I really enjoyed reading this story 😄. A conversation with my fellow bookseller friends made me buy it. One of them mentioned wanting to read it, so I took it as a sign that I should purchase it because I was considering to do so before, 🤣. I love the cover and when I started reading, I quickly fell for the illustrations.
Witch Hat Atelier, Vol. 1 by Kamome Shirahama (illus.), transl. by Stephen Kohler
Manga — fantasy
Witch Hat Atelier
In a world where everyone takes wonders like magic spells and dragons for granted, Coco is a girl with a simple dream: She wants to be a witch. But everybody knows magicians are born, not made, and Coco was not born with a gift for magic. Resigned to her un-magical life, Coco is about to give up on her dream to become a witch…until the day she meets Qifrey, a mysterious, traveling magician. After secretly seeing Qifrey perform magic in a way she’s never seen before, Coco soon learns what everybody “knows” might not be the truth, and discovers that her magical dream may not be as far away as it may seem… (Goodreads)
The story is about a girl named Coco who loves and is amazed by magic and really wants to become a witch. She was given a book of magic by a mysterious person when she was younger, not realizing that it’s a book of spells. When she spied on a witch working magic, she realized that it’s possible for her to do the same. And so doing, she gets her wish to become a witch, but at a dire cost.
It’s a lovely story that I liked as soon as I started. Coco goes off with Qifrey, the witch she saw working magic, to join three other girls as his pupil. I love the magic school setting, so this made the story appeal to me even more. I also like that for the most part the story is light-hearted but there are enough dark threads woven in to make us aware of the mysterious, threatening undertone. It makes me wonder what’s really going on and makes me want to learn more about this world. I hope the story will turn out to be really rich with strong worldbuilding.
Of the characters, Qifrey and Coco’s roommate, Agott, interest me the most. Qifrey because I wonder what he’s up to. He’s searching for something related to the mysterious order of people who want to share magic with everybody, so I wonder what’s up with that. And Agott because she comes off so mean that I wonder if she’s evil, lol.
Certain parts of the story remind me of the Harry Potter books, so they appealed to me because of that too. The witches use wands, which they actually write with to work their spells. I liked the part where Coco is taken to a wandmaker (he has a huge tree growing in the middle of his shop!), and I even like the town they visit. It made me think of Hogsmeade. Other places Coco sees/visits were also interesting, like the Tower of Tomes, which houses every book on magic. It’s just a delightful world to read about and look at, so I can’t wait to reread this and continue with the other volumes. I’m so sold on it.
Spoiler >> My only critique is that I wish Coco’s mom didn’t have to be hurt (basically die) for Coco to become a witch. I’m getting tired of a family member or significant other being killed or disabled to motivate the protagonist to do something or become something else.
I love it!! 😀 It’s different from the mangas I’ve read so far, which are few so I can’t help comparing them (Fullmetal Alchemist, Skull-face Bookseller Honda-san, How to Treat Magical Beasts: Mine and Master’s Medical Journal).
Shirahama’s style is a lot more detailed than the others I’ve seen and sometimes shows a lot in the panels without seeming too busy. It maintains that smooth crispness that I like in illustrations and has an easy flow to the illustrations and dialogue bubbles. But what I love most about this is how detailed it is. I kept wishing the entire thing was in color or that it was an anime. (I really want it to be an anime.)
I love the way the buildings are drawn and love the clothes the characters wear. I even like the sinister-looking mask the mysterious figure rocks and the design of the other worlds Coco visits. I just love it all.
Overall: ★★★☆☆ ½
A wonderful, delightful read with just a hint of danger to keep me wondering what’s really going on.
Buy | Borrow | Bypass
I already bought volumes 2 and 3 and would have bought the rest (about 6 total), if they were at the store.