Trigger, as an animation studio, has only created two original shows that I fully enjoyed. Their 13 episode TV short, Uchuu Patrol Luluco, primarily because of their willingness to make fun of themselves but also because Bonjour Suzuki sung the ending song, and the Young Animator Training Project 2012, otherwise known as the movie Little Witch Academia, later going on to get a crowd funded sequel called Little Witch Academia: Mahoujikake no Parade. Where Luluco had me grinning at what Trigger was willing to poke fun at, the two Little Witch Academia movies were magical adventures, albeit a tad bit mundane, that properly caught my attention and was able to out weigh the glaring flaws with something fans of Trigger’s savior of anime, Kill la Kill, claimed it wore as a strong suit. Little Witch Academia was fun.
So, naturally, when the first thing I ever enjoyed from Studio Trigger was getting a proper television anime, was a bit excited. Not so excited I’d pirate the episodes that weren’t simulcasting because of Netflix’s aged release practices, but excited enough to gasp when I saw that an anime series was announced. So, while it aired I began rewatching Mirai Nikki and despite standing by my opinion that it’s still a show I like a lot, it wasn’t a primarily fun show. It was bleak and hopeless and worked up arcs, even if they were poorly written, just to add fuel to the flames of “Life is unbelievably unfair”, and while it had it’s fun moments, the production overall didn’t try to be fun. So two weeks before I moved and had finished catching up on airing shows I was watching for the season, I decided I’d make an effort to begin the anime since it had been put up on Netflix in it’s entirety not too long prior.
After a familiar introduction and seemingly episodic stories told for the first thirteen episodes, Little Witch Academia surprised me in the best way possible. While the show had been plenty fun before the midway point, just as I remembered it to be, when the show introduced the mysterious Professor Croix it used everything it was building on in front of me the entire latter half to create one of my favourite second halves to a two cour show in anime. Once the show picked up in pace and everything concluded in a way which I couldn’t ask for any better, I immediately wanted to watch it again. A show which I thought I’d need two weeks to make a dent into, ended up appealing to me enough that I watched it twice in that time.
Needless to say, I really liked Little Witch Academia as a television anime. While I can’t say it was the first show I watched that was this overly fun while still having serious moments, this was legitimately the first show I ever watched where right after finishing it I started it again. Something about the entire experience made me extremely happy but it didn’t feel like it was the same as other shows that always made me happy whenever I watched them, like Gochuumon wa Usagi desu ka? or Nichijou; Little Witch Academia didn’t just make me happy, it filled me with joy.
Everything about the world, the characters, the music, and how after rewatching it the efforts the writers put into the continuity was so clear it made the show all the greater, and while I would have loved to sit down and review this show, there was a problem with that. My bias for enjoying this show is way too strong and I can’t bring myself to penalize it for any of it’s flaws, which it (as every other show I’ve ever seen) very much so has plenty of. For every flaw there was a spectacular moment that filled me with child like glee. For every poorly done line of dialogue there was a scene that made me feel a flurry of emotions. No matter how hard I try, Little Witch Academia has successfully made it onto the list that I love way too much considering my philosophy that every creative work is doomed to be flawed in at least one way.
Madoka Magica, Kotonoha no Niwa, and Non Non Biyori are just a few examples of shows where at the end I was left sitting there with a feeling I had never experienced before after watching a show. Little Witch Academia just so happened to be the first that made me immediately want to fall back into that emotion over and over again. Even while writing this, I want to rewatch the show again.
I loved Akko for being the perfect dorky and reckless lead, being the perfect lens to see a world like Little Witch Academia‘s through. Professor Ursula for being the perfect mentor and for feeling like a friend to the main characters instead of a more distant and conserved professor. Diana for being the perfect “rival” and help the narrative by playing a very important role, which is aptly littered with spoilers. Lotte and Sucy for being the perfect kinds of misfits that Akko could get along with and be incredibly memorable despite their comparatively short screen time.
I loved every single song on the soundtrack and how every one seemed to fit each moment perfectly. I loved the animation and how the show seemed to have it’s own identity through it’s art style and the way the characters moved. I loved that every spell Akko used with the Shiny Rod equated to an important life lesson. I loved every scene Akko and Ursula were in together, I love how much better the production got on my second time through, I love almost everything about this show.
I’ve rewritten this editorial three times with this being the fourth and every time what makes me displeased is I don’t see any way to talk about why I wanted to make this an editorial instead of just some off-shoot post on my personal blog. 1000 words into each time I rewrote this and I asked myself why anyone should care and why this should take up a week’s editorial slot instead of something more akin to what I usually talk about here. While these posts are supposed to be, and always have been, about my opinions, it feels weird to just vaguely talk about one show for a long time as a sort of story time rather than a review like the one of Kizumonogatari I’ve been putting off.
I could have turned this into a general look at how powerful first impressions and endings can be for shows and how that builds an audience, I could have looked at how shows handle magic and why I liked the way it was explained in an incredibly easy to understand way in this show, I could have talked about the importance of continuity or how to reuse side characters or how to do original shows well, but I didn’t want to talk about that. I really just wanted to talk about Little Witch Academia and how two movies I’ve considered as just good turned into an anime I adored by a studio I frankly dislike when it comes to the shows they’ve created.
Trigger turned a cute hour long film made to train junior animators into a series that I now care exponentially more than the initial production. In other words, a studio I disliked turned a short OVA into an anime series I can easily consider one of my favourites now. To me, that’s worth talking about because when it comes to Trigger’s other things I really, really don’t like their shows. Kill la Kill felt like it didn’t know what it wanted to be until far too late, Inferno Cop got annoying really fast rather than funny, and even Luluco suffered from having too short of episodes where if they were at least slightly longer and didn’t suffer from the “Let’s talk so fast the audience can hardly keep up because we have to in order to fit into this time slot” problem I’d have enjoyed it much more, but I’m strongly considering Little Witch Academia to be my new favourite anime.
If anything, this shows a plethora of things worth talking about that I might even expand on in the future, but the biggest thing is that original ideas are worth pursuing and I wish I saw more creative, fun, and just good shows that don’t have their roots so far down in anime. Anime in the modern day is made by anime fans, and as a result anime plays on the tropes these fans liked and figure (more often than not, correctly) will sell. It’s why we get fan service littlered productions and shows that look like anime. Little Witch Academia has a very distinct art style that helps punctuate it’s presence and separate it a bit from conventional anime. In the show if there’s ever an angle where we might get to look down a character’s shirt or up a character’s skirt in any other production, everything is covered with shading to not even leave anything up to the imagination. Little Witch Academia felt new, despite it being a five year-old property at the time of writing.
Little Witch Academia was a breath of fresh air to me. Maybe it’s because I don’t watch enough kid’s shows or shows aimed at a younger audience. Maybe it’s because I watch simulcasting anime too much and have gotten too used to the drag of typical anime. Whatever caused it, I’m glad I got to experience the true awe and excitement this show gave me. I love this show, and the only reason I’m afraid to rewatch it too much is out of fear that it’d become normal to me. This is something special, I feel. A small part of me looks up to Shiny Chariot, a small part of me whispers “Believing yourself is your magic” to myself, and those small parts of me are just as childish as the target demographic of the show. With that said, I want that small part of me to keep this as a special show. As special as Non Non Biyori is to me as a show that’s impacted my life for the better.
Never forget, believing yourself is your magic.
I meant it when I said I rewrote this thing four times. Even looking at it now I don’t know if I’m happy with the end result but if I keep rewriting it this post will never get finished, so I’ll just stick with the version I made it to the end with. Thank you for reading this week’s editorial! Like I said there’s a whole plethora of topics surrounding the idea in this editorial, so if you want to share your thoughts on any of them please do so in the comments! I read each one even if I try to make a note not to reply to any. If you want to see what I’m up to when I’m not writing for this blog, feel free to follow me on Twitter, and I’ll see you all next week!
The featured image for this post was drawn by ピロアキ*