Wednesday, November 23, 2011
Witches' Forest (Mishio Fukazawa)
Reading Witches' Forest definitely reminds me of the role-playing games that I play and the shounen anime that I watch --- so much that a part of me wished I had a manga in my hands. However, despite being a really easy read there is nothing much here to recommend. This is the story of Duan Surk, a Level 2 card-carrying member of the Adventurers Club, lost in the Witches' Forest after a pathetic stint with the army and accompanied by his grinia (lizard) Check. He teams up with the older and much more experienced fighter Olba October and then later, the fire-mage Agnis Link. It's pretty straight-forward, filled with familiar tropes and two-dimensional characters that make the plot trite and predictable.
But one reason that kept me going until the end was that the story acknowledged all those tropes and cliches -- embraced them, in fact. The characters had boss battles at the end of nearly every other chapter. They Leveled Up whenever they defeated a monster. They spoke of earning Experience Points. The book even has character profiles and adventurers' tools that poke fun at themselves (ropes that never break, lanterns that never run out of light). Given all of that, the entire story is actually very meta. Now if only it was half as interesting.
Witches' Forest is actually packed with a lot of action that if I were to turn it into an anime, I'd have a healthy monster-of-the-week shounen series in my hands. But then again, there is so much more to shounen anime that this story doesn't quite capture. So don't expect too much from Witches' Forest unless you're ten and very new to RPG. Otherwise, its charm might not work well on you.