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Witches, like so many archetypes, change over time. Aside from being able to use magic and predict the absolutely additional trends in the haberdashery industry, witches were everything from the boogeyperson of the world (religious, economic, social) to sexy Halloween costumes (along with werewolves and similar cheeseburgers) to cute, kawaii chibis.
They have also been major comic players since the beginning of the medium, sometimes as villains, sometimes as heroes, sometimes as my favorite brand of morally ambiguous or “I am who I am” characters that do their own thing and make their beauty beckon freak Flags, and turn the real bad guys into toads.
My favorites? Sure. I am sure you now know that I have opinions.
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Phanora of the Witch and the Beast
The Witch and the Beast 2 by Kousuke Satake
I’ve written a lot about how much I love Ashaf and Guideau, the main characters of this fantastic fantasy horror manga, but I haven’t had the chance to make as much ado about their peers Phanora and Johan, the stars of Vol. 2’s side quest in Necromancy and Resurrection.
Although the Order of Magical Resonance claims that witches are evil and must be hunted down and restrained, as is so often the case, they recognize exceptions. Phanora, a powerful necromancer and resurrection, is one. Necromancy is not prohibited in the world of The Witch and the Beast, but it is highly regulated. When Ashaf and Guideau come across a case involving the unlicensed and uncontrolled undead, they call the expert and her assistant.
And I really hope you have a chance to do this again because Phanora is absolutely fantastic. Small, delicate and beautiful, she is terribly powerful and can handle hungry ghosts the way most people make toast. She is smart, surprising, and utterly ruthless. She has a moral code, but it’s her own for sure, and she doesn’t give fucks about what others think about it. However, it is not one-dimensional. She cares about the people she is responsible to, the people she is close to, the people she counts as family, and it is best that you do not harm these people.
There are times when adding characters to already complex stories makes them more confusing and messy. Not so here. I hope Satake continues to populate this universe with fascinating people and expanded storylines.
Yuko from xxxHolic
xxxHolic from Clamp
Yûko is a space-time witch. What does that mean exactly? First of all, it means her wardrobe is coming from anywhere, anywhere and I want it; Never before has a witch or any other cartoon character looked so amazing every time she shows up.
It also means that Yûko bears the weight of several worlds and it is not a weight that she can do without, no responsibility that she can pass on to someone else. It means that she has to choose between a life she loves and the life of people she loves. It means that she must live behind the construct of a carefully manicured facade and lead a young man whose future she knows will destroy him to the understanding that he is only worth the sacrifices he makes for him to ignore the sacrifices he made for them.
It’s a sad story, but it’s also a beautiful one, as witch stories are so often. As women’s stories are so often.
Lora from the Tea Party seance
Séance Tea Party by Reimena Yee
Lora, like so many creative people (looks around and whistles innocently), lives very much in her imagination, something in which her friends, who absolutely want to move on to “adult things”, are no longer interested. As we all know, the imagination is a powerful tool, but Lora doesn’t realize how powerful it is until she actually evokes a ghost during one of her seance tea parties.
Lora quickly realizes that the ghost, Alexa, is actually a friend from her past – her old imaginary friend – someone from her younger years, someone who knows her as a child and is in no rush to move on. But what happens when Lora is ready to grow? What does this mean for Alexa and their bond? What happens when young witches grow up?
Quifrey from the witch hat studio
Kamome Shirahama’s witch hat atelier
I think we can all agree that it’s time to boot into the brainchild of the woman who must not be named and find new witch houses to sort our way into. I can only recommend Kamome Shirahama’s studios. The witches – called witches regardless of gender – are gathered according to their instructions when they are ready and taken to their various homes to keep them safe from danger (I mean, that doesn’t happen, what kind of story would that be but the intentions are good). Bullies are reprimanded, most of the children are amiable, no one’s parents pull any economic bullshit, the studios work together, and the headmaster and teacher are one and the same.
Please also see Quifrey’s clothes. While the majority of witches are female presentations, there are a good number of male presentations, and all robes, pants, and shoes are extremely non-binary. It can be done.
Reading was magical. These witches do it even more. Applause with me. And run away to wave wands and make fireworks.
More summaries of my favorite cartoon characters:
3 of my favorite demons in comics
4 of my favorite kids in manga
3 of my favorite single mothers in manga
4 of my favorite single dads in manga