Flying Witch – 12 (Fin)

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As I wrapped up Flying Witch with these last two episodes on a Sunday afternoon, I noted how similar in speed and atmosphere my lazy day was to this final outing (alas, I did not explore a flying whale earlier). FW was fine on a Saturday, but I think Sunday is its perfect timeslot.

Episode twelve gets started with Mako simply organizing her things and trimming her broom, but she finds her old handmade robe from junior high, and decides it’s time to make a new one. Chito accompanies her for style tips (and navigation).

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While on her trip, which serves as a kind of farewell tour to various parts of the town, Mako catches a glimpse of her heavily-drinking sister and an Inukai and Nao hard at work telling fortunes and delivering booze, respectively.

Back home, Mako tries to keep the fact she’s making a red robe for Chinatsu first a secret, but Chinatsu is too curious, and Mako doesn’t really see the harm in her knowing now rather than later.

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That turns out to be a good move, since Chinatsu isn’t just handed a completed robe: she closely watches the process of making one, something she’ll want to do when she grows up in order to get the style she wants for cheap. Akane orders her robes online, because of course she does.

Akane also ends up treading on poor Inukai just as she’s closing up shop. Inukai is hesitant to hang out, but when Akane presents a fine bottle of sake, she sighs and drops her guard. These two have always been very Yin and Yang.

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When Akane stumbles home, she finds one of Mako’s mandrake roots. While searching for another, Kenny discovers it’s being chewed on from below the earth by a blue earthfish, one of the more adorable creatures in FW to date.

The fish are tricksters that eat rice crackers and turn red when they drink Akane’s offering of sake, but when everyone is asleep except Makoto, they start floating about like cute little round lanterns (or giant red fireflies). Just one of many things Makoto has seen, heard, and experienced to add to her first association report.

I can report that Flying Witch was an immensely relaxing and enjoyable magical realist slice-of-life anime: bursting with warm characters, sights, smells and tastes; perfect for a lazy weekend afternoon…or twelve! Part of me hopes this isn’t all the FW we’ll ever get.

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Gakusen Toshi Asterisk – 03

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Don’t look now, but despite the lack of asterisks or wars, The Asterisk War is not only eminently watchable, but getting better with each passing episode. We pick up at Ayato’s evening rendezvous with Claudia in her sumptuous Page One chambers. But it’s nothing so course as a liason, nor has Claudia tricked Ayato; she has a job for him. There’s someone out there injuring Festa participants, and Julis is their next target. Because he’s developed such a good rapport with her, Claudia is depending on him to keep an eye on her, should she come under ambush.

Speaking of ambushes, Claudia offers a sexy reward for his service, but which also serves her own desire to see the look on Ayato’s face when she offers it. Claudia was probably expecting Ayato to flee from her advanced advances, as the young lad probably doesn’t know the first thing to do with such a beauty as herself. Yet in her comments about him not paying attention to her (or at least the attention she wants) there’s a tinge of jealousy. She wishes she had a guy who cares about her the way Ayato seems to care about Julis.

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The next morning, Ayato does know what to do when he sees Julis’ out-on-the-town clothes, which she claims she just “threw together”: compliment them. Good Ayato! They proceed to have a lovely date that gives the two a chance to bond more, and for Ayato to prove he’s as tough as Julis thought (staring down the still-ridiculous Lester at “WCDONAID”) but also labeling him “unfathomable.” Um, I think that’s Ayato’s line for you, highness!

What the date mercifully lacks is unfortunate trip-and-fall accidental groping silliness, or overt tsunderity on Julis’ part (no running away in tears or embarrassment, either). Instead, there’s a lot of smiles shared between the two, suggesting Julis isn’t so quick to deny actually she’s enjoying herself on this mission to repay her debt, and Ayato is obviously not going to complain about hanging out with a beautiful princess. She even wipes ketchup off his face without blushing.

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The highlight of the date has to be at the end, when they witness a rival school brawl that the sharp Julis quickly sees is actually another ambush. Her line about going to “grilling them for answers” and Ayato’s game reply, “keep it to medium rare or so” is a wonderfully dorky buddy action movie exchange, but it shows how far the two have come in just a few days of interaction.

Julis deals with the thugs without any trouble, but spots cloaked figures in the woods and goes after them, alone. Ayato, naturally, follows her, becomes another one of their targets, but eventually forces their retreat without a head-on confrontation, with the parties obviously loath to reveal who they are. Ayato is fine except for a ripped shirt, but Julis thought his participation in the chase was “a bit careless.” Again, that’s Ayato’s line!

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That night, it’s Julis’ turn to invite Ayato to sneak into her chambers from the window, and when she tells him they’re going to “get it over with” and orders him to “remove his clothes”, well, Ayato’s mind understandably races. No worries, Julis simply wants to mend his shirt with her sewing skills. Get your head out of the gutter, Ayato!

Then there’s this very nice scene with Ayato patiently waiting as Julis sews away, and he notices a photo of her with her friends from her home country. Julis then gives away more of her backstory then she probably thought she would that night, explaining to Ayato how she was once a palace-escaping tomboy who ended up in trouble in a dark alley. She was saved by a group of other young girls (girl power) who lived at a nun-run orphanage (more girl power). She became fast friends with the girls, without telling them who she really was (though not ruling out that the nuns knew).

The orphanage has since fallen on hard times, and since she’s unable to secure funds for a “money-losing welfare program” with her name (her royal family is only a puppet regime of the Integrated Empire), she’ll make the necessary money with her own power, in this “vulgar, insignificant city” that also happens to be the one place anyone can get what they desire.

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Claudia is here to restore the academy to greatness. Julis is here to save her friends’ orphanage. So…what’s Ayato here to do? He hasn’t been quite sure of that…until the end of the episode, when he says “good morning” to Julis, but she’s distracted by a suspicious letter and soon runs off on her own again. With her debt to him officially repaid, has she reverted to treating him aloofly like everyone else, not wanting a friend?

Claudia doesn’t think so; on the contrary. Julis is leaving Ayato out of whatever she’s running to not because she doesn’t trust him, but because she’s trying to “protect what’s in her hands.” Ayato can now count himself as one of those things. But he gets a say too, and it finally occurs to him why he’s here: to protect her right back.

Claudia tosses him Ser Veresta and he rushes out after Julis. She’ll probably protest his presence, but she can’t simply lock up otherwise capable people she cares about for their protection, when they can be of much more help by her side. Like post-credits CGI Claudia, I’m looking forward to seeing how far Ayato and the Ser Veresta go.

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