The Anti-Social Geniuses Review: Witch Hat Atelier Volume 7

Justin: First off, will have to acknowledge Kodansha doing what needed to be done. Witch Hat Atelier not only tied with Cats of the Louvre for Best U.S. Edition of International Material at the Eisners this past year, but it also won Best Manga at the Harvey Awards. I did take to Twitter to note […] The post The Anti-Social Geniuses Review: Witch Hat Atelier Volume 7 appeared first on TheOASG.

The Anti-Social Geniuses Review: Witch Hat Atelier Volume 7
Justin: First off, will have to acknowledge Kodansha doing what needed to be done. Witch Hat Atelier not only tied with Cats of the Louvre for Best U.S. Edition of International Material at the Eisners this past year, but it also won Best Manga at the Harvey Awards. I did take to Twitter to note that they totally should mention it moving forward in their covers, but little did I realize they’d place it in the front. This is a good call…that I’m not sure they should continue with moving forward! For a first-time like this, it’s totally fine, make it prominent. After that? The back cover should have this. Did not count on this being my take, and maybe when I buy a print copy in February I’ll change my tune. But for now, I’ll consider it unnecessary to have in future editions. Overall though, Kodansha had to acknowledge this in some way, and I must commend them for that. Now, onto the current volume of Witch Hat Atelier, where Coco comes to grips about magic and the darkness it can hold the more she learns…Qifrey, unfortunately, knows all about that! In fact, this volume is all about Coco, Qifrey and Olruggio. Qifrey does eventually begin to recover from his injuries after the battle against the Brimmed Caps, but he won’t be at 100% as he tries to stop Coco from heading to the Tower of Tomes. Hearing about Qifrey’s past from Beldaruit — found nearly dead in a forest without an eye — and what he thinks Qifrey’s motivations are for going to the tower begin to make Coco fearful of magic. Yes, she begins to learn that his motivations for taking her under his wing might be calculated, but the fact that forbidden magic might be the only path to saving her mother leaves her in an anxious state. While we don’t actually see a single Brimmed Cap in this volume, their impact on those two is shown a lot in this one. Coco’s creativity and imagination has sparked new ideas and can bring a new dimension to the witches’ world — which is the dimension the Brimmed Caps want to use for their own dark purposes. This is where Coco has to choose and understand the lengths she might have to go through if she wants to save her mother…and whether she’ll go to the lengths Qifrey did. He actually explains his past to Olruggio, where it’s not just how the Brimmed Caps left him, but what they took from him — and he appears determined to do whatever it takes to get it back. Now, whether Coco can save him from doing it all is a question — Qifrey has consistently proved throughout the series he cares for his apprentices. But the one moment where he did let someone important to him know of a major secret, he still ended up doing something that a witch just can’t do. The two continue to be connected in small ways, but it’ll soon be time to find out if Qifrey can be helped after all. It’ll likely also come down to his apprentices, who, unfortunately, were MIA in this volume. It actually did not feel so good to not see Richeh, Tetia, and even Agott appear much here, so volume 8 better have them show up a good amount! The manga did focus on Olruggio and his connection to Qifrey, while also teaming up to take on a task with fellow witch Hiehart and his apprentice Jujy. It did explain why Olruggio hasn’t taken on an apprentice, and such responsibilities that come with doing so. But it’s interesting since we have already seen a pretty poor teacher in this series already, and for volume 7, we get them expanding on what you have to accept when deciding to bring in an apprentice. Think by now we get that you better be willing to do it, or just don’t do it. Aside from the lack of our usual apprentices appearing, think the only issue I had with this volume was the sense of time — how in the world did Coco wind up in the Tower of Tomes so quickly? And with Beldaruit right there? Made me think he had to have led her there for a reason, but it wasn’t really explained too well. Otherwise though, there’s a lot of story intrigue every time I turn the page, and with the continuously fantastic art and well-timed humor, there’s still much to enjoy from this series. But I still continue to dread what secrets or troubles the group will be dealing with next. Justin’s rating: 4 out of 5 Helen: Qifrey has finally woken up and Coco has finally learned more about his unsettling past. She becomes more concerned about the mutual quest they are on, to find out more about the Brimmed Caps and the nature of their spells, and it seems like Qifrey’s desire to find them is even more pressing than it first appeared. While I have been convinced that Qifrey is acting out of genuine concern and love for his apprentices, Olruggio is understandably more skeptical about Qifrey’s motivations towards sheltering Coco, as he’s seen how the search for the Brimmed Caps has consumed Qifrey for essentially his entire life and knowing that Coco is Qifrey’s current best link to the group. He does come to trust that Qifrey is truly acting as a teacher and protector to Coco (well, Olruggio doesn’t exactly have a choice about those thoughts) but I think the best way to explain Qifrey’s actions is that he enjoys being in the role of a mentor versus grappling with some dark thoughts daily. It’s not a false presentation of himself or fake feelings — after all you do have to go through extra training to take on apprentices — but Qifrey isn’t putting all of his feelings on full display in day to day life either. I think that by focusing on his apprentices he’s able to play the role of a teacher with no deeper secrets, which is perhaps all that he wishes he was. As Coco and co’s trip to the Great Hall ends, the chapter that most struck me in this volume was one that didn’t focus on them at all but again on Olruggio as he and some other witches carry out a finicky request for a rich noble who can afford the services of witches. This chapter is one of the few times we see non-witches interacting with witches and I can’t help but suspect that this society, made of two distinctly separate groups, will ultimately fall down by the end of the story. Part of that has to do with what Kanome Shirahama has telegraphed so far: that Coco is special not in how she’s from two worlds but how she sees two worlds as one and in this chapter we also see how both groups suffer from being disconnected. Olruggio appears to do public works in his spare time, installing light up cobblestones in dark paths and coming into contact with ordinary people in the process, but I get the sense that most witches don’t (and not just because quite a few of them literally live at the bottom of the ocean). There’s something to be said about how hoarding knowledge leads to a stagnation of ideas; as an outsider, Coco seems to constantly surprise adult witches with her new ideas (even more than her fellow apprentices, who are also very bright and creative) like when she is able to come up with a quick workaround for Tartah, the colorblind apprentice, when it seemed like all of the adults around him had given up on working with his disability before they even tried. I suspect this is part of the reason why some of the Brimmed Caps are so interested in Coco: to advance their goals they needed an outsider who wouldn’t have the ingrained aversion to forbidden magic and what they got was not only that but a determined witch who will challenge many old ideas with compassion. Helen’s rating: 3.5 out of 5 The post The Anti-Social Geniuses Review: Witch Hat Atelier Volume 7 appeared first on TheOASG.