Light humor. Crisp animation. Lovable cast of characters. Fun all around. This is actually a very difficult series to critique because its beauty comes from nothingness.
On the surface, Flying Witch seems like a show that would take advantage of its fantasy aspect, stretching the imagination of the power that magic can have when it is used. But what I love about this series is just how little the anime uses that to their disposal. Even though magical elements of witchcraft are present in this series, the overall tone brings joy to simple, everyday life.
And besides, Makoto may not stand out as a protagonist, but I think her sweet subtlety and variety of expressions make her a very cute witch.
Flying Witch brings us into the daily life of Makoto Kowata, a teenage witch in-training who has moved to the rural Aomori Prefecture. Having come from city life, Makoto is faced with all sorts of new challenges, adjusting to her farming community, learning to become a full-fledged witch, and of course, living life as a teenager.
Although one might expect that Makoto’s life would be hectic beyond belief at all these crossroads, she doesn’t experience a great deal of conflict at all. Flying Witch brings out the gentle side of magic in a world that seems completely normal.
The series brings together humans and supernatural beings in a somewhat normalizing way, and its mild humor comes from just how simple yet odd situations can get. The animation isn’t as intense as it depicts casual actions that we might see in our everyday lives. The tone is very calm, and watching it does relieve a lot of my anxieties.
Flying Witch focuses a lot on its human and witch subjects, but Makoto’s animal friends can also be a lot of fun in just how we don’t expect them to be very human-like either.
The highlight of this series for me is the wonder in how the world unfolds in Makoto’s perspective. Had this been more critical to reality, witchcraft would not be welcomed nearly as well as her community takes it. But maybe that’s just my westernized critique of this series, since magic and supernatural powers are social taboos or unknowns, and are often met with fear or whatever.
And yet, the series isn’t too far off in portraying very realistic characters given these magical circumstances. Makoto’s host sister Chinatsu’s initial reaction to the fantasy aspect of this series. At first, Chinatsu acts in fear of Makoto and her supernatural friends, but grows to meet them with friendly curiosity. I find that her behavior and actions are very common of children and not at all over the top.
Now if only adults could be just as curious as Chinatsu. I’ll admit that a lot of the crazier things that happen in real life make anime like this look really tame by comparison.
The series has a lot of fun uses of the supernatural, but my favorite moments are when Makoto experiences the simple life. We might think of cooking, plowing, and harvesting as mundane activities, but Makoto looks at the fun side to these activities and brings a lot of joy to those she meets along the way. Yeah, it’s a romanticized look at rural life, but it is coming from a city girl’s perspective, which in itself is more relaxing than alienating.
And for what it’s worth, Makoto genuinely loves the people that she’s around, even though she comes across as somewhat weird herself.
Makoto may be a witch, but she comes across as more human than some magical super being. She has plenty of opportunities to use her magic to make life easier or even cause a ruckus to develop some kind of problem solving conflict. However, because she’s a witch in-training, she’s not very confident with her powers, and only uses them only for the sake of getting better at using magic. Sure, she lacks ambition for the magic she possesses, but I find her humility in her use of magic to be her strongest characteristic.
Compared to other witches that appear in this show, Makoto wants to be a witch her own way. Sure, her sister Akane likes to use magic to travel the world and get into nefarious deeds, or her friend Inukai uses it to get by as a furry fortune teller, or her mentor Shina uses it to bring joy to animals. But for the time being, Makoto doesn’t know what to do as a witch, and I think it’s wonderful that she is given a lot of freedom to figure that out for herself.
For the time being, Makoto enjoys being more human, and it’s certainly possible that she will never take advantage of her status as a witch. But whatever she chooses, I think Makoto will become a strong person who will love her powers her own way. That’s something I would like to take away from my gifts as well.
So if you are looking for a light-hearted anime that gives a different yet romantic side to magic and rural life, watch Flying Witch.