BENJAMIN K. PAPLHAM | ENTERTAINMENT COLUMNIST
Author’s Note: This section is dedicated to calling attention to lesser known animated movies and television. If somebody has a suggestion for me to review or discuss, please feel free to email me and I will see what I can do!
Rating: 5/5 Stars
Imagine if Hermione Granger had been accepted into all-girl’s magic school, turn the story into an anime and ladies and gentlemen, I present: “Little Witch Academia!”
Trigger Studios created “Little Witch Academia” for Anime Mirai 2013, which is a Japanese government agency that helps develop new animators. Originally, there was only supposed to be one 25-minute short film, but due to its overwhelming popularity Trigger launched a Kickstarter in 2013 to create a second 55-minute movie, “Little Witch Academia: The Enchanted Parade.” They exceeded the $150,000 goal four times over, raising a total of $625,518.
Both films center on Akko, a young witch who enrolls in Luna Nova Magical Academy. There, she befriends Lotte, a shy and intelligent classmate, and Suzy, a student who specializes in monotone, dark humor, and mushrooms (the fungus, not the drug). In the short film, Akko attempts to prove her skills during a treasure hunt and best her rival, Diana. But when a dragon threatens the school, Akko must rely on the inspiration of her personal hero, witch entertainer Shining Chariot, to help her save the day.
In the second film, after disrupting class one too many times, Akko and her friends are tasked with making the annual parade a roaring success or else flunk the school year. The catch: the parade is a reenactment of the medieval witch-hunts. Akko decides to turn the parade into something other than the humiliation of the students, but when her ambitions jeopardize her friendship, Akko has to learn what it means to trust her friends.
The two “Little Witch Academia” are just pure fun from beginning to end. I admit that some of the lines are a bit cheesy and there is an inexplicable complete disregard for student safety on the school’s part, but I’m willing to overlook it. Mainly because the characters are great; they have a humorous wit and an exuberant charm, especially Suzy’s sarcastic commentary that reminds me of Raven from “Teen Titans.” The animation fits very well with the story, too. The animation never goes for the wild, exaggerated anime tropes and has a simple but beautiful style. Granted, sometimes the words don’t perfectly match the mouth and the animation isn’t as effortlessly fluid as other animes, but I would chalk that up to this being an independent project.
I think what makes “Little Witch Academia” stand out for me is that it separates itself from other stories about magical schools. The two films offer creative energy, imaginative world-creation and unique stylization. I hope that in the future, Trigger might create more stories about Akko and her friends, though at this point it seems unlikely. I highly recommend this to anybody who loves magic and has a taste for lively adventure.