Let’s start by getting this out the way. I am a huge Tite Kubo fan and have been since the simple days of Zombie Powder. As much as I would have loved Kubo’s first manga to run a LOT longer than it did, the fact is that Kubo’s second series, the one that garnered the mangaka worldwide acclaim, is by far one of my all-time favourites. That manga is Bleach.
Despite its undeniable popularity, Bleach came to a somewhat melancholy end. The manga had a rushed conclusion, wrapping up a little sooner than probably intended, while the anime met a far worse fate – cancellation.
However, this is no time for doom and gloom. As of March 2020, as part of the Bleach 20th Anniversary Livestream, it was announced that the Bleach anime would be returning to finally wrap up its story and showcase the final arc to anime fans across the globe.
Not only was Bleach‘s return announced, but so too was an anime adaptation of another of Kubo’s work, the one-shot Burn the Witch.
Now, this announcement made me IMMENSELY excited, but also made me think: what if people have never read Burn the Witch and have no idea why they should be excited for this zany, comedic and downright badass story?
Well, for this week’s trip down the Otaku Rabbit Hole, we’ll be discussing the one-shot manga Burn the Witch and why you should definitely check it out!
Without further ado, let’s jump right into it!
Burn the Witch is set in London, where, despite the serene setting, not all is as it seems.
Despite the popular belief that dragons are nothing more than mystical beasts found in fables and fairytales, used to help scare little Timmy into brushing his teeth, dragons are in fact very real.
However, they aren’t usually found strolling the streets of London. Instead, most of them are found in a reverse London – a place where dragons make their home. The vast majority of people can’t see these dragons with the naked eye. Those who can are called witches and are tasked with entering the reverse world to help regulate these dragons’ activities.
Now, when I say dragon, you probably immediately think of massive, winged, reptilian creatures that breathe fire and sit atop a pile of treasure. The truth, however, is that in Burn the Witch, “dragon” is a catch-all term that covers a tonne of different species. Some of these dragons provide immeasurable benefits to humanity by generating food, electricity and more, while others are far more sinister in nature.
It’s the job of our heroines Noel Niihashi and Nini Spangle to manage and conserve the dragons in reverse London. This may seem a little vague, but in reality, it means their duties are incredibly diverse, ranging from extermination to grape gathering (what can I say, there are many different types of dragons).
Burn the Witch is a one-shot, meaning that this story is a one and done, so I won’t be diving into the finer plot details here for risk of major spoilers. Despite this, please know that if you’re in the market for more of that stylish Kubo action, with a witchy flair, then Burn the Witch most certainly doesn’t disappoint!
The way that this manga explores the idea of dragons and weaves it together with English fable and folklore is something I absolutely adore. Not only that, but the idea that dragons can be good or bad and are simply a part of the (reverse) London ecosystem is an interesting way of merging the supernatural and the mundane.
Not only this, the characters we’re introduced to feel fresh and interesting if a little tropey. Nini is your typical tough girl, while Noel is far more reserved but has fire in her belly. I would absolutely love to see more of these characters in future to see how their story unfolds.
The biggest issue I have with Burn the Witch is how it approaches its plot. Without diving into spoilers, this manga has an issue where it will throw key plot details and lore into the mix without setup. Admittedly, the scope of this manga is huge, but the one-shot status limits the effectiveness of its final presentation. It’s far from a huge issue, but it can leave you a little blindsided at points. Fortunately, however, Burn the Witch is getting serialised starting Summer 2020, so here’s looking forward to seeing more of this incredible world!
Visually, Burn the Witch is stunning, but take that praise with a pinch of salt. If you were a fan of Bleach‘s art direction in its later arcs, then Burn the Witch will definitely tick all the right boxes. On the other hand, if you weren’t a fan of Kubo’s work before, then this manga won’t do much to change your mind.
Issues that plagued Kubo’s earlier works are still present here with minimal background detail, instead focusing on the intense action and characters. For some people, that can be a deal-breaker as they value feeling immersed in the world, but like all of Kubo’s work, Burn the Witch is a joy to read, and action is ALWAYS the central focus.
I’m always a fan of one-shots as they can craft a world of wonder and magic in a single issue that stays with you long after reading, in a way few serial manga ever do. Burn the Witch definitely delivers on the world of magic and mystery, but I wish there was more. There’s so much packed into this bite-size story, and it’s just not enough! Kubo is definitely sitting on a potential knock-out with Burn the Witch, and I really can’t wait to see what Kubo has in store for us moving forward!
But, with all that said, we’re finally back to our main question: why should you read Burn the Witch?
Simply put, Burn the Witch is a very solid shonen manga, even if it has a few flaws. The idea of a wild world hidden just outside our reach is far from a novel one, but the way Kubo fuses the magic and mundane is simply masterful. The art direction is classic Kubo, only with witches and dragons rather than Soul Reapers and Hollows.
Is this story going to be for everyone? No, but neither was Bleach. If you’re a fan of Bleach, Shonen Jump or even shonen manga, you owe it to ourself to check this title out. You never know, it may even help introduce you to the weird and wonderful world of Tite Kubo!
Burn the Witch is available to read digitally for FREE right now on Shonen Jump’s website, so check out the link below to read it for yourself. What have you got to lose? It’s free!
With all that being said, thanks again for joining us on this week’s trip down the Otaku Rabbit Hole, and we hope you’ve enjoyed your time here. If you did, that’s amazing, and please consider sharing. If you didn’t, then please get in touch and let us know why. We would love to hear your thoughts! Thank you all once again and, until next time, keep it weeby everyone!