This week has very much been about me trying to get my head around things. Things in the world, things at work, things in my personal life – not one of the concentric circles the represents life as I know it has remained untouched. As a result, reading hasn’t really happened. Pages have been turned, words have been seen, but … nothing’s really gone in.
My fallback has been Ishizuka’s Flying Witch. The gentle humour and charm of this manga series continues to capture my imagination with its beautiful pen work and its focus on the small details of everyday life, those things easily overlooked in the hustle and bustle like a good meal and the time to enjoy it, or the loveliness of the natural world. It continues to be happily bonkers as well. Akane’s teleportation incident, the Harbinger of Summer working as a yakisoba vendor, the wizard with a robot familiar and the territorial owl who takes exception to Makoto’s presence in his orchard, along with a whole host of other daft goings-on, keep the story interesting and light.
The cast of characters keeps expanding with every volume and added to Makoto’s ever-growing circle this time round are Inukai’s sister and nephew, an enthusiastic reporter and her cameraman, the wizard Enigumo, a samurai ghost and a wonderful gaggle of Makoto and Nao’s school friends. I keep thinking I’ll get them all mixed up as the cast gets bigger and bigger, but somehow they all manage to remain distinct. What’s more, the lovely family vibe that this manga series started out with continues unabated, no matter that the character list is now a good three or four times larger than it was at the beginning.
It’s been interesting to see how the magic in these books has also grown to encompass so many different aspects – robots and technology are embraced as fully as enchantments, spells and the innate power of each witch; potions are prepared and tricks are pulled, just as space and time are manipulated. I love it all. In past volumes there have been giant flying whales and creatures from other realms, in these most recent two we are shown secret pathways that link distant places more closely, and a pervasive mechanism that protects witches and magic from discovery.
What remains most especially delightful about these books is all the goofy little moments and details that happen around the main storyline. While the books follow a loose subject-for-this-episode structure, the charm and fun of this manga lies in the gaps. Sure, in volume 8 it’s all about Makoto’s finally learning what her element is as a witch, but the stand-out moments are Kazuno showing Chinatsu and Kei her “gust” move, Anzu’s meeting the samurai ghost (and all the cats!), Makoto and the banana and Chinatsu and the ice, and enjoying a magical glass of whiskey; not to mention Makoto’s attempts to make friends with a local owl. And that was a fairly sedate volume compared with book 7 in which we’re treated to Akane’s impressive appetite, then fireworks, sweeties from the Harbinger of Summer and Chinatsu’s unusually soft cheeks; Al’s tiny bedroom (oh my goodness), the fish market, baby mandrakes, and a great many monkeys.
The lovingly drawn food keeps me coming back for more just as much as the adorableness of Makoto and her family and friends. I was lucky enough to grow up in a household in which fresh food and made-from-scratch dishes was normal and down my maternal line the preparation and enjoyment of food was a big part of how love was expressed and shared. So, this series’ focus on food as something that brings people together around the table just makes my heart all fluttery every time. Half the dishes depicted I wouldn’t eat if put in front of me because they’ve got meat or fish in them and they still make my mouth water.
In case it wasn’t clear (??!) I am still loving Flying Witch. I don’t know how long I’ll be able to keep posting about this cheerful and delight-filled series before I run out of new ways to say what I’ve already said, but know that every time there’s a new volume released there’s me gleefully squeeing and hugging said volume to my chest as soon as it arrives in the post.