As someone might expect from an additional series by Tite Kubo set in the same world as Bleach, Burn the Witch offers a similar sort of vibe in the manga. But what’s striking is exactly how much it felt like its sibling, even though it is entirely new and features its own inner workings and sense of self. The ambiance, characters, societal structure, and general vibe all feel the same in a good way. Which helps to keep things compelling.
First, the ambiance is similar. We have a modern setting of London in Burn the Witch, just as Bleach is in Japan. In both situations, there’s an unseen “world” we don’t know about. Rather than the Rukongai and Seireitei in Soul Society, we have Reverse London. And while Bleach’s main foes, at least initially, are Hollows, we’re seeing different sorts of “dragons” here. We even get to see the effect being around dragons can have on ordinary humans, just as we do with Hollows around people.
And with Burn the Witch characters, we have people in similar sorts of roles with the same kinds of mindsets. Ninny Spangcole is straightforward in the same sort of way as Ichigo Kurosaki, and similarly ambitious and energetic. Though she absolutely isn’t a female version of Ichigo. She is her own person, but she falls into the same sort of “category.” Likewise, while Noel Niihashi looks like a female version of Byakuya Kuchiki, her personality might call Rukia to mind. She’s a foil to Ninny, someone more calm and measured. But that doesn’t imply seriousness, as she has her own quirks and nature. And though we don’t have an exact Kon here, Balgo offers that kind of comic relief. And Wing Bind’s Top of Horns is the direct equivalent of the Gotei 13.
But it’s the story progression and character development throughout the Burn the Witch manga that best matches the intensity and pacing of Bleach. As with Kubo’s other series, it begins with getting people familiar with the idea of Wing Bind, Reverse London, and Dragons. While Bleach did so by having Ichigo as being “new” to everything, Balgo is around here to provide an excuse for explanations. We get to see Ninny and Noel in action, getting a better idea of their skillset. Then as with Bleach, Burn the Witch puts us in a situation where Ninny, Noel, and Balgo get pulled into greater conflicts and have to deal with both expected and unexpected sorts of enemies. There are betrayals, power grabs, friends proving their loyalty to one another, and attempting to do what’s best.
The result is something that feels comfortable and familiar, yet new. It hits similar sorts of plot points, but not in the exact same ways. But it’s handled in a way where things are stylish, modern, and compelling. It inspires a desire to see Ninny and Noel do well. And with how things are paced, it moves quickly while still leaving people wanting to know more about these people, their world, and what’s next for them.