Why Little Witch Academia Is Great And Everyone Should Watch It
By: Steve Zec
Since the start of 2017 there is one series in particular from Japan that I have keeping track of and enjoy every week: Little Witch Academia. What is Little Witch Academia and what is it about? Well, let me explain.
The History Of Little Witch Academia
Little Witch Academia is produced by Studio Trigger. It’s a revolutionary new studio that is known for ambitious animation and for series as prominent as Kill la Kill, so you’ve probably seen their work in some form believe it or not. Studio Trigger is responsible for the animation in the “Here Comes A Thought” song from Steven Universe. Yup, that was them, so you know the stellar reputation we are dealing with.
In 2013 Studio Trigger made a short 20+ minute film or OVA titled “Little Witch Academia”. In this short we get to this witch academy called Luna Nova Magical Academy and one of the students named Atsuko Kagri or as she is known to most, Akko, and the adventures she and her classmates get into. The short film was a modest hit, especially with a Western audience.
In 2015 Studio Trigger made a second Little Witch Academia OVA titled “Little Witch Academia: The Enchanted Parade”. The second OVA was made with donations to a Kickstarter program. Their intent was to make another short 20+ minute film, but their Kickstarter was such a success they had enough money to make 50 minute film. You can see the donor names listed in the credits and a lot of the people that contributed were from the West. The OVA was also a hit. Both OVAs are available in both English and Japanese on Netflix.
It was then announced that in January 2017 a 25 episode anime series would debut, and that is where we are today. One last note, the OVA and the anime are not canon to each other, so you can watch either in any order.
Why I Love Little Witch Academia
What is there not to love? Obviously the animation, the story. The world that they set up is a world I want to live in.
The anime has some satire and references to Western material. There is a character that looks like a reality show star, there are references to the early days of cartoons, silent films, fairy tales, freaking Twilight (ok there is always a bad side, but their Twilight is way better). But really the main selling point is the characters. They make the series what it is.
As much as I like the OVAs, I like the anime much better. The universe is more expanded, we get more fleshed out characters, and a couple of the characters I think are portrayed better in the anime than in the OVAs.
The lead character is Atsuko Kagri or Akko. Akko was a normal human who came from a non-magical family. Her life was changed forever when as a child she saw a magical show performed by a witch named Shiny Chariot. Since that day her life-long dream is to grow up to be a witch just like Shiny. (Speaking of Shiny Chariot, there are hints that she is still around, and that she is a certain character… that is all I will say.)
Akko is very spontaneous, very excitable. She reminds me of Star Butterfly from Star vs. the Forces of Evil. Her energy and optimism just have an effect on everyone around her. She is a lot like Star in that way, and though she does struggle with her magic, she is not a prodigy like Star.
Akko has two roommates and sidekicks. First we have Lotte Jansson a very nice supportive girl who is fan of a book series called Nightfall and most of the time is easily a pushover for Akko’s schemes.
Next of course we have Akko’s other roommate Sucy Bavaran, a very weird unusual character. How can I describe her… well she is someone that is entertained by Akko when she is uncomfortable. She is kind of the Onion to Akko’s Steven (from Steven Universe). You could say she is like Janna (from Star), though I think another character named Amanda O’Neil is more like Janna. But Sucy is way better than Onion, she is hilarious, and she talks. And her lines are hilarious. I love her, but I could see why other people may not like her.
And the last character I want to talk about is Diana Cavendish, Akko’s rival. Diana comes from the Cavendish which is kind of like royalty to witches: they are a very big deal. She is a prodigy and is the top student at the school. While she opens states Shiny Chariot is a disgrace to witches, she is secretly a fellow Shiny Chariot fan like Akko. And you know how I said I like the anime better than the OVA? Well Diana is a perfect example. In the OVA while you can still see she deep down was a good person, she was arrogant and smug. The anime makes is more clear she is a good person. Unlike the OVA, she doesn’t look down on Akko, in fact she has some respect for her. She has shown concern for her well-being and always tries to do the right thing.
The Akko/Diana dynamic is something I love about this series. You look at those characters and see how similar yet different they are. They are like Aang and Zuko from Avatar: The Last Airbender. Those two would be great influence on each other. While Akko could learn from Diana about magic and learn to take things a little more seriously and have a good work ethic, Diana could learn from Akko how to kick back and have fun once in a while. While it has not outright been stated, it is clear to me Diana has had pressure and expectation put on her all her life.
Akko is a lot like Star with her attitude and fun look at life, meanwhile Diana has Star’s talent; she is a prodigy. If Akko and Diana ever fused, you might get someone like Star Butterfly. And if was up to me, nothing against Lotte and Sucy, but Diana would be the number two character in the series, like Marco is in Star.
And the relationship I most care about is Akko and Diana, I want them to have a strong bond by series end. I want them to be close friends… more than friends? I wouldn’t mind that, but I don’t really care about that stuff; Akko and her friendships and bonds are what matter to me the most.
You can watch the OVAs on Netflix in English or Japanese with English subtitles. The anime as of this moment is only available in Japanese with English subtitles, and you have to watch fan subs (it is not legally available yet). It will be though after it concludes its run at the end of June, at which time the anime will be available in both English and Japanese with English subs on Netflix, so keep your eye on that.