WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Episode 1 of Wandering Witch: The Journey of Elaina, "Elaina, the Apprentice Witch," now streaming on Funimation and Hulu.
Every journey has a starting point, and for Elaina, the protagonist of the new anime Wandering Witch, she grows up longing for this call to adventure. Reading stories of witches like Nike that went on their own adventures and recorded them inspires Elaina to dedicate her life towards this purpose. Elaina is definitely motivated when it comes to her goal of becoming a witch, tirelessly working towards grasping some mastery of magic. The fruits of her labor come with Elaina being the youngest graduate in Robetta's history.
After her graduation, Elaina has a bit of a rocky start towards her becoming an apprentice witch. Although she has high marks and is considered a child prodigy, none of the Robetta witches want to accept her. Shutting the door on her multiple times, Elaina barely has a chance to introduce herself before she gets rejected by them.
After multiple failed attempts, Elaina's parents talk to themselves about someone called "The Stardust Witch" who is living outside of the city limits. Thinking that this outsider witch might accept her apprenticeship unlike the city's witches, Elaina approaches her in the forest and is accepted.
Over the course of the next few weeks, Elaina is disappointed by the Stardust Witch. Instead of teaching Elaina any practical magic skills, she is relegated to doing simple chores around the house. Doing mundane tasks like preparing food and buying groceries, Elaina goes along with her plans while putting aside what she truly feels. Eventually, the witch challenges Elaina to a beautifully animated magic fight.
Considering how Elaina was never taught any magic, she didn't a chance against the witch. Despite her efforts, Elaina is defeated in a one-sided match until she ends up on the ground crying. It's heart-wrenching to see Elaina in this sad state, finally breaking down and admitting that she expected a different apprenticeship under the Stardust Witch. However, it turns out that there was a reason behind the witch's harsher treatment.
The Stardust Witch soon reveals that Elaina's parents approached her prior to their training and paid for her to teach Elaina the lesson of failure. Elaina never faced a challenge that permanently stops her dream when going to her classes, so her parents felt she needed a taste of that feeling now before she goes out into the world. These are certainly more involved parents than you usually see in adventure anime.
By the end of the episode, years of preparation have passed Elaina is finally prepared to go on her own journey. Planning on recording her adventures like the stories she read as a child, Elaina has a lot ahead of her while she explores what her world has to offer. No matter where her journey takes her, it is shaping up to be one of the Fall season's most entertaining new anime.