Howard Shore’s The Return of the King is one of my favorite pieces of music to listen to. While not the masterpiece most other people would call better known orchestral tracks from more famous composers, this particular piece seems to encompass everything that is The Lord of the Rings: the mystique and ethereal essence of the epic world of middle earth.
Rather than the flow of the violins and cellos, it is the flute that really gets me, that one instrument that creeps in suddenly and takes what was already a magnificent piece of orchestral music to new heights, this probably being the reason why the Concerning Hobbit track stand out so much in my mind, most of which is played via flute.
And the relevance to Witch Hunter? The Manhwa reminds me of The Lord of the Rings symphony, specifically the “Return of the King’ track. Witch hunter elicits the same level of mystique and epicness I have come to expect from my favorite symphony, only without the flute.
And by that I mean the manhwa walks the fine line between ordinary and shonen masterpiece, juggling all the balls of a great story telling but never quite stepping into story territory of greatness, in a way stranding itself with the title of almost ordinary.
Witches suddenly declare war against humans, causing two-thirds of the world to fall apart. They summon monsters called "Supporters" and devastate human residences... but why?
Survivors gather people with the power to combat the witches and called them Witch Hunters! Tasha Godspell is one of the strongest witch hunters, nicknamed "The Marksman" along with his "Jack-O-Lantern" looking Supporter. He fights the witches but cannot really bring himself to hate them...
Witch Hunter was one of the first seven manga I ever read and it is probably for this reason that the series intrigues me so; however, where many of its plots and twists seemed innovative at that time, my current experience with manga has allowed me to approach it with a new perspective.
+THE STORY: I spoke of witch hunter as lacking the proverbial flute, that one element to elevate it to greatness. But maybe that has more to do with the author’s lacking planning skills than anything.
Witch Hunter is a thrilling tale of magic and epic battles. It tells of a world that once knew piece before the witches declared war on humanity. The title of witch primarily imputed to the females, the only gender capable of safely manipulating the mana that their hats-the very tools that would entice them into the supernatural realm-grant them, women and girls from all over the world answer the call of magic and are driven to wage war against mankind king under the auspices of the four great witches of the East, West, North and South.
Standing to oppose them are the witch hunters, human beings accessing witch like powers through special items and artifacts, granted the mandate to hunt these vile creatures and their supporters- special entities that serve witches- and to bring peace to the world.
However everything is not as it seems among the witches and their alliances. One witch hunter, Tasha, the magic marksman, fights to defeat man’s deadliest enemy; yet the fate of his sister, Aria, a witch seduced by magic in the past, prevents him from hating them or taking their lives. Witchhunter follows his path, his attempts to save his sister, understand the story being the woman that taught him mana manipulation-the White witch- and the secrets that his supporter, Halloween holds.
It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to call witch hunter the pinnacle of shonen; it has that much potential. The cast of witches is massive, each with a story to tell and a dark addiction to magic. The witch hunters are just as intriguing and no clash between these two parties is every the same, revealing new powers, pasts and magical forms.
Recent arcs, further unveiling the scope of the witch hunter world, specifically the introduction of Great Britain, the Knights of the round table and their connection to Tasha’s Guinevere, have only served to expand an already expansive world.
Little effort is spared in unlocking the tales of each new character the story brings into Tasha’s fold, the most impressive of which has to be Xing (if that is indeed Xing, I keep confusing the three).
With dynamic battle scenes and an evolving story, there is no end to the series’ potential.
Except so much of it feels wasted, the reason being the mangaka’s clear confusion over his own story.
It is difficult to tell exactly where Witch Hunter is going, and that is largely because the author himself has no idea, having admitted a while back that he was basically coming up with the story as he went along.
Maybe One Piece and Naruto have spoiled me; but there is something entertaining about reading a manga with a purpose, whose story has a fairly specific plan, allowing for better cohesion than Witch Hunter achieves with its various arcs. And the confusion that result is unfortunately evident.
+THE CHARACTERS: Witch Hunter both rises and falls with its characters. The cast is massive and the manhwa does a brilliant job of availing appropriate screen time to most, if not all characters, taking the time to place focus upon even those characters that have no notable relevance.
That being said the witches tend to blend into each other, not only because of their designs but personality. It feels like we are constantly met with the same old ‘beautiful but cold, harsh and cruel’ girls intent on causing chaos with little purpose in mind-making it very easy to hate them.
The fact that we are more than a hundred chapters in and the series is yet to reveal its many secrets, especially the purpose behind the Witch’s war does not help a manhwa with a monthly release. Tasha, Xing and Taras are some of the most well rounded characters I have seen in shonen. The witches however seem to fall by the way side, even Verette, who gets more screen time that most.
+THE ART: Witch Hunter is a Manhwa and as such boasts better art than most other manga you will ever encounter. That being said, Witch Hunter is extraordinary even when compared to other Manhwa, not only possessing clean designs and sharp drawings but allowing the dynamism of each character and explosiveness of each scene to shine through.
The best way to describe Cho Jung-man’s artistic capabilities is this; he has the ability to create atmosphere better than most other series.
Witch Hunter is great, that much I will admit, highly entertainment. It is a must read for anyone with a love of shonen; the characters entertaining to follow, the action scenes explosive and the story fast paced, providing thrilling twists and turns at every turn.
The best arcs will keep you glued to the manhwa for several hours on end, while the worst are still worth the read. That being said, Witch Hunter could be so much more.
It is a would-be shonen masterpiece that keeps failing to achieve its full potential because there is no plan directing its path and that is bound to hurt it in the long run.
The manhwa is yet to disappoint me in any egregious manner, yet I foresee some disasters in its future if the author doesn’t craft a cogent purpose behind the entire Witch Hunter plot.
And the Manhwa could benefit from a weekly release.
RATING: 8/10, the manhwa has a tendency to time jump, progressing in the present in one chapter, leaping to the future in the next chapter and then utilizing the chapter after that to reveal the details of what happened.
This might prove confusing to some people. I know there where moments where I kept thinking I had skipped a few chapters.
HIGHLIGHTS: The Xing (Lee) flashback arc (best written flashback in a manhwa or manga ever), Halloween’s development, the clash between WH and the Bai Long empire.