REVIEW: ‘Burn the Witch’ is Just We Need Right Now

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Tite Kubo is an icon in manga and anime. As the creator of Bleach, one of the Big Three, Kubo held the gateway open for many anime fans, especially in the United States. Now, Crunchyroll is exclusively airing Burn the Witch, the adaptation of the mangaka’s popular Shonen Jump manga series. Set in the same universe as Bleach, the series follows two witches working for the Western Branch of the Soul Society in Reverse London.

Directed by Tatsuro Kawano, Burn the Witch takes place in a world where historically 72% of all the deaths in London are related to dragons. The catch? These fantastical beings are invisible to the majority of the people, similar to the Hollows in Bleach.  While unknown to most, some people have been standing up to these dragons and herding them, caring for them, and protecting the city. That said, only inhabitants of Reverse London, the hidden “reverse” side of London, can see the dragons. But an even smaller amount of people have what it takes to become qualified enough as witches or wizards to make direct contact with them.

Burn the Witch centers its stories around two protagonists, a witch duo named Noel Niihashi and Ninny Spangcole. They are protection agents for Wing Bind (WB), an organization for dragon conservation and management. Their mission is to protect and manage the dragons within London on behalf of the people. This element to the series is what makes this story very different from Kubo’s Bleach. While the Soul Society aimed to kill the Hollows and eliminate them from harming spirits, the threat to London isn’t one that is to be eliminated immediately. Instead, we get the chance to see magic, the nuance that goes into coexisting with magical creatures, and the care that goes into making decisions—or the care that should go into them.

Burn the Witch

Outside of learning about the new and different magical world of Reverse London, Burn the Witch’s first episode injects excitement into every moment. The balance between expository story elements and action-adventure elements is perfect. While we get explanations for how Reverse London operates, we also get to see how it exists. We don’t simply learn about the issues around dragons through character commentary but instead get to see examples of the dangers they can cause but also of how they can be tamed and calmed. This is what makes Burn the Witch episode one a wonderful debut for the series—whether or not you’ve read the one-shot or mini-series.

Additionally, Studio Colorido’s animation is breathtaking. Watching Kubo’s illustrations come to life is magical in its own way. The variation of dragon design impacts how each creature moves and how the characters interact with them. But even beyond the magical dragons, the animation of our leads, Noel and Ninny, deserves to be called out. The characters from a storytelling perspective are foils of each other. Their temperaments, body-type, and strategies when encountering dragons are all different. The animation matches this with the uniqueness of each of their movements.

Overall, while Burn the Witch lacks the bopping anime OPs that fans are used to, the content in this tight 20-minute episode is thrilling. While it is the farthest thing from Bleach in theme, the new world of magic that existing fans will enter will be more than enough to satisfy them. Truthfully, Burn the Witch offers up the perfect escape from the 2020 blues by presenting viewers with a world of wonder and beauty.

Burn the Witch Episode 1 premieres on Crunchyroll October 2, 2020.

Burn the Witch
  • 10/10
    Rating - 10/10
10/10

TL;DR

Overall, while Burn the Witch lacks the bopping anime OPs that fans are used to, the content in this tight 20-minute episode is thrilling. While it is the farthest thing from Bleach in theme, the new world of magic that existing fans will enter will be more than enough to satisfy them. Truthfully, Burn the Witch offers up the perfect escape from the 2020 blues by presenting viewers with a world of wonder and beauty.