I first saw A Witch’s Printing Press on the BookWalker’s release list just before Christmas. The cover art called out to me, and after reading the synopsis; an Isekai set in an RPG fantasy world based around the printing of books. I immediately pre-ordered. Life being life, it took me a few months to getting round to reading volume 1. But will Yen Press’ latest seinen series be a pageturner? Let’s find out in our A Witch’s Printing Press volume 1 review.
From Comiket to Magiket
The series centres around Mika, an Otaku whisked away to a fantasy world after attending Comiket. To travel back home to Tokyo, she decides to gather as many wizards and witches as possible in one place to sell their best sells. Mika hopes that one wizard will have a spell possible of sending back to her world. Thus the worlds first Magiket.
If you’ve been to Comiket in our world, then I’m sure the humour in this book will hit the mark. I can only assume that the original Japanese audience will be rolling on the floor, laughing at the jokes about the chaotic ques for the latest and greatest books. However, without any experience of the event itself, these jokes miss the mark (and as an Englishman, chaotic ques give me unparalleled anxiety).
What compounds this problem is that a lot of the book centres around Comiket/Magiket. So if you’re missing the jokes in chapter one, then you will be in later chapters too.
But what about publishing?
So the title is A Witch’s Printing Press, so what about the stories of publishing? Well, that’s what I’m wondering too. They seem to be missing; we have one about a rush order of books being printed, but that is all. Maybe my expectations were off, I was hoping for something more akin to Skull-face Bookseller Honda-san; but set in a fantasy world and centred around publishing rather than bookselling.
There are a few other stories, but ultimately they are forgettable. I had to skim back through to remind myself of what happened in each one. It’s a shame as fantasy aspect looks like it could be drawn upon to create some rich and diverse stories. There is a little hint later to why the publishing aspect was so light.
One thing A Witch’s Printing Press does do well is its bonus material. At the end of the volume, there is plenty of gag manga drawn by the writer. We also have some cool looking character stat sheets and little explainer diagrams about spells.
It is here we find out some clues to why the content is so thin. A Witch’s Printing Press was originally a webcomic that was serialised. Not a problem, but the writer has no clue what a printer does. Because of this lack of knowledge, the concept we are sold is underdelivered. Very disappointing.
Ok, I’ve complained enough about the story, but what about the artwork? Thankfully Yasuhiro Miyama does a splendid job here. Considering that a high percentage of the characters in this book are magic users, we see a wide range of character designs. Not only are characters rendered well, but the fantasy universe looks fantastic too. Even with so much detail, everything is clear and crisp, Miyama has done a fantastic job!
Is A Witch’s Printing Press volume 1 worth reading?
If you’ve been to Comiket or are well versed in all that goes on there, then maybe. Otherwise, I’d suggest grabbing another fantasy book. I feel like it neither delivers well enough on the fantasy or the publishing aspects and ends up being an underwhelming advert for Comiket. A Witch’s Printing Press volume 2 will be releasing soon (as time of writing), and I think I’ll be giving it a miss.
If after our A Witch’s Printing Press volume 1 review, you would like to grab a copy, it is available in physical and digital editions.