Jun 27, 2020
deadoptimist (All reviews)
We are taught to equate power with violence and with aggression, but there’s also great power in being yourself in the best way you can. Majo to Neko no Hanashi is essentially that and about that. It's about growing through interactions with other creatures. And about cute little witches, cats, cakes, and flowers – the four things the author obviously loves. Majo to Neko no Hanashi is simply what it wants to be – unabashedly magical, unabashedly feminine, and unabashedly good.

It’s one volume of greatness structured as a framed anthology. Most chapters share the pattern – one of the apprentice witch friends gets her cat familiar, meets her elemental spirit and learns a thing or two about herself. The rest of the chapters touch on the past of older witches and even on lives of some non-witch civilians. The main message of the work is the need of growth: learning about yourself, embracing you strong and weak points, accepting the difference between individuals, and appreciating the insights others bring in your life. The lessons are neither saccharine nor overly didactic. Thanks to the variety of presented characters most readers will likely connect to at least one or two stories.

A bit more on the cuteness and differences: all too often moe in manga is creepily sexualized, overly marketed, excessive, and/or makes characters samey. None of this happens in this healthily endearing work. The witches are proper little brats, and their uniforms are adorably practical. They are different in personalities and designs. And what’s especially impressive all the cats strikingly differ too – old and young, big and small, wise and easygoing, intense and timid, black, white, blue, spotted and tabby… One must love cats to make them both so realistic and so full of personality. Cats are simply top notch in Majo to Neko no Hanashi. There’s also a wealth of flowers and a variety of spirits. The author scatters her treasures - little witch girls, cats, flowers, cakes, and jewels - generously and evenly, from the first page to the last. Chapter covers are especially pretty.

It looks great, it reads easily. The art is light, lively, loveable. It is very dynamic and has the finish of traditional book illustrations. The linework is delicate and flowy. The faces are rather simple, maybe, and the focus is mostly on characters so you won’t have overdetailed backgrounds... – the only faults I can think of, if I try and reach for negatives.

Together with the characters the readers still get to visit many places a young girl playing a witch would dream of: bakeries, herbal shops, perfume shops, gardens, a school campus - all rendered with taste and a with decent amount of fun details. There’s also solid worldbuilding at the background. This fictional world has its own problems and prejudices to live and to deal with, which witch girls do through sweets, songs, aromas, flowers, shiny stones, foreign languages, friendships (of course), and ultimately acceptance – of others and of their own self.

Majo to Neko no Hanashi is just so tasty and wholesome, I want to urge everyone to pick it up. It’s beautiful, pure, even a bit helpful. Kind witches, cats, cakes and flowers – don’t we all need more of these things in our lives?