In the quiet village of Sera Field, Firiel Dee lives an uneventful life, spending time with her father’s servants whilst he and his apprentice research and study the stars. On her fifteenth birthday, however, she decides to attend a royal ball as a special treat, only to discover that she is descended from the queen and thus a candidate for the throne! This isn’t to be a simple rags-to-riches tale, however, for this revelation ends up sparking a series of events that plunges Firiel into a world of intrigue and danger that will affect both her and the ones she loves the most.
Long-time readers of this blog will recall my lengthy rant about the Good Witch anime, a series which started like a magical fairytale, and ended up by introducing so many unresolved plot elements that it was hard to know what the point of it all had been. Nonetheless, there remained a feeling that the story could and should have amounted to something, and whilst I didnâ€™t have the original novels to hand, there was a strong chance that the manga version would offer a more satisfying experience.
Unfortunately, with just one volume to hand, it is too early to tell how the story as a whole will pan out- in fact, this book basically covers the same content as the first episode of the anime (how’s that for a pacing difference?). So far, only the basic groundwork for the story has been laid, and whilst the more relaxed pacing allows for increased development within a scene, it also leads to moments of meandering dialogue when it isn’t easy to tell what point is trying to be made. All in all, I’ll need to read more to pass judgement on the series as a whole, for whilst this isn’t the most inspiring of starts, there is plenty of room for it to take a strong and worthy direction.
Strangely enough, given that the same artist worked on all three incarnations of the series, it is the character designs that most differentiates the manga from animated version. Having chosen to alter the designs she originally drew for the novel illustrations, the mangaka opts for a cuter chibi look, and whilst there is a certain charm about the visuals, it is also somewhat disturbing that fifteen year old Firiel looks about ten, whilst male lead Roux (or Rune) could well be Harry Potter’s illegitimate brother. Overall, then, the visuals are sound and aesthetically pleasing, but they also feel a little out of place for a series not intended to be set in an elementary school.
Although about as much happens in this entire volume of Good Witch as might occur in a single chapter of another series, the slow pacing might be just what the series needs- it can’t be said that a lot has happened just yet, but hopefully each arc will be more grounded and developed than it was in the anime. In short, this may not be the best of starts, but I’m still interesting in seeing how the manga handles the rest of the story.