franchise. This is partially because W.I.T.C.H. was introduced to most Americans in 2005, a year after Winx Club debuted.
It is not surprising then that the newly introduced thought it a Winx Club clone trying to cash in on the craze. In truth, while the W.I.T.C.H. TV show did come later, the intellectual property started three years before Winx Club as a comic.
Season One synopsis; 26 episodes in one sentence?
Meridian is a dimension next to our own accessible only through magical portals and ruled by the despot Phobos who needs to increase his magical powers by stealing them from his sister who was secreted to Earth as an infant and where she coincidentally befriends 5 girls who rally around an ancient jewel and are transformed into the next generation of elementally powered guardians who are destined to defeat Phobos, look like fairies, and learn about boys.
To W.I.T.C.H’s credit the writing was witty, interesting and consistent. Would that all three qualities were more common in one show.
Additionally they fed the season arc often. While there were few dedicated filler shows, even those touched upon the overall arc.
The show was more mature than Winx, although the W.I.T.C.H. girls appear to be younger. Winx drove a successful marketing machine that covered the globe in pre-teen girls backpacks, dolls and make-up kits. W.I.T.C.H. never hit that crescendo in North America, but neither did it originate as a television creation.
It was not overly cute but rather focused more on teenage angst and high school issues.
The background art for W.I.T.C.H. was well stylized and consistent. It was not as Renaissance as Huntik, but had a quality painterly look that covered two very different settings; clean-ish earth, and dire Meridian.
The girls themselves were visually well designed. The templates for them had already been established in the comics, and the sometimes troublesome transition to animation models was accomplished fittingly.
However, the artistic integrity from episode to episode fluctuated and sometimes the results were not pretty. Not very often, but too commonly.
Fun checklist; Winx and W.I.T.C.H. both:
- Started with a team of 5 girls
- Have a wise elder female mentor
- Star girls who transform into scantily clad faerie-winged fliers
- Feature non-magical warrior boyfriends
- Involve royalty, dimensional travel and wizard-like male enemies.
That’s humor. While the shows are both appealing in some similar ways, they differ in tone, target age group, art direction and story. They are very different entities despite criticism often erroneously leveled at W.I.T.C.H.
They took a fresh tack in season one allowing Caleb to fall for elegant and powerful Cornelia rather than the typical leader girl Will.
This might change in the future, which would be too bad. We welcomed it as a differentiating and refreshing choice.
The girls were a little annoying at first, but all grew on us – even Hay Lin’s flightiness. Well, except for Will. Maybe next season.
This season built to an expected but good resolution, although the girls’ mechanism used to defeat Phobos was unclear. Enter unexplained dragon for short inconsequential appearance?
W.I.T.C.H.: Overall, a pleasant surprise. Season Two next!
Check out our W.I.T.C.H. takes:
Check out related takes: