A sleepy and silly supernatural story.
Title: Flying Witch
Genre: Slice of Life
Publisher: Kodansha (JP), Vertical (US)
Artist/Writer: Chihiro Ishizuka
Serialized in: Bessatsu Shounen Magazine
Translation: Melissa Tanaka
Original Release Date: March 28, 2017
A review copy was provided by Vertical.
While not many people know, witches still exist in the world and Makoto Kowata is a witch from Yokohama who’s recently come of age. But the modern day is different that instead of having her make her way in the world completely alone at 15, Makoto is sent to the rural area of Aomori to live with relatives while she continues refine her magic. It’s a quiet place but somehow Makoto’s magic, from her mysterious messengers to her black cat familiar Chito, doesn’t feel out of place at all.
Flying Witch has a different art style from the anime and this rather simple art gives the same story a bit of a different tone. The anime had a soft color style, enough gorgeous scenery pieces that it could honestly be called “an anime tourism series,” and a soft soundtrack to tie it all together.
Chihiro Ishizuka’s original manga has very simple art. It’s not childish but the character’s faces are less detailed and the panels are filled with pure white backgrounds and very few tones. Even the font chosen for the lettering is a bit different than usual as it looks closer to handwriting than the usual font choices for manga. Altogether it gives the story a slightly more surreal, supernatural and almost creepy feeling at times — it’s no wonder that Makoto’s younger cousin Chinatsu is nervous and suspicious around her at first! In some ways this art makes the manga feel more like a slice of life tale, one of odd and whimsical characters and magic compared to the anime’s iyashikei (“healing”) approach.
Regardless of the style, the story is still the same and humor still comes across clearly. The humor in Flying Witch varies between the supernatural, like the mandrake scene and moments focusing on Aomori’s country-ness (which isn’t the butt of jokes but rather the instigator, like Makoto’s reaction to seeing a pheasant). Makoto’s cat Chito is remarkably expressive for a realistic-looking, non-talking animal (although Makoto does interpret for her) and Makoto’s younger cousin Chinatsu often comes across as unintentionally funny as well, and is one of the best depictions of what a younger cousin or sibling is really like.
Regardless of the version, Flying Witch is a sweet story about the simple wonders of both witchcraft and the countryside. It fills every interaction with a lot of heart and approaches every circumstance with a cheerful, if sometimes silly, attitude. I’m eager to continue revisiting this story in the second volume and beyond!