The Anti-Social Geniuses Review: If Witch, Then Which? Volume 1

Krystallina: Years ago, Maruna gave a blood transfusion that helped save Haruka’s life. Since then, he’s been trying to find a way to pay her back. Well, he might have found a way — and it involves wearing a dress! You see, Haruka stumbles upon Maruna’s secret: she’s a witch. A witch who wants to […] The post The Anti-Social Geniuses Review: If Witch, Then Which? Volume 1 appeared first on TheOASG.

The Anti-Social Geniuses Review: If Witch, Then Which? Volume 1
Krystallina: Years ago, Maruna gave a blood transfusion that helped save Haruka’s life. Since then, he’s been trying to find a way to pay her back. Well, he might have found a way — and it involves wearing a dress! You see, Haruka stumbles upon Maruna’s secret: she’s a witch. A witch who wants to get into a particular witch school so she can learn to control her powers. Maruna can make things float but is only able to at certain times, like after a sneeze. With only a few hours until she has to demonstrate her abilities, Maruna wants the analytical Haruka to figure out what triggers her powers. Well, the crash course doesn’t go well, but Maruna heads to the academy anyway. Just as she’s about to be denied admission, a crossdressing Haruka bursts in and hugs her. Why? Well, the dress is because this is an all-(female)-witch school. The hug is because he’s figured out why Maruna has a hard time with her powers: she has naturally low blood pressure. But if he raises it like, oh say, by having her hug a person she hates, she can use her magic. So now the two of them attend this live-in school together under the guise that the two of them make one witch. Like most gender bender manga, If Witch, Then Which? is pretty ridiculous. After all, a bunch of mystical women don’t know a boy secretly in drag is attending their school! It also stars a very tsundere heroine, which is going to be a negative for a lot of people. We as readers know from the start there’s no way Maruna actually hates Haruka, and a flashback proves it even more. She’s not ready to admit she did (or still) likes him, so she does the usual shut up, stay away, and hits him schtick. But Haruka, surprisingly, doesn’t have too much of an issue with the situation. He isn’t surprised after their stunt that he’s accepted into the academy — and he was already preparing by taking care of his nails and such! Haruka’s rational nature also makes it easier to believe he could pull off such a scheme. He’s no genius, yet he’s not the sort who sees emotion as some kind of barrier for potential. He’s somewhere in the middle, and that makes him not seem like a generic shounen romance nice guy. Although he certainly has the denseness of one, but at least Haruka has been watching her for years. So after being accepted, Haruka and Maruna head to their new school and settle in. Haruka has to avoid his cover being blown during skill tests and a secret-exposing assignment, and he also wants to help Maruna pass her classes. She normally has low blood pressure, so he needs her to get to Max Tsundere for her to use her magic. That includes magic spells like “flat chest” — but he won’t insult her; he’ll only chant “spells” that are true! Still rude though. If you tend to not like these cat-and-dog relationships, If Witch, Then Which? is just going to be another Familiar of Zero. Fortunately, it doesn’t have the art issues found in that series’ first manga adaptation. The art here has a shoujo feel thanks to all of Maruna’s blushing. The manga’s art bore some similarities to those found in Negima! and its all-female classroom. While the girls are cute, I don’t know if I would go so far as to call If Witch, Then Which? volume 1 cute. However, it’s…cute-ish? Cute-adjacent? I didn’t have high hopes for his series, but Haruka and Maruna’s relationship is close enough to cute for me to continue. Krystallina’s rating: 3.5 out of 5 Helen: Haruka Kuze has felt grateful to his childhood acquaintance Maruna Rinjou for almost his entire life, ever since she gave him a life-saving blood transfusion when he was younger. Since then he’s been careful to observe her, always looking for a way to repay her, but despite his observations he never realized she’s a witch! Once informed of this important fact however, Haruka is able to figure out why Maruna has so much trouble using magic: she needs to be under some amount of stress for her magic to work and Haruka figures that he can repay his debt by being her partner in magic. The problem is, not only is magic a secret but witches are only girls so for Haruka’s plan to work, he’s going to have to go to a special magical boarding school with Maruna, cross-dressing the entire time! Given the initial premise of If Witch, Then Which?, I thought that Maruna’s blood may have given Haruka some magical powers. But alas, he’s a pretty bland, non-magical co-lead and, while I don’t necessarily think that the story would be more fun without him (I doubt Maruna could carry the story on her own), I can’t say that he adds much to it. The premise really feels like it needs another couple of rounds of editing and brainstorming. Maruna is also a fairly bland co-lead but at least she realizes by the end of this first volume that it’s not so much “stress” that activates her magic as it is “being flustered by the boy she has a crush on,” which makes her remarkably self-aware for being a tsundere. It’s unclear whether or not Haruka has realized her crush on him however since his relatively flat affect would put many robots to shame, or if it would change anything about his demeanor. I don’t expect this relationship to progress rapidly at all, so while it’s possible that Maruna is hesitant to confess to Haruka because of their past relationship (maybe she fears that he would feel indebted to her enough to say yes, no matter his own feelings) that bit of speculation is rather out there and I wouldn’t expect anything so interesting from this work. Given how bland I found other aspects of this work, I was actually surprised that the magic actually has a bit of personality to it. Not in the method of casting but in how this magic school is constantly reinforcing ideas of happiness and kindness in magic (like how a class exercise in scrying was meant to foster relationships with each other, not to expose everyone’s darkest secrets). It honestly seems a bit at odds with how Haruka has to constantly come up with new ways to stress Maruna out to make her magic work! There was potential for an interesting story here about relationships, secrets, and magic but I feel like Ato Sakurai rushed this story to print without taking the time to fit everything together. Helen’s rating: 2 out of 5 The post The Anti-Social Geniuses Review: If Witch, Then Which? Volume 1 appeared first on TheOASG.