Woohoo! THIS is the episode I have been waiting for from the first moment I heard the series was going to be adapted into an anime, and J.C. Staff delivered in spades – the animation in this episode was positively lovely, and as far as I am concerned it was more than worth the wait of spending a little extra time to finish up the animation (at least I assume the delay was for that reason) and make it look as great as it was!

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The episode opens with Akane and Chinatsu sitting on the front door steps outside the house as the morning mist has rolled in when a tall, shadowy figure suddenly emerges from the mist and slowly makes it’s way to the two of them sitting there. It turns out it is a deliveryman for a newspaper especially for witches, and the “trick” to it stopping by a house centers around the witch waiting outside for it in the early hours of the morning (I guess it just picks up the request via telepathy or something). Chinatsu is with Akane as the latter wanted to introduce the former to this personage. Chinatsu has obviously come a long way – all she says is “He’s tall!”, and then greets him properly.

Back inside Akane is reading through this special newspaper and suddenly discovers that a rare event is happening that day, and in fact imminently! It seems a flying whale which slowly circles the planet, swimming through the air all the while, is going to be passing overhead shortly, so Akane, Makoto and Chinatsu all quickly get their things together (Chinatsu informs her mother that she is heading out early with the others to go “whale watching”), mount their brooms (Chinatsu rides with Akane) and zoom off to the location where the whale is supposed to pass over. Upon arrival they all anoint their eyelids with a special cream – apparently the whale is normally camouflaged as a cloud and unable to be seen.

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Well … when the whale finally flies overhead the scene is positively AWESOME. More than that, Akane gets inspired to fly up on the back of the whale proper (although she politely asks it for permission first) together with Makoto and Chinatsu to explore an entire set of incredibly ancient ruins on it’s back. (Apparently a few millennia ago people actually lived there! O.o ) And when they finally land on it’s back we notice that it is not just stone ruins (and they are huge – unfortunately there seemed to be a little inconsistency in the sizing of the whale, the ruins and the characters to my mind, but it was nothing too noticeable) but also grass, moss and flowers grow up there too!

The exploration of the inside of the ruins was one of the more interesting parts of the episode – of course no one lives there now, but examining the walls covered with ancient script, the artistic depictions and carvings and even what appeared to be a huge magic symbol/circle with a flower in the middle held my attention as if by an iron grip. Apparently the ancient inhabitants were spellcasters, but such an idea would make sense, as they would probably have to fly to and from their home to get food and the like … there did not seem to be much in the way of soil for growing things up there, although I guess they might be able to do indoor gardens of some sort?

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While they are exploring the ruins and make their way towards the tip of the whale’s head they suddenly come across another person up there who is also holding a broom, and it turns out to be Anzu (the young blond daughter of the Cafe owner who showed up in episodes 7 and 8). This episode provides us with an insight into more of who Anzu is as a person and what her interests are. As it turns out, she is a history buff, has a love of archaeology and is making a special study of the ancient flying whales and the civilizations that lived on them. She has also been waiting for a long time for the opportunity to see and visit the whale.

We also find out a few more things about the whales. Apparently there used to be quite a larger number of them – they would swim through the air in pods, and if they all had ruins on their backs one could see them being akin to “neighborhoods” of sorts, or even small villages. Anzu also mentions that at present there have been three different whales that have been documented as still existing (though many think there could be more), but that they stopped swimming in pods once people stopped living atop them and began swimming all over the world. In the midst of the discussion they all realize they are hungry, which is no surprise, as they skipped breakfast to catch up to the whale on time.

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Anzu is promptly invited for breakfast by the others, and on their way back Makoto gives Kei a call mentioning that a guest is coming over for breakfast. Kei goes into cooking preparation mode and all whale-watchers all arrive in good time. It turns out Kei has decided to cook hotcakes (Chinatsu happily boasts to Anzu about her older brother’s cooking prowess in this regard), and while things are being set up Anzu meets the mother of the household and starts up a discussion with Akane’s cat familiar Kenny – who, it turns out, is a world famous anthropologist (What?) and one of Anzu’s mentors.

The episode ends with everyone delightedly devouring the hotcakes, and after a historical lesson on how hotcakes were introduced to Japan and pancakes in general (Anzu IS a cafe owner’s daughter after all) Anzu calls home to tell her mother where she is. The latter, upon realizing where Anzu is sends Akane a note via Anzu’s owl familiar (named Aurore) of her accumulated tab in the cafe … something coming to almost $575! Wow. How long has she been developing that tab? XD

The review for episode 12 should be out soon since, as many know, episodes 11 and 12 aired one after the other this week. See you all soon!

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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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