Witch Hat Atelier Is a Must-Read for Fans of The Owl House

If you're a fan of Disney's The Owl House and looking for a manga with a similar sensibility, then you should definitely read the award-winning series Witch Hat Atelier by Kamome Shirahama. Both of these witch stories are enjoyable to fantasy fans of all ages, with clear similarities in their magic systems, world-building and character archetypes. While there are also distinct differences, Witch Hat Atelier definitely has appeal for fans of The Owl House.

The Owl House and Witch Hat Atelier's Magical Worlds

Both The Owl House and Witch Hat Atelier build worlds defined by the whims of witches. The clearest similarity between these two worlds is in their magic systems, wherein spells can be cast by drawing circles with runes or symbols inside. Anyone is capable of performing magic in this manner, but in Witch Hat Atelier, this knowledge is suppressed, and in The Owl House, witches are shocked that Luz, a human born without a witch's magic sac, is able to use drawing as a workaround to perform magic.

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Both are worlds are authoritarian societies that place restrictions on magic. In The Owl House, those who fall outside the norm are imprisoned or ostracized. Emperor Belos will petrify anyone he doesn't approve of, sometimes without warning. If you do not belong to one of the pre-organized Covens Belos approves of, you might be subject to petrification. The Emperor's Coven enforces Belos' will. Luz's mentor Eda flaunts these rules, living in defiance of the law.

Witch Hat Atelier's government, the Witch's Assembly, is similarly restrictive, but with theoretically more idealistic reasoning. Only a select few are allowed knowledge of magic because those in power fear the damage that could be done if everybody knew how to use magic. Anyone who uses magic unlawfully is taken by the Assembly's personal task force -- the Magic Security Council -- and has their memories of magic erased, making sure no one can use magic without having a firm grasp of how to control it.

Similar Heroines, Similar Mentors

Owl House's Luz and Amity share a dance

The Owl House and Witch Hat Atelier both feature energetic, likable protagonists -- Luz Noceda and Coco -- who are both thrust into a magical world full of powerful witches and twisted mysteries. They are brought in by a mentor figure with ulterior motives and hidden agendas, brought into a magical school to teach them how to use magic, and, ultimately, upset the balance of order once maintained by the magical authorities that govern their world.

Personality-wise, Luz and Coco have both similarities and differences. Both characters are optimistic, imaginative, at least a little clumsy and passionate about learning magic. Their outsider perspectives allow them to criticize oppressive systems. In contrast to each other, however, Luz is significantly brasher and ignores limitations, whereas Coco is more practical and methodic. While The Owl House is focused more on Luz's development in the magical world, Witch Hat Atelier evolves into a more direct mystery story, with Coco and her mentor Qifrey uncovering a sinister plot brewed up by a coven of witches known as the Brimhats.

Qifrey and Eda have some parallels as mentor figures. Both are recluses, though Eda is far more personable than Qifrey. Qifrey was cursed by the Brimhats, resulting in his one eye being blinded. Eda also deals with a curse, one that turns her into a giant owl-like monster. Both characters break rules but have ties to their governments in their pasts: Qifrey is a former member of The Witch's Assembly, while Eda wanted to join the Emperor's Coven.

It seems the two stories were developed independently rather than influenced by one another - The Owl House began development in 2016 before premiering in 2020, while Witch Hat Atelier began publication in Japan in 2016 and was translated into English starting in 2019. As such, the similarities are in all likelihood coincidental, and there are enough clear differences to make them distinct experiences. That said, if you like one of these witch adventures, odds are you'll find something to appreciate about the other.

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