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Manga / Witch Hat Atelier

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"Magic is amazing!"

"Are athletes athletes from the moment they're born? What about astronauts or idols? These things aren't decided at birth. So then... what about witches?"

Witch Hat Atelier (Tongari Booshi no Atorie in Japanese, Atelier of Witch Hat in German and Spanish publications) is a fantasy manga by Shirahama Kamome.

Ever since the day a mysterious witch sold her a picture book detailing the wonders of magic, seamstress's daughter Coco has loved magic and wished to become a witch. Unfortunately for Coco, everyone knows witches are born, not taught. Coco is resigned to a magic-less life... until the fateful day when the witch Qifrey visits her mother's shop. Secretly observing as Qifrey magically repairs a flying chariot, Coco watches in awe as he casts his spells by drawing glyphs. Trying to replicate the effect, Coco turns to the magical picture book. When she copies down the glyphs in the book, Coco finds that even she is able to perform magic — until her attempts backfire disastrously, nearly destroying her home and turning her mother to stone. Rescued from her uncontrollable spell at the last minute by Qifrey, Coco is given a choice: she can let Qifrey erase her memories of magic, or join him as his apprentice and learn how to reverse the spell that trapped her mother.


Coco is swept up into a world of magic she could only have dreamed of before, but her troubles are far from over and the danger is far from past. Can Coco learn to harness the power of magic and prove herself a capable witch? Does Qifrey have an alternate motive for allowing Coco to join his atelier as an apprentice? And who is the mysterious witch who sold Coco a book of dangerous magic?

Kodansha Comics began publication of their English translation in 2019.


Tropes that apply to Witch Hat Atelier:

  • Amplifier Artifact: The ancient city had a magic mirror designed to amplify the effects of glyphs, with Qifrey describing it as ancient war magic. A warmth stone meant only to warm skin ends up turning hot enough to melt gold, killing the people who were turned into it.
  • The Apprentice: In the world of witches, all magic users must start out as an apprentice in an established witch's atelier. Coco joins Qifrey's atelier and becomes one of his apprentices, joining his other pupils Agott, Tetia, and Richeh.
  • Arc Symbol: During the Second Test Arc, scales. The arc opens to a shot of scaled wolves shedding their scales for mating, the path of the second test is shaped like a serpent, with the ground tiles looking like scales and all the ones being tested wear a special cape with scales.
  • Bag of Sharing: Twin Bottle magic. It's been lost to time along with the medical witches, who used it to share medicine.
  • Ban on Magic: The true nature of the witches. Anyone can use magic, as long as they can draw glyphs and have access to a magic ink, the free access to magic caused the world to go into mayhem, so the most responsible magic users have created a set of rules for users and erased the memory of the rest of the population, making them believe that the witches are almost a separated species altogether and most people can't use magic. One of the rules is that no magic can be used in human bodies, not even healing, with the exception of memory manipulation, and only in order to keep the truth about witches a secret. Oguro further explained that it's believed that what exactly led to the ban were dangerous and perverse human experimentation made by witch doctors.
  • Blood Magic: The Brimhat wizard uses his blood as ink.
  • Body Horror:
    • Eunie being the victim of Brimhat forbidden magic — he has a glyph carved into his skin that causes him to undergo a Painful Transformation into a scaled wolf.
    • In the city of Romonneau, the prideful citizens used magic to turn people who they thought were worthless into solid gold while crucified. The gilded citizens are still alive in that state, and they end up melting in Chapter 24 when a warmth stone gets placed in a magical amplification mirror, killing them.
  • Catapult Nightmare: Coco has one in Chapter 14 where she envisions her mother blaming her for being turned to stone and the Brimhat telling her its her fault the world will be destroyed.
  • Cool Hat:
    • Witches wear pointed hats to show that they are magic users. The design varies from witch to witch. When an apprentice is accepted into an Atelier, they receive their pointed cap.
    • The Brim-hat witches are recognizable by their witch hats that have additional wide brims or masks incorporated that hide the face.
  • Cute Witch: All the girls are young witches-in-training and are usually very pleasant.
  • Cutting the Knot: While being chased by the Brimhat in Chapter 22, Agott decides to just freeze the entire road rather than deal with it while they're being chased.
  • Escort Mission: The Second Test for becoming a Witch involves escorting a group of migrating birds to their mating grounds. However, its through a twisted landscape shaped by magic from the last war.
  • Establishing Character Moment:
    • Tetia, one of Coco's sister apprentices, is introduced happily telling her not to fear magic and helping her use the waterdrop buoy, a magical item that draws moisture from the air. She also thanks Coco for thanking her because she likes being thanked.
    • Richeh, another sister apprentice, is introduced by telling Coco not humor Tetia or else she won't shut up. She states that by staying quiet, Tetia will eventually give up.
    • Agott is first shown flowing into her room by the window using magical tools and asking Coco to move away so she can land. She doesn't even look in her direction when presenting herself and although she feels sorry for what happened to Coco's mother, she is quick to say that her mother will never be human again and that it's Coco's fault.
  • Floating Landmass: The Dadah "Mountain Range" is a watery landscape dotted with round, airborne hummocks. They float or sink at various altitudes depending on the time of year and their moisture content. According to Qifrey, long ago there was a king who used magic to make the mountains float because there was a flower that grew at their peaks that resembled his crown. By making the mountains float, he "raised his crown above all others."
  • Forced Sleep: Magic that can do this is expressly forbidden.
  • Functional Magic: The crux of the series: magic can be performed by anyone if they use special ink and draw a Seal with three elements: a Sigil, a Sign, and the Ring. The sigil dictates the kind of magic, the sign dictates how the magic is expressed, and the ring contains the mana and invokes the magic. Apprentices join an established witch's atelier and spend years studying how to combine sigils & signs into Seals that produce effects like small flames and gusts of wind, and how utilize Seals to enchant items like shoes that enable the wearer to fly and cloaks that can disguise the person underneath. Knowledge of how to perform magic used to be common, until a point in the past when magic was deemed too dangerous for the world at large to use. A group of witches took it upon themselves to "erase the memory" of magic, and restricted all future magical education to the atelier system so that it could be monitored and managed.
    Qifrey: Long ago, magic was just another ordinary part of life. All it took was knowledge of prescribed designs... and special ink. Anyone from anywhere could cast... and magic was familiar to all. However, because of that... the world was constantly embroiled in war. For when man has the power to do anything, then anything he will do. Many foul spells were conceived... prompting the few good souls left in the world to renounce war and band together as the keepers of magic. They erased the memories of magic from the populace... and passed on knowledge of the art only to apprentices who could be trusted to guard the secret. Since the day of the pact, we have spread the belief... that magic can only be wielded by those with innate power. if the truth were to proliferate once more... our world would be thrust into chaos anew."
  • Geometric Magic: Magic is cast and controlled by drawing Seals made up of precise geometric elements:
    • A Sigil at the center of the Seal that indicates what element or type of magic is being invoked — like light, water, wind, and so forth. Sigils for magic involving "fire" and "warmth" look similar.
    • Signs surrounding the Sigil that dictate the form the magic will take. Signs can form the magic into columns, cause it to disperse/ coalesce, direct a spell to repeat itself until the magic wears out, etc...
      • Drawing Signs neatly and symmetrically is key to a balanced spell, as shown with one of Coco's first attempts at water magic: by unintentionally drawing a longer "column" Sign on one side of her Seal, she caused the resulting stream of water to shoot off at an angle instead of straight into the air.
      • Apprentice Eunie mentioned during the Second Test that his hands shake when he tries to draw out his Seals, weakening their power. When Richeh reviews his work, she notices that although his Signs are drawn unsteadily, he's made up for the deficiency by increasing the number Signs in his Seals to stabilize the magic.
    • A Ring that encompasses the Sigil & Signs to invoke the magic. Seals aren't activated until the Ring is completed, so a witch can drawn out a Seal with an incomplete Ring ahead of time and activate it at a later date by completing the Ring. A neatly drawn Ring will cause the magic to last longer than a poorly drawn Ring.
    • The size of a Seal also affects its power. Larger Seals produce more powerful magic than smaller ones, but linking together many small Seals can create powerful spells as well.
  • Golem:
    • Another forbidden form of magic that involves animating structure. The Brimhat uses one to take out Qifrey in Chapter 22.
    • He later does the same for the people who had been turned to gold by the ancient wizards to finish Qifrey off.
  • The Hero's Journey: Coco's story sets off following a traditional footsteps of the beginning within the first chapter. She lives a normal life and gets visited by Qifrey the witch, with her mother mentioning she believed that Coco wanted to leave with Qifrey. She learns that people can use magic by drawing and starts making several glyphs, which accidentally cause her home to be destroyed and her mother to be turned into stone. Following this, she begs Qifrey, who needs her memory intact to track down the witch who sold her the magic book, to keep her memory, so she can heal her mother, but this causes her to become now his newest apprentice on her way to become a full fledged witch.
  • Hope Spot: Coco and the others pool their collective magical knowledge to try and remove the spell cast upon Eunie in Chapter 28, coming up with a new methodology that might actually do the trick by counteracting it, only for it to not work because once your body is transformed by magic normal magic can't fix it. That's when a Brim hat shows up and offers to show her how to fix it with Forbidden Magic.
    • Partly subverted in that while it couldn't turn his body back on its own, they do manage to restore his mind. The Brim Hat is actually impressed.
  • Keeper of Forbidden Knowledge: Witch society as a whole, and especially the Great Hall & the Magic Security Council. Magic is the forbidden knowledge, and anyone who casts magic in front of an Unknowing or exposes the secrets of magic is punished severely.
  • Logical Weakness: Water. Unless the magical item is specifically designed to work with it, it'll pretty much wash away the ink being drawn and thus ruin the magic.
  • Lost Common Knowledge: Anyone can use magic, but the knowledge of how to do so was deliberately hidden to put an end to uncontrollable magical experimentation and rampant magical warfare. Most of the world's population now believes that magic is something only a born and bred witch can wield.
  • Mage Tower: The Tower of Books, where copies of magical spells are instantly reproduced and recorded. One of Coco and Agott's goals are to access it, albeit for different reasons.
  • Magical Accessory: Eunie gains one made by the Brimhat that acts as a Power Limiter that suppresses the magic that transformed him, allowing him to become human while wearing it.
  • Magical Society: The Great Hall, which is the Underwater City where most of the world's population of witches lives. It's also the center of magical law enforcement.
  • Muggles: Called the "Unknowing" by witch society, these are the people who are led to believe that magic can only be performed by someone who is born with magical powers. Technically there is no such thing as a "muggle," because everyone can use magic if they have the right tools and training.
  • Mundane Utility: Among witches, magic is used for everything (cooking, cleaning, transportation, etc), and it's mentioned that they actually sell these magical items to muggles.
    • In Chapter 8, Qifrey instructs Coco to use magic to bake a potato, which he mentions is a good way to practice. He also shows Coco a cooking pot he's enchanted to keep food fresh (for up to years after he's made it) as an example of the practical applications of magic.
    • Orugio's line of work is producing magic-infused items, many of them for muggles — like a pair of rings that produce a blast of warm, dry air when placed together, much like a hair dryer. He's the witch who created the light-up flagstones a that inspired a very young Coco to fall in love with magic.
  • Nebulous Evil Organization: The Brimhats, a terrorist-like group that intends to bring magic back to common knowledge. Only one of their representatives show up frequently in the manga, and is always spouting cryptic lines that make no sense to the reader.
  • Nice Girl: Coco and Tetia are friendly and lively girls who like to help others.
  • Nice, Mean, and In-Between: Coco's sister apprentices fit this, Tetia is the nice, to Agott's mean and Richeh's in-between.
  • Nobody Poops: Averted, the witches have access to a void toilet that discard everything in it into the abyss, so they have this magical sanitary system in their bathrooms.
  • Not Quite Flight: Soar-shoes. A pair of shoes with a float glyph on the soles that allow the user to fly when the glyph is completed by pressing the shows together. They seem to be part of the standard witch clothes as all apprentices and witches have them.
  • Pride: Qifrey tells the story of the city of Romonneau, a city full of riches that, at one point, started growing so prideful and arrogant it caused their own ruin. They created a labyrinth as the only path to their city and that would get rid of anyone who couldn't be useful to the city and after that, they turned on each other, turning the ones deemed useless into gold statues.
  • Portal Door: Gate Windows, they can connect one window to another that has the same design.
  • Power Tattoo: Brimhats turn glyphs into tattoos to enhance their bodies.
  • Reality Ensues:
    • Drawing, even if it's magic, is an acquired skill that takes time and work to develop. The Glyphs that the witches draw are very precise technical drawings that require near perfect circles and straight lines as well as other geometrical form, with even the smallest disparity in sizes making a difference when they are used, so the newbie Coco ends up making bad spells due to her incapacity of drawing. She still struggles with it when she gets taken as an apprentice by Qifrey, and he also has trouble teaching her, because he never had to work with someone without previous knowledge.
      • Furthermore, Coco actually has some skill at drawing, but not with the tools or the technical needs of magic, so she has to relearn things to a certain degree. She is capable of making better glyphs during her test by getting a stone and making an improvised version of the tool she used in her mother's atelier.
    • At one point Qifrey opens the gate Windows to a hill full of floating petals, in order to show Coco that magic can bring happiness to people. Afterwards however, the wind blowing and the petal falling cause the room to be filled with them and they have to clean it up.
    • Richeh only focusing on her own magic, based on her own desires means that she doesn't have the wider knowledge needed to adapt to other circumstances. That means she can't turn Eunie back to normal when he's forcibly transformed.
  • Riddle Me This: The golden people of the ancient city of Romonneau offer to let Tetia, Qifrey, and Coco pass if the students could answer a riddle. The answer is "Peace". Magic took away the peace they had, leaving them with bodies that were always cold and uncomfortable.
  • Robe and Wizard Hat: A Justified example: the hats are a symbol of the Witch's profession and the long robes are to hide when they are drawing magic.
  • She Knows Too Much: When a muggle learns the secrets of casting magic, the Magic Security Council sanctions the use of otherwise-forbidden memory altering magic to make sure those secrets don't get out. Qifrey originally intended to erase Coco's memory when she learned the truth about witches, but changed his mind when he decided that she could be an asset in hunting down the Brimhat witches and took her on as an apprentice instead. Qifrey later resorts to wiping the memory of Mr. Nolnoa in order to conceal the fact that the Brimhat witches managed to get an ultra-powerful ink into Coco's possession — Mr. Nolnoa had wanted to share the fact with the Magic Security Council, which would have ruined Qifrey's strongest lead yet.
  • Taken for Granite: The fate of Coco's mother. She was accidentally caught in the crossfire when Coco experimented with a dangerous glyph.
  • Team Pet: Brushbug, a small creature attracted by magic that befriends Coco during her test at the Dadah Mountains.
  • Underwater City: The Great Hall is a huge area in the bottom of the ocean made of a number of buildings where a lot of the management of the witches' community happens.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: Coco is often amazed at all the magic items she finds and how her sister apprentices and master are capable of using magic, to them, however, this is absolutely mundane.
  • Villains Act, Heroes React: Almost all events in the manga are started by a member of the Brimhats, inflicting one challenge or another at Coco, who he considers to be The Chosen One, which so far has included destroy a bridge and trapping Qifrey's apprentices with a dragon.
  • Wham Line: "They want to swap your pointed hat for a brim."
  • White Mage: Medical mages. They opposed the decision to stop using magic directly on the body since they used it to heal others, but were eventually lost to time.

Alternative Title(s): Tongari Booshi No Atorie


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