Flying Witch is about Makoto, a young witch from Yokohama, on her first assignment in Hirosaki. Because she tends to get lost and need a bit of extra help, she will be staying with the Kuramotos, her very kind relatives.
The show is an example of the Iyashikei, or healing genre of manga and anime. It is a quiet, slice-of-life series. There is no overarching story line: you just get to spend a half-hour with some extremely likable people doing interesting things in lovely surroundings. The humor is one smile, then another, then another. The show was released in 2018, but feels like it is witches’ herbal medicine for people living in 2020.
Every episode begins with the ultra super-happy upbeat theme song. Normally I skip over opening sequences, but found myself letting this one play. The music shifts to more narrative and calm during the episode itself.
Because Makoto is staying with the Kuramotos, and her older sister Akane Kowata (also a witch) often stays there, a parade of weird characters visit. The Harbinger stops by to hang out, before going on his way to usher in Spring after Winter. They meet Inukai, a fortune-teller friend of Akane, whose animal appearance was the result of eating some charmed chocolates after a night of heavy drinking.
(Oh yeah, be real careful about eating snacks left on the table in this show)
Makoto and her young cousin Chinatsu visit an enchanted diner in the nearby forest, where they meet a parade of regular customers, including a fox.
In one episode, Chito, Makoto’s black-cat familiar, goes on a walk around town to explore. She does this because she knows Makoto will need help finding her way around. That’s right, we follow a cat around town, for most of a whole episode. It’s actually really nice.
Nature, local scenery, flora and fauna feature strongly in the show. The family owns an apple orchard, and they thin the blossoms to yield the best apples later. Having worked in an apple orchard in my youth, I can confirm the accuracy of that episode. I was interested in the use of four-footed ladders in Japan, where we used three-footed ladders in Washington state.
In another episode, Makoto goes out with her cousin Kei to pick local herbs and wild vegetables, then cook and eat them. Everyone enjoys the treats, except little Chinatsu, who adorably says; “I don’t think i’m grown-up enough to like these yet.”
I think my favorite episode is the one where they read in the witches’ newspaper that the flying whale will be in their area. Only magical persons can even see it, and they fly up on their brooms to meet it, and explore its mysteries.
Watching the show is like sitting in a park, and afterward realizing how tense you were before. I sure wish there had been more than 12 episodes.
- Video: The Science of Iyashikei , about series made specifically to relieve stress.
- Wikipedia has an excellent guide to the large cast and all-too-small number of episodes: Flying Witch
- As I think about it, Only Yesterday, the lovely 1991 masterpiece by Isao Takahata, would qualify as an Iyashikei film.
- And in some respects, so might Natsuka Yashio’s 2018 series, Iroduku.
- Here’s the soundtrack on YouTube: Most Peaceful Music Collection – “Flying Witch”. The first half is variations of the theme melody in different styles; the second is related themes. The title sequence song is not included. (Listen on YouTube but don’t use the download link – the domain expired and got bought by someone)