If you are an avid fan of Andrzej Sapkowski’s novels, the game, as well as Henry Cavill-led Netflix’s The Witcher series, this new Netflix Original anime will be an 83-minute-long visual delight for you. It will help you establish a connection with the lore of the witchers that you never thought possible. Director Kwang II Han’s highly dexterous and innate eye for masterful animation coupled with Studio Mir’s deft, stylised action sequences adds dimension to the gruesome and gory premise of the Witcherverse.
The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf explores the life of Vesemir, the “swashbuckling witcher for hire” who slays beasts, makes coins off it and lives a hedonistic lifestyle, drinking, sleeping, eating and flirting with bar maidens. If Henry Cavill’s grumpy and grouchy Geralt of Rivia in the first season of the Netflix series intrigued you about his origins, a look at his mentor Vesemir ’s life will help you get a perspective about the Witchers, their lives at Kaer Morhen, and more. Theo James does a stellar job, voicing Vesemir, adding an aura of nonchalance and cool attitude to his character.
The anime shows that Witchers are genetically engineered using mutagenic alchemy by mages, made to face monsters in the swamp as an initiation process. Their lives are hard and risky; they need to slave for long hours to hone their battle skills.
Tired of his life as a servant boy fetching bedpans in exchange for a penny, Vesemir follows Deglan, a witcher from Kaer Morhen, who cures his mistress by capturing the monster that plagued her body. He leaves behind his father and the love of his life, Illyana, with whom he reunites years later.
Vesemir becomes popular due to his skills as a Witcher, but the conflict arises when he slays a bewitched Leshen speaking Elven tongue and saves the boy whose family is killed by the beast. He collects the money and leaves. His apathy towards the boy’s deceased family and lack of respect compels the sorceress of Kaedwan, Madam tetra Gilchrest to raise a public outcry against the Witchers, who are dishonest, morally corrupt and despicable according to her. Vesemir is then appointed to hunt the beasts that plague the land and is accompanied by Tetra.
On their journey, they stumble upon the most uncomfortable truth regarding the secret alchemy lab at Kaer Morhen where Deglan and his mage associates are creating mutated monsters that the witchers can slay in lieu of money to sustain themselves. Although Vesemir is shaken, he is loyal to his clan. He puts up a brave fight when Tetra, along with the mutated Elven girl Kitsu, unleashes various monsters to destroy Kaer Morhen.
Vesemir slays both Tetra as well as the majority of the monsters, he is unable to save Illyana, AKA Lady Zerbst. It is then that we see Vesemir flinging the Witcher necklace to a young, bald Geralt, asking him and the other group to follow him in his path of learning how to destroy monsters. Tetra’s propaganda of spreading hatred towards the Witchers seems to be the basis for people considering Geralt of Rivia a mutated abomination in the series.
Overall, it is an enjoyable watch with truckloads of action and monster slaying. Vesemir is suave and bold, and his dialogues regarding engaging in foreplay with the beasts before trying to get at each other’s throats are incredibly appropriate and in line with his enigmatic character. In the second season of the Netflix series, Kim Bodin is set to play the role of Vesemir, Geralt’s mentor, and we can only hope for Bodin to make the character age like fine wine because we are absolutely in love with Theo James’ Veesemir.
The film strikes a good balance between the head and the heart and is filled with fantastical elements and humour. As they portray the star-crossed lovers reuniting in the most unfortunate circumstances, the flashbacks to their childhood filled with snowball fights, pilfered honey cakes in dessert alleyways and stolen conversations create a pang in your hearts. As much as we hate the vengeful Tetra, we cannot deny that she had been wronged.
Deglan’s character arc comes to a full circle when he asks Vesemir to take the boys and create new Witchers to carry forward their legacy as better men who are not driven by greed and lust. The film is bittersweet and deserves every bit of your attention, especially if you want to see how a young, bald and wide-eyed Geralt of Rivia and the ever-confident Vesemir will take the story of the Witcherverse forward.
“This is the last time I allow any of you to ever hesitate.”