A Witch’s Love at the End of the World Volume 1 made me extremely excited for more queer witches and mystical adventures. Maybe a little too excited. Because while it was still a great read, the second volume of the manga wasn’t as strong as the first for me.
When we left the two main characters, Alice and Mari, at the end of Volume 1, a demon had sent them through a magic portal and into Mari’s human hometown. The two them look for Mari’s estranged mother and wander around until Madam Dolly, a teacher at the witch academy, finds them. They go back to the school and Madam Dolly discusses Alice’s relationship with Mari. And that’s about it. I’m not sure what I was expecting…maybe something more dramatic and suspenseful? The cliffhanger in the first volume filled me with anticipation for something huge, but the actual events were lackluster and anticlimactic.
That’s not to say the story was bad, though. What it lacked in action, the second volume made up for in character development and important background information. While stranded in the human world, Mari and Alice go to the center of town. Here, Alice sees humans in their natural habit (so to speak) and realizes that maybe they’re not all that bad. As explained in my last review, the witch academy plans to take revenge on humans, and Alice is supposed to be a part of this scheme since she is so talented with magic. However, as her feelings for Mari grow stronger and she realizes that she can’t control them, Alice begins to second-guess the witch’s revenge.
Alice’s heart is “opening up” not just metaphorically but literally. Throughout this volume, the audience learns that a witch’s hearts is magically “closed off” at birth since emotions, especially love, can negatively impact their powers. This explains why Alice, Madam Dolly, and other witches at the academy are generally cold and unfeeling. It also explains why Mari isn’t good at magic. She was raised as a human, so her heart was never closed off and she expresses herself freely, inhibiting her magical powers. In a strange twist of fate, Mari’s unhindered spirit is what (I’m assuming) made Alice fall in love with her, yet that love is causing them both all kinds of issues.
In terms of character development, we also find out more about Madam Dolly. As a higher up at the academy, she is involved with the revenge plot and we learn about her own motivations for seeking revenge. Her backstory is critical to the overall plot, and I enjoyed the segment about her. However, with most of the focus on Alice and Madam Dolly, there wasn’t much room to develop Mari’s character. This made the character development feel a little uneven. Mari did get some key moments – including some yuri sprinkled here and there – but there wasn’t much going on with her.
The next volume of Witch’s Love is apparently the last volume, which makes me worried about how everything will wrap up in only a few more chapters. Perhaps this concern was in the back of my mind as I read Volume 2, making me subconsciously overanalyze the plot. Again, it wasn’t bad – just not what I was expecting and a tad bit underwhelming. It’s also possible that my Wiccan hype from the first volume was diminished since magic or witchy customs weren’t really present this time around. I wonder how much my own Wiccan beliefs blinded me to some of the initial flaws of the story. It’s possible it blinded me… a lot.
Either way, A Witch’s Love continues to be a unique series with its interesting take on witchcraft and its themes of forbidden love. I want to see Mari and Alice’s relationship blossom, but I also don’t want it to affect their magic, namely Alice’s. I’m curious to see where everything is going and hoping the next and final volume gives us a well-developed conclusion (and a happy ending!!) without cramming in too much in at the end.