Good Witch of the West Vol. #01 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: B+

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  • Art Rating: B-
  • Packaging Rating: B
  • Text/Translatin Rating: B
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Released By: TOKYOPOP
  • MSRP: 9.99
  • Pages: 192
  • ISBN: 1-59816-620-4
  • Size: B6
  • Orientation: Right to Left

Good Witch of the West Vol. #01

By Eduardo M. Chavez     April 30, 2007
Release Date: October 30, 2006

Good Witch of the West Vol.#01

Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Ogiwara Momoko / Momokawa Haruhiko
Translated by:Adrienne Beck
Adapted by:Barbara Randall Kesel

What They Say
Friel is a fifteen-year-old girl who lives with her father, the astronomer Professor Dee, and their servants, the Holys. When she is invited to a fancy ball at a county castle, she discovers that her past is more complicated then she had thought. A necklace given to her by her father proves that she is of royal blood and a candidate to be the next Queen!

The Review
TP's presentation of Good Witch is solid. This book originally published by MagGarden had some okay production values but I felt the strongest point was the cover. TP keeps Momokawa's cover which features a great image of lead character Friel Dee. There is a bit of symbolism there clearly, but the character art itself shows off more about this story than the rest of the image does.

Momokawa's art straight up shojo. Knowing that this series is in a shonen/seinen magazine I was a little surprised by that. Momokawa's characters are very petite and they have huge eyes. It is very hard for me to tell the genders of most of the younger characters. I believe she purposely draws them ambiguously for a reason, but I have to say that these cute sugar sweet under-developed designs made it very hard for me to distinguish characters. I found that made it very hard for me to accept their age also.

Backgrounds were not very good. Considering that this is a fantasy title I expected more. When reading fantasy manga, I generally want to get a more complete look at how this world looks. I like to compare the architecture and costumes to existing designs. I want to be able to become familiar with the new surroundings as much as I like to get to know the characters that live in that world. But this is as generic as can be. I have no clue what distinguishes Friel's village from where the castle is. I don't know what the monsters, animals or clans look like. Hard to keep interested when nothing sets a manga apart from so many other fantasy titles.

The translation from TP was fine. I noticed a couple typos but I didnĀft feel they were significant. What was noticeable was how the read did not have much personality. I never could get into this read at all. From the start, I found it very stale and I never could get the excitement or frustration that the characters were feeling. As such, what should have been a 30min read turned into a 90min marathon over a week.

As always TPĀfs SFX are not translated. DonĀft understand why they are the only pub with this policy.

Contents: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Even, in fantasy worlds people share fairy tales about princes and knights. To the common man, these stories provide an opportunity to briefly escape reality for unattainable dreams. No one ever believes those stories and as such only a handful of storyteller continue to share these legends and myths.

Such a life cannot be realized by anyone; particularly to those living in the small valley village that Friel is from. They hardly see people from the outside world already. For any one of them to even meet someone of royal lineage would a fantasy on its own. So, Friel tries to keep her stories of damsels carried off by some charming prince to herself. No need to get the hopes up for those with little hope.

One day, her life literally turns into a fairy tale exactly like the ones her mother told her. She was invited to a castle. She got to wear a fancy dress and dance with nobility. And when the night was over, she had her share of memories. Like the characters in many stories, she also shed her tears because she was not accepted. Furthermore at home, the fairy tale was more like a horror story where her family was attacked and now on the run.

Maybe fairy tales should be told not lived!

Coming into this property completely fresh, not having experienced the manga or anime before, I was looking forward to another easy to read simple nice on the eyes MagGarden title. MagGarden series tend to look good but be light on everything else. That can be great for a title like ARIA but I'd rather go elsewhere for good looking shonen fantasy fare. Seeing TOKYOPOP take on some of their titles was a pleasant surprise considering their history with another pub. And, with Good Witch and its anime connections I though the move was well planned.

Good Witch itself is a perfect title for TP. Essentially a fairy tale where the characters tell each other fairy tales, this title uses the first volume to introduce readers to the main characters and the serious problems the lead is going through. There is doubt about her past; much of which has been purposely kept from her. There are also conflicts with her family. The young lady with a personality that rightfully ought be in line for throne can only display that type persona when threatened. So you see there is a passive quality to Friel's strength.

Well that is what readers are led to believe. Friel is quite capable a person on her own. If not for some excessive restraint and a little bit of age related ignorance, she has a good head on her shoulders to go with her huge heart. This first volume is about her ability to exert her power. The traditional tale has a prince come in and sweep the girl away along with the glory. Friel does not care about the glory; her priorities are friends and family. Her power comes from that. So when she faces adversity those moments bring out her hidden (possibly suppressed) inner strength.

As far as stories go, I am not sold on this title. I tend to want to get a better grasp on the setting and history when reading fantasy titles like this. There is not enough background yet for me to honestly assess this series yet. I do feel Friel is one of the better female leads that I have seen in a while. Her strength is evident from early on. You can it in the way she carries herself and the way she deals with others. Characters like that are a treat to see especially in all-ages fantasies, though I am still on the fence with this for one reason. And even though this is not an all ages title (strangely this is a ĀgseinenĀh title), FrielĀfs adventures seem charming and fun enough to be enjoyed by more than a few readers out there.

I am still not comfortable with the lolicon moe designs, but if I ignore the art a decent tale lay within. IsnĀft that often the moral of many fairy tales?


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