New fall anime Izetta: The Last Witch is a fun little thought experiment built around the question, “What if there were a single, magic-wielding witch fighting in World War II?” However, with countries like “Thermidor” and “Eylstadt,” you might wonder just how “historical” of a historical-fantasy Izetta’s really is. Well, when it comes to the war, it’s pretty accurate–though with a few intriguing changes.
From the anime’s map of Europe and recounting of the war through 1940, we see that it’s (give or take) the same as at the start of our World War II, with one major change that we’ll get to later. The Germanian Empire–Izetta‘s Nazi Germany equivalent–has annexed the yet-unnamed proxy for Austria and half of the proxy for Czechoslovakia.
Like in our world, the Germanian Empire is ruled by a dictator–though, in this case, an emperor. Whether it is Adolf Hitler or not remains to be seen, but the Germanian soldiers we see greet each other with a “Seig Riech!” (“Victory for the Empire!”) instead of a “Heil Hitler!” (Hail Hitler!) or a “Sieg Heil!” (Hail Victory!). However, like the version of Hitler found in fiction ranging from Hellboy to Indiana Jones, the Emperor has a keen interest in the occult–as seen by his capture and personal interest in the series’ titular witch Izetta.
The war officially begins as Germania invades Livonia (Poland). In our world, land-locked Poland was given a passage to the ocean–right through what had been Germany–after World War I ended. It is the same for Izetta‘s Livonia.
Country Name Note 1: Livonia was the name of a real country, but not one in what would become Poland. Rather, the country was located north of Poland, across what is now Estonia and Latvia.
Just like in our world, The Republic of Thermidor (France) and Kingdom of Britania (Great Britain) declare war to aid their invaded ally. Yet, due to the blitzcrieg–bringing tanks into the forefront of warfare for the first time–and a sizeable state-of-the-art air force, Germania defeats Thermidor in just a few months.
Country Name Note 2: The name Thermidor comes from the eleventh month of the French revolutionary calendar. A summer month, the word is derived from the Greek word meaning heat.
We can see on the Izetta map that Thermidor is split in two after the defeat of the country in 1940. In our world, this split leaves the north of France occupied by the Nazis and a puppet government, “Vichi France” ruling in the south. Also, a portion of France, namely the part that bordered Italy, then comes under Italian control.
It’s here that we see our first major change in the war according to Izetta‘s map. There is no sign of Italy’s proxy joining in the fall of France. They gain no territory nor do they change from the light gray of the other neutral countries. Perhaps in the world of Izetta, Germania stands alone.
But that is not the only change we see on the map. In the biggest change, the western half of Austria is an independant nation with no proxy in our world: The Duchy of Eylstadt. Led by an Archduke, this neutral country refused to aid Thermidor and Brittania in the war and now find themselves the target of Germania’s might due to their ability to construct precision machinery.
The plot of the first episode of Izetta deals with Eylstadt’s Princess Finé (Ortfiné Fredericka von Eylstadt) going to the neutral nation of Westria (likely Switzerland) to meet with a Britannian Ambassador in secret.
From this meeting, we learn a bit about the Kingdom of Britannia. Like in the real world, they aided the Thermidorans/French but were driven back across the channel to their island homeland by the blitzcrieg.
Moreover, we learn that Princess Finé received a marriage proposal from Britannian Prince Henry–a proposal she denied. Should she wed a foreign prince, she would need to give up her claim to the throne. Now with her country on the edge of being invaded (and her cousin pregnant, providing an alternative heir), she decides to accept the proposal in exchange for Britannian aid for her homeland.
Unlike the other people seen or mentioned in Izetta’s first episode, Prince Henry is the first person that explicitly exists in both worlds. Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester was the younger brother of King George VI and thus the uncle of the woman that would become Queen Elizabeth II. At the time of Izetta (1940), he was technically third in line for the throne (after Elizabeth and her sister Margaret). However, as Elizabeth was only 14 years old, if the King would have died, Prince Henry would have ruled as regent until Elizabeth came of age.
Knowing his real world background also helps to explain another reason why teenage Princess Finé might be hesitant to marry the prince, despite his royal lineage: in 1940, Prince Henry was already 40 years old. To marry him would not only mean giving up her role as heir for a life of little real power, but she would be a child bride to a much older man as well.
As a lover of historical fiction, watching Izetta has already become more than just an anime to me: it’s a game. Even one episode in, I find myself dissecting every scene to find the elusive clues that prove just how similar, or different, the anime’s world is to our own. So far, I’m having a ton of fun.
Izetta: The Last Witch airs with English subtitles on Crunchyroll.