Burn the Witch is the new and exciting spin-off of Tite Kubo’s shounen classic, BLEACH. Despite this, Burn the Witch is a completely new experience even for fans, and various parts of the film might need to be watched a few times to truly grasp how the world of Reverse London is constructed.
In this world of fairy tales where magic and dragons exist, the witches and wizards of Wing Bind work to protect everyday people from the dragons’ age-old terror. While the film gives us very little to work with in terms of worldbuilding, there are various elements that can be picked apart to at least guess where the story could be going! How is Burn the Witch constructed and in what ways does that link back to BLEACH? Read more and find out!
The English capital is a place with a lot of history. Perhaps the London setting is a continuation of Kubo’s way of basing stories, characters, and in-universe races on real-life linguistic groups – the Shinigami were Japanese, the Fullbringers English, the Quincies German, and the Hollows Spanish.
At some point, Kubo talked about wanting to base another race in the BLEACHverse on French, but never got around to it. Perhaps the European setting of Burn the Witch could set up the introduction of such a race. England and dragons are an age-old combination, but it is also worth noting that the lore of Burn the Witch stretches as far back as 1609 A.D., 57 years before the Great London Fire of 1666. The setting allows for Burn the Witch to incorporate a lot of real-life history with the fairy tale that is Reverse London, unlike with BLEACH and the fictional Karakura Town.
One of the most striking things that indicate the Burn the Witch film’s positioning as an extension of the supernatural world we’ve come to know in BLEACH is the huge similarity in magic systems. Both BLEACH and Burn the Witch feature an incantation-based system of spells or abilities. “Kidou” in BLEACH is contrasted by the “Magic Number” spells of Burn the Witch. Given the fact that these series are set in the same universe, it is unsurprising that the magic is basically the same too!
Dragons are positioned as the main antagonists of Burn the Witch, the beings responsible for 72% of all deaths in London. The series introduces us to several main types of dragons that fall under one of two main distinctions: “Light” and “Dark”. Light Dragons have been domesticated by Reverse Londoners for the production of resources. Species of dragon include Bud Bucks, which are the first type we see. They have the appearance of deer with proportionally sized bat wings and antlers that sprout magically produced flowers. Noel notes that the flowers blooming means that the dragon’s value decreases and hastily tries to complete the assignment before Ninny appears. Broombuggies are used for transportation by Wing Bind members; while Dark Dragons are the result of dragon-human contact, in which a dragon absorbs a human’s negative emotions and becomes increasingly aggressive towards humans.
Dark Dragons are capable of shapeshifting on some level, with the transformation into their true form being called “Lights Out”. Märchen, the German word for “Fairy Tale” refers to ancient dragons said to have existed prior to the establishment of Reverse London. They are on a permanent kill list because they are considered malicious dragons and an enemy of humanity. There are only seven in existence: Snow White, Red Dress, Golden Axe, Bubbles, Sugar House, Band of Animals, and Cinderella, all named after and likened to famous fairy tales. Cinderella reveals itself in episode 2 when Macy Baljure’s adopted dragon, “Elly” moults into its final form, causing widespread destruction.
The Dragonclad are human beings who have been in extended contact with dragons and have subsequently garnered a high concentration of Dragotoxin, a substance that is the by-product of dragon-human contact. Balgo Parks is one such Dragonclad; however, Burn the Witch has not fully explored this phenomenon and we can only wait for more of it to be released before finding out what they really are.
Wing Bind – Soul Society West Branch
Wing Bind, also known as the Natural Dragon Management Agency is an organisation in Reverse London tasked with dragon conservation and control. It consists of eight divisions, each with a different responsibility. The Pipers are conservationists led by Billy Banx Jr. who oversee the domestication and commodification of dragons. Ninny and Noel are in this squad, with their check-pattern mantles marked with the Aries glyph. The Inks are led by Bruno Bangnyfe and come dressed in dark sweatpants and hoodies marked with the Taurus glyph. We also see The Sabres, the tactical squad led by one Sullivan Squire. They wear black clothing with mantles marked with the glyph of Scorpio.
We do not get to see the other squads just yet, nor do we know much about the inner workings of Wing Bind, its organisation or what the real significance of the zodiac imagery is. Perhaps there are more squads, a mirroring of BLEACH’s Gotei 13 is inherently possible if the zodiac imagery is anything to go by. The juxtaposition of zodiac imagery with the concept of fairy tales that is central to Burn the Witch creates a patchwork of supernatural, mythical, and mystical that gives it a lot of depth that is teased, but not explored just yet. Given that the manga serialisation is being released at a gentle pace, we might not find out more about the Burn the Witch universe for a while.
Burn the Witch is an exciting addition to the BLEACH universe, but also has the potential to become a fully fleshed-out universe in its own right. Despite it being officially part of BLEACH, Burn the Witch is its own story and we can’t wait to see what else it has to offer! What is your favourite aspect of the Burn the Witch lore? Drop a comment below and tell us what you think!