Thursday, December 06, 2007

Good Witch of the West, vol. 1 (novel)

Written by Noriko Ogiwara
Released in the US by TokyoPop

Slugline: A version of the Cinderella story that I haven't seen before.

The manga has been previously reviewed here.

has lived with her father, an astronomer, at the very edge of her country for her entire life. But after begging to go to the annual ball, she is gifted with a piece of dead mother's jewelry by her father. At the ball she learns that the jewelry reveals that she is the daughter of an exiled queen to be, and upon returning home she discovers that her father has left. Quickly her life falls apart, and the only person that is left that she can rely on is Rune, her father's apprentice who was left behind, and even he is quickly kidnapped by people who want her father's knowledge of the stars. She is forced to turn to her recently discovered royal cousin Adale for assistance and in exchange for Rune's safety she must take her place in the intrigues of the nobles and the royal succession.

I was not impressed at all with the manga (I would have rated it lower than Miranda did, for instance) and was preparing myself for a slog through this, but I was pleasantly surprised on how quickly the pages flew by. It is a variation of the Cinderella story, but while some of the characters start out ignorant, they are not dumb and rapidly put together evidence about their own lives. And rather than Firiel immediately starting on the path of the throne, she is intelligent enough to not reach for that, and support someone who is better qualified. If anything Rune, the smarter of the two, does not have a surfeit of common sense considering their situation. There are fudges, people who are nice for no other reason that it makes it easier for the story to flow, but it is not presented out of nowhere or a radical change, merely the defaultpersonalities when characters are introduced. And wildly implausible and spur of the moment rescue plans are handled appropriately, and not everything goes according to plan, so that these small injections of reality help ground the story.

Good Witch of the West, vol. 1 is also available from Right Stuf, Intl., an online retailer specializing in anime and manga.


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