Friday, July 28, 2017

Generation Witch Volume 1: Review

Generation Witch chronicling the daily lives of witches in an alternate world where magic exists and the problems, struggles, and lives of those who have magic abilities are told. With each chapter telling a different story of a different witch with no consistent protagonist from story to story. Opening story A Witch's Prayer telling the relationship between a younger sister who has no magical abilities and her older sister who has magic abilities and is assistant to The Great High Witch the top witch in the city. This story has mood changes from being goofy domestic comedy to a semi-serious treatment of sibling relationships and feelings of inadequacy it captures the ethos of the world while not over burdening the reader with expository introductions. Making it a great introduction to the world and allowing to build the structure of the fictional universe without having to have it connected to only one character or retell the framing narrative in each chapter. Next is the longest story in the volume at two chapters A Witch's Helping Hand involving a cynical high school male witch named Masuda who has renounced using his magic and ends up getting roped into helping his eccentric female classmate Kouno who happens to be a middling witch who does odd jobs simply because she likes helping people. While this story was long it captured the growth of Kuno and Masuda's relationship and how they are able to make up for the other's deficiencies in magic. It's sweet to see Kuno do her best and while Masuda is very much the narrator it is never felt like his cynical dismissal is supposed to be agreed with by the audience and by the end he lets his guard drop a little which I have to appreciate that it's subtle and it does not end with a relationship beyond begrudging friendship on Masuda's part as it would be easy to stick Masuda and Kouno in a relationship because it's easier but that would just feel hackneyed . While the two strongest stories in the volume are A Witch's Good Luck Charm about a married couple with a plain mortal husband Ryou who works as a hair stylist despite his own clumsiness and his ageless housebound witch wife Miyo who looks more like his small child daughter with only her hair and finger and toenails growing while she never physically ages past what appears to be the age of eight on top of having uncontrollable power which is why she is housebound. While it could have been creepy having a never aging pre-pubescent looking wife with an adult husband it's ultimately a charming little day in life story about a couple that may have unique hardships but still, love and care for each other very much. Making for another odd aspect to the magic system of the world in Miyo's seeming overpowered state but not being explained to death either it is simply another aspect of the fictional universe the characters inhabit making it all quite organic and never getting lost in tangential information dumps. While the final story is A Witch and Fireworks a bitter sweet tale of first love that leaves the series on a melancholic but wistful note and makes for the most impactful story of the volume having to deal with problems like how to mourn when to move on and questions of coming to terms with one's own mortality closing the volume out on a downbeat note. Overall the first volume of this series captures the world in an understated way that ends up not making it feel like an over written exercise in world building. With its episodic structure built around an otherworldly or magical conceit, it could be easy to have magic used as a Deus Ex Machina. Generation Witch is a quiet series that while unafraid to sometimes deal with difficult emotions or circumstances feels in a word emotionally nourishing. Filling a need for stories that have a sense of wonder but also are grounded in the reality of the fictional universe never having to make the audience question the rules of the fictional universe or break their suspension of disbelief. This may never be a series that is loved by multitudes but those that find a place for the eccentric, ditzy, and kind witches in this volume will feel as if they have gained a new collection of friends. Be it a dorky and protective older sister, a selfless eccentric high school girl or any number of other magic using witches. This will be a small shining gem of a series that nourish its small cultic fan base of which I proud to call my self a member of.

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