RAVINA THE WITCH? by Junko Mizuno
RAVINA THE WITCH? reads like a fairy tale, but with much darker themes. The cute art is often jarring against the disturbing situations Ravina experiences.
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Not a Bedtime Story

When you think of fairy tales or fables, perhaps you think of a light-hearted children’s tale. Certainly a bedtime story wouldn’t keep kids up at night. But if you really delve into the original Grimm’s fairy tales, they’re a lot more sinister than you’d think. Cinderella kills her stepmother, and Ariel dissolves into sea foam when the prince marries another woman. Popular film adaptations, like Disney movies, tend to water down the source material. And that’s probably a good call when it comes to family entertainment. However, RAVINA THE WITCH? by Junko Mizuno (Titan Comics) is no Disney tale.

Ravina is a young girl who lives in a garbage dump. For most of her childhood, her only friends are the crows that call the dump home as well. But, when a dying witch gives Ravina her magic wand, Ravina begins to question life beyond the trash heaps. And not long after, people come to the dump to redevelop the land and send her into uncharted territory. Mizuno mixes a unique style, dark themes, and an interesting female protagonist to create a great story and also critique social problems that still persist.

Juxtaposing Style and Story

Mizuno’s art style is like something out of a child’s storybook. It’s simplistic with muted color palettes and also gives the reader a lot of room to explore the page. The style is far from realistic, but certainly not abstract either. The surrealist style is haunting but not explicit. In fact, it’s pretty cute. However, this story is a lot darker than anything you’d want a very young kid to read, although it may look like the style in some children’s books.

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Even the storytelling itself is to-the-point. If you’ve ever read a fairy tale or fable you know that the text doesn’t say what is there, but usually doesn’t delve into the deeper meaning. The images cover the majority of each page, leaving a small space for text. Readers will usually see the image before reading the text, which leads to a bit of clash between the two mediums. But, this isn’t a bad clash. If you only read the text, the story seems a lot more innocent. However, Mizuno’s jarring images keep the story interesting and unsettling.

Image courtesy of Titan Comics.

Ravina deals with the darker parts of human nature, like greed and exploiting others. Though the illustrations for these situations aren’t as morbid as photographs, they still convey great emotion. Whenever Ravina is happy or most powerful, her hair billows around her like it has a life of its own. And since the facial expressions are quite simple, using other elements to express emotion is essential.

A Fable With a Twist

RAVINA THE WITCH? has a simple setup when it comes to narrative progression. The story introduces a main character and then she deals with a series of conflicts. Each conflict teaches her a bit more about humanity, or lack thereof. And most of the time her problems involve men who use her or try to keep her in check.

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People exploit Ravina and use her powers for their own agenda. But, when they can’t control her they want to punish her. Usually, fables and fairy tales teach some kind of lesson. RAVINA THE WITCH? isn’t overly didactic like some of these stories, but it certainly shows how certain people are ostracized unless they’re “useful” to others.

Image courtesy of Titan Comics.

For example, even after Ravina revives a town’s dead livestock they try to punish her for something she never did. They overlook the good deeds that should’ve outweighed a logical case of food poisoning. Another scenario involves the greed and hubris of men as they use their wives as pawns for a drinking competition. Ravina steps in to save the wives but suffers because of it. Each conflict is more ridiculous than the previous, but Ravina learns how to use her magic through it all. The bright side here is that Ravina doesn’t blame herself for how other people see her, and she carries that belief with her as she helps those who need it.


Ravina’s experience with people isn’t always sunshine and flowers, but she does connect with others who don’t seem to belong. These usually include misunderstood creatures like crows or people like the man who loves to wear dresses. She’s a great protagonist with a lot of agency as well. She uses her magical abilities to help those around her, even if they don’t deserve it.

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RAVINA THE WITCH? is a fun read, especially because Ravina puts a lot of horrible people in their place. It’s an interesting take on the gendered problems that surround witchcraft and magic. Magic is a scapegoat for bigger dilemmas, but Ravina outwits and exposes toxic masculinity even if she doesn’t fully realize it. I would highly recommend RAVINA THE WITCH? to anyone interested in an awesome style and the modern fairy tale feel.

You can find RAVINA THE WITCH? on Titan Comics’ website or Amazon!

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