Witch Hat Atelier Kitchen Volume 2: Tea Party



Witch Hat Atelier Kitchen is just a bit too much of a mouthful, no? Since it was announced as a spin off in Japan, I’ve almost exclusively referred to it as Witch Hat Kitchen. Personally, I view atelier in the title as a superfluous noun in the title, and one that only makes the title choppier by comparison. Either way, I’m not a part of the publication of this series in English, so I ultimately can only rebel by referring to it as Witch Hat Kitchen. That said, this is not an article about my complaints of localization over the preservation (not even addition, as it exists in the JP title) of a noun in a title. This, is an article about my experience with Witch Hat Kitchen volume 2.

Cooking and manga have a very long and rich history- so much so that in the late 90s, Animerica Extra (a monthly manga anthology magazine), ran an article about some of the most popular cooking manga of the era. Since then, one could argue that Japan’s interest in black and white cooking has only grown, and because of that growth has encouraged spin off series centered around cooking for countless series (Witch Hat Atelier Kitchen, Today’s Menu For The Emiya Family, I’m In Love With The Villainess: Maid’s Kitchen, Shokugeki No Sanji, etc. etc.). Personally, I’m knee deep in the cooking manga craze, and have been deeply enjoying the perspective that Witch Hat Kitchen provides. These sorts of series both allow another creator to approach a world with their own perspective, but also give fans of said series a well earned break from their often time heavier and fuller stories.

Moving to chatting about the series at hand though, I think my personal favorite chapter getaways from this volume were the chapter dedicated to Marktea, and the extra chapter of Qifrey and Olly sharing a little late night snack. Both sort of go in very opposite directions, but I think both undeniably embody a lot of the smaller bits of personality, character, and charm that Shirahama imparted upon the world of Witch Hat Atelier. Take the idea of Marktea, for example. A sort of mix-and-match appeal with tea from pressed ingredients. The idea of tea being something decorative and, for lack of a better term, “showy” is not something novel to the hobby of tea. Rather, it’s a natural extension of how you might approach something in such a magical and creative world. Similarly, the idea of the steam from the tea taking the shape of its ingredients was wonderful, and the thoughtfulness expressed by Sato in using the tea saucer to control the steam was wonderful.

But it doesn’t end there, as Marktea also becomes something of a game, changing names to Hushtea. Incredibly novel and interesting, the idea is to guess at which ingredients were used for the tea. Such a fun idea that arises simply from flipping the pressed ingredients upside down so that others can’t tell what’s being brewed. It’s really a great example of the freedom of creativity Sato’s been able to cultivate with the series, all the while being able to relate it back towards magic and a learning experience for Qifrey and Olly’s many daughters.

Conversely, with chapters like Qifrey and Olly burning the midnight oil while they partake in a few forbidden treats, you get a much tighter look at the personalities of some of your favorite characters outside the framework of a hefty and weighty narrative. Here, Qifrey and Olly are free to be happy and converse and show sides of themselves that don’t have space in Witch Hat Atelier. It’s very fun, and really only serves to further cement the fact that these two are hopeless lovers with a healthy side of energetic children to take care of. While warmth may not be the objective of the main series, Witch Hat Kitchen is perfectly able to capture and deliver those moments to readers desperate for the content.

Truthfully, I only have but one “complaint” with Witch Hat Kitchen– the explanations. Qifrey has a habit of verbalizing his process, and it feels a little awkward considering that no other character has really proven their awareness of this habit. I think it’s relatively harmless as is, but considering how Qifrey’s cooking is typically in isolation, it can feel somewhat odd having so much verbalized at times. Past that there’s really not anything that makes me believe that would-be readers should think twice about the series. The art is definitely not Shirahama’s as, interestingly enough, it appears far from Japanese- but it’s still quite solid and very fun. The character designs are softer and a little more inviting, but that’s also the point of a cooking manga- just look at Today’s Menu For The Emiya Family. Though I suppose that might be why I view Witch Hat Kitchen’s style as not quite as good as Shirahama’s. It’s really giving its all to emulate it, and I can definitely appreciate that. I can also say though that I wouldn’t mind at all if Sato started carving out more of their own style with the spin off.

All in all, Witch Hat Kitchen will undoubtedly scratch the itch that many fans of the mainline Witch Hat Atelier harbor. Preserving the whimsy and wonder of magic, and coupling it with the creative and calming nature of cooking, Sato’s spin off series really does nothing to dissuade from deciding to read it. If you couldn’t bear to suffer through my silly attempt of alliteration, the short of it is that you should be reading it.

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