Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Google+ Share on Reddit Share on Pinterest Share on Linkedin Share on Tumblr FLYING WITCH VOL. 1 BY CHIHIRO ISHIZUKA Plot Characterization Art Summary The main heroine of FLYING WITCH leads the plot in random directions, but the humor and quirky characters keeps you entertained. 80 % TAKE FLIGHT! User Rating 0 Be the first one ! Imagine you’re heading home and then whoosh—a high school girl flies by on a broom. Maybe you’re just seeing things, yeah, you didn’t get much sleep last night. Best to forget about—wait, did you just hear that horrifying scream? It sounded like—no best to forget about it. Keep walking. Walk faster. Run! Oh, you’re finally home. Time to take that nap—hold on . . . is some strange creature waiting for you outside your house?! Welcome to the world of FLYING WITCH, a world where magic meets reality and weird things happen often. The manga is Chihiro Ishizuka’s debut manga series and his only one to date. It’s set in rural Aomori Prefecture—where Ishizuka grew up—and follows Makoto Kowata, a novice witch who moves in with her distant relatives to continue her training. The first volume is about Makoto settling into this lifestyle and using the world around her to practice her magic. In this volume, Makoto is a bit of an enigma to the other characters due to her eccentric personality. Chinatsu, her younger relative, is wary of her at first but becomes fascinated once Makoto reveals she’s a witch. Nao, a girl at Makoto’s new school, also discovers Makoto’s secret but isn’t quite as enthused. However, through her infectious personality, Makoto discovers a fitting place among these unusual characters. Sharp Writing You wouldn’t expect a manga with such a tranquil-looking cover to be funny, but FLYING WITCH delivers sharp, witty humor within the very first chapter. In Chapter 1, Makoto arrives in Aomori Prefecture with her familiar Chito, a black cat that can understand human language but not speak it, and starts exploring her surroundings. Here, the backgrounds are soft-looking and Ishizuka uses lots of white space, drawing focus to the characters. The low energy of the shots and characters’ poses also creates a relaxing atmosphere. You don’t expect something funny to happen and that’s what makes it so impactful. For example, when Kei shows up to lead Makoto to his home because she has a bad sense of direction, Makoto brushes his worries aside. She says, “That was so long ago. I can remember how to get that far.” Then immediately goes the wrong way. As you can see below, this scene becomes even funnier because of Kei’s reaction. Kei is pretty straightforward about Makoto’s silly antics. | Image: Vertical Comics These types of interactions fill the first volume and the comedy feels like a mix between a trope called “playing for laughs” (using things to make the reader laugh) and the stand-up comedy style of manzai (a two-person comedy routine where the straight man reacts to the funny man). Anime Watchlist: MY MENTAL CHOICES ARE COMPLETELY INTERFERING WITH MY SCHOOL ROMANTIC COMEDY An Entertaining Cast In addition to making FLYING WITCH’s story more fun, the comedy also makes the characters more engaging. It either enhances what we know about a character or shows a different side to them. Kei is straightforward and calls out Makoto on her strange whims, but the comedy allows him to also be whimsical. One instance of this is when he introduces Makoto to Chinatsu, his little sister. He lets them greet each other and then says “This is . . . your real mother, Chito,” with a serious, straight face, blatantly lying. Another moment showing Kei’s silliness is when Chinatsu wants Makoto to buy her a donut. Kei starts to yell at Chinatsu and Makoto tries to wave off his words, but then Kei exclaims with a serious, angry face “No! I want a donut too!” On the other hand, Chinatsu’s candidness shines even more because of the comedy. Like Kei, Chinatsu is straightforward, but much more often. One instance of this is when we first meet her at her home. She greets Makoto and then instantly asks, “Are you Kei’s girl?” with a straight face. Even later in the volume, her scenes are hilarious. One example is when she meets the Harbinger of Spring, a creature that sends away winter and brings along spring. Chinatsu takes one look at the ominous figure and slams the door in his face, refusing to let him in. Using comedy to make characters more interesting isn’t an original concept, but here it works well. There are times when the comedy falls flat—seemingly more appealing to Japanese audiences than American audiences—but these moments are minimal at best. GAMERS! and the Ultimate Love Pentagon The Wonders of the Witchy World Another element that makes FLYING WITCH’s story entertaining is its education element. Makoto’s knowledge about the magical world provides plenty of interesting information about witches and magic, from witch culture to ingredients for spells. We also learn a bit about the other magical creatures that exist in this world, which vary from moving plants to spring fairies to other witches. One of the most exciting parts of the manga is the arrival of Akane, Makoto’s sister. She arrives with a teleportation spell and quickly teaches Makoto a spell to summon a crow. This was my favorite part of the manga because Akane’s step-by-step guide on how to perform the spell allows you to see how each piece creates the magical result. The magic in FLYING WITCH also looks great. Compared to when Ishizuka uses a more simplistic art style to focus on the characters, here he uses more detail to bring the magic to life. The shots and character expressions are also more animated, giving the panels more energy and excitement. A sudden murder of crows descends from the sky! | Image: Vertical Comics Some parts of the art style also have a bit of an eeriness to it. When the spell goes wrong, we suddenly see a murder of crows. The image feels like something out of THE BIRDS, a horror movie. It makes you feel uncomfortable. Though this mood quickly fades and switches to something more light and humorous, like how Akane has teleported away and left Makoto to deal with the leftover crows, it’s interesting to see Ishizuka take these kinds of risks in his first volume. LITTLE WITCH ACADEMIA: Mythology and Magic A Magical Concept? However, FLYING WITCH isn’t without its flaws. It’s rare that we see real magic as part of the normal world, which makes this concept incredibly appealing. Discovering what items to use in spells and learning about magical creatures—who wouldn’t want to do that? However, it takes a while to get to that knowledge. FLYING WITCH’s art style is very relaxing, and its story covers more of Makoto’s everyday antics than her witch training. As a result, the tone is cheerful and comical, as if we’re supposed to focus more on the funny character interactions than the magical plotline. I can understand why you would want that kind of focus in a slice-of-life series, but the magical element feels too minimal for a series that’s trying to stand out because of it. DEATH MARCH TO THE PARALLEL WORLD RHAPSODY Vol. 1 Review: Keep Marching On The Spacey Heroine Unfortunately, some of this fault may lie with the heroine. Makoto has a likable, friendly personality, but she takes her magic lessons at a super slow pace. Even by the end of the volume, she’s barely even flown on her broom. Her sister Akane points this out. Akane lightly scolds her sister for slacking on her training. | Image: Vertical Comics Part of Makoto’s laid-back attitude stems from a lack of risk or urgency in the story; there are no enemies to fight or punishments if she fails. The other part stems from her easily-distracted mind. Makoto has a childlike sense of wonder; she’s fascinated by anything new and must instantly explore it. Her childlike side can be amusing; however, this side of her can also be distracting and make the story feel unfocused. For example, in Chapter 3, Makoto decides to grow vegetables that can be used in spells and starts to teach Chinatsu about them, but before she can get into anything specific, she gets distracted by a pheasant and chases it for nearly the rest of the chapter. A bit confused, Chinatsu asks, “Is catching pheasants part of your witch training, too?” And Makoto answers, “Oh, no, it has nothing to do with being a witch. I just want to, that’s all,” with a smile. Makoto’s distraction during this chapter was probably supposed to be funny, but for me, it felt random and less interesting than what was happening before. I’m all for comedy, but not when it distracts so much from the action that the story becomes an afterthought. THE ISOLATOR Vol. 1 Review: Isolate Yourself With This Story Cast the Spell! The world of FLYING WITCH is fascinating, and the humor and quirky characters kept me hooked, even when the plot meandered. Makoto is not the most focused heroine and the story does suffer from that, but her redeemable traits make her adventures fun to watch. I highly recommend this manga if you’re looking for a new, funny slice-of-life story with a bit of magic. Hopefully, as Makoto encounters more witches and her knowledge of spells grows, magic will become a bigger element in the story and the pace will improve. FLYING WITCH Vol. 1 is available for purchase at Vertical Comics. Featured image courtesy of Penguin Random House.