Flying Witch – Mid Season Review
Original Air Dates: April 9th, 2016 – ???
Synopsis: Makoto Kowata moves back to Aomori to live with her relatives, second cousins, Kei and Chinatsu. But Chinatsu suspects that there’s more to Makoto than meets the eye. When the two girls go out on a quick shopping trip, Chinatsu discovers that Makoto is actually a witch! It’s not surprising that Chinatsu figured it out so quickly, as Makoto isn’t exactly the best at keeping this a secret. Now Makoto, who just turned fifteen and has come of age according to witch law, must adjust to her new life with her cousins in Aomori, a land of bountiful beauty.
Mid Season (6 episodes) Review (Warning: Some Spoilers to Follow):
Linny: If you haven’t already given this show a try, or you haven’t watched much of it yet, be warned that this is an extremely slow slice of life. That isn’t to say it’s bad, it’s just much more laid back with its pace and humour compared to more recent and similar shows. It’s a plain story about a young witch moving in with her extended relatives in a new town. There’s several references and stories to do with the occult but more often than not, it feels like a glimpse into the daily life of an average family with unusual events ever so often. The focus is more on showing the sweet and simple lives of its characters rather than having a barrage of exaggerated gags and one liners.
Tom: Flying Witch struggles to maintain the delicate balance of the slice of life genre. Many slice of life are tasked with remaining both grounded in reality, but exciting and interesting enough to feel worth your time. Flying Witch keeps things so down to Earth, despite its fantasy aspects, that at times it can feel almost painfully slow or even dull. Flying Witch is at its best when it manages to utilize its fantasy elements (when Makoto is learning a new spell for example) while keeping the setting feeling realistic and mundane. At these times Flying Witch excels at its goal: It’s a slice of life about witches and I actually believe it. But when Flying Witch abandons its fantasy elements, and attempts to focus on our characters trudging through their everyday lives it becomes exceedingly dull. Flying Witch just isn’t itself when magic isn’t performed. Because of this Flying Witch can be very hit or miss.
Linny: There is a nice balance of characters from the rather enthusiastic and unfazed mother of Kei and Chinatsu, Nana, to the bewildered but curious classmate, Nao. The livelier characters help to make the show feel more energetic and their presence means that the episode is going to be a lot more livelier than the norm. So far, we haven’t met any characters who are rude or disapprove of the occult and those practicing it. Flying Witch struggles to establish just how taboo or not witchcraft is in their universe. While Makoto does make repeated statements about keeping her witchcraft a secret, she also seems to discuss and practice it rather freely. Also, while some people seem to be completely surprised to discover her secret or the existence of witches, others either already know or don’t seem fazed about it at all.
Tom: Flying Witch has a jazzy opening that really grabs you and pumps you up. But I don’t feel like the show follows through on that. I’m excited, I’m happy, I’m ready for something that isn’t Flying Witch’s mundanity, especially when we’re avoiding the more interesting, witch-centric stories. But it’s not just the plots that remain low energy, it’s everything. Even the majority of the characters are low energy, with their reactions and attitudes feeling real, normal, and restrained. There’s no screaming, or shouting, or gasping with surprise like other anime. This is both a positive and a negative. The realism and ground portrayal is refreshing, and avoids the bombastic nature of the majority of anime offerings, but at the same time can be so muted that if the characters aren’t showing much interest, neither am I.
Linny: Makoto, our main witch, is definitely a sweet and visually appealing character. She’s drawn and played as cute as can be but for those who like their leads to be energetic with a lot of in your face or high energy attitude, she makes for a rather muted character.
Tom: Makoto can be pretty oblivious as well, borderline airhead at times, but Flying Witch does well enough a job of balancing these aspects of the character, with the positives above Linny mentioned, that at no point does Makoto feel stupid, rather just gullible and backwards at times. Chinatsu is the other central character, receiving nearly as much screen time as, if not more than, Makoto. She’s cute and sometimes interesting to watch as she struggles to comprehend the absurdity of the witch’s world she’s been introduced to, but at other times her reactions, like the rest of the cast, are so subdued it makes it difficult to really connect with her.
Linny: Chinatsu feels more like the star of the show for me, as she gets into some interesting situations and her occasionally enthusiastic or quirky reactions to some of the stranger elements can feel like a fresh breath of air in this show’s often muted responses. She also has some great one liners that aren’t necessarily laugh out loud but are definitely the sensible, chuckle inducing kind.
Tom: Kei and the other non-witch characters have gotten reduced screen time as Flying Witch has continued, often shunting these people to little more than background characters or plot devices. In their place we’ve recently spent more time with other witches, namely Makoto’s wild sister (My favorite character actually) and their mutual friend, Inukai. Both these characters help to breath new life into Flying Witch and keep it centered on the witchcraft aspects of the series, which is where I feel Flying Witch needs to remain in order to keep itself feeling fresh and engaging. Inukai has only appeared once so far, and Makoto’s sister, Akane, three times. I’m hoping these girls continue to remain a part of Flying Witch as without them Makoto and Chinatsu struggle to keep things lively.
Linny: It does feel like almost every other character is a background character in the truest of sense. They are swapped in and out constantly and almost all of them have never had the focus on them other than to be a plot device for Chinatsu or Makoto. I have had my personal interest and entertainment level fluctuate a lot with this show but thanks to the mid season plot development surrounding Chinatsu, my interest levels have definitely perked back up again. So if Chinatsu is your favourite character and you’re struggling to stay invested, hang in there at least until episode six.
Tom: I do have to say that I find this show’s art, specifically its background art, incredibly beautiful. It’s grounded with realism in the way it portrays this quaint countryside in Japan and keeps the slice of life vibe feeling down to Earth even when we’re dealing with the more fantastical aspects of Witchcraft.
Linny: With the opening visuals of a quaint countryside/town and its quirky synopsis, some people may be considering picking this show up expecting something like Barakamon or Non Non Biyori but let’s make it clear, this show is nothing like either. Even with its naive younger cast members, the comedy is restrained and even when people get into high jinks, there’s no over the top reactions. It is a bit of a gamble to watch as it tends to get very, very slow and has an exceedingly laid back cast. It’s still a fun watch but you have to be prepared for the slow ride, especially if you’ve never been a fan of them before.
Tom: Ultimately Flying Witch boils down to: hit or miss. It struggles to do the balance act many Slice of Life need to master (Can’t be too outlandish, but if its too real it becomes dull) and so far Flying Witch airs a bit too far on the dull side of things. At times it feels uninteresting, specifically when it keeps itself focused on the country life, which it portrays with perhaps too much realism. But when Flying Witch incorporates witchcraft it breaths new life into things and reinvigorates my interest.
Flying Witch is available for streaming via Crunchyroll.com.