You have a slice-of-life, you have a fantasy element, you have school kids in not-Tokyo-for-once, Japan… this seems like all the right elements in a formula for a great show. … But is it really that great?
We’re introduced to Makoto, a teenage girl who’s traveled all the way to picturesque Aomori, Japan to live with some relatives in a nice, traditional-looking house. This journey wasn’t for a vacation though; Makoto has some training to do! For you see, this kind-hearted, black-haired girl also has a big secret: she’s the youngest of a family of witches! Makoto isn’t a very skilled witch, though (why else would she be looking to do some training?), but she manages to impress her family and friends anyway! … If not simply because of how airheaded she is.
Speaking of family, the relatives she’s living with are her cousins Kei and Chinatsu. Kei and Makoto attend the same high school, and they both feature that easy-going personality. Chinatsu is a decent amount younger than Kei, and still contains all the whimsy and curiosity of a little kid. As well, we’re introduced to Makoto’s own sister: Akane. A witch with abilities well into the advanced levels, Akane spends most of her time traveling the world… and when she does drop by for a visit, there’s also a decent amount of alcohol and sleeping involved too.
With her family helping her along every step of the way, and optimistic about meeting new friends, seeing new places, and learning new witch abilities, Makoto is excited to see what’s next on her journey here in Aomori.
The Plot and Characters
Usually I start writing a review about halfway through a series, as my thoughts on said series begin to settle, but I don’t finish the review until about when I finish the show (in case there’s something that changes or happens in the latter half). In this case, however, I don’t see myself watching past episode 6 of this series.
I have a pretty good idea of what I’m looking at with this show, and while it isn’t bad, I certainly haven’t been getting much enjoyment out of it. A friend had recommended this show to me, saying that it seemed something right up my alley, and so I went into it with relatively high expectations (as this friend tends to like some pretty awesome shows). Honestly, if I started off Flying Witch with little to no expectation of what I’d get out of it, I may have seen myself enjoying it more. We can’t go back and do anything about it now, though.
The reason I put the review of this show up on the same day as (EDIT: I mean, a week after) my Tanaka-kun is Always Listless review, is because while watching this, I kept comparing this show back to Tanaka-kun. Both aired in the same Spring 2016 season, and set out to be a relaxed, light-hearted slice-of-life anime. However, there is definitely one I enjoyed more than the other.
Flying Witch’s humor just did not strike me in the right way. I knew where it was making its jokes, and what those jokes were, but I just didn’t find them funny. I’d even venture to say that the humor in this show just isn’t good, but honestly, it may just be that it doesn’t really work with my style. It’s very simple humor; there’s no really complex set ups or anything, and a number of the jokes are simply tossed out like nothing.
Another difficulty that probably aggravates this is the fact that I feel all of the characters have the exact same personality in my eyes. Comparing it to Tanaka-kun, GJ Club, or Nisekoi, where each character had a different and unique personality, I feel almost all of the characters in Flying Witch would react the same way no matter what situation you threw at them. The only thing that really differentiates these characters is a small list of quirks each one has, and a possibly different end goal they want to reach, but all in all, I feel they all act the same. Each of them is smiley, bubbly, and is overall super kind and easy-going. I’m not sure if I’d call these characters “fake”, but I begin to lose the feeling that these could be actual people, the further I get into this show. The only character that I felt could be somewhat human-like was Makoto’s cat, Chito.
The character I definitely disliked the most is Chinatsu. She’s supposed to be this little kid, but I feel like whoever wrote her character doesn’t totally get the mind of a little kid. Chinatsu comes off as fickle and inconsistent to me, sometimes surprisingly mature and other times resoundingly childish. She starts the first episode with a complete disdain for Makoto, but she completely flips her position by the end of the 23 minutes. She spends the second episode scared of (and sometimes kind of mean to) a magical creature that came by, so the first two episodes made me think Chinatsu is shy and easily scared of what she doesn’t know. However, every episode after that shows her being extremely cheerful, and happily getting along with all the new characters she meets. Episode 4 shows her going up to a creepy-looking fortune teller she’s never seen before, and just striking up a full conversation with her, with no signs of shyness at all.
The pacing isn’t all that bad in this series, although it could also be tightened in a few areas. There’s points where I felt it focused on one scene for a bit too long, and had some dead air moments that definitely didn’t help.
Overall, I can’t say I hate this show, though. It’s probably not going to be one I’ll finish (or if I do, it will be a struggle, although I’ve previously pushed myself through shows that were a struggle too), but I’m sure there are others out there that got a lot more out of this series than I did. I did laugh at a couple points (more than I have at a few other comedy shows, so I’ll give it that), but I don’t want to watch a show where I only get any enjoyable moments every other episode.
I also kind of wished this show focused a bit more on the whole being-a-witch thing. I felt it would’ve been pretty cool to have a slice-of-life series that slowly showed us its world of witches, especially since I feel like this show really could have some stuff to say about it. However, although there’s definitely been scenes and stories that involve Makoto’s status as a witch, I wish there was more, and I wish it went a bit deeper with those. That being said, with how episode 6 went, maybe this series will skew more in that direction in the latter half; however, I don’t think I’ll be sticking around to find out.
The animation of this series isn’t the most fluid either, and also detracts from the effectiveness of some of its jokes. It almost feels at times that they put some sequences at double speed or something, because they made too many frames for it. While I won’t say Flying Witch is terrible at comedic timing, it does have a lot of room to improve, especially if they’re visual gags.
Besides that, though, the art and animation of this show is pretty alright. When this show wants to show a beautiful scene, it can. While I’ve seen other shows with much better visuals, I can still appreciate some of the backgrounds featured in Flying Witch too. I’m not the biggest fan of these character designs, but they’re not terrible, and I appreciate the variety of outfits the animators/artists have the characters wear throughout the series.
When it comes to the coloring though, I again have to compare this show to Tanaka-kun and GJ Club. Both of them featured pretty bright colors that helped with the atmosphere of the show, and made it feel a bit more cheerful. Here, the colors just… aren’t. I’d say the colors seem a bit more realistic, but it also comes off as a bit duller, and just not really matching up with how this show wants to present itself.
About 6 episodes in, I can’t necessarily think of a single piece of background music that really stands out to me. As I’ve said in previous reviews, I really only remember a show’s background music if it stands out as unique or interesting, and Flying Witch, like most shows, doesn’t really do that here. I can’t say the background music is bad, but it does feel rather generic. The standard usage of pitched percussion, woodwinds, and the occasional guitar and piano is replicated here. I will say that it feels like they really quieted down the music whenever there was dialogue… like more than what is usual, I feel like.
There are scenes where there just isn’t any music though, and I feel they did that, thinking that the jokes and dialogue of a scene would be enough to cover it. However, because the jokes or dialogue failed to really elicit a reaction out of me, it made the scenes feel even emptier and a bit more awkward.
I grew to enjoy the opening theme more, as I watched through the show. It’s not a theme I’ll want to listen to much on its own, but I enjoyed it for this show. The opening animation is not bad, but I didn’t enjoy it very much. The dancing and singing characters at the latter portion of it, for some reason, just came off as weird to me. The ending song is not bad either, but I also can’t say I enjoyed it much. The ending animation is one of the places where the show put in some pretty nice-looking background art, even if the rest of it wasn’t all that spectacular.
I honestly don’t have too much of an issue with the voices used in this series, except one: Kei. I didn’t like the sound of his voice at all in episode 1, and I thought maybe I’d warm up to it as the series went on. After episode 6, though, I still don’t like his voice all that much. The role of Kei is seiyuu Shinsuke Sugawara’s first major role though; I can only hope he does better in future productions. Him as Kei, though, sounds like he had his nose plugged the entire time, and it just… didn’t sound right.
Final Remarks / TL;DR
I almost feel like I should’ve gotten some sort of lesson out of this series, whether it’s about trusting friends’ recommendations, or about what expectations I should have when going into a show, or something. Overall, though, this show was a no-go for me; I gave it 6 episodes, and while I may try to get through more of it at some point in the future, it wouldn’t be surprising if I never really touched it again. The comedy just didn’t work for me, and the characters all had the same personality… I feel like every positive thing I have to say about this show comes with a negative, if not more than one per.
I won’t say others should avoid this show, because it’s possible that someone else could really get something more out of this than I can. However, if someone asked me for a fun slice-of-life show, this wouldn’t be one I point them towards. If you’re really looking for something light-hearted and that features witches, I’d suggest you give Sabrina the Teenage Witch a try.
Recommendation: Give It a Shot
+++ had nice background visuals at times, a few amusing moments although they were few and far between, Chito was enjoyable enough and seemed like the only personable character
— many jokes did not land and received little enjoyment out of this series, Chinatsu, Kei’s voice