Witch Hat Atelier Volumes 10, 11 and 12 Review 

The Silver Eve Saga

“I am afraid I must ask you to forget your memories.” Ininia to Galga.

Qifrey and Olruggio have taken the four young witch apprentices: Coco, Agott, Tetia and Richeh to the city of Exrest to watch the magical Silver Eve Procession. Coco and Tartah have unexpectedly encountered their disabled friend Custas – and to their astonishment, they find that he has gained a magical ability to move around by himself. Not only that, his musician mentor Dagda – who died protecting him from brigands – seems to have been revived. The young witch, Ininia, who has granted Custas’s wishes, appears and, to Coco’s horror, reveals herself to be one of the Brimmed Caps. Ininia entraps Coco and Tartah in a binding enchantment that means they must create a new spell and take part in the Silver Eve Procession. And, of course, they must not breathe a word to anyone! And all this is to enable Ininia to gain an audience with the king.

Coco, buckling under the pressure, turns to Agott for help. Agott is feeling very unhappy because her mother (who has little faith in her daughter’s abilities) has arrived to take part in the procession. The two girls agree to bury their differences and work together to create a spell.

Deanreldy, the charismatic healer king of Ezrest, has been taking a keen interest in the work of the witches (rather too keen), even though wise Beldaruit has warned him that he must never try to mix healing medicine with magic.

Yet even as Ininia quietly causes more confusion by wiping the memories of Galga, one of the senior Knights Moralis who appears at just the wrong moment, two prisoners in the castle dungeons are plotting to escape. One of them, the disgraced witch Lord Engendale (see Volume 9) has been concocting a spell. The other prisoner (arrested for creating and using glasses to see through clothing) is desperate to get away – but unaware that Engendale is about to use forbidden magic to combine his body with that of a sea leech in the waters lapping against the foot of the cliff. When the fusion takes place, the explosion – and terrifying eruption of this new leech/human hybrid – interrupts the Silver Eve Procession and causes panic in the city as the citizens are attacked. Qifrey and Coco hasten to see what has happened and confront Lord Engendale on the beach as he attempts to flee, only to discover that he has become one of the Brimmed Caps. A terrifying battle ensues… but are Coco and Qifrey strong enough to defeat crafty and unscrupulous Engendale?

There are plenty of different viewpoints to discover in these volumes, even though Coco remains at the heart of the story. In introducing us to Atwert and Galga, the first overtly same-sex partnership portrayed in Witch Hat Atelier, Kamome Shirahama also sets up a moral dilemma, demonstrating the rigidity of the ruling magic system. The Knights Moralis insist that Galga must be sent to the Isle of Oblivion of Adanlee – which horrifies his partner, Atwert. Captain Vinanna harshly reminds Atwert that spells to restore lost memories fall under the heading of healingcraft and are forbidden – but kindly Atwert is not to be so easily dissuaded. Ininia’s ingenious spell that she’s placed on Custas is another example of the benefits of the forbidden healingcraft – although from Beladaruit’s discussion with King Deanreldy and the minstrel Dagda brought back from the dead by magic, yet who is no longer wholly ‘alive’, we also come to understand that there’s a reason why many of these ‘healing’ spells must remain forbidden.

Coco is, of course, totally out of her league when she and Qifrey encounter Engendale. But she remembers how to deal with leeches from local lore she learnt as a child back in her village and offers some vital and helpful information. Again, we get to see that there can be other answers to solving problems than wielding magic – and that Coco’s resourcefulness is as much of a gift as any kind of magical ability.

The Silver Eve Saga will come to an end in Volume 13 (no date as yet from Kodansha). The mangaka’s trailer tells us at the end of Volume 12 and it will be very interesting (and no doubt exciting!) to see how the mangaka brings the arc to a conclusion. This arc has raised many much darker issues again and the ‘just because you can, doesn’t mean you should’ rules which the Knights Moralis are sternly trying to impose on those who wish to revive the older, riskier healingcraft (and far worse) are tested to their limits by the situations engineered by Ininia and Engendale.

Translation for Kodansha is still being expertly provided by Stephen Kohler, with an excellent variety of lettering to match from Lys Blakeslee. It’s a shame that the gorgeous internal colour pages have been dropped as the covers are so splendid.

As I look back over these three volumes of Witch Hat Atelier, an announcement/presentation is about to be made at AX 2024 about the long-awaited anime series (update: it’s scheduled for 2025!). I’m not sure how well an animated version will be able to bring out the intricacy and detail of Kamome Shirahama’s storytelling and unique art, although the preview trailer looks very impressive. The anime version will be different, that’s for sure… but I suspect I’ll still love the manga first and foremost; I really recommend reading it before watching the anime (whensoever it eventually airs)!

Our review copy from Kodansha was supplied by Diamond Book Distributors UK.

9 / 10


Sarah's been writing about her love of manga and anime since Whenever - and first started watching via Le Club Dorothée in France...

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