Author: Noriko Ogiwara
Manga-ka: Haruhiko Momokawa
Rating: Teen (13+)
Released: May 2008
Synopsis: “Firiel Dee’s necklace is proof of her royal blood – and that she might inherit the throne of Graal! While two intelligent and ambitious Queens-in-Waiting duel for succession to Graal’s throne, a greater challenge awaits our plucky heroine Firiel in the south – where dragons and unicorns roam, and even the best intentions of friend may twist into poisonous lies…”
Firiel Dee continues to struggle with Rune’s sudden disappearance amidst a torrid of controversy over her Uncle’s assassination. Her depression plagues her throughout the day in Rune’s absence as she remains trapped in a political world, so unlike the one she grew up in. However, it all allows her to realize some powerful truths about herself and her love for Rune. When a team of knights, lead by Firiel’s short-lived fiancée, Eusis leave to travel South to deal with an escalating Dragon problem, Firiel leaves at the same time, looking to find Rune in the only direction she knows he’d be.
The Good Witch of the West remains a fairly whimsical fantasy story with subplots rooted in far more sinister natures. The past few volumes have failed to be as intriguing as the story’s beginning when the plot became bogged down in the politics of the kingdom’s inner workings. That same unfortunate aspect continues for the first part of volume five but it picks up considerably for the remaining bulk of the book. Firiel’s goodbye to the stifling castle is refreshing and freeing, for both her and the readers, and acts as the gateway to an entirely new direction for the story.
One of the most interesting moments in the book is the first sighting of the Dragons. Readers will immediately see them as something a tad less fantasy than that and be intrigued to hear that they ‘control’ almost the entire planet, leaving only small pockets of land for humans to inhabit. More of Rune’s teacher’s studies are brought into play, filling in some past gaps and leaving room for a whole new batch of mysteries to unravel. Meanwhile, Rune continues to be looming enigma in the story and more of his past is divulged, threatening the series’ 13+ rating with a lot disturbing facts, similar to those implied during his capture and torture in previous volumes.
Haruhiko Momokawa has a nice art style that suits the characters in the story well. While the thin lines and big eyed aspects of shoujo art are here, the artist uses heavier screen tones and sharper shades than the generically shoujo style. It helps suit the darker, and occasionally action-oriented, aspects of the story but at the same time doesn’t seem to compliment the line art styling as much. Another quip at times, during this volume in particular, is it’s difficult to immediately tell the gender of a character. Unlike a lot of manga styles, its girls looking like men that are a problem here, instead of vice versa, so keep an eye out on those chests when reading! Overall the artwork continues to be attractive but in comparison to earlier volumes, doesn’t feel as eye-catching.
Volume five finally feels like The Good Witch of the West is heading back in a more intriguing direction. With the new information provided, evil plots continuing to be brewed in the background and a whole new aspect of the world to explore, future volumes look a lot more promising.