Title: After-School Bitchcraft Vol. 2
Author: Yu Shimizu
Release Date: June 29, 2021
Publisher: Yen Press
Some manga titles will explain everything about the series, but After-School Bitchcraft turns out to be more than just its controversial title. There’s little bitchy about the story, and the characters don’t fit the bill either. After-School Bitchcraft Vol. 2 gives us a bit more information about the characters, the association, sorcery, and what the hell is exactly going on in this fan service-filled action manga.
After-School Bitchcraft Vol. 2 begins with Kirise taking on her first assignment from her bio teacher ex-sorcerer, Fuyumi. However, things get complicated after his ex-student Berta shows up as a student teacher to investigate the strange mana readings cause by Kirise. The relationship between Fuyumi and Berta is complicated since she works for the association, and Fuyumi is committing taboo magic. However, they still work together, even though Fuyumi holds information from her.
This ends up making things a bit more complicated as another taboo magic user appears and puts Kirise in a compromising position, which then exposes what exactly Fuyumi is doing. Unfortunately, this slow role of information is consumed by Berta until she pieces together what exactly is going on, and it doesn’t quite sit well with her.
The narrative has its moments, but the pacing is all over the place. We go from casual lunches to life-threatening battles at the drop of a hat. A few really impactful scenes occur, but the story doesn’t slow down for those and instead speeds through the emotions as it puts all its cards on the table for the reader. Again, this is respectful of the reader’s time, but I would have liked these scenes not to skip around so much and instead highlight the effects on each character.
The fanservice of the series is present, but it isn’t as in your face as volume 1. I think it’s actually pretty clever in the ways it is used, though with the preference being the breasts. I only found one obligatory bathhouse scene to really be out of place with the manga’s tone, but I guess they had to slip it in somewhere.
Aside from that, I ended up really like Kirise’s character here. She has bad grades, people think she’s ditzy (because she is), and her confidence has been low all her life. This is the first real thing she’s been considered good at, and that really motivates her. However, when it ends up affecting those around her, she’s even willing to give it up, which really shows what kind of person she is. I actually ended up enjoying her growth in this volume.
I think the best parts about After-School Bitchcraft Vol. 2 are the illustration from Kazuma Ichihara. They are damn great, especially during some of the more sorcery-filled panels. I loved the constant change of environments, and clever angles used to show action while also sneaking in fanservice. The character designs are also varied enough to tell the characters apart instead of each of them having the same face with different hairstyles.
After-School Bitchcraft Vol. 2 is made better by many elements complimenting each other for an enjoyable read. The action is there to keep you wondering if they will make it out alive, and it’s wholesome to see Kirise overcome so many years of feeling useless. The pacing is all over the place, though, and the emotional beats don’t hit nearly as hard as they should be because of it. I hope the following volumes slow down a bit to expand on some of the unique elements of the narrative.
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