Today...we're talking about Witches. Witches have been a part of our culture since we were swimming, stoning and hanging them back in colonial times though that all seems to be ignored in favor of burning them for...some...reason. The draw of the supernatural is always an irresistible one so naturally many well remembered series of the past and present use Magic and Witchcraft as their focal point. Bewitched, Charmed, Harry Potter, Madoka Magica, Wizards of Waverly Place and others are so wonderfully ingrained within our pop culture that it's hard not to like them and see how their popularity has endured. But above all, there is one Witch who's managed to endure for quite some time and her name is Sabrina Spellman.
Yeah, because western ideas always translate well to manga format, we've got this and now I've got to talk about it. The first thing I should tell you about this manga is that its' an American manga. Those...rarely work to my knowledge with more experienced manga readers but hey, the younger ones'll say "Look! Vampire Cheerleaders! I wanna read that!" And on another note, YES there is a manga called Vampire Cheerleaders and my thoughts on it as a title alone are rather negative. But let's get on with the review of this.
This manga is really pretty episodic. Each chapter its' something different but characters from previous chapters continue to show up in future ones. It's kind of like reading Ranma 1/2 where there's kind of an ongoing plot, but it's done episodically. There are hints though of a much bigger story in the works here though, so props for that. The art...the art is the hardest to get over. While it looks...presentable to a degree, I'm not a big fan of the designs, namely Sabrina's. It just BUGS me because it looks so amateurish and this is supposed to be professional but hopefully with later volumes the design will get better.
You know, I kind of understand WHY people despise anime and manga. It's first of all complicated to read to those new to the medium and if you're going by anime it's hard to really find a series that'll appeal to you. The characters are stereotyped even MORE than they are in western comics and cartoons and it's all just WEIRD! Physics are thrown out the window in favor of over emotional speeches about the powers of love and friendship and the world often revolves to fit the whims of the characters. This though is mainly applied to the anime marketed towards kids here in the United States. Even if things go wrong, it'll all turn out right in the end. Then there's the fanservice and all the tropes that go with it and the fact that the stories involved are rather overly complicated for the sake of absolutely nothing. But I think that in a way all of that contributes to what makes anime so popular in the first place. There's also the fact that Japan gives no fucks about inserting "questionable" material into their series and aiming them at a younger audience. The story lines are often deeper and more complex than what most of us are used to in our Disney or Cartoon Network programming and the shows often treat us like we're smart enough to understand what's going on without having to spell things out.
The problem with incorporating any kind of anime/manga ANYTHING to a Western work is that Westerners just DON'T get Japan and Japanese things the way that Japanese people do. Sabrina the Magic Within is drawn like a manga and has all the over emotional melodrama of a shojo or Magical Girl series. It's written to be like that. It also has this annoying habit of using JAPANESE for the MAGICAL SPELLS! WHEN MOST OF THE CHARACTERS ARE AMERICAN (presumably. Shinji's kind of allowed to get away with it as he DOES have a Japanese first and last name but I can't really imagine that way back when Hilda and Zelda were as young as they look, they were using Japanese for their Magic). WHY DOES THIS HAPPEN?! BECAUSE IT'S MANGA OF COURSE! And everyone knows that a manga isn't complete without SOME Japanese in it! I also feel that the story has kind of raised it's stakes by having this big looming mystery threat in the background and in doing so MUST deliver on that end otherwise, I and everyone else reading this will be VERY pissed off. It's not like Sabrina hasn't battled evil before in her previous incarnations.