This post originally appeared on Panels, which is now Book Riot Comics
Crafting a consistently interesting and ever-growing world from volume to volume is difficult for any series to pull off. Witch Craft Works crafts a story of witches, princesses, workshops, and towers with seeming ease. Then there’s Honoka Takamiya, the main character. We, the audience, learn alongside of Honoka the world of witches—both the Workshop witches and the Tower Witches. Everything isn’t laid out in the first volume in a huge info dump or in a classic “Well, as you know…” line that manga and anime love to do. It’s divulged throughout the course of the books. The goal of the Tower witches isn’t revealed until well into the first volume, then not truly revealed until the third, and then expounded upon in the sixth. This is how stories should be told. Execution is the mantra of Witch Craft Works.
Witch Craft Works succeeds beyond its excellent world building; I wouldn’t be here writing about it if it didn’t. Witch Craft Works’ characters are an absolute delight to read through the eight volumes that are out (volume nine out in August!). Takamiya plays the role of the princess and his prince is, oxymoronically, the princess of the high school they go to, Ayaka Kagari.
Position of power in Witch Craft Works are flipped from the historical norm. The chairwoman is Kagari’s mother and Takamiya’s two protectors are his sister, Kasumi, and Kagari. The leader figures of the Tower Witches are Medusa, Chronoire Schwarz VI, and Weekend—all women. Mr. Mikage half-bemoans that he can never be the head of the Mikage family because men—wizards—are the weaker half; a metaphor that is all too real, especially to Japanese culture.
I keep turning Witch Craft Works’ pages to learn more. Learn more about Takamiya and his “white stuff,” learn more about the seemingly infinite power at Kagari’s disposal, and learn more about the Workshop witches and the Tower witches and why they inexplicably fight each other, besides fundamental differences in their world beliefs (something has to have caused all of this, right?!).
The presence of Medusa’s sort of bumbling underlings, though, proves that not all Workshop and Tower witches have to fight each other, despite their fundamental differences in ideology. Somewhat through intimidation and somewhat through mutual interest to keep each other alive, the Ivory Quintet as they’re called and Kasumi join forces to fight off another sect of Tower witches. The Workshop witches are organized behind one head per city, yet Tower witches come and go as they please. They fight in packs, if that.
I didn’t know why I liked Witch Craft Works for the longest time. The characters were obviously charming me—Takamiya’s shyness toward all things Kagari was super adorable, and Mizunagi’s art made Kagari’s overwhelming power seem even grander—but I could barely piece together what was happening. It wasn’t until its gradual world building was pointed out to me that I had the big “a ha!” moment that Witch Craft Works is a slow burn. It didn’t help that I initially read these far apart from each other and my memory is fairly poor to surprisingly excellent with no consistency (it leaned toward poor this time).
When it all came together for me, I learned to love Witch Craft Works even more. It’s a story that flips gender roles. It’s a story that has characters that want nothing more than to be kind to each other. Most importantly, it’s a story that doesn’t vomit world building at you when it easily could.
It also features a cameo by Obama, though not the president.