The Dawn of the Witch is a magical fantasy with plenty of action. Be warned though, while not shying away from more lighthearted moments of comedy and fanservice, it does have some rather dark moments. This review will be looking at the first volume in this series published by Kodansha.
This manga is a spin-off of Grimoire of Zero, Kakeru Kobashiri’s previous work. While it focuses on a new set of characters, some do make an appearance here too. You do not need to have read Grimore of Zero to understand The Dawn of the Witch, so you can jump right in here if needed. Illustrations are by Tatsuwo, who notably worked on the art for Macross Delta.
The Dawn of the Witch opens by introducing Saybil. He’s an amnesiac found alone in the rain. Despite seemingly having no talent, he’s enrolled in the academy of magic. Unsurprisingly, he ends up as the worst student there and in danger of being kicked out.
For Saybil being kicked out isn’t just a problem of academics. It’s a rule that anyone kicked out of the academy of magic will have their memories related to magic sealed; For Saybil, that’s practically all of what remains of them.
In a last-ditch effort to pass, he enrolls on a special course. This takes him and several other students to go live in the Witches Village. It is explained that until recently magic users weren’t accepted in many parts of the world due to religious indoctrination. Even now, despite peace being recently made with the church, there are still groups of witch hunters and general intolerance in places. This village is one way that magic users try to create a more positive image. Unfortunately, their journey doesn’t go according to plan…
Some rather interesting characters are coming along on the journey. Loux Krystas is the titular Dawn Witch. Quick-tempered, occasionally impulsive, and sometimes harsh. She’s shown to be particularly talented, but certainly has faults. We do see her kind side though. Despite looking like a child, she’s shown to be a knowledgeable witch. She guides the students to the village.
Holt is shown to be an exemplary student. Brilliant at magic, kind to Saybil, and seemingly liked by everybody. She has her own reasons for enrolling on the course, even though she could easily graduate without it. Her backstory is particularly interesting and helps with worldbuilding quite a bit. Quite a lot is revealed in volume one that I’ll not reveal here. What I will say is that her smile is hiding more than you might think at first.
While we don’t get as much time with him in volume one, we do meet Kudo. He’s a Beastfallen – a half-human, half-beast. In this case, he’s essentially a Lizardman. Quick-tempered but seemingly good-at-heart, he seems likable. I’m hoping we get to see more of him later, as hints were given of his own history being worth reading.
At times the writing here can be particularly intelligent. It had why characters acted in certain ways reasoned out quite well. Whether directed stated or not, they generally had a motivation for what they were doing.
The world is the most interesting part of The Dawn of the Witch so far. It’s a horrible place in many ways and more sensitive readers may find some aspects disturbing.
Staring with the magic system; Unlike some titles, it uses what may be seen as a more traditional type of magic at times. While some magic is cast with thoughts and incantations, we also see the use of a bloody ram’s head in old magic and bones in divination. Sacrifices are made in casting sometimes. It’s a less sanitized take on magic than in many other anime or manga series.
The history of the church and the persecution of witches goes into a good amount of detail. From ways the church finds witches weaved into the chat to maps of the dangerous parts of the world, it covers quite a few things. It shows some of the atrocities caused by the hunter groups too. This even involves the slaughter of whole villages and showing the bodies of dead children. One thing I liked was that it also briefly showed a reason why people may legitimately hate the witches too, making it not just a one-sided good versus evil view. I’ll be interested to see if they continue to add more and more detail in future volumes.
One of the first things I heard about The Dawn of the Witch was that it has a lot of fanservice. This isn’t wrong. It uses a lot of angles that emphasize certain body parts. Holt is particularly busty and it certainly has a focus there. We seem to see Loux’s panties in quite a lot of her scenes. The fanservice is often present, though it’s not directly pointed out. There are no aptly timed gusts of wind or overly perverted protagonists here. It has a more serious tone than that.
What I found more interesting were the action shots. They’re very well detailed and flow from one to the other brilliantly. It uses lines quite heavily to emphasize the movement.
Overall I liked the art. It felt high quality, particularly in those action scenes.
The Dawn of the Witch has certainly caught my interest with this first volume. Holt is the only character who I feel like I’ve really gotten to know a lot about, but I’m interested to find out more about the others. The world that they’ve started to build is what I really want to see more of though. I’m curious how things will proceed from here on.
THE DAWN OF THE WITCH VOL.1 IS RECOMMENDED
Many thanks go to Kodansha Comics who provided a review copy of this title. A free preview of this manga can be found on their website.
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A gamer since the days of Amstrad and DOS and someone who has dabbled in a variety of professions. He enjoys a wide variety of genres, but has been focusing on visual novels and virtual reality in recent years. Head Editor of NookGaming. Follow him and the website on @NookSite.