Guardian of the Witch Review

It’s time for the next in the line of cancelled Shonen Jump titles. Guardian of the Witch is a title with a pretty decent premise and it’s one of the stronger cancelled titles that I’ve read. Unfortunately for it, this was not nearly enough to keep it alive. I certainly have my thoughts on why it was cancelled and how it could have improved but first lets dive into the story and see what it was able to accomplish in the 19 chapters.

The story starts off by letting us know that humanity was mostly destroyed by the titans evils. Now walls have been built around each little village that’s left and they are all referred to as city states. In order to fight off the Evils, each village has a Witch who protects them and her protector is known as the Guardian. The guardian is the most powerful fighter in the land while the witch is the chosen one who is able to use supernatural powers in order to beat back the invaders. It’s a tireless job but it’s one that has allowed humanity to stabilize so the witch is seen as a hero and revered by all.

The main character is Fafner and he can’t stand the Evils. He wants to destroy them all after his family was murdered by one. He doesn’t think witches are necessary since the humans are the ones who should beat them back. Of course the irony was that by honing his skills to fight them, Fafner became the guardian since he was the strongest. His life is turned upside down when he finds out that Witches are destined to become evils and his job is ultimately to murder Manasfa (The witch) when she starts to turn into one. Turns out that a whole lot of people knew about this by the way but he never did because he was busy fighting. Well, Fafner decides not to do it and takes Manasfa away. They are now wanted by the whole world but Fafner has decided that there will be no more witches as he’ll find a cure and then he’ll take out the evils. Will he succeed?

The series clearly takes quite a lot of inspiration from Attack on Titan. It’s also not very subtle about this like in the way Fafner’s family was murdered. It’s extremely similar to Attack on Titan. There’s also a very random moment where Fafner bites his wrist the way Eren does to transform. Only here he does it to “remember pain” so that he isn’t slowed down in a fight. It’s a very forced scene that is just here for the Attack on Titan comparisons. As soon as the heroes leave the village it starts to find its own identity but I imagine the start may not have given it the warmest reception among the readers.

Once we get going, there are really 3 arcs here and then the series just ends. In the first arc, the heroes are on the run of course and don’t get far before they’re attacked by a very powerful guardian and witch combo. Their names are Gen and Ruli who work directly for the government and don’t seem to have a village to protect. I’ll give the series credit for adding in the fights early on. As mentioned, the series isn’t even 20 chapters long and yet there really are quite a lot of fights. The powers are varied and the 2 on 2 style with the witches there works well.

The chapters go by very quickly too because the fights are a bit on the longer side. For example, once we finish this fight then the characters head right into a battle with a mysterious new character. This arc’s more of a training arc as this guy introduces himself as Drake. He’s a guardian who did end up murdering his witch as per the rules but has regretted it ever since. Now he lives a quiet life but is willing to help the main characters out. It feels a little bit early for training but it’s handled quickly and the characters were getting wrecked before that. At least this way they are ready for their next fight.

They don’t have to wait long for it either as the next village has them fighting another guardian/witch combo. By this point I should mention their main goal is to get to the final village to locate an old witch who is said to have retired. The reason this is important is because it means that she did not turn into a witch somehow so if they can get that secret then perhaps they can change the flow of the entire system. Nobody else is really buying it though and the heroes are still wanted fugitives so they have to deal with Spica and Claude next. This battle takes us to just about the end of the series.

Technically there are 3 chapters after that but I think the author may have been rebelling against being cancelled because a whole new arc seems to be starting at this point. The heroes head to yet another village where there’s another witch and they want to let her know about the possible cure. There’s not much time for anything though so for once there is no fight. We then get hit with the big 5 year time skip and a lot of emotional dialogue and convenient moments. The 5 year time skip does help make it seem like this wasn’t too easy though. 5 years is quite a lot of time even if the explanation may have sounded a bit too convenient.

So lets quickly talk about what went right and then what went wrong. First off, I definitely liked the art quite a bit. The action scenes flow well and the artist seems experienced to me. I didn’t have a hard time following the action at any point and the blows always landed with a good amount of intensity. The character designs are on point and I found it to just be very impressive. Additionally there is a lot of action throughout which is always a good thing. The series doesn’t take long to really get going. I felt like that should have helped the series last longer but I suppose it just wasn’t enough.

Fafner makes for a good character. He certainly does have his big mistake in the beginning with almost taking Manasfa down just because he was ordered too though. There’s no way he should have even been tempted there. It feels like a scene that just doesn’t make sense with the rest of his personality because he’s not really that kind of guy. Cutting out that scene would have done the whole series a favor. It’s hard to overlook that scene despite Fafner being great in the rest. He’s a strong fighter who never gives up. That’s always a good quality for a main hero lead.

Then we have Manasfa as the main heroine. She is fairly strong but can’t control her magic well and of course using it will speed up her descent into being a demon. These are two fairly good nerfs to keep her from dominating in the pre arc adventures. She’s a fun enough main heroine even if she tends to feel like giving up quite a bit. As the series goes on I expect we would see her be more and more confident. She also has a lot of banter with Fafner all the time. It may be basic compared to some titles but it works well enough and I always like some good back and forth dialogue.

The maid accompanying the two of them is called Nahta and she’s my least favorite member of the 3. Mainly because she spends most of her screen time early on explaining why Fafner should have just destroyed Manasfa. Keep in mind that Nahta is supposed to be the best friend. Her reasoning is that it would have been an honorable death but cmon now…that’s still awful. At least Fafner made the right decision in the end, Nahta is still clinging to her same lines for a while until she snaps out of it. Nahta can’t fight either so she would need something big to change things around.

For what went wrong, well you can probably see how every arc is fairly repetitive. The heroes enter a village and try to tell the witch that she doesn’t have to die in vain since there’s a cure. She decides to fight instead so the heroes get the win and then move onto the next village. Rinse and repeat for the entirety of the series. I don’t think I’ve seen a series start out quite so formulaic or at least not a Jump title. It’s really like the same thing keeps happening. Maybe that was the easiest way to keep on adding new characters but there definitely should have been a more seamless way to pull this off. Something more subtle or some way to change things up.

I liked each arc but I can see how it would feel like the same thing keeps happening. I already spoke about the Attack on Titan homages and usually the quicker you get your own identity the better. This title did get that but I wonder if it was too late. Mainly I think the series would have been able to survive if it had just kept the story switching up a bit. In an adventure title like this you probably want to spend a little more time on character development and a little less time just running around all the time.

Now lets wrap up the rest of the characters. First up we have Gen who is one of the strongest guardians around. He’s more of a villain though as he doesn’t care about his witch partner and just lives to fight. That kind of character can usually be cool but this one just felt more shallow than anything. It doesn’t help that Fafner beats him in the opening fight so there goes his hype. His being mean to his partner also just feels petty.

This doesn’t help Ruli either. She just lets Gen treat her like an item and is cool with it. She seems fairly emotionless so being a witch has clearly taken a lot out of her but it would be nice to see her have some kind of agency. She is able to strengthen her magic by getting injured which is definitely unfortunate. Clearly the team have come a long way in the rankings so this approach has worked but hopefully the power of friendship would have reached them pretty soon which could have helped.

Then we have Drake who shows up in the training arc. He’s a decent enough character. He messes with the heroes a lot by saying things like he may turn them over to the villains but you never really figure that he would actually do that. He has some skill which is good so he lives up to his hype of being one of the top ranked guardians. That said, I wasn’t very impressed with him. After all, he did destroy his own witch which was a really poor decision on his part. That’s never the right call.

Finally you have Spica who is probably the nicest witch. She is always breaking the rules to try and help the civilians who badly need supplies and other such equipment. Unfortunately for her she is always found out by her guardian Claude who puts an end to that. Spica may be a little too indecisive at times but I give her big points for trying to help people. She clearly has a better moral compass than Claude did.

Meanwhile Claude was a stickler for the rules but ultimately the main characters get him to see their side of things. He would have only continued to improve if the series had kept on going. His low points are from when he was a villain but as a hero he’d be fun enough. The guy just seems slow on the uptake with how obviously evil the king of his village was. You’d think people would have picked up on that. The king was the worst character though as we have a scene of animal violence thanks to him and he’s just too over the top. It’s hard to see how nobody has overthrown him by this point.

As a final note, I liked how the power system was set up here. Each witch has their own unique magic which they are then able to enhance the guardian with. The guardian’s ability will then be something related to that element while still being something a little different. I do question how all of these characters have cool elements like gravity and metal while Fafner has nothing but I bet he’d have gotten a power up at some point. You just have to question how Fafner didn’t know more about all of this since he was the top guardian. For now I’ll blame this on his village just being really behind the times. The power system would have likely continued to get even better as the series went on so it’s a shame that it ended so quickly. We could have gotten more explosive fights!

Overall, Guardian of the Witch is a fun series. It’s an action title that wastes no time in getting to the actual fights. The characters are good and I liked the art so you really can’t go wrong here. It’s a shame that it was cancelled, I think it really could have gone quite far. The ending is probably the most abrupt I’ve seen for one of these cancelled titles to the point where I think it should have just ended on a cliffhanger instead to leave room for a possible sequel. There is something fun about the series trying to genuinely have the kind of emotional final speech that you would see for a series with 20+ volumes. Lots of events are referenced that we never actually saw and it’s like for once you are hearing the speech from the point of view of the random townsfolk who have no idea what is going on. The series may have ended but I’d recommend checking it out if you’re a fan of action titles. The fights here are pretty fun.

Overall 7/10

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