Archive for February 23rd, 2008

Nishi no Yoki Majo (Good Witch of the West) pt. 1 by Ogiwara Noriko

Yeah, it’s a book “review”. I bet you all look like Firiel here.

Tokyopop released the first volume of the Good Witch of the West quintology late last year. Some of you may be familiar with its anime counterpart, which is somewhat incredibly different from the actual novel.

How different, you ask? The creators of the anime took a five-volume series (each book being about 200 pages in English, apparently) and crammed it into thirteen episodes. That would be a problem, no? If you liked the anime in any way, shape, or form, the novel will be a real treat, as it’s the anime, except with the bits that they cut out put back in. I’m at a somewhat interesting vantage point reading this novel, as I already know the truth behind many of the events in the series, due to watching the anime, but the fun thing for me is finding out the little details that got axed. This first novel covers the events in the first two episodes, roughly, in much more detail.

For those who haven’t seen the anime and have no idea what it is, I’d recommend reading the novel before seeing the anime, if you ever do, for the reasons stated above. Good Witch of the West is Ogiwara Noriko writing about schemes and plots in the nobility for five books. Firiel Dee, the main character, finds out rather suddenly that she’s actually a princess, similar to the characters in the fairytales she reads all the time; however, unlike these fairytale characters, when she finds this out, she is immediately swept into a world of plots, schemes, and conspiracies. It’s all pretty fun, if perhaps a bit on the escapist side.

The hallmark of the series is the relationship between Firiel and Rune. It’s exactly what you would get if you shoved two tsundere characters into a relationship with each other. That’s how awesome it is. The two are constantly in a love-hate/hate-love relationship, both of them trading insults and digs at each other, and both of them thinking the other is uncouth and unrefined. It’s a weird romantic (for that is what it ultimately ends up being, as anyone can plainly see from the first novel) setup, operating on the axiom that opposites attract. It’s fun to watch them ricochet off each other, and Ogiwara does this especially well in the book.

Good Witch of the West doesn’t quite stack up with other, Western adult fantasy books in totally unfair comparison, and either the original writing or the translation is somewhat strange to my finely honed reader’s eye, but it’s certainly leagues ahead of most of the things that get churned out for YA pubishers nowadays, which is the market that this appeals to most. I do know that many library journals give the manga adaptation high praise, and it’s always hard to wring out that starred review from Kirkus or Booklist, but there you have it. Kid-tested, librarian approved!


I cannot understand those that take anime seriously, but I can love them, and I do. Out of my love I warn them to keep clear of this blog.

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February 2008