by Nick Creamer,
How would you rate episode 8 of
Flying Witch ?
I mentioned last week how the mysterious cafe setting and ghost waitress made that episode feel slightly more Ghibli-esque than usual. Well, that impression only increased this week, as a parade of the cafe's usual patrons made this episode feel something like a Flying Witch-themed Spirited Away. The oddness of the cafe's regulars contrasted against the alternately wondering or charmed reactions from Flying Witch's stars resulted in another strong episode, one that once again leaned nicely into Flying Witch's uniquely low-key approach to a magical world.
First, Makoto and her companions were introduced to the shop's actual owners, Anzu Shiina and her mother. Anzu's personality made for a nice un-chemistry with Makoto, as Makoto's general enthusiasm was rebuffed by someone who's clearly seen it all. That enthusiasm also laid the groundwork for the first major joke, as Makoto's confidence that Anzu was changing her appearance resulted in a series of stutters and head-shakes upon meeting Anzu's mother. This was a larger and more structured gag than Flying Witch often embraces, and I'd say that it oversold the punchline a bit, but the ride there was quite good. Much of the humor came from Makoto's voice actress tripping over herself and her slow-building expression changes, a stronger base of comedy than if the show had swung for the comedic fences.
But the majority of this episode was dedicated to moments of wonderment and humor prompted by the cafe's usual customers. The fundamental concept of two ladybugs going to a cafe for a date and being respectfully served their usual thistles is wonderful; you don't need to oversell that, it's whimsical and charming and slightly magical all on its own. The execution let the silliness of the premise do the talking; Anzu's “they come here on dates a lot” or the ladybugs responding to her mother's greeting by waving their wings in acknowledgment were perfect extrapolations on the sequence's fundamental comedy.
The episode's central joke was essentially just “we're all mysterious magical creatures, but it's no big deal,” a staple for Flying Witch. The next guest probably most directly exemplified this idea. Introduced as the “Veil of Darkness,” Anzu explained that she was the mystical being who brought on the night, before saying “she doesn't have anything to do until darkness, so she stops by for some tea.” Because of course, if you're a magical creature tasked with heralding the end of the day, you'll probably get bored and want to eat cake at some point in the afternoon. “Humor through understatement” is ingrained in Flying Witch's fundamental makeup, and this episode consistently demonstrated the strength of that approach.
After a final sequence where Makoto and her friends got to hear what a fox sounds like (all of this cafe's guests were very accommodating of Makoto and Chinatsu's curiosity), we learned what Akane had been up to. Apparently, Chinatsu had previously asked her why the ocean was blue - and so, following a train of thought that would be clear only to Akane, she decided to go to a Vietnamese lagoon and briefly stain the entire world grey. And then drag her sister out of bed to take a picture commemorating the event. Because why not.
Overall, this was another strong episode of Flying Witch, with the opportunities presented by the witch cafe letting the show hit more consistent notes of humor and wonder than usual. There were a couple jokes that I'd say overstayed their welcome - the aforementioned punchline of the Anzu mix-up, as well as Makoto and Chinatsu trying to chase down the butterflies. But for the most part, this episode wielded restraint in execution as a kind of permanent deadpan, allowing these sequences to feel slightly magical while also funny in their mundane execution. Flying Witch continues to be a charming and carefully composed experience.
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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