Burn the Witch is the latest project by legendary author of the Bleach series Tite Kubo. While the two series share an author and a universe, the former is vastly different in terms of story, pacing, and overall world building. The series was originally made as a one-shot manga by Kubo but was later turned into a four-chapter series and was popular enough to be adapted into an anime film, of which is divided into three episodes and is currently streaming exclusively on Crunchyroll.
Burn the Witch takes place years after the mainline Bleach series in the Western Branch of the Soul Society in London, which is divided into two parts; Front and Reverse London. The former being the normal part of London, while the latter is a world where 72% of all deaths are attributed to dragons. These mystical creatures are only visible to the inhabitants of Reverse London, where groups of witches and wizards are tasked in capturing and herding them as well as preventing them from causing any harm to civilians.
In the first episode, we are introduced to the two protagonists, Noel Niihashi and Ninny Spangcole, witches for Wing Bind, an organization for dragon conservation and management. At first glance, you can tell that these two have completely conflicting personalities. Noel is calm, collected, and likes to follow instructions by the book, whereas Ninny is more outspoken, impulsive, and is apparently an idol in Front London. Both seem to be witches for entirely different purposes. Besides protecting the people, Noel seeks money, whereas Ninny seeks merit. Sadly, the film doesn’t give us any glimpse into their past or the origin of their motivations.
Minutes into the first episode, the two are called in to help out a young man named Balgo Parks, who seems to be having trouble with his runaway pet dragon. Not long after resolving the issue however, a new threat appears in the form of a black dragon that terrorizes the city. While the dragon was eventually neutralized, the event puts attention on Balgo Parks as a Dagonclan (individuals with high amounts of mana that draw in dragons) and is targeted by a group of notable witches and wizards called the Crown Council. Without spoiling too much, the next two episodes sees the girls protecting Balgo from a wizard of the council named Bruno Bangnyfe. It also introduces an idol friend of Nina’s and ends with an awe-inspiring fight with a legendary dragon.
The first thing that caught my attention while watching Burn the Witch, was its excellent introduction and world-building. The series’ depiction of modern London was surprisingly accurate, including its moody weather. The first episode introduces the setting briefly and concisely without relying on mind-numbing exposition, and the rest of its elements were explained naturally throughout the anime’s run time.
The center of the anime, which are the dragons, are shown to be highly important parts of Reverse London, as they can be seen as pets, used for transportation, and used in combat. Yet they can also be highly dangerous, a fact that is proven at the end of the first and third episodes. So dangerous, in fact, that there are rules preventing normal citizens from going close to them. Another aspect of Burn the Witch that’s vastly different from the original series are the characters’ mode of combat, which mainly focuses on magic used by the witches and wizards with the help of tools that seem to serve as talismans, which can be anything from a gun to a spray can.
The animation in Burn the Witch is objectively one of the best parts of the anime. Studio Colrido does an excellent job of bringing Tite Kubo’s character designs accurately to life with its highly detailed yet simplistic animation. The only major part the anime fails at is its structure. Why the film was split into three episodes, I’ll never understand especially as the three episodes were streamed at the same time. This format only succeeds at reducing its pacing and dramatic effect.
Regardless, Tite Kubo’s excellent manga turned out to be an equally excellent anime adaptation and proves the author isn’t limited to the same structure of the original series, as watching Burn the Witch provides a sense of wonder and excitement you won’t find in Bleach.
If you haven’t seen Burn the Witch it’s available to stream right now on Crunchyroll
Have you seen Burn the Witch? Are you a fan of Bleach? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.