Tasha Godspell arrives in a new town only to find himself immediately thrown into jail. There he meets a young girl named East, who tells him the townsfolk are suspicious because of an ongoing war between humans and witches. East then proceeds to break out of jail, fight off the Witch Hunters with her golem—in this case, a gigantic mecha robot—and escape. Tasha responds by berating the Hunters for handling the girl’s capture so poorly—he should know because he’s one of the best Hunters around!
Tasha goes on the hunt with his partner, Halloween, who happens to be a sword-wielding Jack-o’-Lantern with an attitude. Halloween’s cooperation with Tasha is unique, as only witches tend to have Supporters. The pair locate East with the intention of arresting her, but she provides Tasha with information that might prove worthy of her release: she knows the location of the Red Witch, who Tasha has been hunting, and she’s willing to work with anyone to stop the Red Witch’s evil plans. With the help of two other Hunters—Xing Bairong, an infamous girl chaser who steals all of Tasha’s money, and Taras Doberg, an egotistical jerk—Tasha and Halloween set out to find the lair of the Red Witch, located in a war zone. It turns out that the Red Witch is Aria, Tasha’s little sister; years ago, he failed to protect her and she turned into a witch, killing their father in the process. Now she’ll do anything in her power to sway Tasha to the side of the witches, with the end goal of turning him into her Supporter so they can be together forever.
In the second volume, Tasha’s bag—with Halloween in it—is stolen by a young thief who attempts to lose Tasha many times, only to be tracked down again and again. When she gives up, Tasha informs the girl that Halloween is more than a puppet and reveals himself to be a Witch Hunter. Excited, she tells him that her name is Monica and she’s experiencing a strange problem: one month ago, young people in her village began to die of old age! Monica has the ability to see black “threads” connected to other people, and when someone’s threads begin to turn red, she knows they are going to die. Meanwhile, Xing and Taras hear rumors about this city and suspect that a witch is involved. When they arrive, they detect the presence of a witch… right next to Tasha. Could Monica be a witch? And if she is, could she actually be a good witch?
While this is a fast-paced read, the beginning is a bit confusing. Characters revealed early in the story are not fully explained; it is clear who Tasha and Halloween are, but East doesn’t even have a name until the end of the first volume. The dual identity of the Red Witch as Aria is not especially clear and, at several points, I thought they were different people—perhaps Aria is a servant of the Red Witch? I initially confused Aria’s guardian and teacher, Varete, with the Red Witch when she was introduced at the end of volume one. Librarians may need to encourage teens to push through the confusion and stick with it until they figure out who is whom.
Witch Buster’s original name in Korean is Witch Hunter. I am not certain why Seven Seas changed the title of the manhwa, but continued to call Tasha and his colleagues Hunters instead of changing their job title to Busters. This book will probably appeal to fans of series like Soul Eater and D-Gray Man, and it’s a good choice for western readers new to Asian comics, since it is published left-to-right instead of the right-to-left format of most manga. The only content that might cause some controversy is the typical fan service shots—Xing is a woman chaser and many of the girls’ clothes are short and revealing. While Witch Buster is not an essential purchase, the fact that the series is released in two-in-one omnibus editions does save some money and space in small collections. I recommend purchasing this title if you can’t keep manga on the shelves and you need a new series for your teens.
Witch Buster Vol. 1-2
by Jung-Man Cho
Seven Seas, 2013
Publisher Age Rating: 14+