Spoiler alert! I will be discussing events, including the main twist, that you might not want to know before watching. So beware!
“You don’t get the things you dream of, you get the things that you work for”
– Ursula Callistis
I have always been a fan of animation. Ok, maybe not always, but for a long time at least. Even before I found out about anime, I watched a lot of cartoons such as Gravity Falls, Futurama and Bojack Horseman (All great shows, Bojack being my favorite show of all time). But when I couldn’t find any more cartoons on Netflix, and I didn’t want to stream any illegally, I remembered ProZD’s video on the anime awards of 2017. I hadn’t heard of any of the shows, but I was still interested in his opinions for some reason. And when I saw Little Witch Academia in his video, it stuck out in the midst of the very Japanese designs and styles, since this looked more cartoony.
So when I looked for shows on Netflix and found the show, I immediately started watching it. And boy was it a good gateway into that part of the animation medium.
Little Witch Academia follows Akko, a normal girl who after seeing an inspiring magic show decides that she’s going to become a witch herself. She has trouble keeping up with everyone else in the school, but with her friends Lotte and Sucy, she just barely makes it. Goofs and gaffs ensue.
Like I said before, the thing that made me watch the show was the visuals. And it is honestly one of the best I have ever seen. I put it on the same level as Your Name and Spiderverse. While it doesn’t have the same production and detail as those two movies, they all feel like they really take advantage of the medium that they are a part of. Cause while the show has many “sakuga” moments (is that what you call it?), that isn’t what makes the show feel so alive. There are a lot of shows those sakuga moments, like My Hero Academia and other battle shounen shows. And while those scenes are incredible at times, I can’t say that other scenes are as exciting or creative. I still very much enjoy My Hero Academia and its visuals. But as a whole, it isn’t super exciting. And that’s generally how I feel about animation in anime. There could be some great moments where you really see the work the artist has done. But then the rest just feels stiff.
So seeing a show like Little Witch Academia that really takes advantage its animation feels great. And it’s the unnecessary parts that make it so good. Like when Lotte turns into stone in episode 4 just to show how sad she is or when Akko continues to climb a latter even when she’s in the air in episode 7 (very specific examples, I know). It makes the characters feel alive, like we are actually seeing people live their crazy lives.
The composition in many scenes also helps this. There’s a sequence in episode 7 where Ursula tells one of the teachers how Akko shouldn’t be judged for how well of a witch she is compared to other, but to herself when she first started. Even just this conveys her emotions well enough about how she feels about Akko, but she also kind of walks in front of one of the teachers, showing her dominance. Again, it makes the show feel alive.
The animation in a show or movie could be amazing. But unless what the characters are actually doing is exciting, then the animation won’t do shit.
And it’s those moments that make the show.
Fluid animation with exciting composition.
And that’s why Studio Trigger is my favorite anime studio. Cause, like I said before, it’s THE studio that I feel really take advantage of its animation.
And speaking of composition, the music was great. When you have a fantasy high school with a fancy feel you can do a lot with the music. Like Harry Potter, the music consists of a lot of violins, flute, and harp. It never feels like a rip-off of the Harry Potter soundtrack, but it shares the feeling of the fantastic world.
It may not be a soundtrack that you are going to listen to over and over again and won’t be able to keep out of your mind. But it perfectly conveys the tone of the show. Whether it is a wonderful, comedic or serious tone.
But the show isn’t just pretty colors and music. It has an interesting story with an actual message.
I would say that the main theme of the story is the conflict between traditions and the new.
It’s something I just noticed after rewatching the show after the third time, but there are a lot of examples of this.
Like the big conflict between technology and magic. How a lot of the show focuses on showing how people have started to rely on technology rather than magic.
Or keeping school traditions against improving the school and having an old mindset against a new one.
But it doesn’t feel like propaganda. It doesn’t just say that either traditions or modernization is better. But it comes to different conclusions. it explores the subject and doesn’t give an answer but lets you make one yourself. How Akko feels that magic should be preserved, but also thinks that the school follows traditions to closely. So the message is that you should have a healthy amount of tradition and modernization in your life.
And that’s what Akko symbolizes. How you can have a world with both ends of the spectrum. That none of them are more important than the other.
Since the show doesn’t rely as much on a story in the first half, the characters need to be interesting enough to make that enjoyable. And I think that is the case.
My favorite character is probably Sucy Manbavaran. She isn’t very complicated, but I don’t think that matters. Cause she is still the funniest character in all of anime.
I’m not a huge fan of comedy in anime. I have seen quite a lot of funny anime. But in general, I think a large part of it is very obnoxious and too loud. But what made Sucy so funny was because she was an asshole all the time. She shows that she cares for Akko at multiple points, so she actually feels like a human. But for the most part, she’s an asshole. And I loved that!
There was a scene where Sucy made a potion that would make her super powerful. But she also didn’t know if it would work, so she thought of testing it on Akko. But she eventually tests it on herself cause she would rather die than make Akko super powerful. It’s a small joke but it serves her character and is just super funny. At least to me.
It’s the only anime character I have bought a Nendoroid of, so that must mean something.
But if I had to choose another character that I really love, then it would easily be Ursula. And it is probably the twenty-second episode of the show that makes her character.
It is revealed pretty early that Ursula is Chariot. This is already pretty interesting since that reveal could’ve easily been unveiled later in the show. But I don’t think that would’ve been an interesting reveal since Ursula really being Chariot doesn’t really say anything. So instead we are told that Chariot is the reason for Akko’s problems with magic.
I haven’t seen a single show where they reveal that the main characters hero has literally made its life worse, so this was really interesting and surprising. And it explains why Ursula cares so much about Akko and about helping her. It makes her feel human. She has made mistakes that have worsened someone’s life, but she tries to fix it as much as she can.
She tries to tell Akko about it at many points, but she’s never able to do it. And that makes her feel so realistic. She believes that she’ll be able to tell her in the future until it is revealed without her consent at the worst possible moment.
The other characters are of course great as well. They all feel unique and realistic. But if I had to choose two characters, it would be those two.
The show isn’t perfect, no show is. The antagonist wasn’t that interesting until they give her a lot of development and Sucy and Lotte’s role in the story was far too small in the second half of the show. But ultimately that doesn’t really matter to me (kind of). It’s a show that I respect a lot, both visually and how it is written. It’s the show that got me into anime. What can I say, I still think that it’s amazing!
Thank you for your time!
BTW, this was the series. Not the special or movie. Maybe I should’ve put this at the beginning… Fuck it.