by Nick Creamer,
How would you rate episode 4 of
Flying Witch ?
Surely all of us have had one of those nights where we get a little too drunk and end up transforming into a dog. You meet up with an old witch friend, one thing leads to another, and soon enough you're eating experimental magic chocolates because you've run out of chicken skewers. It's something most of us have likely been through, and it's Flying Witch's ability to smartly evoke those classic young adult experiences that makes it such a charming show.
Okay, maybe this episode of Flying Witch slants a bit more heavily into the “magical” part of its magical realism aesthetic. But honestly, even though the premise of this week's drama was a little absurd, it really did all come off as one more everyday trial in the life of Makoto's more or less ordinary family. Their new friend Inukai may have furry ears and a tail, but aside from that, she's just one more young witch trying to make it in a fairly tricky profession.
Inukai was definitely the star of this episode. Her story was revealed slowly across the whole episode, letting her relationship with the show's cast evolve through a number of stages. At first, she was understandably insecure, hiding her furry features under an almost more ostentatious black cloak. Her nervousness left her as easy prey for Chinatsu, who probably deserves top billing as this episode's costar. Chinatsu's actions and personality consistently nail that slightly pre-teenage space, where kids can actually come off as more mature than their older siblings, because they're not currently being run over by puberty. She comes off as a believable mix of confidence and curiosity, speechifying on the necessity of getting the right food at a festival in one scene, idly poking the dog-lady's ears in the next. Her attitude actually made things even worse for Inukai, whose insecurity about her appearance only amplified the fact that she's clearly the kind of person who isn't great with kids.
Outside of Inukai's enjoyable story, there were also a fair amount of solid gags here, and plenty of naturalistic conversations over the course of the cherry blossom festival. I liked how we just barely got enough information to gather that Kei was looking at his feet the entire time they were in the haunted house, and I liked Chinatsu's “I've heard that old people aren't easily surprised” even more. Contrasting Chinatsu's childish understanding of people with the deadpan absurdity of how everyone reacts to magic here makes for some nice natural humor. And Chinatsu herself exemplified that deadpan comedy later on, when she responded to Inukai turning into an actual dog with the straight-faced “I think it got worse.”
Overall, I think this episode of Flying Witch struck a solid balance between the mundane and the magical, the easy-going and the overtly funny. None of its jokes were real gut-busters, but the funny details just kept piling up scene after scene, stronger for not being overplayed. Flying Witch is equally good at overt gags (Chinatsu scaring Inukai with her stuffed bear, a moment that felt even more evocative of Yotsuba than the show usually does) and incidental humor (Makoto's silly portable cauldron). It hits its beats consistently, leans heavily on the strong central relationships, and never lets a joke outstay its welcome.
Flying Witch is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
Nick writes about anime, storytelling, and the meaning of life at Wrong Every Time.
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