Review: “Witch Hat Atelier” (Kodansha Comics – Monochrome May Special)
The world of Witch Hat Atelier is full of engaging action, mischievous magic, and hidden desire and betrayal throughout both A Touch of Magic (Volume 1) and Trial by Fire (Volume 2). Created by Kamome Shirahama and published by Kodansha Comics, Witch Hat Atelier follows the story of Coco, who wishes that she was born a witch so she could perform the magic that she loves so much. Coco gets into trouble, and the people around her sometimes feel the brunt of her poorly executed magic attempts.
In the first volume, Coco plays around with drawing magic from a book, and the spells go terribly wrong, resulting in her mother becoming a stone statue. Shortly afterward, a witch named Qifrey saves Coco from a dangerous spell that she cast by tracing a diagram from her spellbook. Still, there was a cost – she lost her spellbook.
Agott, a rival apprentice, is assigned to help Coco manage with her new life, and they both take a test to see who should become the Qifrey’s top apprentice. Who will come out on top?
The series of tests that follow could endanger Coco’s life and upset the headmaster who wants to whip out her memory, a required practice that Qifrey disobeyed. Coco’s first test is the Consent of the Crown, in which she must reach the highest peak of Dadah Range without anyone’s help, and pick a Diadem herb. She is allowed to take three components and three contractions to help her in this test. At people’s criticism, Coco picks a pair of flying shoes with a half-moon on each sole, the guidance orb, and a small soft bristly, furry creature called a “Brush buddy.”
Coco’s struggle to impress Qifrey is full of laughter and incredible strength. She presents Qifrey with a handful of the Diadem herb to prove her worth, while Qifrey begins to realize that Agott might be burning a bit of jealousy toward Coco.
Coco’s next task to learn about four Sigils known to the witches as the “Primary Tetrad” at a shop called The Starry Sword. The owner is known as a stationer extraordinaire. The shop has a magical tree growing inside that he uses to make special ink. Legend has it that a Silverwood tree once fell in love with a witch and offered its branches as wands and inks as cures. This tree that now grows in this shop has indeed been a portal for witches for many centuries.
In volume 2, Coco continues on her journey of continually failing to control the outcome of her magic spells, chaos follows, and so does the attention of some evil adversaries. She has a near-deadly encounter with a ferocious dragon that puts all of the apprentices’ lives at risk. Of course, Agott had to toss in some of her own brand of trouble, all in hopes that Coco would be seen as a disaster of a witch and cause the headmaster to wipe Coco’s memory.
Meanwhile, Coco continues to improve her skills and struggle with who she can trust. At the same time, Agott dives deeper into her own insecurities, struggling with the choice of doing good or evil.
Volume 2 introduces two new characters, Tetia, a bubbly witch that wants to make a spell that will help everyone and make a name for herself at the same time. Then there is the stern figure of Olruggio, the “Watchful Eye” that Qifrey hired to keep the girls out of trouble, and who Coco feels is surrounded by a dark aura.
Will Agott, the rival apprentice, succeed in spoiling Coco’s win? Will Coco ever find the spellbook that she needs to get her mother back? You’ll have to continue reading the great Witch Hat Atelier series to find out! I know I can’t wait to follow Coco’s journey to become the witch that she so very much wants to be.
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