The second episode of Flying Witch was primarily a series of sketches of the two “worlds” that Makoto inhabits – the realm she moves in and out of as a witch and its inhabitants, and the new family she is part of and moves in and out of, focusing on Kei, Chinatsu, their mother, and Kei’s friend Nao. Whereas the first half focused on the arrival and greetings of the mysterious visitor named “the herald of Spring” by Makoto (apparently a herald is a type of being similar to a “fairy” of sorts) and Chinatsu finding herself unexpectedly “in the crossfire” of the visit, the second half focused on “earthiness” of the relatives Makoto is living with. Kei and his mother are both rather … open and can easily bridge to Makoto’s world, but for Chinatsu (and Nao) it is all quite new. The subject matter of the second half focuses on a sort of “folk plant lore” and the sort of things one might associate with village life in the backwaters, where people are still in touch with and aware of a life in harmony with the land and nature.

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The episode opens up with the arrival (from the sky – the “whatever it is” floats downward in front of a shrine out in the middle of nowhere and starts its journey from there) of the being that will be later named the “herald of spring” – a somewhat oddly dressed and quite tall human that has what looks like the face of a barn owl. Despite the fact that it is a very gentle and polite creature it is understandably quite scary at first glance, and it’s steps (unsurprisingly) lead it to the front door of the house where Makoto is staying. It (again, very politely) rings the front doorbell, and when Chinatsu goes to answer the door her reaction is … priceless. After freezing for a second she firmly slams and locks the door and makes her way back to the living room where Makoto is writing in a diary of some sort, leaving the Herald puzzled and wondering what to do next.

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After such a straightforward reaction the OP starts up, which happened to be at the end of the first episode. Since I was not sure about whether it would be the OP or ED then I did not talk much about it in the first look post. The name of the OP is “Shanranran feat.96 Neko” (シャンランラン feat.96猫) by miwa. It is a very folksy, upbeat and cheerful piece of music accompanied by very appropriate animation sequences. I especially like the animation technique of giving all the characters a thin green “highlighter” aura of sorts together with the synchronized clapping, marching and silly dance sequences. On the whole for me while it is not the top OP of the season it certainly is near the top of the list.

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After the OP sequence the conundrum the Herald of Spring found himself in is resolved and he is greeted by an extremely pleasant Makoto – by the way, am I the only one who feels like Makoto reminds them of Chitanda from the Hyouka anime adaptation? It turns out that the Herald was stopping by the house to greet the new witch that settled in the area. He somehow facilitates the passing of Winter and the coming of Spring, but also curiously does so in a way of somehow working alongside or in concert with the witches, according to him. It appears that it is also customary for witches to share some kind of healing or magical plants or herbs them, and Makoto shares some tiny pieces of the Mandrake she picked (and already prepared) last episode with the Herald. Poor Chinatsu never really warms up to him until he gives Makoto a parting gift of a bowl of flowers to give to her “because he did not want you to hate him”. Chinatsu’s shy question at the end of the first half of whether the Herald would be coming next Spring too was somehow very … touching. ^^

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From there the second half of the episode turned its attention to the family members and friends Makoto finds herself among as she is training to become fully-fledged. The focus is mainly on Kei introducing Makoto to a local plant delicacy locally called “Bog Rhubarb” but also known as “Bakke” (it sorta looks a little like a miniature artichoke to me). It is shown to be prepared via “tempura mode”, i.e. dipped in batter, then deep fried, then dipped lightly in salt before eaten. It turns out that it also has a bit of a bitter flavor to it, and in Japan the enjoyment of bitter tasting foods are associated with “adult tastes” (usually in contrast with sweet things equalling “childlike” tastes). It turns out Chinatsu absolutely dislikes Bakke – and I mean absolutely dislikes. The header image of this post was her initial reaction when she first heard about Kei gathering the crop. XD

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One of the nice aspects of this part of the story is the wholesome relationship between Kei, Chinatsu and Makoto – it really does feel like a “normal” family interacting with each other (albeit in a good mood). The brief moments of footage featuring Kei and Chinatsu’s mother interacting with them as well was quite nice as well – she seems a very down-to-earth and pleasant woman. The normality of all of these characters (and Kei’s friend Nao) is not only “normal”, but their normality is normal, if that makes sense. But place Makoto and her distinctive … well … existence … in the midst of these particular characters and it is not surprise that we are seeing the results that we have been – results that are absolutely … wonderful!

Will see you next week! XD

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Currently the “oji-san” of the staff members age wise (in his mid 40’s) yet the most recent addition, he is also a Japanophile from his teen years while not quite an “otaku” who lives in the United States. Came to actively following anime late in life (in 2008), but in general loves the traditional arts, history and culture of Japan as a whole, both ancient and modern.

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