Little Witch Academia

I just got done watching the first season on Netflix and without having seen further, I just wanted to say I really like this show.

I already loved the two short films that preceded it, and wasn't really expecting a full length anime to match up to them. I told myself the animation was going to be worse, or the sense of wonder wouldn't be as strong in a 200+ minutes long format instead of just 20-40. And this show proved me wrong. The animation is beautiful throughout, and the show feels genuinely magical all the way. Even the sense of being a Harry Potter ripoff fades over time as the show puts more emphasis on the "magic" part of "magic school", and feels like its own thing.

The characters are really great and likable. What makes it special IMO is how un-cliched and genuinely original they feel: Akko is a genuine fuck-up and an overly excitable moron, but her determination makes her so damn likable. And instead of turning out to be some long-lost princess or getting improbable superpowers, she just... stays the way she is. While there is an element of bullying of her and her friends, it doesn't get much emphasis and is never the main focus; rather, it gives the characters an extra obstacle to overcome, and isn't milked for drama so the tone stays lighthearted throughout.

Diana is a refreshing character in that she isn't just a genderswapped Draco Malfoy, or a generic bully character. She actually acts in a way that warrants all the praise and recognition she's showered with: she's intelligent, dignified, respectful, skilled and mature beyond her age. She's not a bully, petty or smug, nor does she hate or resent Akko for any particular reason, she just has no real reason to respect or acknowledge her in some way. She could so easily have been the antagonist, which the show really doesn't have.

There's so many other ways the show sidesteps cliches too: I like how there's no love interest or "girls rule, boys drool" subplot involved. I like how the "ooh I'm restricted by my family" prettyboy doesn't change character on a dime after the main character gives the inspiring speech (funnily enough, in an episode precisely about changing character on a dime), but seems to have a subtle widening of perspective instead. I like how Sucy, the weirdo of the group, isn't revealed to have some sort of traumatic or troubled backstory, but instead is just that: a bit of a weirdo. I like how the finale, instead of giving the main characters sudden superpowers to get triumph, was about turning your weaknesses into strengths. I like how there wasn't some "oh no we have to save the school" plot that made the main trio the most important people in the universe.

I especially like the animation style. It has a distinct anime look, but doesn't devolve into complete chibi/crying waterfalls of tears nonsense I hate (even if I'd actually be fine with it in a slice of life comedy). The way the characters seem exaggeratedly rubbery and bouncy reminds me of something like Animaniacs instead, and the slapstick is genuinely great. I love how distinct the character designs are and how much personality they convey.

Anyway, there's the majority of my thoughts. Share thoughts on this series, since I really think it doesn't get enough recognition.

It was good but the first half of the show feels really bad precisely because Diana, I always dislike "ace" characters that can do pretty much everything because they are that awesome and she is just that. She isn't interesting, I recall times when she solves the whole plot by herself (the dragon episode for example), takes way too much screentime and once you hear her backstory her treatment of Akko is despicable.

Which is a shame because the rest of the cast is so good and so under utilized. We couldn't have another Constanze episode?

It reminds me a lot of the early 90's Disney cartoon shows, like Ducktales and Gummi Bears, in that it has this nice sense of wonder, with a new adventure every episode. Despite the anime aesthetic it really embraces its cartooniness with all the magic shenanigans. And it generally lacks all that anime angst and drama. It's a very refreshing, fun little show that veers off of the usual anime path. I need to get back to it.

How does the animation compare to the short?

Ezekiel:
How does the animation compare to the short?

You can tell it lacks in budget, but it holds the same level of creativity.

Yeah, Little Witch Academia was great. I really liked how they didn't fall into most of the tropes I expected them to, despite there being many opportunities.

Best episode was definitely the one where she's failing all her exams. Probably the funniest anime episode I've seen in a really long time.

inu-kun:
It was good but the first half of the show feels really bad precisely because Diana, I always dislike "ace" characters that can do pretty much everything because they are that awesome and she is just that. She isn't interesting, I recall times when she solves the whole plot by herself (the dragon episode for example), takes way too much screentime and once you hear her backstory her treatment of Akko is despicable.

Which is a shame because the rest of the cast is so good and so under utilized. We couldn't have another Constanze episode?

I feel I must disagree with you there. While I have not finished the series yet--I'm buying the Blu-rays as they come out, so I've only seen half the series--I feel that Diana is a solid character. At first, I thought she was going to be what you described: a bratty, stuck up, I'm better than you at everything character. I thought she was going to look down and mock Akko constantly.
But she doesn't. Yes, her friends do, but Diana never does it. Go back and watch the episodes again. Diana is simply good at magic. She never rubs it in Akko's face, she never mocks her. She simply does the task that is put to her. It's Akko that picks the fights and feels like Diana is insulting her simply because Diana is better than her. Akko's jealous, and because of that, she constantly tries to one-up the class star in a competition that Diana isn't even interested in being a part of.
In fact, my favorite part so far is when Diana finally does snap at Akko and calls her out for all the trouble she's caused because Akko is always trying to find shortcuts and not put in the work. If anything, I feel that Akko is the most annoying character in the show, at least up until the part where the new teacher shows up.

Its not my usual cup of anime tea... but I liked it. They threw some pretty strange mixes into most of the standard character archetypes. Like what has already been pointed out about Diana; who's basically an aloof, dismissive Hermione Granger. Or, like Sucy... who even though she is a "main friends" character... is more or less evil. No question the sorting hat would scream "Slytherin!" the second Sucy walked into the room. Yet there is a part of her that genuinely loves Akko and Lotte. It plays with the formula enough to stand out.

I think what I like most is the fairly slow boil of things that don't seem important coming in to play later. Like the 'diamond shape" in the moon, or just so many of the things that happen in that first 'Chariot performance' scene that are very significant later on. As an example one of the very minor-ly spoiler things that I didn't see until a second viewing was that a young Diana is clearly visible at that show.

Sniper Team 4:

inu-kun:
It was good but the first half of the show feels really bad precisely because Diana, I always dislike "ace" characters that can do pretty much everything because they are that awesome and she is just that. She isn't interesting, I recall times when she solves the whole plot by herself (the dragon episode for example), takes way too much screentime and once you hear her backstory her treatment of Akko is despicable.

Which is a shame because the rest of the cast is so good and so under utilized. We couldn't have another Constanze episode?

I feel I must disagree with you there. While I have not finished the series yet--I'm buying the Blu-rays as they come out, so I've only seen half the series--I feel that Diana is a solid character. At first, I thought she was going to be what you described: a bratty, stuck up, I'm better than you at everything character. I thought she was going to look down and mock Akko constantly.
But she doesn't. Yes, her friends do, but Diana never does it. Go back and watch the episodes again. Diana is simply good at magic. She never rubs it in Akko's face, she never mocks her. She simply does the task that is put to her. It's Akko that picks the fights and feels like Diana is insulting her simply because Diana is better than her. Akko's jealous, and because of that, she constantly tries to one-up the class star in a competition that Diana isn't even interested in being a part of.
In fact, my favorite part so far is when Diana finally does snap at Akko and calls her out for all the trouble she's caused because Akko is always trying to find shortcuts and not put in the work. If anything, I feel that Akko is the most annoying character in the show, at least up until the part where the new teacher shows up.

Let's start that if your friends are bullies in plain sight and you can do something to change that but do nothing then you are just as culpable as they are. And I always got the vibe that she purposely ignores Akko's existence which is a shitty thing to do.

Actually rewatching the first meeting between them Diana presses a point which visibly annoys Akko without much reason and does in full public view to boot.

Yes, Akko is flawed, but in a human way. I mean, to give a comparison she is an illiterate person who joins a university, it's perfectly reasonable she'll try to find shortcuts and even give up when she sees no progression, that is what makes her so fun and unique.

It's a good series.

Well crap. This was certainly unexpected, and not in a good way. I'm 3 episodes into the second season, and my interest has notably lowered. What the hell happened to the animation budget? There's noticeably more use of classic anime tricks to cover up the lacking animation: still frames with voiceover, extreme closeups instead of wide shots, considerably less motion and characters in frame, choppy movement, large objects in the foreground to cover up motion that might be going on... what happened here? I mean it's still perfectly enjoyable, but one of the main appeals of this series for me was the high quality animation. Also it's too early to tell, but now that there seems to be an overarching narrative (discovering the words to awaken the Shiny Rod), it feels much more like a standard fantasy anime series. The first season and the films that preceded it felt like a slice of life in a fantasy setting, and that made it feel small, personal and cute.

The unexpected references to Finland made my jaw drop though. Now I get to feel special because I know what the visuals in that moss disease episode referenced.

 

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