Title: If Witch, Then Which? Volume 1
Author: Ato Sakurai
Release Date: Slice of Life, Fantasy
Publisher: Yen Press
Fantasy has become one of the most popular genres in the world of anime and manga. Whether taking place in the real world or a fictional one, there seems to be no end to series following magical creatures. If Witch, Then Which? appears to be just another generic slice of life/fantasy tale at first glance, but once readers get past the first chapter, they are graced with a twist setting the series apart from its contemporaries.
If Witch, Then Which? follows Haruka Kuze, a third-year in middle school owes his life to Maruna Rinjou, one of his classmates. After Kuze almost died in an accident years ago, Rinjou donated her blood to make sure he could survive. Though he’s spent years trying to repay her, Kuze can never get Rinjou to give him the time of day.
This all changes, however, when Kuze discovers that Rinjou is actually a witch and needs his help to get into a prestigious witch academy. Determined to settle his debt to Rinjou, Kuze goes undercover as a female witch to try and help Rinjou pass all three years of witch high school.
I’m a sucker for a good slice-of-life set in a school. Sadly, many series using high school or middle school as their settings are bogged down with generic characters, art, and even premises. If Witch, Then Which? is able to set itself apart from similar series based not only on most of the cast being witches, but also the hook of Kuze trying to blend in as a girl.
While the episodic nature of the first volume may get a bit old if they keep repeating the same formula over and over again, I feel like mangaka Ato Sakurai is setting the series up for success. All of the characters introduced so far not only have incredibly cute character designs but are also all likable in their own rights.
Still, we’ve really yet to see anything out of the main cast that strays too far from tried and true “dere” archetypes; Sakurai has ample opportunity to delve deeper into each of their backstories in further chapters. As things are now, however, we’re really only left with characters that have personalities that I feel like I’ve seen a million times before.
Something that sets If Witch, Then Which? apart from almost every other manga, I’ve read recently is that each chapter begins with a few colored pages. Colored pages are typically reserved for volume covers and maybe one or two pages at the beginning of each volume, but If Witch, Then Which? has them in droves. Each of these pages is colored to perfection, adding a bit of life to the beginning of each chapter.
If Witch, Then Which? has set itself up to through its slice-of-life themes and likable cast of characters. The manga also features some fantastic designs and an interesting hook that allows it to stand out when compared to its contemporaries. However, outside of the aforementioned hook, the series is at risk of falling into genre tropes and becoming another forgettable slice of life.
As it stands, If Witch, Then Witch? Vol. 1 will definitely please fans of slice-of-life and fantasy stories, but don’t expect to walk away bewitched by the series. Until Sakurai can build up the characters a bit more, I certainly won’t be singing the series’ praises too loudly, though I’ll still be here day one to read the next volume.
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