Witch Hat Atelier Vol. 2 by Kamome Shirahama (Witch Hat Atelier #2)
Publisher: Kodansha Comics
Release Date: June 25, 2019
Available Through The Book Depository: Witch Hat Atelier Vol. 2
Summary: Her journey as a witch is underway, and Coco’s earnest wish is but to learn. But now she has a dragon in her way, and friendships she badly wants to earn. For comrades lend one strength to carry on and kindred spirits blunt the keenest threat. A dragon, once enraged, now sleeps ’til dawn, transforming peril into light vignette. Though Coco has attained apprenticeship and Qifrey’s trio now becomes quartet, his gift to Coco threatens to be stripped, for wary Watchful Eyes no wrongs abet. When Knights Moralis come to take their due, her magic learned turns magic lost anew…
My Rating: ★★★★★
My Thoughts: Witch Hat Atelier is a must-read series that’s magical and captivating! Coco finds her journey filled with obstacles, from strengthening her new-found friendships and taking what she learns at every turn to improve upon her magic! The detailed art, inspiring messages, and captivating story weave together to make Witch Hat Atelier Vol. 2 an outstanding sequel!
You know when you’ve been highly anticipating a book and when its finally out, you put off reading it only to read it in practically one sitting, then your left wondering how on earth you’ll possibly be able to wait for the next one?
That’s how I feel reading the Witch Hat Atelier manga! It’s a series I’d really been looking forward to since I’d heard about it at last year’s AX and it’s easily one of the best fantasy manga series I’ve ever read!
I truly believe this series is incredibly underrated and underhyped in the bookish community–I can’t recommend this series enough! If you love complex magic systems, amazing ensemble cast of characters, whimsical, but also inspiring and almost timeless tales? Then please pick up Witch Hat Atelier!
The story follows a young girl named Coco who dreams of becoming a witch. But in this world, it’s not such an easy task, only select few are born with the ability to practice this secret art.
Coco discovered her love of magic when she attended a castle festival with her mother at a young age! Since then, she’s held onto the dream that she can make it happen one day!
An unfortunate accident involving forbidden spells leads her on a magical adventure alongside magician Qifrey, where he takes her to his atelier and let her training begin.
In Volume 2, it picks up right where the story left off with Coco, Tetia, Richeh, and Agott trapped in an empty and abandoned Mc Escher-esque city, trying to escape a dragon!
What makes Witch Hat Atelier such a memorable series for me, is that through the writing, characters, their development and plot, I feel like I already know the cast so well that it was so easy for me to get back into this world in the second volume!
Coco attempts to help her other friends find a way out, but Agott and Tetia have their doubts about her abilities. Because of that, Coco questions whether she’ll ever find that sense of belonging in the atelier as they go on without her.
I related to her so much in that first chapter, that sort of unsaid doubt that she picks up on and questioning whether she can make it. But, Coco is both inspiring and dedicated in her perseverance to continue learning, alongside strengthening the bonds with her new friends, even if she knows she isn’t quite ready. I adore that about her as a character, time and time again she’s faced with obstacles that seem impossible but she keeps on trying and uses what she learns to help others!
During this time, were also following their master Qifrey who’s outside of this mysterious city, trying to help the girls and find a way out! But, we also learn this misfortune may be connected to the Brimmed Caps: Witches who wear masks and caps from a bygone era. They keep their identities hidden and practice forbidden magic!
As Coco reunites with her friends, she has a heart-warming moment with Tetia, keeping her spirits up and reminds her of the strength she has within herself!
As they come up with a plan for escape, Qifrey manages to find them, but Coco is quickly faced again with the mysterious, masked magician!
Next, Witch Hat Atelier introduces us to some interesting new characters and magicians! First there’s Olruggio, Qifrey’s close friend and overseer of the atelier. Next are the Knights Moralis, defenders of magic who maintain order by ensuring those who aren’t allowed to practice magic, have their memories erased & eliminate those who practice forbidden magic!
In this volume not only do Coco and Qifrey continue to be my absolute favorite characters, but I’ve now gotten to know more about Agott and I loved her so much + seeing her development!
What makes this volume such a great sequel, is how it balances the action, character development, new character introductions, and world-building in such a seamless way. The complexity to the magic system is developed even further through the use of new spells and obstacles, where we see Coco take each and every adventure as a learning experience to help her on the next one!
Additionally, I loved how for most of the characters, I could see a clear development arc that began and ended in this volume!
Alongside Coco, another character who gets more development is Agott! She’s hesitant towards Coco at first and doesn’t want her in the way. But, as she begins to see Coco’s true strength, potential, and tenacity, she realizes just how much she really belongs there as much as she does! She begins to see just how powerful and inspiring Coco truly is.
We learn she mainly feels this way, because as Agott grew up in another Atelier, she always felt like she was never good enough. Her mother was incredibly skilled and all these outside expectations turned into other’s disappointment. Because of that, she feels that at Qifrey’s she has to continue proving herself.
However one moment that really stuck with me was when Coco and the team were headed out to help a family caught in a raging river and Qifrey said this:
“Agott tends to dwell on things she has not yet learned, rather than rejoicing in the things she has…” (135).
As the story progresses we get a little more about the hierarchy among witches and magicians! This makes for a very interesting end to this volume and I was left in shock once I turned that last page–How am I supposed to wait for Volume 3? I don’t think I can??
The art, as with the first volume, is carefully detailed! The characters especially are illustrated with such care and come to life on the page. What I noticed more in this volume was the little details that continue to make the world incredibly immersive. For example, the onomatopoeias added more layers to the sights and sounds of the world―action scenes alongside the settings, and food (one of my favorite scenes was the rainy picnic they all had!).
In addition, through the writing and art together we get more depth and added layers to the world! More spells and their capabilities, rules, magical equipment like the Rain Cleaver and Link Rings, even the nuances to the magic system (such as why the witches cloaks are so large and billowy― to prevent the secret of preforming magic from being seen by normal people).
The way the panels are shown too, present the story in such a wonderful way. Each and every panel offered something to the story and from the magic system, character development, to the setting–not one single panel or page ever felt wasted!
I continue to be in awe at how everything in this series flows together so perfectly! The various elements to the world-building continue to be incredibly captivating and so well developed. Every time your introduced to something new, it immerses you so much into the story to the point you forget that its your first time reading about it–that’s not easy for a story to do, but Witch Hat Atelier does it with such care!
Another element of this series that is not only an important part, but also something that connects with me on such a personal level is the powerful messages deeply rooted into the story! As I mentioned in my review of Volume 1, there’s this feeling of endless hope and possibility that allows the reader to keep asking “What-If,” which connects to this inner wonder of the magic that’s all around us!
One of my many favorite inspirational moments is when Coco is helping Qifrey cook something in the kitchen using magic and he explains to her:
“When your anxious to learn something and need to get better…the solution is to make it part of your daily life…” (84).
Its moments like that between the characters where beautiful and inspiring messages just stick with you on such a personal level that makes this series so much more special to me!
Witch Hat Atelier proves you can blend humor, dark moments, alongside happy and cheerful ones to deliver a story both inspiring, timeless, and captivating all at once!
Witch Hat Atelier Volume 2 is a page-turning continuation to Coco’s adventures! Character development, inspiring messages, and immersive world-building are just some of the many highlights this volume has to offer! Everything weaves together to bring an epic continuation to the Witch Hat Atelier series that will leave you speechless and want the next volume right away! Kamome’s Witch Hat Atelier is a truly phenomenal manga series that is a must read!