Witches is a series of short stories set in the same universe, and connected by the themes they share.
Most prominent among these is the idea that humans cannot see the real world. It is uniquely expressed in one story: an average person explores their room, confident they know everything from wall to wall; a wise person will open the door to reveal a house, and spend their life learning the mysteries of that house; all the while, every living person leaves the windows shut, never knowing the vast world outside or the epic space beyond the planet.
The art conveys these messages much more elegantly than the dialogue. Backgrounds in particular carry painstaking attention to detail. Cities, houses, trees, vehicles, oceans, and clothes are constructed in a realistic, yet still surreal way. On one occasion, a neighborhood may melt as if made of super-heated plastic, starkly contrasting the restrained character designs; in another scene, these same characters who once seemed plain will be drawn alongside fantastical creatures, becoming one with the things so far from existing.
There are moments when this manga’s humble origins are revealed. Usually, they manifest as off-model faces, a surprising artistic flaw considering the effort put into most panels. These can be easily forgiven though, since the drawings are just that good and the author probably can’t afford many (if any) assisstants.
Witches’ biggest weaknesses are the predictable, poorly-developed people. Personalities feel generic, tacked on only because they must be. More concerning is that we’re consistently presented one character with knowledge, and one without. This is because the writing is very didactic, so the wise person is the author while the ignorant one is the reader. Being what some may call preachy is not necessarily bad, but when someone possesses the artistic talent of Daisuke Igarashi, there is no need to voice each and every thing.
When the pictures do the talking, Witches is sublime. The same cannot be said of the manga as a whole, especially the writing, pacing, and structural diversity. Despite these drawbacks it is still good, and very much worth reading. read more