Title: Flying Witch
Company: J.C. Staff
Format: 12 episodes
Dates: 9 Apr 2016 – 25 Jun 2016
Synopsis: When a young witch turns 15, she must leave home to complete her training. But since witching isn’t as solid a career as it used to be, it’s probably a good idea to finish high school as well. This leads witch-in-training Kowata Makoto to move in with her relatives in the countryside while she finishes both aspects of her education. Her cousins Chinatsu and Kei are tasked with introducing Makoto to life in their small rural town. The young Chinatsu is completely in awe of Makoto, her witchy powers and the strange acquaintances who turn up along the way.
Chinatsu: A fantastic child character with priceless reactions.
Magical element: Adds a creative twist to everyday situations.
Content: Interesting short stories with no real arc or development.
The show in one word: Pleasant.
Flying Witch is the kind of series you want to watch curled up in a warm blanket after a long day if you’re looking to just relax and smile. It’s easy to imagine this tale existing in the same world as Kiki’s Delivery Service as it captures that same friendly small-town atmosphere, paired with a good-natured protagonist witch-in-training. Like that film, Flying Witch is sweet and pleasant.
The series makes good use of its magical elements to tell creative stories that feel like folklore come to life. The magic provides a good foundation to introduce inventive characters such as the Harbinger of Spring or a ghostly café hostess, and yet still manages to feel very integrated into the daily lives of the characters. Makoto uses her broom to fly to the store and practices growing vegetables for her training, while also refining spells which make a
target laugh uncontrollably or summon a murder of crows. As awed as Chinatsu is at Makoto’s powers, Makoto is equally amazed by the details of rural life as she discovers new foods and attends local festivals.
The series banks on situational humour for most of its laughs. Some of the jokes, especially concerning Makoto’s terrible sense of direction, feel a little recycled, but overall the series achieves a light and positive tone. Chinatsu easily steals the show. Her wonder, excitement and priceless reactions provide the audience with a great viewpoint through which to learn about the magical aspects of her world. She’s an excellent example of a child character who feels genuine. Another highlight is Makoto’s sister, Akane, who comes and goes as she pleases. When she’s not sleeping the day away, her free spirit leads her into some intriguing scenarios, such as using magic to turn a landscape grey just so she can take a cool selfie. Rounding out the main cast are Kei and his schoolmate Nao, who largely serve as foils for the hi-jinx going on around them.
Arguably the weakest element in the show is Makoto herself. She’s very likeable and tries hard, but that’s it. In one episode a fortune teller asks her what her biggest worry is. She answers that she doesn’t have one, and that’s exactly the problem. The series offers her no challenge, no arc. It is simply a collection of amusing short stories. Compare this to something like Barakamon, which created a similar warm, healing atmosphere, but managed to also explore art and the creative process. Or Mushishi, which left the viewer with a sense of wonder and beauty after each story. Flying Witch never tries to be more than pleasant. It is enjoyable, but not particularly impactful or memorable. It has nothing but warm fuzzies to offer.
That said, warm fuzzies are not without value and if you are looking for a nice, soothing series to relax with, this is an excellent choice. The art is absolutely gorgeous, the opening theme will get stuck in your head and it will probably bring a few smiles to your day.
The Rating: 7
Reviewed by: Kaikyaku