Posted on 3 July 2016 with categories: Anime Reviews, Flying witch, Reviews by SuperMario

As I mentioned in one of my weekly posts, most of the reason why a slice-of-life anime show don’t work well is not because there’s nothing happen, but more because the cast isn’t interesting enough or the show tends to repeat the things that we already know. I’m happy to say that this is not the case for Flying witch. Flying witch has all the elements good slice-of-life shows have and moreover it presents itself as one of the finest in the genre in years. The slow and deliberate pacing and the strong sense of atmosphere maybe the whole reason why people keep coming back to watch it.

Story-wise, the show focuses on two main themes: the first theme is how Makoto the witch learns and lives her rural country lives. There are segments that as mundane as possible: Makoto learns to plant, the cast cooks hamburger, they go for herb-picking or thinning the apple trees. But the details they put in both show how they really care about the process, and help maintaining the relaxing atmosphere till the end. In Flying witch world, time will pass and people may get old, but growing plant, eating hot cakes and wandering around might be the best ways to spend your day. The second theme is to produce a mix of magical realism in this everyday life. By introducing new characters: The Harbinger, another witch, the witchcraft, the witch café or at the end the flying whale and Earthfish, the show showcases a sense of wonder, a touch of magic that feels almost like, well, actual magic. It helps that the introduced characters are endearing and have a very easy chemistry, they are both display on how each of us is different and have different purpose from each other, but ultimately we are all part of mother nature.

Aside from the atmosphere, the cast is easily one of the highlights of the show. Rarely in anime that I see a cast who feel really natural and thus, true to life like our friends around us. Chinatsu, for example, acts exactly like how 12-year-old girl would act. Her ever curiosity, her excited over whenever she encounters new things, are so natural and exactly herself. Chito the cat acts like any normal cat would, and then some. Indeed, one of the greatest strength of the show is how everyone in the cast are so consistent, yet each episode we could learn something new about them. Like we only learn that Nao is so clueless in kitchen on the last half of the show, or until the second encounter that we learn Anzu is really knowledgeable about history. Each of the cast also fits in the shows perfectly and it has been so long that I found myself enjoying so many characters like this one. Moreover, the chemistry between the cast is what makes this show shines so much. I always enjoy little moments shared between some of their cast: like back-and-forth conversations between Chinatsu and Inukai, or Nao and Chito the cat, or Anzu and Kenny the white cat. The chemistry between the siblings: from Kei and Chinatsu, to Makoto and Akame is also well-spot, they’re siblings and their personalities are so different, but they understand each other and I can feel the warm feeling they have for each other. All these little moments help build up the chemistry and make the show so rewarding to watch over and over again.

But the show not only shine for its laid back atmosphere, Flying witch is also known for its understated details. It furthers showcase how the staffs put so much effort to this show so that it feels almost effortless. Those little details that we can easily miss the first time we watched, like Makoto put her broom in “vehicle parking” section in one episode, or how the hamster shakes himself uncontrollably every time he finds himself near Chito the cat. Those details could indeed be very rewarding on repeated viewing. While the show is much more an atmospheric spectrum than comedy side, this show also has very solid understated comedy and always has a very good sense of putting a final punch. The quick remark from Chinatsu about her Mom for example “I heard that old people aren’t easily surprised” is both very whimsical and modest. The punch where Akame giving Chinatsu and Makoto her presents had to be one of my favorite part of the show.

Indeed, because of its relax tempo and slow pacing, it is destined for a lazy Sunday afternoon watch (which was exactly the time it’s available here in Australia), that’s feel true as in many of the episodes -for some characters – all they do is taking a nap. Ultimately, Flying witch is a celebration of the joy of everyday life, with a little touch of magic to create a sense of wonder that life and nature could bring to us.

~SuperMario~

Posted on 2 July 2016 with categories: Currently Watching:, Flying witch

Flying witch gives us double doses of last episodes and I’m very happy with the way the show concludes within these last two episodes. All members of the cast were presented, and scenes involving the Flying Whale and Earthfish are the show’s most magical moments. This show has always been very consistency in its tone and atmosphere, but I would never expect that a show like this would have a nice closure sequence, and Flying witch actually pulls it off.

I would say the first segment of episode is Flying witch as its most magical and most awe-aspiring. It’s a treat to see Anzu appears in a whole episode, and the show wasted no time to highlight another side of her outside of the café setting. Turns out she’s a would be archaeologist and she’s super knowledgeable. I love how Chinatsu keeps asking everyone the most random questions she could think of, and surprisingly Anzu handles them very well. Her speech on the different between pancake and hotcake is whimsical and just plain nice to here. Talking about whimsical, I love Anzu’s close relationship with Kenny the white cat, and that the cat had been studied anthropology as a hobby. What an understated comedy here. All the cast delivers a very easy-going and laid back chemistry here. In terms of visual, the part where the cast goes to see flying whale, and ends up anticipates it in a completely opposite direction (talking about Makoto’s lack of sense of direction), to the part where they are on top of the whale- the visual are bright and just full of wonder, exactly like how it feels to get into the car and drive and just enjoy the scenery. At last, the show always has a solid punchline and this episode is another great entry, as it turns out the letter Anzu’s mom send to Akame is the bill that she has yet to paid.

In the last episode we follow Makoto as she goes out to the fabric store to buy stuffs for her robe, and on her way she happens to encounter many of our cast. This is Flying witch at its most mundane, but this is no mean a bad one. Instead following her stumbles around, deciding on which colors to take, and finally made a full robe all by herself is rewarding enough. The chemistry between each character with each other again is natural and laid back, and I really like the way the show portrays the chemistry between Akame and Makoto, as well as Kei and Chinatsu. They’re siblings and their personalities are so different, but they understand each other and I can feel the warm feeling they have for each other. The Earthfish in the last segment is a joy to watch, and actually if you pay more attention, those earthfishes have been foreshadowing in the first half of this episode. Well, the way those fishes just like to have fun, drinking alcohols, got drunk and flashing around are for me the most enjoyable moments in Flying witch, this and a sense of closure feeling as Makoto looks back to her stay, and as we know that this is the end of this amazing show, make the whole last segment a bittersweet experience.

Well, not that I’m complaining since the show had always been a joy to watch. I stand for what I said in the first episode that this is one of the best slice of life series we have in quite a long time. There will be anime shows come and go every seasons. There will be of course more shows that offer more thrilling and colorful characters than Flying witch, but nothing can beat Flying witch for what it does best. In Flying witch’s world, growing plant, eating hotcakes and wandering around might be the best ways to spend your day.

~SuperMario~

Posted on 15 June 2016 with categories: Currently Watching:, Flying witch

Once again, Flying witch excels this week. Nao steps up and become a spotlight this week, and girl was she a joy to watch! I bet many of us have experienced this cooking trouble before, and both her frustrate before the cooking class (“Nao is closed for the day”), her reason why she’s so scare to cook (mistaken vinegar for oil), and her worked-up attitude when making a hamburger, are all whimsical and speaks a lot to her character. This part stands out for me as one of the most solid sequence of Flying witch so far, shines both in its theme and in its execution. While the running joke of this part is how clumsy and awkward Nao is when it comes to cooking, it carries a much more resonant message: that despite her bad at cooking, Nao tries and eventually enjoy the whole process. The execution, true to Flying witch style, the cooking part is as realistic and down to earth as possible, without any over the top cooking moment or showing the delicious food they made. There are many standout moments like when Nao tried to cut the onions, the poor girl doesn’t even know the ingredient to make a hamburger, she cries when chop down the onion or the very moment when she cuts it, all were well timed and endearing. The bit where Nao patting the meat, getting more confident just so that it slipped and dropped to the table, then her deadpan expression: “This for you, Kei” – is just so natural and charming and basically I can’t get enough of it. The jokes on witch’s pink finger and the punch at the end are all very solid as well.

In the second part, we move from classroom to the countryside as the cast goes there to thin the apple trees. I don’t particularly enjoy this part than the first one, but there are still many nice moments out there, in particular, I enjoy the bit where Chinatsu’s dad tried to explain how to thin the trees with his thick accent, just so that Kei came up to re-explain with the exact same way (or maybe this due to the translation here), or when Akane behave exactly like herself to laugh at her sister for bumping to the trees, just so that she got it harder. The whole chemistry between the cast is just so natural and easy-going here, from a good conversation from Chinatsu to Akame, or Makoto with the local people. The cats in Flying witch sure take it easy days by days, either they lying down, sleeping, eating or just wandering around. The bees sequence is as understated as your typical Flying witch goes, but those moments creates such a strong atmosphere and once again I’m having one of the best 25 minutes to run away to.

~SuperMario~

Posted on 7 June 2016 with categories: Currently Watching:, Flying witch

As Flying witch returns my wish, we have both Nao and Inukai in a single episode. I feel so blessed. This week we have a larger cast than usual, and almost everyone has a chance to shine. Chito the cat has a great moment with Al the hamster and made up one of the most endearing sequence this week. I love the way the hamster making a jump Olympic style to the table, follow by he sees the cat and freezes. Chito, cat-styles, just like to toy with the poor hamster and ends up padding his head. Akame sure stands out every she appears on screen this week. From the “hey heeey” moments that actually gets funnier every time I watch to her gift scene. The first part of this episode contains Inukai visits the cast and read them fortune. Many little details and subtle jokes are in display here, like the way Chinatsu keeps bringing her most out-of-the-blue questions like “Is it free?”, “what’s for dinner?” to Inukai but then she handled it so well. Other little details like Makoto dressing as a raccoon (which famously known for its lack of sense of direction) in animal fortune telling or Inukai as a monkey (which actually makes sense since she’s the type that often mixed up with unlikely disguise), or the repeating of “the pretty Inukai” adds a warm closure to the first half.

Nao and Makoto is our main lead in the last half, as they are talking about being on a diet, Makoto shows Nao her garden, and the cast eating the radish. I love the way Nao was so quick, and no-nonsense way to stop Makoto from pulling the mandrake out, or when she talks to the witch’s familiars. This is the kind of understated interaction that I would never get tired of, and I truly think Kei and Nao could be a really great couple. The last short part consists of Akame sending her presents to the girls. Well, Burkina Faso shirt with Japanese characters, or the origami who sings “bing bong” is a nice, whimsical touch. The last laugh, the fortune teller’s notes by Inukai that foreshadowing that scene, is time perfectly (“Meaningless” & “Unnecessary” gets me every time). I would say the mask will reappear in latter episodes, consider that Inukai had suggested that Chinatsu will treasure it. This is a nice, typical Flying witch episode that mostly great, echo by its consistency of mixing the magic and everyday life with an attentive eye to details, the well-balance atmosphere and the rich, but very natural set of characters.

~SuperMario~

Posted on 31 May 2016 with categories: Currently Watching:, Flying witch

Watching Flying witch really feel like listening to a classical music, where the long running time flies by and we actually feel it more than try to understand it. This week we continue what was left off last week, with Makoto, Chinatsu, Kei meeting the owners of the café shop and their regular customers. This is Flying witch in their most confidence. The pacing, the music, the character and background designs are very consistent and complement each other, with many little details that further shows how much the creators care about this world. I always prefer the magical realism part of the show than the everyday rural life part, and this episode is choke full of the former, with for the first time introducing a whole range of new characters, all of them are interesting I should say. Anzu and her mother add another solid charm to the cast. Anzu is my new favorite characters, with her hair styled like Shinobu, she seems more self-serious than the rest of the cast. The mother has a more easy, laidback type and she was more amused, not disturbed by the Makoto’s misunderstanding. And then we meet the new customers, each of them are as different from each other as it can be, ranging from a pair of ladybugs, The veil of darkness and the fox. Each of them are part of nature, which each of them contributes different things to the nature, and to the witch’s life. Little details are again too many but blink-and-you-miss-it moments, like the fact that this coffee shop even showcase jewelry, or what do you think the Veil of Darkness will drink in the shop? Yes, coffee and reading book of course. Or the fox would drink milk along with his usual food: winter cherry.

The second small part followed Akame as she tries to test out her new invention, for the shake of having fun no less. I had my suspicion weeks ago about a bay that featured in the OP, which really look like China – Vietnam landscape. This week we got an answer, that the place is Ha Long bay in Vietnam, non-subtlety (well, Akame kinds of scream it to our face this time), that confirmed my mention on her wearing the Vietnamese traditional dress (which, again, little details that you might have missed). Overall this is a stand out Flying witch episode, we are into their 8th episode and it has never failed to be consistent and atmospheric. I just hope I can meet these new characters again, in any place other than this coffee shop.

~SuperMario~

Posted on 24 May 2016 with categories: Currently Watching:, Flying witch

One of the thing that Flying witch always does it right is how it establish the chemistry between any characters, while at the same time maintain the consistency in their personalities. It feels like if you give them any random characters in any random situation, pretty much the show can hit it off. Last week we had Chinatsu and Akame and the witch’s apprentice scenario, this week we have a newly formed relationship: Chito the cat and Nao. My little concern last week about the lack of supporting characters was fulfilled in this episode. Not only the cat and Nao form a very distinctive relationship by amusing setup (Nao teased Chito-san for gaining weight so the cat just jumped on her and stayed there (oh girlssss), but also the way they behave is very in-character, and more amazingly the shows just shows that by their small moments. In fact, the cast staying in characters are really consistent throughout this episode and further demonstrate the strengths of Flying witch. Like the way Chinatsu gets excited every time she encounters something new (“so cute”), or Kei being afraid of ghost or Chinatsu doesn’t like eating herb because “children can’t eat herb”, or Makoto being really self-aware of her bad direction sense. We already learned all of that before so it really feels like we know them, we understand the way they behave this time. This week first half we follow the cast as they go to the countryside to do herb picking. Again Flying witch shows us that while this show is not big on laugh, it has a really strong timing and always provides solid punch. Like the way Kei seems so serious announcing the 4 rules of herb-picking, only to mention the bear and that he forgot the bell at home. The bear joke is really solid as well. So apparently there is indeed a bear, but Nao’s shout from her scare of frog keeping the bear away, haha.

The next part involving the cast cook the herbs they picked, and truthfully this is the only weak part of this episode, simply because we had this kind of scenario before. I will always say that repetitive is this show’s worst aspect so I hope the show tries not to rely on that. But thankfully this part goes quickly and we have the most adorable moments of the show for a while. The café part is the magical realism part of the show (the other part by the way was witch learn everyday rural life) to gives us a sense of wonder and it uses most of its strengths here. The secret coffee shop itself makes a strong impression, with its distinguishing art design that somehow feel both warm and welcoming. But then this was topped by the reveal that the waitress was indeed a ghost, all that with her invisible movements and her stick notes. For once Makoto’s spell/charm was put into effective use here, and the charm reveals the waitress’s true appearance makes it as one of the best moments of the show. The waitress’s shyness, then clumsiness when she realized that the cast can see her are GOLD. The whole sequence really highlights what Flying witch does best, I really hope the show keeps going into that direction.

~SuperMario~

Posted on 18 May 2016 with categories: Currently Watching:, Flying witch

It’s no secret that I prefer shows that emphasis on little moments rather than the plot-driven shows, and Flying witch still delivers that strength, albeit this is their weaker effort. This episode as usual splits into two parts. The first part concerning Chinatsu as she wants to be a witch apprentice. This development comes as no surprise though, since it was apparent in many episodes before that Chinatsu is curious with the life of witch, but I believe (and I think the show knows it) that she’s not cut out to become one. Chinatsu is one of my favorite characters of the show so it’s fun to see her taking a spotlight this first part. I like the way she gets all worked up and motivated to become a witch (because she thinks it’s fun). This is really like the way kids see celebrities, sports stars and they want to become one, but in reality there are more to it. For the 12 years old girl this is just understandable. I’m also quite surprise of how laid back and easy her parents are, which actually feel slightly uncanny at times. They are just cool on everything, it makes me wonder if they really care for it.

In the second part we have Akane teaches Makoto and Chinatsu her simple spell. This is one of the Flying witch’s comfort zone. The part meant to shows the touch of magic in the everyday life settings, make it feel a bit like a magical realism, but in that front this part just barely succeed. Making spells that make people laugh with whatever they see and another one that make them cry is a whimsical touch, but it drags a bit towards the end. The punchline, which having the father both cries and laughs uncontrollably at the same time, feels rather weak. Another thing is I enjoy so much the side characters (Inukai and Nao in particular) that it’s a bit of a let-down when this part just concentrates on the family members. This week of Flying witch is barely passable, but that not to say there is a drop in quality or anything. Flying witch is as consistent as ever (sometimes to a fault). I still have a quality time watching Flying witch this week and hopefully they will include more characters for next week.

~SuperMario~

Posted on 8 May 2016 with categories: Currently Watching:, Flying witch

Flying witch pulled another consistent episode this week, albeit not as stand out as the one last week. I have to say, for a slice-of-life show, Flying witch has a very neat timeline, everything happened in sequence. Last week we had Akame coming over for the Cherry Blossom festival, and she staying till this week, although all she does was lying down all day. This week we follow our Chito-san (the black cat) twice, first through Chinatsu spying on her, and second time when the cat leads the way for Makoto. The repetition between the two parts comes off as a low point from the always-consistent-show here. You see, for a show that relies heavily on small moments, atmosphere and slow building, the repetition is its worst crime. It feels drag out but thankfully, those were just small parts in the episode. For the first part, Chinatsu senses that Chito the cat is up to something, so she decides to follow her. Meanwhile, Makoto goes through all the old boxes she left when she stayed long time ago. Chito obviously is the star of the show. I like the way Chinatsu keeps sneaking and speculating Chito’s actions, but mostly what the cat does is just what normal cats do. From teasing the dog, climbing the trees, investigating the hole where the kids buried the box, or catching the butterflies. All of these are your typical cat’s activities and the show pretty much portrays these actions fittingly.

The best parts of this episode are the scene revolves around the old woman. She appears in each part and each time we learn more about her. This is the kind of observation that Flying witch is always excels at. Her interactions are charming and her manner and gestures speak a lot to her personality. On the first part when she met Chinatsu for example, she inspires Chinatsu for the lucky cherry blossom pedal, in the second part though, we learn that she had a close friend who was a witch, and that she tried too many magic luck charms to know which one was effective (maybe all of them are). There is a parallel between that old woman and Nao in that aspect, both of them are normal people having witch as a friend. The old woman was so fond with her witch friend, so does Nao. This is a lazy Sunday afternoon watch (indeed some of the cast does this week are sleeping) and I think Flying witch and Kabenari would be a perfect combo to watch back to back.

~SuperMario~

Posted on 1 May 2016 with categories: Currently Watching:, Flying witch

Flying witch again delivers strong material this week and I actually think this is their best episode so far. Mostly because the 2 parts are well connected this week, and our new character Inuka is so natural and fit in like a glove, in addition they have an absurd and whimsical story to boost. I have to highlight the chemistry between Inuka and Chinatsu here, as they are easily the best out of this already solid episode. The back and forth conversation between them in the fortune teller corner, for example, was so deadpan and consistent. Chinatsu constantly touches Inuka’s ears while Inuka was furious about Akane is another good touch. Inuka’s panic over Makoto’s name is so well-delivered that it gets me every time. And Makoto cure portion, oh my god, it’s so hilarious. Now I get the sense that Makoto might not become a great witch after all, but that is fine by me. Flying Witch is so full of little moments that you would miss it if you don’t notice well. Cases in point, I love the way the hamster (Al) shakes uncontrollably when the black cat comes near him (with his dry “meow” no less), or the shot keeps avoiding Inuka’s real face until the very end. Boy she was so my type too! On the site note, I’m not really sure what Akame is wearing, I guess it is a Vietnamese traditional dress (ao dai) (you can view it here, https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/236x/51/1d/87/511d8711fff800a9d326e99ab4dde94d.jpg), please correct me if I’m wrong.

Flying witch is a charming show but never really a funny show, its comedic is often whimsical rather than laugh out loud. But Flying witch has a knack for comedic timing and punch. In this episode, those were executed very well (from Inuka‘s “Akame” crying to Mako’s cure portion). The visual is as lovely as ever, from the blossom trees to the festival itself, and the music, all of them help to bring atmosphere to the show. Overall I’m overjoy with this episode. As long as Flying witch continue to tell those pleasant stories, with full of little details and some deadpan humors, I’m all in.

~SuperMario~

Posted on 25 April 2016 with categories: Currently Watching:, Flying witch

Flying witch has another solid episode this week. Flying week’s formula seems to be half of Makoto the witch getting to know an everyday country life, and other half of Makoto’s witchcrafts and meeting people from that magic world. All of these stories take place mostly in a single location as well, this time are the backyard and the shrine where “no one around”. This week’s episode still maintains a slow, relax but confident pace and an endearing cast who interact well with each other. If you like the first two episodes so far, you are not going to be disappointed by this one.

The first half revolves around Makoto wanting to grow some vegetables, so they all do the gardening. Growing plants seems like a useful way for a witch to make their ingredients, thus learning about how to grow ones makes sense for me. The scene-stealer of this first half is easily the pheasant. All the jokes around him were well-earned, from Makoto being furious and chase around him, to his “bring it on” attitude, to Kei’s father doing exactly the same, except the fact that he’s a local. This first half is expectedly atmospheric, I’m happy with the way it plays out.

The second half for me is a better one, as Makoto’s older sister shows up and tutors her “a simple witchcraft”. I liked how the spell is very simple and folktale-like, and not Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo chants (or is it a chant for only fairy? anyway..). Makoto’s sister is also a joy to watch, having an outgoing and cheerful type, and she also interacts well with the whole cast. My only concern is Kenny the cat is white, and from what I know the witch only carries a black cat. Since there is no explanation here I guess this is just normal here. I’ve said this before but watching Flying witch is a fastest and most enjoyable 20-minutes watch of this season. I love the cast well enough; the atmosphere is well pace and the situations they are in are all endearing. Flying witch is a celebration of everyday life, with a mix of magic on top, and I still have no complain about that.

~SuperMario~

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