In the past, I’ve had a lot of good experiences with anime about witches. Kiki’s Delivery Service, Shuumatsu no Izetta & El Cazador de la Bruja were all great or better. This time around, we’re looking at Flying Witch. This one is based off of a manga by Ishizuka Chihiro with the anime being handled by JC Staff. Yes, the same studio as Final Fantasy: Unlimited, Azumanga Daioh, Honey and Clover, & Potemayo. We’ve looked at their works a lot and with widely varying degrees of quality. Let’s see where this one falls.
We open with our heroine, Makoto, moving in with some relatives so that she can finish High school and be semi-independent like a good witch. From there we basically follow her as she spends time with friends & relatives while meeting supernatural beings and doing witch things. Basically, it’s a slice of life with the twist being that it’s about a witch.
I don’t really have any issues with the series in terms of narrative. Yeah, the story is very minimal with the various episodes all focusing on different slice of life situations that may not be connected to one another, but that’s not really a problem. There are plenty of slice of life series like that and this one uses that format very well.
Flying Witch is very firmly an iyashikei series. If you aren’t familiar with the term, it basically refers to an anime or manga that’s designed around soothing the audience and making them feel good. The main tool it employs to gain this effect is making the supernatural elements highly comforting and whimsical. Whether it’s a harbinger who just wants to say hello, an anthropomorphic witch who’s really friendly and adorable, a shy ghost who just wants to serve tasty pastries or some other such thing, they’re all designed around instilling a sense of delight. And because the supernatural elements are so integral to making the series enjoyable, they never seem gimmicky or pointless even though what they’re being used for equates to faffing about. I also appreciate the way it takes the piss out of certain tropes like the “magical being who’s supposed to be keeping their abilities a secret but everyone knows anyway.”
When you have a light, fluffy series one of the things you absolutely need to go with it are endearing characters. Fortunately, that’s another element that Flying Witch absolutely nails. The characters have eccentricities, but they aren’t heavily exaggerated like they are in some comedies. Which makes them entertaining and fun while also preventing them getting overbearing. It also manages to have a child character who acts like a child, isn’t annoying and is actually really charming. Which is not easy to do. And this is coming from someone who doesn’t care for children in general. The characters also possess enough verisimilitude that they feel, largely, like real people. The only way they really stretch believability is that they’re too good natured and you don’t encounter many people with that level of goodness. Much less an entire world where it’s everybody. But I can’t complain about that since it’s part of what makes it excel as an iyashikei series.
Flying Witch has, I must say, superb artwork. It’s not just that the backgrounds and character designs are really well done, although that helps. It’s the entire supernatural aesthetic. The creatures they encounter are creative and interesting looking. The whale in particular stands out but there are a lot of other examples. The magic isn’t flashy, but the more subdued use of it does work better for the relaxing atmosphere. So, good decision there.
The performances in this are really good. And, for most of the main actors, this is my first time hearing them give really strong performances. Shinoda Minami, Suzuki Eri, Sugawara Shinsuke & Aoi Kana included. I’ve heard Mikami Shiori and some of the minor characters in good anime before this one but most of the main cast don’t have many credits which makes their performances all the more impressive. Dewa Yoshiaki’s soundtrack complements the soothing atmosphere perfectly. I’ll give him full credit on that one.
There’s a bit. Inukai and Akane interact as though they’re one confession away from ripping each other’s clothes off and just going at it. Akane even describes Inukai as being too cute. There are also some interactions betwixt Makoto and Nao that make it seem like Makoto has more than a little crush.
If you’re looking for something whimsical and endearing that’ll soothe you, Flying Witch fits the bill damn near perfectly. If, on the other hand, you want something with an involved narrative and a lot of conflict, it’s not going to be that. Ultimately, I really enjoyed watching it and would go so far as to say it’s among the best iyashikei works I’ve seen. My final rating is going to be a 9/10. Next week, Dragoon.