Don’t let its 6th place rank on our Big Board fool you! More than any show before it, Flying Witch’s unique sensibilities caught RABUJOI so off guard that we’ve soured on several shows that would normally have coasted by.
Kuma Miko: Maybe the way the central characters mildly abuse each other would have set me off in any season but, compared to Gugure! Kokkuri-san, a show with similarly quirky skin stretched over a simple premise, my criticisms seem harsh.
At the end of the day, Kuma Miko’s biggest fault is a lack of warmth between the characters (or enough warmth to counter balance the abuse, akward personalities and mental illness) and Flying Witch has that in spades.
Furthermore, Flying Witch has actually materialized a long-term plot in Chinatsu-chan wanting to become a witch, where KM largely abandoned its “Will Machi get out of the ‘burbs?” plot for one-off episodes. That lack of narrative goal just made it unbearable.
Anne Happy: Has girls who go out of their way to accept each others’ quirks as they experience an unusual year in high school. Anne Happy’s characters are consistent, and consistently warm, but they are also very simple: each member has a single character trait paired with a single joke, which is repeated over and over again…for humor I guess?
Stepping back, I’m not even sure if Flying Witch tries to tell jokes. Sure, Nao-chan freaks out about slimy stuff and is generally off-put by the existence of magic, but she’s also curious, friendly, and bridges the cast from their foundation in family to a broader community. Again, FW uses her freakouts for humor, but there’s enough nuance to her relationships and personality that those ‘gags’ don’t feel lazy.
Bungou Stray Dogs: Is such a different genre that it’s a stretch to draw its ruin into this discussion. However, the triteness of its personalities and the underwhelming ‘over the top’ use of magic may have been more obvious beside FW.
Let’s be real, FW uses very affordable animation. Last week’s laughter/sobbing spell was literally watching candles burn out. But the curiosity of the characters while those candles burnt out, and the simple consequences of the spell, has weight.
True, shows like Kiznaiver and Re:Zero do over-the-top so professionally well that BSD can’t hope to be taken seriously. (For all BSD’s CGI-‘splosions, most of its action happens around characters who are standing still) But given how rarely BSD’s cast remains affected at the end of each episode, it lacked a sense of consequence.
And a sense of consequence, in simple but understandable terms, is another secret strength of FW. While BSD doesn’t look lazy from the comparison, the comparison shows how cheap BSD’s glitz really is.
Haifuri: Is currently on Review Life Support for trying very hard to make us care about the quasi-family relationships of its girls while stumbling over a convoluted mystery and military expose. The cast is mostly supportive of each other, some cast members have even come to aspire to be more than they are (Wheel-chan via Captain-chan).
Other dimensions Haifuri shares with FW are a lack of dramatic activity and an attempt to educate us about the world its characters occupy. In many ways, if Haifuri had no rat-virus mystery, hanging out with Harekaze’s crew and learning how a WWII destroyer works would be fine. If the crew featured a fish out of water who gave us a vehicle to learn about engines, baths, rescues, battle or whatever, it wouldn’t feel so pedantic. It wouldn’t feel so tech-pron.
Unfortunately, a grand mystery that puts friendships to the test, and allusions to politics beyond the casts awareness or engagement, makes that cast feel out of place in the narrative. Or it makes the lack of activity feel out of place in the narrative.
In many ways, Haifuri has only survived where other show’s review throats were slit because it contains more resemblance to FW. Ignoring what Haifuri is probably trying to achieve, R&R on the destroyer, exploring how a truly maritime society would keep elements of commerce and culture we can recognize, with a twist, and yes even the navy tech is interesting enough. Heck, even battles — casualty free battles — would be fine if they somehow tied into living in the world.
Sadly, I fear Haifuri will continue to focus on its lame rat-plot and slowly slip below the waves of me not caring. Another casualty of the Witch that defeated them all…without even trying.