Reviewby Rebecca Silverman,
Witch's Printing Office
Something happened when Mika was on the way home from Comiket and suddenly she found herself living in a fantasy world! This is a world where everyone has the ability to use at least a little magic, and when Mika's turns out to be “copy magic” she decides to use her skill to open Protagonist Press, the world's premier printer of magical tomes. And how better to promote her products than to get all the magic creators together at a special twice-a-year market?
A Witch's Printing Office may be yet another in the never-ending stream of isekai series that seem set to define the 2020s as well as the 2010s, but it's one with a gimmick that makes it feel less cookie cutter than some. The story focuses on the creation of a special market for practitioner-created spells and books named “Magiket,” and if that sounds an awful lot like Comiket, that's because the Magiket is the brainchild of otaku Mika, who was somehow transported to another world and left there. Mika's plan is two-fold – it seems like a good idea because nothing similar exists in her new world, and if she keeps organizing Magikets, then her chances of finding someone with a spell to send her back to Tokyo dramatically increase. Add in that she has zero interest in becoming an adventurer and that the magic she gained upon arrival is “copy magic” (she's basically a photocopier), and Magiket is looking like the perfect answer to her troubles.
The story is at its best when it actually takes place at the Magiket, two of which happen in this volume. Not only is it an entertaining take on the Comiket storyline, which we've experienced in a decent amount of previously released anime and manga, but it also gives more of an insider perspective on what it takes to run something of this size, with the fantasy dressing needed to keep it from feeling like a strict industry story. You think rowdy cosplayers are an issue? Try people who sic their golems on line-cutters. Hentai doujinshi a problem? How about spells that summon actual succubi? It's every familiar organizational situation with a high fantasy twist, and that really works in terms of both humor and setting the scene, especially when Monchinchi adds in little details like townsfolk worrying that the flood of magic users headed to the Magiket are portents of the rise of the Demon Lord and other isekai (and fantasy) stocks in trade.
In some ways it's a shame that Mika has arrived from another world, because while it makes for a decent explanation for holding Magiket, and how she knows how to run it, it doesn't add much to the story as a whole. In part this is because there's some confusion about how she ended up in the new world in the first place; the text repeatedly uses the words “reborn” and “reincarnated,” but both of those terms carry the expectation that she died in Tokyo, and that doesn't appear to be the case. All we know is that “something” happened after she left Comiket; if anything, it feels more like Subaru walking out of the convenience store in Re:Zero and suddenly being somewhere else. There's no summoning, reincarnating, or anything else, it's just a matter of time, place, and luck. In the case of A Witch's Printing Office, the whole thing just feels like a conceit to draw the readers in, and while it's hard to fault the author for that, it also doesn't do much towards progressing the story.
This is especially true because Monchinchi is perfectly capable of making jokes and references about real world publishers (and publishing) without needing Mika to know about any of them. All of the magic factions are named after different Japanese publishing houses, and the terms Mika's Protagonist Press uses for their paper sizes and whatnot appear to be familiar to her business partners and customers without her needing to explain them. Explanations are more for our entertainment as readers, including the way that mighty blades forged by the finest of dwarven craftsmen are used as paper cutters and the various types of magical covers available for magic books. The exception to this is the chapter wherein Mika accidentally introduces cosplay to her new world when she encounters a dwarf blacksmith who is tired of making weapons and armor to harm others and he creates the inevitable battle bikini, which the very sensible warrior Kiki refuses to wear. The bikini and his other fanciful and not-sharp pieces become popular with the Magiket goers after Mika bans weapons, and thus a new fetish is born for the people of the magical world.
While it isn't consistently funny and does drag in a few places, there is plenty to enjoy about this book. Yasuhiro Miyama's art does a good job of enhancing the text with a variety of creatures, both humanoid and not, and body types, making all of the characters feel visually unique. As an added bonus, furry animals are especially cute, and there really is a little something for everyone in the sheer variety of people populating the crowded pages. Those pages and panels do get a bit too packed for easy reading at times, and the level of detail on the characters' clothing can be as much a problem as an artistic bonus, as it's easy to get bogged down by the amount of lines and patterns.
On the whole, though, this is a nice use of both isekai and otaku industry tropes. It isn't perfect, but for readers in the mood for something a bit out of left field, you could do a lot worse than stopping by A Witch's Printing Office.
Overall : B-
Story : B-
Art : B+
+ Nice mix of tropes, visually interesting. Generally fun.
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