I was unsure whether I would actually like this manga since the story and characters are more geared towards a shonen audience rather than shoujo. Luckily, Yen Press gave me a chance to read a copy of the recently released e-book. I figured even if I didn’t jive with the story, it would be an appropriate manga to review for this spooktacular season of witches and magic. The good news is that the more I read through the first volume, the more I found myself liking the story. I definitely was a little unsure in the beginning because of the pretty tsundere lead and the whole concept of cross-dressing in order to pay off a debt to her, but I think I found myself slowly getting into it the more the characters had a chance to shine. I definitely wouldn’t call it a fantastic series, but the first volume was entertaining enough that I might consider picking up the first volume just to see what happens. If you’re looking for a chill magic-filled romance, I would suggest reading on and seeing if you might be interested.
If Witch, then Which? focuses on a high school boy named Haruka who, after getting into an accident when he was younger, gets a blood transfusion from his childhood friend Rinjou who lives next door. From that day on, he is insistent that he do something to pay her back for saving his life, but Rinjou seems as though she hates his guts. In a weird twist of fate, Haruka walks in on Rinjou using magic to levitate a water bottle, and it is revealed that she comes from a long line of witches. She also reveals that she is having trouble figuring out how to use her powers and, as a consequence for finding out her secret, she co-opts Haruka’s analytical brain to help her figure out her powers. As a result, Haruka gets dragged into an all-girls magic school as Rinjou’s partner, forced to crossdress in order to pay off his debt to her.
Ato Sakurai’s art is fairly standard for a shonen manga but fairly strong in its style and detail. The character designs are fairly good, with the main character being a fairly everyman design with back hair and less stand-out features. The main girl, Rinjou, is your typical pink-haired, hot-headed, short tsundere that I feel is a fairly typical design for her personality type. Don’t get me wrong, I have no problem with these designs, but in comparison with other manga, these feel fairly standard for a high-school romance, even one with magical undertones. I also think that maybe Haruka was given an everyman appearance, not only to allow the reader to get inside his shoes, but also because he spends most of the manga dressed up as a blond-haired girl. Having more defining features, like hair color, may clash too much as the reader is forced to change their perception of him from boy to girl.
I do like the shift between chibi and normal character design throughout the manga. I think it definitely makes Rinjou look and seem a lot cuter. The chibis add to the quality of expressions given to the characters. If there’s one thing Sakurai does well, it’s getting the emotions and feelings of the characters across to the readers through their expressions and body language. Rinjou’s tsundere nature definitely makes the chibi expressions seem fitting to her character as her embarrassment and love for Haruka is displayed through her chibi form. And there are many points throughout the volume where Rinjou finds herself feeling embarrassed as she struggles to gain control of her manga and deal with Haruka’s attempts to help her.
The characters of Rinjou and Haruka I think work fairly well together. Rinjou is very hot-headed and easily moved to emotion whereas Haruka is very analytical but still compassionate. He’s not as easily pushed towards emotional outbursts and is more open about his feelings. They play well off of each other and it seems as though Haruka really knows how to push her buttons without realizing her feelings for him. I also really enjoyed the other characters that were introduced when they got into the magic school, like the girl who is good at reading people and has a pet cat with her at all times or the girl who is super buff and controls electricity. I just really hope this won’t become an unwitting harem at some point, even though that might be a challenge considering he’s crossdressing as a girl most of the time.
I’m surprised at how easily the whole plot of the manga went down with the school. The fact that they never realized he was a boy or that they so easily accepted that they both needed to be admitted even though Haruka isn’t a witch. But I guess we wouldn’t get the story if any of this was rejected by the school. I’m not at all sure how much I like crossdressing stories, mostly because they always involve convoluted plots to conceal the character’s secret from others.We see this a bit in this volume already, when Haruka gets Rinjou to levitate him a little bit during a weigh-in at school to make it seem like he was lighter than he actually was. I’m assuming we’re going to be getting a lot more of these instances and they may get a lot more ridiculous as the story goes on, especially with the cliffhanger at the end of this volume.
What I kind of want to see is more of the culture of being a witch in this world. It seemed as though Rinjou’s parents and grandparents were very open about being witches, but it also seems as though witchcraft in general is a secret kept from non-magical people. Maybe we’ll learn a bit more over their time in the school, but I also think most of the story is going to revolve around new characters and friendships as well as hijinks that involve keeping Haruka’s sex a secret from the other characters. Obviously there will also be a good deal of romance and relationship building, but who knows how fast that will progress considering Rinjou is a tsundere and Haruka is fairly clueless.
If you’ve also decided to check out this series, let me know what you thought about this first volume in the comments below. I’m still deciding whether or not I want to pick up the next volume, but I don’t necessarily dislike it right now. Either way, it’s an appropriate read for the season.
~~Thanks for Reading!~~
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