Generation Witch Manga Volume One Review


Generation Witch is the story of what would happen if witches existed in the modern world, fully open and integrated into society. I feel like we don’t get many of these stories. Flying Witch was one that was close, but even then the existence of witches was still considered somewhat of a secret and knowledge of them among regular people was few and far between. This series asks the question of what would society and people look like if there was no barrier between normal human and witch, if anyone with the right blood, male or female, young or old, could become a witch and practice magic. In this way, this world has taken on the qualities of a magical realism narrative, where the fantastical is normal. Generation Witch brings us differing stories from this world, from different parts of society and age groups, letting the world build a chapter at a time. If you enjoy a modern twist on witches or magic girls, then I think you’ll enjoy this peek into a society where magic is right out in the open.

Each volume of this series features four or five different stories, each following a different set of characters through their troubles and goals. Chapter one brings us a story of a powerful witch who saves her dear non-witch sister from a bully. Then we are sent off to high school in chapters two and three where a young and fairly talentless witch is trying to start up a magic club at their school. She winds up finding the only other witch on campus and ropes him into doing odd jobs around school for the other students. Created by Isaki Uta, the series was recently picked up for its English release by Seven Seas.

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Uta’s art and panel design isn’t fantastic or especially stylized, but it is strong enough for the kind of stories told in the series. I wish it did have a bit more stylization considering the nature of the story and the kind of magic being used, but there are certainly a few great pages that stick out to me. The page design is fine as well, if a little crowded at times by dialogue or exposition, but I think Uta makes an effort not to crowd the important panels too much as to cover the art. The backgrounds are a weakness to be sure. They’re minimal, usually just blank hallways and simple skylines like many other manga. In the values department, it isn’t as weak, but it is filled with digital shading or screentones that tend to not make certain scenes stand out enough or give enough interest to particular panels.

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But not all manga can be Witch Hat Atelier or Ancient Magus Bride, and I don’t expect them to. While I love great art, I’m not opposed to less stylized series as long as the art isn’t distractingly bad or as long as the series offers something else of interest. Generation Witch isn’t strong in the art department, but it isn’t entirely weak either. Chapter five might be the best example of Uta’s art in the whole manga. The slightly dreamy values capture an almost sunset shading that matches the tone of the story perfectly. It’s a story about grief and love between two teenagers, and we see their relationship start and end during a sunset festival. The chapter includes a very nice almost full-page splash of the Great High Witch looming over the city before she starts her fireworks display that I find really nicely done. However, where I think the real strength of this series lies is the story and word building.

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I wound up coming to love this series because of the kind of world Uta has crafted. Uta has managed to craft an interesting world that combines magic and a modern world in a way that creates an interesting magical realism-like narrative backbone. We see in the introduction of the volume how the world have formed and adapted to the existence of witches. They can be found in all areas of society, from the government to the military to health care to even more mundane fields like deliveries. Ruling over all of the witches is the Great High Witch, the most powerful witch in the world. Through each story we see a bit more of the world and society, a place where witches may have been incorporated and fully out to everyone, but it’s also a place where societal prejudices have changed to match this fact. Chapters two and three shows one example of this as a male witch faces prejudice from his peers for the simple fact that he is male and possesses the ability to use magic, as being a witch is still thought of as a female position.

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The fact that the world contains the existence of magic is really only a backdrop for the stories that Uta tells. The stories themselves may contain some elements of magic, but they don’t revolve around problems with magic. Most of the stories in this volume deal with very mundane issues or relationship troubles. If you took away the existence of magic, you can still get away with telling some of these narratives. The only ones that may need the magic backdrop to make sense would probably be chapters four and five, mostly five since the premise is based off of one character’s use of clairvoyance. But for the most part, the chapters include stories of familial love, school club troubles and adventures, and relationship issues. That’s what makes this series magical realism in nature, because the magic is just a mundane part of the world and seems perfectly normal to those existing in it.

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The stories contained in this volume are all fairly interesting, with a tinge of magic to give them just enough edge to draw you in. Chapter one introduces us to the apprentice of the Great High Witch, a stylish teenage girl who has the looks of a model but absolutely loves her little sister. When her sister brings home a friend from school to study, her magic-using sister catches him trying to take panty shots of the little sister under the table to post online to his friends. In revenge, her big sister magically disintegrates his phone and sends him on his way. It winds up being a cute story between a caring big sister and her little sister. We see just how much she cares for her little sister even though she doesn’t possess the ability to do magic and is generally naive. I really love the big sister/ High Witch apprentice’s design. She’s dressed like she lives in perpetual summer, bootie shorts, crop top, and all. Her flowing hair creates a nice halo around her face as she practically floats around through the whole chapter.

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I think Chapters two and three are my favorite. The narrative follows two students, one of whom started a magic club at their high school even though she doesn’t have much in the way of magic, the other is a natural witch even though he’s given up on his dream of being a magic user. The two connect in school and the Magic Club president winds up convincing/forcing him to join her club and do odd jobs for the people at the school that usually involve finding lost things. We see over the course of the two chapters his growth as a character into someone who is okay using magic again through her almost “manic pixie dream girl” influence. They both support each other throughout the story, him with his natural magic power and her with her knowledge of magic spells. They wind up becoming the perfect pair and getting into all sorts of trouble involving crows and magical familiars. If it wasn’t for the magic, this story could probably stand up as a normal high school club adventure.

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The one chapter I have some issue with is chapter four. The story is pretty much made to appeal to moe fans and involves a weird questionable relationship. It reminds me of many fantasy relationships with characters who look younger than they actually are. The concept of the story is that a man is trying to become a professional hair stylist after cutting the hair of his daughter for years. Except we find out that his daughter isn’t actually his daughter but his wife. She’s a powerful witch that’s power has gone haywire leaving her body unable to grow and mature, all the growth going to her hair and fingernails only. So she winds up looking like a 10 year old child and calling her husband Dad. It would be an interesting concept if it wasn’t so uncomfortable at face value. But this is the only story out of this volume that has troubled me. I’m not sure how many other stories like this there may be in future volumes.

I really did enjoy this volume and taking a dip into a world that is full of magic integrated into its society in an interesting manner. The stories are all fairly interesting and I encourage you to try this series out for yourself if you’re interested in modern magic narratives where the magic is right out in the open. If you’ve already given this series a shot, let me know in the comments what you thought.

~~Thanks for Reading!~~

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