Story/Art: Asahi Sakano
Translation: Adrienne Beck
What They Say
In a world full of Evils, humanity’s only hope is the inhuman power of the witches.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
As Guardian of the Witch undergoes its brief training phase, Drake gets to step up in importance and hopefully is close to being in a position where he fades to the background. I do like him as a character and I think Sakano figured out a good design for him that borrows from the best in the right ways. But I’m not exactly thrilled at the idea of him possibly coming along for the journey. But, as he promised, three days of training are ahead for Fafner and he really has to step up otherwise they’ll be subject to the whims of the Drake and his calling in the authorities to capture them. It makes sense to give Fafner a real reason to step up beyond the expected reasons as well.
That said, what we get here for the chapter is pretty standard combat material. Drake’s got the talent, skill, and experience easily sidestep anything that Fafner throws at him. What he’s able to do is asses what Fafner can do and build him up a bit so that he can move to the next level and show if he’s truly capable. If he can do that, to actually grow and change based on need and the moment, then he’s not someone who will be stuck in a mode and useless in defending and protect Manasfa. So we see how he uses the different kids of small seeds that contain slivers of lightning or ice in order to deliver magical attacks upon Fafner. It’s shocking – literally – to him but it also serves the dual purpose of building up not resistance to the magics but familiarity instead. To absorb it and connect with it.
Because, as the reality of the training makes clear, a proper witch guardian is one that can help his witch by channeling and amplifying their power in safer and more effective ways. Which is what Fafner is realizing happened between Gen and Ruli during the brief fight before. Much of what Drake is doing is molding Fafner to be able to handle that and set for the final phase where Fafner has to fight with Manasfa at his side against Drake. That sets a good tone for the next chapter but I like that we get Manasfa teasing him just a bit prior to that but also having Fafner explain why he was so against witches for the longest time. It’s almost an info dump in saying what he does about his family as usually this is done through flashback exposition and I think Sakano missed a beat here in being able to expand his story with something like that, and to add a useful slowdown moment before going into the final fight of training.
Asahi Sakano has a good installment here in terms of the artwork in that the training session goes well and there’s some good design to the layout and flow of it. We do get some bland-ish backgrounds in that it’s just rock walls and the like but the character designs and emotions are solid and combined with the script it all comes together well. I do think Sakano missed an opportunity or two here but that just leaves it as an area to exploit later or do something else with to up the connections and involvement when it comes to Fafner’s past. It’s a solid enough chapter that will keep me reading for another couple of chapters at least.
Content Grade: B-
Art Grade: B
Text/Translation Grade: B
Age Rating: 13+
Released By: Shonen Jump
Release Date: March 29th, 2020