WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Burn the Witch, Chapter #1 by Tite Kubo, Jan Mistuko Cash and Vanessa Satone, available in English now from Viz Media.
When Bleach ended its 15-year serialization in 2016, there was a lot of uncertainty about whether Tite Kubo, the talented mangaka behind the series, would ever return to the pages of Shonen Jump. Fans were taken by surprise when two years later, Kubo returned with a one-shot about witches fighting dragons set in London, titled Burn the Witch.
Fans and critics warmed up to the potential of this new series, and now in 2020, Burn the Witch has not only been greenlit for a four-chapter run miniseries, but an anime movie adaption animated by Studio Colorido, responsible for the beloved Pokemon: Twilight Wings miniseries. With the first chapter of Burn the Witch finally released, what has changed since we last saw the duo of witches, Ninny Spangcole and Noel Niihashi?
The chapter opens on the hot-headed Ninny as she walks through the streets of Front London. As she casually ignores the gawkers calling out to her by bringing up her most recent breakup, it’s clear she must have to deal with this on a daily basis as a pop star. Once Ninny reunites with her partner in crime Noel, there’s a brief recap on Reverse London and the people’s relationship with dragons. Dragons are a danger to human life in London, so it’s up to the witches in Wing Bind HQ of Reverse London to keep them from interacting with humans. They exterminate dragons with spells similar to the “Kido” the Soul Reapers use in Bleach.
Kubo establishes Ninny and Noel’s relationship well right away. Ninny is the senior officer, so she demands Noel refer to her by her last name, but the soft-spoken Noel retorts by saying she’ll only do so if Ninny calls her by her first name. They haven’t been working together very long, but Noel may be interested in forming a friendship with Ninny, despite how different in personality the two are.
Kubo seems to have given more attention to backgrounds, something he hardly showed off with Bleach. With a setting like London, Kubo is depicting cramped but comfy city buildings. It makes the fights with dragons feel larger than life, as Ninny and Noel balance fighting these massive beasts with protecting civilians caught in the crossfire. The girls are dealing with Balgo, the dragonclad. When humans are around dragons for too long, they become dragonclads. In the original one-shot, Balgo has been around a dragon posing as his friend for 10 years. Unfortunately, it’s still unclear what being a dragonclad means. Balgo hasn’t changed appearance, and any other changes associated with becoming a dragonclad have not been explained. It is explained that it’s against the law for unauthorized civilians to go near dragons; those who do so are either put in jail or sentenced to death.
If a dragon absorbs negative emotions from a human it’s around for too long, it’ll become a dark dragon, only interested in bringing harm to humans. Separating humans and dragons is mutually beneficial, to prevent humans from becoming dragonclad and to prevent dragons from losing their free will by becoming dark dragons.
An ominous note is left hanging with the last few pages, as the Wing Bind HQ top brass argue about what should be done about Balgo. Kubo’s stylish character designs harken back to the Bleach‘s Gotei 13. The chapter ends with the Supreme Powers deciding that Balgo must be eliminated. What say, if any, that Noel and Ninny will have in this matter is unclear, but something readers will look forward to finding out.
Overall, Burn the Witch‘s first chapter does a great job of recapping the one-shot while also fixing a lot of the smaller issues of Bleach and the one-shot itself. Balgo seems a lot less perverted, which is hopefully something Kubo won’t abandon in the next few chapters. A lot more is explained about Reverse London and the relationship between humans and dragons. We can’t wait to see where this broom-flying adventure goes.
Source of: ComicBookResources