Hello, and welcome to the third manga review of my series I Read It So You Don’t Have To. In this segment, I’m going to review Shonen Jump titles that are fully available on Manga Plus, where you can read official releases for free. I aim to cover whatever fits this criterion in their library, whether I enjoyed it or not. I might compare the titles to well-known series, but it’s to give the reader a taste rather than pitting them against each other. The reviews will contain light spoilers. Hope you can come across a title you might enjoy.
Title: Witch Watch
Genre: Comedy, Fantasy, Shounen, Romance
Author & Artist: Shinohara Kenta
Release Year: 2021
Status: Ongoing, has 8 chapters.
The name Shinohara Kenta might ring a bell for some of you, it didn’t for me at first. I didn’t know the artist, but I knew of Sket Dance. I didn’t watch a single episode, mind you, but I’ve watched the whole of Gintama and it’s no secret how Hideaki Sorachi doesn’t miss a beat to jab at other well-known series, including Sket Dance. They have a whole episode for the crossover! Witch Watch is Shinohara Kenta’s new manga that recently started being serialized in Shounen Jump. Here’s my taste test.
Morihito is your regular high school boy. At least, on the outside. He belongs to a family of ogres who possess great strength. One day while casually having lunch together, his father announces that Morihito’s childhood friend Nico is coming back from the witches’ Holy Land, having completed her training. But here’s the catch: she has decided to make Morihito her familiar.
Ogres come from a lineage of familiars, and if one is to defy a witch’s orders, they are cursed and are forced to turn into their ancestral forms. In Morihito’s case, it’s a “mishmash of a tiger and a cow, probably,” to quote his dad. Now Nico will be back but she has nowhere to stay, and with Morihito’s dad going on a business trip, he’ll be alone so what better way for Nico and Morihito to reacquaintance with each other by living together, right?
What works in Witch Watch?
- It shouldn’t come as a surprise considering we’re talking about a seasoned mangaka here but the art is so clean and crisp, character designs are easy on the eyes and really pleasant. There isn’t much experimentation with storyboarding, however, it’s very easy to follow and pages don’t feel cramped. Everything about Witch Watch screams prim and proper, in terms of visuality.
- The ‘two youngsters living under the same roof’ trope usually makes way to unnecessary amounts of sexual innuendos or circumstances that sometimes hinder the main plot, but up until now, I thought it was handled quite well. Nico’s head is indeed filled with romantic tropes and she’s blinded by them, which is endearing and creates a gap between Morihito’s actual reactions and her interpretations.
- Their otaku teacher in the high school was so cute! She tries hard not to react to anime/manga references to keep being a ‘teacher who students have respect for’, and it was funny to see her experiencing all the excitement but having to keep it to herself.
What doesn’t work in Witch Watch?
- My love for comedy series is pretty out there, and currently, the series relies on gag comedy a lot. Since I promised to read at least 10 chapters but there aren’t that much as of yet, I watched 2 episodes of Sket Dance to get a better feeling of the mangaka’s sense of humor. The comedy felt dull and not as creative or ridiculous as Gintama. And sadly, Witch Watch suffers from the same repetitive and simplistic gags. However, comedy is just personal taste and people usually tell me my taste in humor is weird. Which means, there’s a possibility that you might enjoy it! Especially if you already like Sket Dance.
- Needless to say, introductions are important. Starting from the title and the manga cover, readers start forming opinions on the series or even decide whether to invest their time and money or not. That goes for the first chapter as well and I needed something to hold on to in Witch Watch. It could be a different take on the conventional witch/familiar setting or an early twist that is not just a simple obligation of living together. If these are to be revealed later on, then I’d expect their interaction itself to be gripping or jokes to be funny enough to make me want to turn the pages. Solely bringing characters together and expecting readers to stick with them until their relationship takes shape might be expecting a lot.
Hopefully, I was able to paint a fair picture of Witch Watch. I haven’t written on something I didn’t have very positive thoughts about, and I found it to be a good writing experience. It’s hard to pinpoint and verbalize what I enjoy in a series, and harder to come up for which I don’t, or dig up something actually good even if I wasn’t fond of the said work overall.
With that said, I’d conclude that ideally, nothing’s wrong with Witch Watch. It’s more than decent throughout, but it just wasn’t my cup of tea and I won’t continue reading it. I still wanted to talk about it for those who might find it intriguing. In my next post, I’ll be reviewing Heart Gear by Takaki Tsuyoshi. See you around!