It is officially spooky season, so what better way to ring it in than with a lighthearted rom-com featuring magic and witches? Such ingredients are mixed together to concoct the manga If Witch Then Which? by Ato Sakurai. Yen Press publishes volume 1 of the new series in English, with translation by Caleb D. Cook, and lettering by Bianca Pistillo.
When he was very young, Haruka Kuze had his life saved by a blood transfusion. The donor was Maruna Rinjou, a childhood friend who shared his blood type. Ever since then, Kuze has wanted to pay Rinjou back, but she gives him the cold shoulder at school. Turns out, Rinjou is a budding witch who struggles to control her magic. Kuze discovers this and is determined to help her succeed, disguising himself and enrolling in the all-girl magic school alongside her.
For shonen romantic comedies, this hits a decent amount of tropes while still feeling surprisingly fresh. Rinjou is a classic tsundere. Her bickering with Kuze definitely reads more as long-term friends in later chapters, and she clearly does appreciate his help. Kuze is quite delightful as a main character. He is incredibly matter-of-fact. Everything is backed up by data and observation which comically makes him just as oblivious to Rinjou’s feelings as she is. Kuze concludes that Rinjou’s low blood pressure is what is causing her lack of magic control. He isn’t entirely wrong, but his factual interpretation of “magic takes heart” leads him to unintentionally flirt with Rinjou as she can use her magic when flustered.
It is a relatively simple premise, but the characters make it enjoyable for something lighthearted. The series also has a subtle, but intriguing magic system, where every witch can resonate with different natural energies. Rinjou can resonate with the moon and another witch can resonate with people. So far, most of the red flags that one can normally wave about when a character cross-dresses in manga have yet to occur. Sakurai rarely makes Kuze dressing as a girl the butt of the joke, and Kuze is so matter-of-fact about it all that, besides stating it isn’t his first choice, he doesn’t complain. The downside to the simplicity in this romantic comedy is that it relies heavily on the execution. The comedy can be hit-or-miss. Some of the gags feel a little outdated such as poking fun at Rinjou’s insecurity of being flat-chested.
The art style is soft, using sparkle effects during the more magical moments (both literally and emotionally). The exception to this is, of course, is Hikaru because her magical affinity is with lightning. Sakurai’s usage of more jagged lines when Hikaru is casting promises some more variety as readers unpack this magic system in future volumes.
Overall, while simple, If Witch, Then Which? Volume 1 is an endearing start to this romantic comedy with a magical twist. While clearly for younger audiences, and including some hit-or-miss humor, the volume finds its heart in the budding friendship between the two leads.
If Witch Then Which? Volume 1 by Ato Sakurai is available now wherever books are sold.
If Witch, Then Which? Volume 1
If Witch, Then Which? Volume 1 is an endearing start to this romantic comedy with a magical twist. While clearly for younger audiences, and including some hit-or-miss humor, the volume finds its heart in the budding friendship between the two leads.