Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Anime Review: Flying Witch

Flying Witch

At 16 Makoto is considered a full-fledged adult in the witch world, but no one thinks that she is quite ready to go off and live on her own. So along with her familiar Chito, Makoto goes to live with her relatives in rural Japan and spend quiet, fulfilling times learning about nature and practicing her magic. 

I mentioned recently that Tanaka-kun is Always Listless is a weird, almost-healing (iyashikei) type anime with it's languid pace and inward-looking focus. Flying Witch is a much more typical type of iyashikei show and I think that it quite honestly might be my favorite one to date. The real trick with iyashikei shows is the setting, given that they typically have such quiet, character-focused stories it's often the external factors that set one story apart from another and Flying Witch's mixture of magic and country charm hit all of the right spots for me. I even saw another viewer refer to this show as a true "tourism anime" for the area (Aomori Prefecture) and I will admit, while this show didn't make me jump up and immediately start looking up places to visit, if I was say planning a trip to Northern Japan then sure, I'd take a look and see if there was anything in the area that caught my eye. I wouldn't have done that for this area before I saw Flying Witch so the "advertising" is working!

If I had to break the show down, I would say that magic made up a half, maybe even two thirds, of the plots and plain, everyday living made up the last portion. I was a little more bored by the everyday living segments, many of them were still quite charming (thanks to the character interactions, especially Makoto's younger cousin Chinatsu), but I was never let down by the magical stories. Some of the segments felt positively Ghibli-esque with their soft and quiet magical settings that perfectly blended into the natural world and left the characters feeling a subtle kind of awe, and thanks to that mood the magical details never felt too divorced from the slice of life ones. The visuals weren't flashy which I mean in the very best way, there were never any over-the-top magical sequences that broke with the rest of the tone and it kept the entire story, shall we say, well grounded. This would be a very safe anime to show to a casual viewer who isn't interested in the hyper-otaku tropes that seem to sneak into every series these days, Flying Witch feels like a genuine, unpretentious story through and through.

As I said, there were a few episodes that I felt like were a little too slow, usually because the A and B parts were too similar, but I'm curious if the anime followed the manga's pacing and order rather closely or if stories were rearranged to create the best flow. Given that Vertical has licensed the manga (which is also still on-going) it looks like I will have a chance to find out and to slip back into this soothing, charming world of magic and quiet afternoons.