Volumes 1 to 9
Synopsis: Honoka Takamiya is a milquetoast dude, the sort of character who would be protagonist of a middling dating sim except a little more self-aware of his own mediocrity. Life goes to hell as he enters the orbit of Ayaka Kagari, the amazonian “Princess” of the school. Honoka comes under attack from strange forces, causing Ayaka to step up and shield him, revealing that she is a Witch in the process.
At the time of writing volumes 10 and 11 are out and I have even purchased them but I have not had the chance to read them, so you get a partial review. Sue me.
Witchcraft Works is a great setting and an amazing colourful cast of characters that somehow plucks out the single most boring and generic aspect possible to laser focus on. You brush up against all these amazing character alliances and organisations incidentally, setting fireworks off all the time just outside of frame while the boring pair of protagonists hog the focus. While the core plotline does improve as it begins to open up and take on more facets, a low rolling feeling that you have been cheated by this still persists. Hell, in the first volume you get introduced to the idiot squad of evil lackeys, each with their own bizarre power and what you presume to be a several-chapters-long backstory, only for them to be domesticated by the end of the book and living under the same roof as the protagonists. This feeling persists throughout the series - each new set of characters could carry their own side story franchise but instead they provide an almost foreboding level of breadth and depth to this series instead.
What saves the series in my mind, especially in the first few volumes, is the absurdly high level of artistic detail and unbridled imagination on display. The series is about magic and makes full use of this conceit to let rip with gobsmacking costume designs and fights. There is an amazing use of space and panelling which leads to a great feeling dynamism and the impossible coming real in front of you. The series knows it is absurd and has tons of fun with it. I mean, why not? It’s not like anyone is going to tell it “no”.
Where I currently am up to, Volume 9, the series has finally started revealing its hand with the much foreshadowed ominous backstory which is supposed to justify the main characters relationship and also fill in some of the driving motives and macguffin. I am hopeful it can do so, but I sorely hope that this pays off the focus the series has had on perhaps the most routine part of all the ideas it has shown.
Despite all this carping about the storyline, the series is well worth picking up if only just for the amazing set-piece moments, like that time a Godzilla-sized stuffed bear punches the snot out of an equally massive Rabbit Knight. Plus, it is routinely in sale of hilariously deep discount, making it an easy pickup even if you just want to gawp at the art.
Rating: Witchy Witchy