Two Different Witch Manga Prove Shonen Jump is Moving Away From Action

Warning! Spoilers ahead for Witch Watch!

Why Shonen Jump's highly satirical and light-hearted Witch Watch fares so much better than the canceled Guardian of the Witch action and adventure series undoubtedly foretells the direction of the weekly manga anthology, and all signs point to Jump going in a more comedic direction going forward.

The fate of each new Shonen Jump title is clearly predicated on their popularity and faces the nearly impossible feat of appealing to the masses within a ridiculously short span, with the doomed series usually receiving the axe around the 19th chapter if not earlier. Just a quick browse of Jump will reveal what constitutes a popular series these days, but the close correlations between Witch Watch and Guardian of the Witch - coupled with their differing tones - reflect Jump's direction all too well.

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Each story centers on witches facing disaster, both from outside forces and their own inherent shortcomings. In Witch Watch, a powerful divinator has foreseen that doom will befall her daughter, the witch Nico Wakatsuki. Being a witch also requires Nico to help others with her magic. If she doesn't, then her powers will destabilize, leading to her turning evil. In Guardian of the Witch, humanity creates witches to protect them against the terrifying seeds of evil, but they are made from the seeds of evil themselves. Few girls survive the procedure, and those who do - like the witch Manasufa Rustasia - must contend with their parasite slowly taking them over. Once they reach a certain stage, then their chosen guardian is sworn to kill them. Both witches are paired off with their own guardians - and they each get two. Witch Watch's Nico lives with the ogre Morihito "Moi" Otogi and later the tengu Kanshi "Kan" Kazamatsuri. Meanwhile, Guardian of the Witch's Lady Manasufa is assigned the guardian Fafner Leorange and her own personal maid named Nata.

Despite these similarities, the two series couldn't be more different. Witch Watch is a satirical comedy and Guardian of the Witch is straight-up action and adventure. Witch Watch's Nico might be facing darkness, but the presentation couldn't be lighter. The fact that she must immerse herself in society to remain stable is what allows her to live a normal life. Her ogre guardian Moi would have locked her up at home but relents when he learns the truth. So, her condition is more of an excuse to explain why someone like Moi would allow her to go out in public and get into shenanigans. Meanwhile, the gravity of Nico's prophecy rarely enters the picture. When the problem presents itself in chapter seven, it turns out to be a false alarm. All the while, jokes abound, with absurd references series such as Hunter x Hunter.

So instead of the impending disaster, Witch Watch focuses on Nico helping her classmates with magic (like sneaking out of class so they can go to the bathroom with no one noticing) and contending with her romantic feelings for Moi who can only think about protecting her. Meanwhile, Kan tries to help Nico with her love life as he struggles to form his own relationship with Moi who mistakeably believes he doesn't need friends. Conversely, the impending disaster facing the witch Manasufa in Guardian of the Witch is the driving force behind everything that happens as she and her guardian become fugitives. But this series failed. Why? Because readers seem to judge action and adventures more harshly, for they are the ones that usually get axed. However, the select few that do survive last longer overall and become the most popular manga in Shonen Jump. Meanwhile, lighthearted comedies like Witch Watch avoid cancellation because they don't take themselves seriously so their readership doesn't, either. That's why there are more ongoing lighthearted series in rotation and fewer but longer-lasting action-based titles.

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