Sena Shirai is a shut-in. She doesn’t leave her house except to go to the convenience store nearby, and she’s not gone to school in ages. However, on her eighteenth birthday, she gets up and puts on her uniform, determined to make it to class. Everything seems to be going well for Sena. Until she’s hit by a truck, that is.
She wakes up in a strange place and is greeted by an angel. As it turns out, she wasn’t supposed to die yet, and the angel offers to give her some special powers for her next life. Before Sena can grasp what is happening, the angel sends her on her way, and Sena is reincarnated as a newborn in another world.
Magic is commonplace in the world that Sena finds herself in. Around 50% of the population is able to wield magic while the other half uses special items called “magi-crafts”, which make day-to-day things easier (such as starting fires and drawing warm baths). While there is no discrimination between magic and non-magic people, Sena finds herself in a poor predicament. Unlike everyone around her who can use normal elemental magic, the only spells she can use are “Explode” and “Perish.” Both of these spells are incredibly powerful and unheard of and, combined with her unusual dark hair and eyes, she is ostracized by the townsfolk at a young age after an accident and is forced to live in isolation yet again.
After living alone in a cottage in the woods for a number of years, Sena celebrates her 18th birthday for the second time, just before her life changes forever. A strange young man appears at her door, bringing with him her usual bi-monthly shipment of supplies. Upon seeing him pass out soon after arriving at her home, Sena brings the stranger inside and uses a magi-craft to heal him. The next morning, she wakes up to find him cooking breakfast. The two spend some time together, and she learns that the young man, Keith, is an experienced magic user. He’s intrigued by her unique spells and her lack of formal magic training. He tells her that the capital has a library full of magical tomes that might help her discover the origins of her magic and allow her to gain some control over her powers, and he’s happy to escort her there.
Before their planning can get much further, Keith is forced to leave due to circumstances, and he asks Sena to come with him. Sena is faced with two options: leave her home and explore her world, or stay in the only place she’s ever known where she feels safe. Either way, this young woman has a tough road ahead of her.
Though the glimpse of the world that Sena finds herself in is fairly small, the volume makes it clear that this high fantasy setting is vast, detailed, and filled with lore. The magic system is unique and intriguing, and the fact the writer makes it clear early on that the country’s caste system isn’t based on magical abilities was a refreshing stance and a wonderful break from the typical trope. Between hints at the royal family’s drama, a magical school, different professions, and an ongoing war between another country, the promise this volume holds for a detailed universe and potential content has my hopes sky high.
Sena is sweet, quiet, and introverted to a fault. Though she longs to be able to live her life and see the world, she worries what people will think of her and her magic, and fear of how they will treat her keeps her locked inside her home. I liked Sena having this slightly darker side to her. Though she’s not cynical, she’s also not so happy-go-lucky as to let anyone take advantage of her due to obliviousness or some belief that everyone is wholly good.
The interactions between Sena, Keith, and the other characters introduced in volume 1 do a lot of heavy lifting. We get more details of the world and how it works, and the different personalities of the characters we can expect to see a lot of are put on full display. I was laughing at some scenes and deeply analyzing others to suss out foreshadowing in their words.
The art is stunning and perfect for a high fantasy setting. The forest surrounding Sena’s home gives off a magical feel, and her small cottage is the definition of cottagecore witch aesthetic, and I wish I could live there. There’s also a quick look at a nearby town and a library, both of which are beautiful and populated. Everything is so detailed and feels so lived in that it hooked me just as quickly as the storytelling did.
(Contains minor spoilers about the plot)
It’s revealed early in the volume that Sena caused a scene in the nearby village when she created a blockade of rubbish in the road after using her magic as a child. This leads her to becoming reclusive in her new life, and she doesn’t leave her cottage and the surrounding wood until after her 18th birthday. When she gets to town, one of the older women who was there at the time of the accident apologizes for her rudeness all those years ago as she discovered Sena had used her powers to stop the woman’s young daughter from being run over by a carriage. The older woman then gives Sena a letter that Sena’s mother had entrusted to her in case Sena ever came to town. From the information provided, it doesn’t make sense as to why Sena’s mother didn’t take her back to town when she was younger to receive the apology, or why she didn’t just explain the situation to Sena herself. This plot hole felt really awkward and makes Sena’s self-isolation more of a miscommunication trope than anything else.
A Reincarnated Witch Spells Doom Volume 1 was an enchanting high-fantasy read, and it made me hungry for more. I loved the world-building throughout the volume, and the cliffhanger ending had me preordering volume 2 as soon as I was finished. While it wasn’t the most action-packed reincarnation manga I’ve read, the unique magic system and art made it well worth the read.
Original Story by Tail Yuzuhara
Art by sora
Translation by Timothy Gifford
Lettering by Rachel Pierce
- Detailed and expansive high fantasy setting
- Pretty art and character designs
- Interesting world building and story
- Plot hole makes Sena's reclusiveness feel forced
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