Helen: Mika is still looking for a spell that will send her back to her own world, but her life isn’t always full of fun and games, it’s not as if she has time to read spells all day! Instead her days are more spent filled with trying to keep up with customer demands at Protagonist Press, investigating publishing press rivals, and trying to keep an assassin sent by the magical factions from killing her! Wait, she didn’t actually know about that last one!
This volume includes Mika’s greatest attempts to date to get back to Earth and, unsurprisingly to the reader, each one ends in failure, some more hilarious than the others. A much larger portion of this volume however was spent focusing on some of the side characters instead, like the assassin after Mika’s life (it’s no wonder that Zolken was out to destroy the factions, they truly are stuffy, holier-than-though groups) or a group of bandits that Aile begins mentoring in the ways of book-making. I certainly think that A Witch’s Printing Office is quite a lot of fun even when it’s not focusing on Mika so I don’t mind this at all; not only do Mochinchi and Yasuhiro Miyama revel in the quirks and oddities that come about in a magic-using, fantasy world but even the characters themselves are self-aware that sometimes magic is more trouble than it’s worth.
But, for all the trouble that this world can be worth, if Mika ever finds a spell that will send her back to Tokyo, I’m not entirely convinced that she’ll take it. She did leave behind friends and family, as well as the real Comiket, but she also mentions working two straight weeks just to be able to take Comiket off, clearly she lived a grueling life on Earth as well! Yamamoto, the other isekai-ee (who was also transported during Comiket and also has created a job around Magiket), also seems pretty content living in this fantasy world, although he can use more magic than Mika and as we see with Hana, not being able to use any magic is a real hinderance in this world.
Regardless of how the story ends, and there’s only one volume left to go, I’ll continue cheering on Mika and Protagonist Press; making a living as an artisan is challenging but the rewards for it are truly the sweetest.
Helen’s rating: 4 out of 5
Justin: Believe the first chapter that kicks off this volume of A Witch’s Printing Office is how one seemingly unrelated thing affects another. Oh, you wanna start a Magiket, huh Mika? You can think about who it personally inconveniences right when they go up and meet you to talk about it. But what about the mountain bandits huh? Why not think about these guys who want to threaten some people and steal all their hard-earned wares?
Ok, we don’t actually know how good their mountain bandit skills are, but they’re affected, ok? Anyways, after it was mentioned how it’s Magiket’s fault for no one using that road anymore, the main leader gets the bright idea to make their own tome and impart the passion of the mountain bandits. When they get a table at the event, they sell none of their (many) tomes. But thanks to them, they run into a familiar face to us readers: Aile, who’s back to buy more stuff! They also decide to let her read it, even for free.
She quickly displays a face that shows not even it being free was worth it…
This volume isn’t too complex over what it wants to show us. We get the chapter described that goes into the creation process and what to consider. There’s a chapter that pits man-made printing to golem printing, as Mika meets a teddy bear-eared girl named Remus; totally not an allusion to machines and human creation! We also get a chapter where a seemingly dark faction is wary of Mika and believes she’s cooking up something dangerous, so they send out their top assassin, “Assin,” to investigate and determine if she’s a threat — and if she is, she dies!
So yes, it’s finally happening: we’re getting some serious chapters of A Witch’s Printing Office! We get to find out what Assin really thinks about Mika’s Protagonist Press operations, and then soon enough learns what happens when the mysterious faction suddenly can’t be contacted…
Ok so not surprisingly it’s still all light, comedic stuff, from the reactions of Remus discovering she was talking to Mika, the one who’s caused “many” incidents around the city, to Assin somehow misconstruing what people are saying and making Mika into one of the baddest villains to roam this world. It does mention some good stuff though, especially regarding the perfectionist tendencies every creator can have in the mountain bandits chapter, so we’ll still get the humor but also something to note for anyone in a creative field.
There are a few serious tales within a few of these chapters: remember, Mika wants to return to her own world. She ends up, after much trial and error, returning only briefly, as the side effects of “Nost Algia’s Diary of Days Gone By” is a bit intense. We also not only learn about her past from that; we learn about it later from her employees Kiriko and Lio. These two were former mercenaries that got wrapped up in a debt scheme, and so did Mika, who definitely didn’t have a good time when being initially summoned here. That trip down nostalgia lane was interesting, since we can see how these three got to know each other.
But overall, the jokes, the interactions these characters have, and the art still continue to be a strong selling point for this series. I do want to note the author Mochinchi talking about COVID-19 and its impact — it doesn’t sound like it’ll be incorporated in this series, but in reality, Mochinchi wonders how this will impact the manga industry moving forward. Of course a lot has changed since this volume came out in Japan, but the effects are certainly still being felt even now. Just like the author we’ll have to see what the future holds for the industry, but as for this volume, this is still another entertaining one involving Mika and her many friends and frenemies…that she hasn’t even met yet!
Justin’s rating: 4 out of 5