Screen Squinty’s Little Witch Academia, 1 & 2: A Review.

Film Shorts: Little Witch Academia and Little Witch Academia: Enchanted Parade.
Directed and Created by: Yoh Yoshinari.
Released: 2013, 2015.
Running Time: 26 min and 53 min.

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“Little Witch Academia”, Promotional Artwork, Retrieved from Wikipedia.org, Property of Trigger.

The first installment Little Witch Academia (2013), was a short animation that was produced by Trigger for the 2013 Anime Mirai (a funding project for young animators) about a somewhat inept but enthusiastic girl named Akko who is inspired into becoming a witch by a magical performer called Shiny Chariot, whom she idolizes, and hangs out at her magic school with her friends, Sucy and Lotte.

The second installment, Little Witch Academia: Enchanted Parade (2015)  was a longer sequel partially funded through Kickstarter after the initial release of the first one garnered some modest fanbase. In this one the main character in conflict with her friends as they struggle to create the best parade (a punishment) so they can avoid expulsion.

First off, if you are a viewer who is seriously picky about the quality of their anime, then these shorts are definitely up your ally visually. The animation here is just spectacular! Fluid, malleable, colourful, enduring, and the character designs are unique to each character to aide in strengthening each individual identity.

The animation of the opening of the first installment especially was a real visual treat!

The characters outside their design, are rather likable, and some even funny, though Akko can come across as a little to bratty at times, particularly in the second installment, but in the end she realizes the character flaw, so she works well enough as a main lead, though definite props go to to the sidekicks and background characters.

Sucy is one of the best characters in both of the films, sort of like a cross between Severus Snape from Harry Potter franchise, Raven from Teen Titans. Everything she does and says is almost always funny, her utilization of potions is always fun to watch, with much of the best humour coming from her quarter, and her almost cartoon Dracula-like design is the best of the lot by far!

One of the draw backs of the films is that the pacing of the story of the first one doesn’t match the short time frame, feeling a little rushed. The second film seemed to be trying to rectify that, and it was an improvement in pacing. Despite that though, it did present some interesting elements that I wished could have been flushed out bit more, such as the relationship between the witches and the non-magicals, the hints of gentrification among witch culture, the history behind the Sorcerer’s stone (and yes, if your harry Potter fan you roll your eyes, but to be fair, it wasn’t the first to use that magical prop.)

There are some problems with the characters such as a few of them coming across as a bit to stereotypic such as Diana, the condescending overachiever aristocrat who comes across like a less dickish Draco Malfoy (also from Harry Potter) for example, and the under utilization of the 3 new characters Amanda, Constanze, and Jasminka from the second movie, who each had something very interesting about them, but wasn’t fully explored or utilized, though with time constraints and the focus being the friendship of the main cast, it was likely not a concern.

This is why while they work alright as short films (with the second treading that line very finely I might add)I feel they would be great to watch as both a full length TV series to really flesh out the characters, history, and the story, or even a feature length film, perhaps.

The only other nitpick would be the English dub which was also not overly well done, and can distract from the film, though the actresses for the Japanese version are pretty good, with the exception of Diana, whose voice sounds a little too mature for the age she is supposed to be.

Overall these were very well done anime with its strengths resting in its animation and characters, and felt like a nice little homage to Harry Potter while still maintaining its own identity. I would recommend giving it a watch.

Little Witch Academia “Minotaur Scene”:

 

Both films are also on Netflix.

 

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