What They Say:
Traditionally, when a witch turns 15, she’s supposed to go out into the world alone to study magic. Makoto’s parents, however, believe that their directionally-challenged daughter should get a high school degree. Instead of being sent out on her own, Makoto and her cat Chito find themselves traveling from the bustling city of Yokohama to Aomori Prefecture, where they’ll stay with relatives until Makoto finishes school. It’s going to be a big adjustment, and it only gets more complicated since “normal” people aren’t supposed to know that witches exist… something that she tends to forget. In the meantime, Makoto, her cousins, and her new friends will have to work just a little harder to adapt to a whole new way of life when the new girl in town is a FLYING WITCH!
The audio presentation for this release brings us the original Japanese language track in stereo as well as the newly produced English language dub, both of which are encoded using the DTS-HD MA lossless codec. The show has some nice little moments from time to time with the sound effects when it comes to some of the magic or the slightly busier moments but the bulk of it is all about the dialogue. That’s fairly basic in what they do here because it’s not a show that has to stretch itself in the slightest, keeping it to easy slice of life kind of material with a few minutes of panic once in a while where things ramp up a notch, comparatively speaking. The sound design is appropriate for the show to be sure and the end result is an appealing one with a clean and clear mix that comes through without any problems such as dropouts or distortions.
Originally airing in 2016, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The twelve episodes are spread across two discs with nine on the first and three on the second which is where all of the extras are located as well. Animated by JC Staff, the series works the slice of life style approach well with some very good detail to be had throughout along with appealing character designs and some nicely fluid moments. Because it’s more of a talking about things kind of show it can go a bit richer with “simpler” animation and that gives us a really good color design to it and lots of little details throughout that enhance it. The encoding captures all of this very well with a clean and solid look that stands out well. It’s definitely something that could nudge up into theatrical level quality easily overall and it left me very much enjoying the look of the show.
The packaging design for this release comes in a standard sized Blu-ray case with both discs held against the interior walls. The front cover uses the familiar key visual of everyone together outside having some tea and enjoying the company with lots of smiles that definitely sets the tone well. With some nice natural colors and a green stripe along the top that mirrors the green around the logo, it all ties together well and is very appealing. The back cover carries the green through to there with the background and using a couple of different shades helps along with the soft white text. It’s an easy to read piece, even with the font used for the special features. The shots from the show are nice as is the familiar image of Makoto on her broom. The summary of the premise captures the feel of the show well and the technical grid breaks everything down smoothly and accurately. No show related inserts are included nor is there a reversible cover for it.
The menus for this release go for a simple static approach where the two discs have different pieces of the Japanese release artwork that lets the main characters shine through with the locales and their upbeat expressive nature. They’re colorful and set the tone well, especially with Makoto’s bright eyes. The navigation is kept to the left where it takes up nearly half of the screen but it works the green and white well with clean listings of episodes by number and titles. Submenus load quickly and easily so that you can get around without a problem as well as setting up for the language options.
The extras for this release are definitely fun and adds a little more once things are said and done. The familiars are definitely here with the clean opening and closing sequences as well as a nice selection of the commercials and promos from the Japanese side. The big extra that I’m glad to see are the “petit” web specials that run about two minutes each and were released weekly on YouTube originally. There’s eight of them and they’re cute little silly pieces that will make most fans smile.
Based on the manga of the same name by Chihiro Ishizuka, Flying Witch is a twelve episode anime series that aired in the spring 2016 season. Animated by JC Staff with Katsushi Sakurabi directing based on the scripts overseen by Deko Akao, the series plays to the slice of life side of things well. The manga began back in 2012 and only has five volumes to its name so far so the show is one that plays to a slower approach in telling its tale and is a solidly done slice of life tale with a few little tweaks to it since it involves magic. That’s something that’s not overplayed for the most part as it’s more of an undercurrent from time to time, allowing the characters to be the focus and avoiding any big trouble or end of season stories that go in a big way that feels out of place.
The biggest thing about Flying Witch for a lot of people is how it feels like it’s so utterly inspired by the idea of a what if Kiki’s Delivery Service was redone as an expanded TV series. There are huge differences to be sure but that running feeling is there throughout it and is hard to shake, though I’m not sure if it actually hurts the show in a way. The series focuses on Makoto, a fifteen-year-old girl who has left home as part of her witch’s training to get out into the world. She’s gone to live with relatives in Hirosaki where it’s with her second cousins, Kei and Chinatsu. This, thankfully, eliminates the romantic interest subplot and makes it more about family than anything else. In fact, while it seems like Kei will be a main player as it gets underway since they’re close in age, the show instead makes it more about Makoto and Chinatsu.
This certainly works well enough as initially Chinatsu is surprised by Makoto’s arrival as she was only three the last time Makoto was there and she’s not one that’s really aware of the witch/magic side of thing all that much. Similar to Kiki’s, it’s not a hugely defined area because there are witches in numerous towns but they occupy small roles and aren’t key players in events. More a curiosity to be thought of once in awhile more than anything else. So Chinatsu is wary at first, then becomes curious, and then becomes a very close sibling of sorts to Makoto. The bonding between the two is nicely done as Chinatsu’s curiosity brings Makoto out a bit more and it allows Makoto to talk about the magic side in some simpler terms without having to dig into the world building. Which is frustrating for people like me but that’s not the point of the show. It’s all about the characters.
The series works the small approach to things where we get touches of magic here and there, one of the biggest pieces being the groundfish in the final episode because Makoto’s not really big on magic and is just kind of doing the bare minimum. That gets a bit of attention with the arrival of her older sister Akane who is a full-fledged witch and is concerned about Makoto falling out of practice and having problems later with her studies and testing that will be done. Akane’s the type that’s more outgoing and brash but even that’s tamped down a lot for a show like this where in others she’d be positively obnoxious. But since it is all family in the end it has that kind of relaxed atmosphere that makes it work. Akane’s used well as she doesn’t dominate for large periods and she has some good sisterly moments that doesn’t have her acting as a surrogate mother. This kind of dynamic is very appealing as it goes along when used in various configurations but the family as a whole, including Chinatsu and Kei’s mother that has some nice scenes. The family angle really does hit a certain sweet spot.
Flying Witch has a number of enjoyable small-scale stories along the way where we get exposure to more of the witch community, various local events and establishments, and a few more characters as well. And these are all enjoyable, though when marathoned may blend a bit compared to the weekly format. But what drives this show is the charms of Makoto – even her getting lost somewhat regularly – and the family dynamic to this slice of life project. These are people that you’d enjoy hanging out with and being involved with both as friends and family. It also doesn’t hurt that I really like the look of the show with JC Staff’s animation but also the character designs that are well adapted from the manga that have their own particulars that lets them stand out. It’s a really enjoyable show that tickles a sweet spot that can be had with slice of life shows, especially since so many are focused on real niche areas or too fan oriented these days. This is a very fun release that’s well put together here by Sentai that should delight fans.
Japanese DTS-HD MA 2.0 Language, English DTS-HD MA 2.0 Language, English Subtitles
Content Grade: B+
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: B
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B+
Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: October 24th, 2017
Running Time: 300 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.