Little Witch Academia (2017): Season 1
- Little Witch Academia
- Season 1
- Finished watching:
- 30th April, 2021
Might contain spoilers.
I really liked the 2013 short film that introduced the franchise, which I forgot all about until last year. The series itself starts a bit slowly; I almost quit it after the first episode. It picked up the pace very quickly, though.
Little Witch Academia has a penchant for the slightly absurd, in an enjoyable fashion. It’s filled with heart, and restrained when it comes to fanservice. The stories are told in a lighthearted fashion. The characters are fun and likeable. Importantly, Akko isn’t a prodigy or even a vaguely competent witch: the Claimh Solais or Shiny Rod may have chosen her, but she’s terrible at magic (and we know why by the end). As with any truly great protagonist, what sets her apart is her passion, spirit, and determination, not inherent gifts. I also especially enjoyed Diana and Andrew’s arcs, which show real growth in a believable way.
The way characters sometimes continue to obey cartoon logic even in serious situations is always amusing, like Akko trying to escape a legitimate threat in pure Looney Tunes style, the appropriate sounds accompanying her spinning legs.
The absurdity extends to the plot and how not a single person notices Croix’s machinations for the simple reason that no one ever looks up, or looks around, or notices all the cubes returning to her afterwards. And speaking of Croix, there is a wide spectrum between failing to understand why someone did bad things, and outright ignoring that they did bad things—how does she get off Scot-free? (Well, Chariot clearly being in love with her is probably an important factor…)
I would be most interested in an explanation of the relationship between Andrew, his father, and his principal. What exactly are the latter two’s jobs? Why is Andrew sitting in the room with them while they watch the missile? In the same vein, why would Diana’s aunt Daryl play the villain, with no indication that she’s anything else, and then tell the housekeeper in a profound manner that Diana might be the one to someday redeem the family?
On the other hand, it may be foolish to try to apply logic. The answer to those questions is probably ‘because it made for a better story’, which is good enough. I do appreciate how the characters are capable of change in the face of evidence, such as how the principal’s son’s hatred of witches disappears completely after they save his life—from a threat they created, but nevermind that—and how Andrew’s father ultimately recognizes them as allies.
In episode nine (‘Brightonberry's Undead Travel Log’), the headmistress behaves so strangely, I assumed at first she’s meant to be sick. It was quite different from her earlier appearances. Later episodes strike a better balance.
The repeated use of ‘this country’ and ‘that country’ to avoid giving offence is mildly amusing at first and mildly irritating by the end. I’m not sure I understand the geography of the show in any case. I believe the characters are meant to be from various countries but it hardly signifies.
There is something very pleasing and distinctive about Mitsuko Horie’s unusual performance as Professor Woodward. On a related note, Shinobu Adachi as Diana’s aunt Daryl Cavendish has possibly the most natural-sounding delivery I’ve ever heard in anime. I don’t quite understand why these two performances are so striking, but I really enjoyed both.
The climax is very moving and heartwarming with how everyone supports Akko and Diana as they head towards the missile. That said, while I’m glad everyone is more well-disposed towards witches afterwards, much like the incident with the principal’s son, witches were responsible for creating the crisis in the first place!
Incidentally, this is probably the first anime series where I was able to recognize some references:
- Lotte being squished by mushrooms à la Akira
- Possible visual references to Bleach in that same episode
- The wholesale replication of a sequence from Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann (2007) when Constanze and Akko transform their ship during The Wild Hunt; and
- Chariot suddenly having a lightsaber for a wand when she confronts Professor Croix.
- Studio Trigger, which created Little Witch Academia, was apparently founded by two former employees of Gainax, which created Gurren Lagann.↩