“Things used to be simpler. Monsters were bad, humans good. Now everything’s confused.” Vasemir, Nightmare of the Wolf.
Whether that’s true or not, it’s time to revisit the past, and find out if things were ever really that simple, Vesemir.
The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf (NotW) is the latest chapter in the adaptation of the popular books that inspired the top-notch game franchise, and this time, the creator of Netflix’s The Witcher series, Lauren Schmidt Hissrich and writer, Beau DeMayo, who worked on several episodes of the live-action Netflix series, have returned to give fans another Witcher delight in a whole new form – an anime.
Here’s the thing about the series – it’s a prequel to the Henry Cavill led TV series, and revolves around Vesemir (voiced by Theo James in this anime), who will be making his show debut in the upcoming season 2 of The Witcher, brought to life by Kim Bodnia (Killing Eve, The Bridge). While Vesemir is a notable character in both the games and the books, the iconic father figure to Geralt never had a proper backstory in the books or the game, so the anime will traverse his unexplored history, and tell stories from his point of view hundreds of years before The Witcher.
In a sense, this Witcher anime seeks to expand into the history and lore of the wider Witcher universe, and it’s the first time the franchise has ever explored the origins of Vesemir. While it might not be considered canon to the Witcher books, the anime actually ties in with the live-action series.
NotW incorporates plenty of themes into its overarching main narrative, whether it’s love, betrayal, or violence, and it’s definitely an anime that’s not meant for kids. If you’re expecting a toned-down version of the live-action series or the games, you had best look somewhere else.
While shedding light on some parts of the Witcher universe, the anime shares a deeper meaning than just pointless action and fights, of course, those fights were welcomed anyway because they were glorious, bloody and we love it.
While NotW is a story of Vesemir’s growth as a child, and how he chased after the pleasures of gold and became one of the greatest Witchers ever, the anime goes beyond the facade, and shows that some witchering jobs are more than just about the gold and sometimes, and killing monsters is not as simple as it seems.
Fans of the Witcher who would set their heart on seeing blood, violence and action can expect nothing less from NotW, as it is a merciless journey that isn’t afraid to spill some blood or deaths, whether they’re monsters or humans.
On the surface, the entire Witcher franchise might be all about monsters and magic, but fans would know the story boils down to a tale of morality, and that was how DeMayo himself described NotW: it exhibits the struggles of tough choices and the key of its story, like the franchise, boils down to choosing the “lesser evil”. Whether right or wrong, the anime tends to leave it up to ourselves to decide and that’s the beauty in it.
Since it’s set in the unexplored past, the series introduces a whole lot of new characters, including sorcerer Tetra (Lara Pulver), Lady Zerbst (Mary McDonnell) and Vesemir’s own teacher, Deglan (Graham McTavish). The range of characters adds more depth to the entire narrative as each character has their own significant role and story to tell in the film.
While all that is happening, the anime manages to also add a nice touch of gothic romance into its story. Unlike many other animes that often overdo a lot of the subplot which divides the film’s direction, NotW is well-directed and successfully maneuvers its sub-elements to execute the enveloping main narrative smoothly.
Despite being an anime, NotW is a no-nonsense adult story of choices and consequences, and it has a wonderful way of following Vesemir’s story while exploring all these other elements at the same time without convoluting the main plot.
Part of the credit goes towards Studio Mir, who did the design and animation for the recent DOTA: Dragon’s Blood, as well as other notable animated shows, including Legend of Korra and Voltron: Legendary Defender.
Presenting the world of the Witcher in a new way isn’t an easy task, but maintaining the overall concept and atmosphere of The Witcher is what director and co-executive producer Kwang Il Han from Studio Mir prioritized throughout the entire film. From its action sequences of monsters and fights to its tranquil moments shared between characters, Studio Mir has done a tremendous job in keeping the same tone of The Witcher, and presenting it in an entirely different and entertaining format.
At the same time, being in a different time frame also allowed the studio to be able to take liberties in changing up certain details, styles, and even the symbolism of the characters. Throughout the film, it just feels like the animation studio and the writers have such a consistent vision in bringing out the Witcher universe, and everything just fits well together.
That said, while the anime is a standalone film, it also acts as a bridge that connects the lore of the Witcher universe with its live-action series. It is an additional platform for future references for the Witcherm and Hissrich and DeMayo have said that the film is heavily used and referenced for the upcoming live-action series.
Trust us, if you’re looking forward to the next season of the live-action, do yourself a favour and indulge in this one first.
The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf is now streaming on Netflix.
GEEK REVIEW SCORE
The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf is a thrilling tale of love, adventure, betrayal, life, and death. It encompasses what the Witcher universe is about and yet shares new stories and narratives that will be thoroughly enjoyable for fans of the franchise.
Story - 8/10
Direction - 8/10
Characterisation - 8/10
Geek Satisfaction - 9/10