Flying Witch

Flying Witch

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In Aomori, Japan, a land blessed by nature’s bountiful beauty, bizarre things begin to take place. Makoto Kowata, 15 years old, is a professional witch. She left Yokohama with Chito, her black cat, to live in the house of her relatives in Aomori. This is where she begins to train as a witch. Even though Makoto’s powers are still limited to just flying through the sky and some minor potions, she and her second cousins Kei and Chinatsu surely make the most out of each and every day.

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Flying Witch falls into the type of genre that usually lends itself to light novels and literature rather than anime. It focuses on a type of magical realism, set in a Japan that accepts that witchcraft and magic is part of the world that they live in, and that, for some people, it is as natural and part of their lives as breathing. Though witches aren’t exactly a secret, they are rare enough for people not to know much about them – especially in remote, sparsely-populated areas. Produced by J.C. Staff, this is a smooth and easily-watchable anime that is a real treat for the eyes.

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As soon as I started watching this one, I could tell it was one of those laid-back, slow-paced anime that takes its fun from being whimsical and beautiful. The soundtrack is distinctive and there is more than just the average amount of detail in the backgrounds – and this anime makes sure that you know it. We have plenty of time to admire the scenery, the chirping crickets and the general ambience of a village far away from the busy, polluted cities. In this sense, this one gives of a distinct kind of Non Non Biyori vibe.

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It’s chock-full with plenty of funny and sometimes endearing moments that are strung together smoothly to tell a story with a great depth to it and everything has a warm, comfortable and safe feel to it, since you are watching genuinely good-hearted people making their way through a pastel-painted world. The problems that occur are minor: reversing a spell, quieting a mandragora, having witch-like friends pop over for a surprise visit – that sort of thing.

I enjoy having one of these types of anime to watch every season. It’s a kicked-back, stripped-down coming-of-agey slice-of-life with just a twist of supernatural to keep things interesting. In fact, it’s not usually until halfway through the episodes that Makoto dabbles in anything magical. Witchcraft skills and familiars aside Makoto just seems like an ordinary teenage girl – well-meaning, curious and just a little ditzy. She has no traumatic backstory, she’s not particularly gifted and she doesn’t seem the type to be destined for greatness. Everything seems to be just fine-and-dandy to her. So in light of these things, despite the slightly misleading title, this is not exactly a magical girl anime.

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Even when this flying witch gets on her broomstick (which is something that you can just purchase at an ordinary hardware store, apparently – no need to try and get into Diagon Alley here) everything is depicted as slow and natural. Makoto is just gently gliding through the air if she were taking a leisurely aerial bike-ride and her non-witch younger cousin Chinatsu is able to climb aboard and experience just what flying is like. It makes everything that’s supposed to be magical seem so normal – it’s like watching someone carry out cultural traditions: interesting and perhaps fun to join in with because it’s a bit different to you.

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Generally when Makoto (and sometimes, her elder sister) dabble in anything witchy, it’s usually with mildly hilarious consequences for those around them. A friend of theirs decided to eat a treat that had a spell on it, thus giving her some of the physical qualities of a fox (such as ears and tail, y’know… the cute stuff) and they also put a spell on some snacks, causing members of the family to laugh and/or cry uncontrollably for a short space of time – just small spells that can be done in the living room whilst watching television and waiting for dinner. We also see Makoto struggling with the concept of flying a broom, remarking on how uncomfortable it actually is and why so many witches continue to do it.

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With a sweet and good-natured protagonist, this slice of life holds real humour within its concept – whether it’s just laughing at everyday life or cheekily poking fun at the physics of the magical girl tropes. There’s no real antagonist or melodrama within this one, which means nothing gets in the way of the simplicity and gentleness of the magical world that is portrayed. It also manages to avoid being uncomfortably twee whilst being stylistic and sincere. Definitely worth a watch.

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