Welcome back to Manga Talk!
Today we are going to be taking a look at a different spin on the isekai genre. Well I say a different spin, but I cannot say that for sure since I am personally not a fan of isekai so I don’t follow all of the isekai.
We will be talking about the first volume of Witch’s Printing Office and as usual MAJOR SPOILERS for this first volume.
Let’s get started!
We begin with news of a large number of creatures seeming to be moving in mass numbers. Many villagers are distressed about this turn of events, and ask a young woman that seems to be an adventurer about her opinion on the matter.
She says that she isn’t an adventurer, and she presents them with her business card: Kamiya Mika, of Protagonist Press.
Mika says that she and her associates make spell books, spell scroll, and other book related materials and that she is headed toward the Holy Land, which was called so when a bunch of magic user banded together to defeat the Demon King.
The reason why she’s there is that she is looking for a specific spell, but before she can elaborate a giant rock golem appears.
The villagers try to stop the creature, but to no avail. The villagers ask Mika, thinking that she is a magic user, to stop the creature, but unfortunately she cannot use magic well.
Thankfully the golem doesn’t stomp on her, and continues its way to the Holy Land. Mika is thankful that she didn’t die, and we transition to the Holy Land, where a number of creatures are gathering, but so are a group of knights.
These knights, the Akivalhalla Knights, fight the creatures until dawn. At the village, Mika has already left, and while the villagers wonder about her whereabouts, a slew of magic users crowd the town.
The villagers ask what’s going on and it is revealed that Mika is running an event where magical spells and tomes are bought and sold, an event called Magiket.
As preparations for Magiket are being made, we learn that Mika has been in this world for about half a year, after she was reincarnated after leaving Comiket (a famous Japanese doujin convention).
As she was adjusting to the new world, she learned that everyone in the world can do at least one spell, and she figures that with magic being as prolific as it is, there has to be someone who knows a spell that can take her back home.
Mika and her companions check various vendors to make sure that the spells that they have for sale are legal and safe to use, and after some delays, Magiket finally opens.
After a false positive for a spell that can transport someone to another world, Mika interacts with various vendors and individuals and learns that various vendors and spellcasters belong to major guilds, and those magics tend to be more complex.
Mika gets lost in the crowd until she finds herself in front of a vendor, a necromancer named Naki, who is upset that no one is buying her wares.
Naki states that not all necromancy is bad, and some of it can be used to talk to souls that have passed on.
A snooty man asks a variety of questions about Naki’s spells, but laughs her responses off for being to old fashioned. Mika tries to console Naki, but is called away when an old man that she had met earlier in the day is found dead from overwork.
There are no healers in the vicinity that can help, that is until Mika realizes that Naki can call back the old man’s soul and someone with healing magic can bond the two back together.
This proves successful, and the old man comes back to life. This brings a lot of interest to Naki’s magic, and she thanks Mika for all the help that she has given.
Soon the very first Magiket closes, and while successful as a convention, it wasn’t successful for Mika to find the spell that she was looking for.
Mika goes back to her job at Protagonist Press, in which she uses her only magic, magic that makes perfect copies of written documents, to make copies of spell books and scrolls as a way to make some money.
Not only is this printing press a way to make money, but also a way for her to maybe find the spell that she needs, but right now Mika needs some rest because she is overworking herself.
Just as she is about to get some rest, a man comes in asking for a hundred copies of a spell book by tomorrow.
It’s a book that summons a creature that can deal with the werewolves that are plaguing his village, and since he is the only who has the spell, making multiple spell books for the rest of his village is the only way to help them.
While her coworkers ask her not to, Mika does it out of the kindness of her heart…and the fact that she can charge a massive amount of money to do it.
We see the process in making the books, as well as the intricacies that go along with making them, and after a long evening, the books have been made.
The man who brought in the book gives a demonstration, summoning a massive three headed dog named Toto, and another successful business transaction has been made.
Next we see Mika meeting with three of the best mages of their factions to help her with a crucial task: organizing Magiket 2.
She reasons with that while the previous Magiket was a success, there were a lot of organizational issues that needed to be done to make things flow better, thus her asking the best mages to help her make a catalog of the mages attending and planning where vendors will be stationed.
After some actual discussion and some debate, things seem to be going smoothly. That is until the images in the catalog begin moving on their own, messing with the proper order of who is going to be where.
Mika needs to find a mage who is very elusive in order to seal the vendors in the correct places, and after some clever thinking, she manages to accomplish that goal, which allows the catalog to be distributed in a timely fashion.
Next we follow the story of knight named Broadway, who seems to be having a personal crisis. While he is a noble knight, he has been having trouble feeling like the work he does is good because there is no evil to slay.
That is until he is called to do a special mission. He is tasked with being Mika’s bodyguard for Magiket 2, and he does his job exceptionally well.
He makes sure lines are followed, crowds are moving in a timely manner, and dealing with the occasional fight.
Once Magiket two is over, Broadway had shown that he was exceptional at dealing with the stresses of the convention that he eventually becomes assigned to midline management and becomes known as Nakano Broadway.
During the convention, some ruffians got into an argument about whose armor and weapons were better, even though they were both made by the same person, a blacksmith named Raken. The fight is broken up, but it does become a concern for future Magiket’s.
Raken is someone who takes things seriously and is very hard to bargain with, as Mika tries to get a deal done for some tools that he has worked on.
After a bit, he is willing to make a deal, so long as Mika talks to one of his compatriots to see how he is holding up after not selling weapons for a while.
Mika meets the blacksmith, Namak, and learns that while he is also a talented blacksmith, he does not like his weapons to be use for senseless killing, so has made harmless replicas of many weapons as a safety precaution.
Raken sees this as Namak going soft and while the two argue ethics of making weapons and armor, Mika suggests that the two have an armor making contest, with the winner deciding what Namak does.
Raken makes Mika a complex piece of armor while Namak makes Mika’s associate Kiriko’s stereotypical bikini armor, which seems to get the winning vote from everyone (except an embarrassed Kiriko of course).
Namak laments on only making armor that looks good, when Mika realizes that he can use his armor making skills for what amounts to cosplay, so that people can show up wearing cool armor and holding cool looking weapons, without there being a risk of killing each other.
Hot Off the Presses!
I will say that I think that, overall as a concept, this is not a bad take on the isekai genre.
While a lot of recent isekai tend to follow people who do not want to leave the fantasy world, or at the very least are not too concerned about leaving too soon, having Mika being motivated to leave being the driving force of the narrative was interesting.
While being in a high fantasy and high magic world is nothing new, having everyone know at least one unique spell that is specific to them was pretty neat to see.
And it isn’t just powerful damaging spells either, but also nifty little spells like a floating bubble spell or a spell that improves your memory, and even Mika’s spell of being basically a human printer has plenty of potential for fun spells.
While I wasn’t in love with all the character designs, I will give major props to the expressions that were drawn on character’s faces were some of the strongest that I have seen.
There is so much emotion drawn in certain panels that I was left incredibly impressed.
I will also say that the action scenes, as few as they are, are done really well and were some of the most impressive art in the volume.
There are several issues that I do have with the manga, namely that very few of the secondary characters stood out to me, with the only ones being Broadway and Naki.
The biggest problem is that I feel like I’m missing several chapters. There is no showing Mika getting to this world, making the companions that she has, learning her abilities, organizing the first Magiket.
The majority of those explanations are on a handful of pages, but there is no depth into how Mika got to the point at the beginning of the story.
I would be fine with a flashback chapter, but there wasn’t in this first volume so I felt a bit lost as to how we got here in the first place.
This makes me not care about Mika’s friends, or companions, or coworkers, or even care about her getting back to her home.
Overall the characters are pretty dull and forgettable, which is a shame because I can see the potential that this story has.
The story also moves fast, moving from the first Magiket to the second Magiket in the span of two chapters. This doesn’t let the audience breath and feels more like the author just wants to get to the good stuff without developing the characters.
I would recommend this if you like an interesting take on the isekai genre, some beautiful pieces of art, and some interesting potential for future stories.
I am personally not going to follow this manga, which is a shame because out of the physical manga that I have bought, this one is the best in terms of make quality.
There will not be an article on Saturday, so on Monday we delve into school drama as we look at a very popular series. We go from one magic wielder story to another as we take a look at Fairy Tail!
So until then,
Heiwa to sayonara!