Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Witches' Forest (Mishio Fukazawa)

It was one of those days again -- I needed a quick fix but my visit to Book Sale didn't yield much success in the YA department. I found a number of choice titles, though: Thomas Pynchon, Julian Barnes, Paul Theroux. At the last minute, I decided to add the Tokyopop translation of Mishio Fukazawa's Witches' Forest. It promises to be an RPG fantasy, which I didn't mind at all because I usually love that sort of thing.

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.


Monique said...

I completely have no idea what RPG is. Although Witches' Forest sounds intriguing. :)

dementedchris said...

RPG means role-playing game :) I'm such an addict I tend to forget not a lot of people know about it!

Tin said...

I have friends and cousins who go absolutely berserk over RPGs. I can recall conversations where they kept on inserting RPG references. It drove me nuts! :D

You're into manga? I had my first manga just this year. It's entitled Dramacon by Svetlana Chmakova. I enjoyed it. It's funny and it reminded me so much of all those anime tv series I used to watch.:D

dementedchris said...

I don't think I've read Dramacon! I love Japanese manga -- a good things my parents have stopped questioning me over my reading choices haha. :)

I'm addicted to RPG! When I'm in Manila, my friends and I would get together to play tabletop games -- we get together at someone's house and roll dice around. I also play RPG online in a format called play-by-post. And then there are video game RPGs. LOL, now I sound like I have no life haha.

Tin said...

My friends play the online RPG ones. I don't get into it not because it isn't my thing but because it may just be too much of my thing that I'll never pry myself off of the computer. My friend had to do a little RPG detox because her eye bags were getting bigger. :D

I'm intrigued by the tabletop games. So this is like a board game but with role playing involved?

dementedchris said...

No board games involved, just pen and paper (character sheets), some dice, and a lot of imagination. Imagine someone telling a story and you play characters that fit into that world.