This Week in Anime
Was Little Witch Academia Worth the Wait?

by Nicholas Dupree and Steve Jones,

After many months of waiting, fans can now enjoy the full first season of Little Witch Academia on Netflix! This week in anime, we examine whether Trigger's newest project lives up to the hype and what themes the series might be exploring.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by the participants in this chatlog are not the views of Anime News Network. Spoiler Warning for discussion of the series ahead.

You can read ANN's review of Little Witch Academia's first half here!


Nick D
Hey there Steve, how's the anime life treating you?

Steve
Howdy Nick! I've just returned from AnimeFest in Dallas, so I'm currently recovering from anime overload. And what better cure than talking about more anime?

Well thankfully you're back just in time for us to talk about the best series of Summer 2017!

A show from Winter that ended 2 months ago!

oh you mean Diminuitive Sorceress Education?

I ain't talking about Enormous Warlock Anti-Intellectualism, I'll tell you that much

Yes, all of Little Witch Academica is finally available for streaming on Netflix, which means we can talk about it outside of hushed twitter circles!


WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

On the one hand, it's pretty bogus we had to wait this long to watch the show legally. On the other, I mainlined the entire thing in a combined total of 3 days.

Yes, services like Crunchyroll have certainly spoiled us. BUT I do think LWA is a genuinely good fit for Netflix. At its heart, it's a fun, warm family show, and I believe it has the kind of broad appeal to make it a hit. At least i'm hoping it does, I love this show.

Same. Truth be told I'm not exactly a huge TRIGGER fan - I liked Kill la Kill, but everything else they've done has either left me frustrated or totally disinterested. Lookin at you, Ninja Slayer.

YEARRRT

ahem i mean yes i agree

But god damn if LWA didn't blow me away basically from the get go. It's a super delightful adventure show with some of the best comedic timing I've seen in ages.

I've enjoyed Trigger's shows more than I've disliked them, but each one has had its share of issues that either distract or detract from its strengths. LWA is the first one that, to me, plays only to its strengths and comes out being something truly special. Comedy, action, lovable characters, giant robots, it's all there.

It's the kind of family show I love to see getting made - brimming with creative energy and passion, light and straightforward enough for younger viewers but not formulaic enough to alienate an older audience

Yeah! kids are gonna love the magic and spectacle, but it's also very much a show about making art and entertainment, and the passion and problems that go along with that.

And that plays out through the presentation too! Nearly every episode has at least one or two cuts of really neat animation that you can tell were done by passionate, talented folks.


The Trigger crew love making anime, and that shines through all their shows, but LWA in particular is such a joy to watch. It's basically an anime about making anime. Anime is magic~

That's definitely an interesting angle - the show makes more than a few rather pointed references to the modern anime industry throughout its run


You could write an entire essay on that thematic thread. Akko's struggle is the struggle between talent and effort, tradition and innovation, entertainment vs. "high art," and whether those are even true dichotomies in the first place.

I especially found Luna Nove as an institution fascinating. It's a storied, centuries-old school that's allowed itself to fall into irrelevance through dedication to tradition, losing public interest and students as a result. And then in walks Akko who's all reckless new energy.

hmmmmm, wonder which anime studio she represents

In a lesser show, that'd probably be where it ends, but I like what the series eventually says through Akko's rival Diana.

It's so wonderful to see how their relationship develops in the final episodes.

She represents the ideal of Luna Nova's traditionalsim - classically talented with a stalwart respect for their ways - but it comes from a place of affection for her family's past and a desire to continue their legacy into the future. In the end, the solution isn't "Akko's right about everything, change it all!" but finding a mutually beneficial partnership and balance of trust between her new blood and Diana's traditional ways.

Yes! it's such a smart and nuanced conclusion that i'm surprised it came out of Trigger. But I think in many ways LWA seems to mark a maturation of the studio, and at the very least cements Yoh Yoshinari as one of the most talented directors working there.

I came away really impressed with how well it made its point, all without ever losing the charm and character at its heart. This is where I'd link to my 6k word essay on why LWA is the Macross 7 of the 2010s, but I don't think our editors would approve...


Okay, I think it's time to really sink our teeth into the important questions: who is best witch?

That's an impossible question. I love all my witch daughters equally. Even the one with a gun:

agreed but you still need to answer the question

Magic Assault Rifle to my head, I guess I have to go with Ursula. I have a thing for quietly sad mentor figures, and Ursula fits that to a T. Plus I really loved seeing her and Akko's relationship build from awkward Student-Teacher to kindred spirits working to build each other back up after their struggles.

Yeah, Ursula is in many ways the perfect mentor for Akko; both full of vigor and hope, both giant screw-ups.

Even before we learn all about her past, you can clearly sense the unease and lingering guilt she has buried inside.

ugh and it's SO SAD when Akko finally learns the truth

I'LL SAY

JUST RIP MY HEART OUT

and i really like how Akko and Diana represent the healthy version of Ursula and Croix's relationship

ah yes, Ursula's former senpai and Definitely Not Her Ex

Definitely Very Straight

I'll admit it was always funny to see the obvious tension between those two even before we found out just what caused it. Not sure the subtext could get more "burned by senpai" without just being text.

so many loaded glances

As early as their first conversation, it's obvious Croix did not abide Campsite Rules. But that does bring us to Croix - she's a pretty interesting antagonist thematically.

I did find the story extremely believable in that she used people getting mad on twitter as fuel for her nefarious plot

She's a techno-mage who's developed tons of ways to advance magic past its quill pen and crystal ball days, and she's even revolutionizing the way they use magic entirely. In a less well-written show, this could just be a bunch of fearmongering about new technology and ideas, but that's not the angle they go for. Instead, it turns out Croix's problem is that she sees magic as a self-justifying end and ignores the human element. She's not wrong for trying to advance or revive magic. She's wrong for trying to do it for the sake of magic rather than the people who use and experience it.

Is The Metaphor Clear Enough

Believe in the anime that believes in you! But yeah, at every point where it could have settled for a standard villain, LWA humanizes its antagonists and uses them to further its message about bringing joy to people via art.

So that's my answer, how about you?
For one million dollars: Who Is Best Witch?

well i mean they're all good witches and yadda yadda yadda come on of course it's Sucy

she enjoys mushrooms, vore, and tormenting Akko, what's not to love

Well she certainly has the best merchandise

God I loved her episode so much. Surprise to nobody, Imaishi drew the storyboards for that episode, and it's one of my favorite things he's ever done. Pure cartoony indulgence without any of his other distinctive qualities I'm less a fan of. And it also gave Sucy a surprising amount of depth! She tends to be a pretty one-note, comedic character, but that episode was all about the real struggle we all have with how we present ourselves to others.

It's a pretty thoughtful way to give some weight to her actions. Unlike Lotte or the other supporting cast, Sucy's pretty guarded and quiet (when she's not dunking on Akko), so having a story literally insider her head is a great method for telling us about her naturally. It's also drop-dead hilarious.

too many Sucys (jk no such thing)

It also reveals how much Sucy genuinely cares for Akko, despite feeding her poison at every given opportunity. And that's why she's best witch.

close runner-up is Amanda in a tux

If we're doing Honorable Mentions, I'd also like to briefly mention Lotte. TBH she originally struck me as the weak link in the original OVAs - mostly there to be straightman and dispense exposition, but the TV series turns her into a really relatable bookworm with a penchant for wonderfully trashy YA novels. And it puts some nice pathos behind her - she's afraid of standing out and being the center of attention, but it still gets to her when people call her invisible or forgettable. She doesn't want to be a star like Akko, but everyone wants to feel at least a little important, to leave some sort of impact on the people around them, and the way Akko helps bring that out of her was sweet to see.

The episode about Nightfall (definitely NOT Twilight) is another one of my favorites, because it's so uncommon not just to see a positive portrayal of fandom, but especially so for a fandom with a predominantly female audience. The show and its characters never make fun of Lotte for loving her trashy romance novels, and even though her friends don't understand her obsession, they accept it and support her. It's such a good, positive message in a show full of good, positive messages.

That episode was where I really started feeling confident in LWA's ability to sell its message. It took an obvious expy for Twilight - one of the biggest walking punchlines of my internet generation - and makes a case for why it's important to enjoy what you love without shame or apologies.

also of course I appreciate anything that furthers the Trash Agenda

I guess in the end that's a good summation of what I love so much about LWA. It's got a genuine, positive message that still feels well-considered and accommodating.

Yeah, it's about being yourself and following your dreams, but also about being considerate of other people's dreams and supporting your friends. Magic comes from working together and believing in yourself and others.

Wonderful show, best thing TRIGGER's made yet, totally worth waiting for.

Yes, please please please check it out on Netflix. I want season 2!

Plus you'll get to see Micchy make a cameo!

I was hanging out with her this weekend and I can attest to this statement's accuracy. Micchy smol.


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