Witch Hat Atelier Volumes 1-3 - A Forrest Review
I found someone recommending a witch manga (Japanese graphic novel) on Twitter, and immediately sought it out to begin reading.
The manga is called Witch Hat Atelier, by mangaka Kamome Shirahama. There are currently seven volumes out, and it’s still ongoing.
Witch Hat Atelier is a fantasy story about a young seamstress named Coco who has been a magic fanatic since she was very young, and has always dreamed of using it. However, it is said that magic can only be used by witches. I won’t spoil it here, as it was quite fun to find out what happens in-book, but Some Things Happen, and Coco is brought unexpectedly into the magical world of witches due to quite an unfortunate event.
The art is gorgeous. It gives off an art nouveau style, with extremely detailed backgrounds and clothing. The first volume might be a little slow-going for some—there’s a fair amount of slice of life (which I love, personally), and beginning to get into the head of Coco, the main character, as you learn about her love of magic. We also get to meet an adult witch named Qifrey, and three young apprentice witches named Tetia, Agott, and Richeh.
Qifrey is a man of mystery, but he is an excellent teacher and wants the very best for his students. He’s very skilled with water magic.
Tetia is a bubbly pig-tailed apprentice who only wants to make people happy with her magic. She gets close to Coco first, and she would make an excellent sister. <3 I love her!
Agott is a fiery, angry, kind of stuck-up witch with family issues that push her forward every step of her apprenticeship. I can tell she’s getting some good character development even in the first three volumes, and I can’t wait to see how she develops. She does not like Coco, at least not at first, but it seems like she might be coming around…
Richeh is a bit mysterious herself. She’s quiet, a bit stoic, and loves to eat. She seems to have some family issues, too, although I have yet to find out what those are exactly myself! I’m hoping to learn more about her as I continue reading.
There’s another witch that shows up at Qifrey’s atelier, who happens to live there too, named Olruggio. He’s the watcher of the atelier, who is supposed to keep it safe. He’s very gruff and grumpy, but he’s also very passionate and has a bit of a soft side to him. I love him! <3 He and Qifrey seem to be good friends, although we haven’t gone into their pasts yet thus far.
There are many other interesting characters as well, but these are the main ones so far.
I love how all genders are called witches, rather than wizard or sorcerer, and I especially love the concept for how magic works in this world. It is so unique and fascinating (at least to me), and I can’t help but draw parallels with my own books. Magic is related heavily to other real-world arts, giving very sound advice on how to pursue your craft, and even what to do during creative burnout. I find Qifrey’s advice to be very positive and uplifting, and overall the story so far has been fun and warming. That’s not to say there isn’t excitement, though: I’ve even found myself quite shocked at some points! Shirahama finds ways to really push the envelope, and I honestly wasn’t sure what would happen next.
The worldbuilding is fantastic. We get to see some known mythical creatures, (dragons, pegasi), but also some new creatures too, like scaled wolves and brushbugs. There are two groups of witches: the pointed caps and the brimmed hats. The former are the witches of Good and Justice, the ones who follow the rules set forth by their elders after the wars of old, and the latter group are the witches who still use forbidden magic, things like performing magic against humans, whether that be elemental or transfiguration, and especially magic that upends the environment and changes it dramatically. I’m very excited to learn about the latter, but also scared for the protagonists!
The main villain that’s been shown so far is named Iguin, and he wears an ‘eyeball mask’ over his face. He sold Coco a magical picture book when she was little, along with a ‘wand’, and has been following her in the shadows ever since, hoping to somehow bring Coco within his fold. Or at least, that’s what it seems so far! Much is still very unknown about this character and his motivations.
I definitely recommend this manga, and would give it 5/5 stars because of content, art, worldbuilding, character design, and plot!
Have you read Witch Hat Atelier? What do you think so far? Who’s your favorite character? I’d love to discuss it in the comments. Don’t forget to subscribe for new blog posts! Thank you so much for reading!