Akko Kagari was inspired to become a witch when she saw a witch named Shiny Chariot as a young child. However, her time as a student at the Luna Nova Magical Academy has not turned out to be exactly what she expected. Akko isn’t a great student, and being from a non-magical family doesn’t help either. On top of that, Akko’s beliefs and convictions about what it means to be a witch and how witches should use magic is in direct contradiction to the tenets of the academy. All of this together frequently gets Akko and her friends Lotte and Sucy in heaps of trouble that the three of them have to dig out of with pluck, luck and determination.
This is not a formal review, but rather a more intimate look at what my wife and I found enjoyable or otherwise, collaboratively written from both our viewpoints. Neither of us had watched this anime prior to us watching it together.
Our goal with ‘Watched with my Wife’ has always been to find anime that the reader can be comfortable and confident showing to their significant other. Little Witch Academia may be the perfect introductory anime. Here is what Little Witch Academia has going for it:
- Little Witch Academia is short. At 26 minutes long, Little Witch Academia is only the length of a single episode of television. This lowers the barrier to entry for a new viewer in that if they don’t like the show… it’ll soon be over. However, Little Witch Academia manages to tell a complete and compelling story within that time frame. On top of that, everything is tight and honed. The compressed viewing time is turned into an advantage instead of a liability by skipping all unnecessary exposition and letting the world speak for itself. If you enjoy Little Witch Academia, then you can follow it with Little Witch Academia: The Enchanted Parade which is only 55 minutes long.
- Prior knowledge of anime-centric conventions and words is not needed. There are no references to otakus, tsunderes, senpais, etc. Every word and concept translates to English so that even someone who has never watched anime before can understand the entire scope of what is presented on screen.
- Little Witch Academia is a compact microcosm of anime tropes wrapped in a western-audience friendly narrative world. Yes, the characters are drawn in an anime style. Yes, there are visual shorthands and signifiers only found in anime. Yes, the voice acting is in Japanese and the reading of subtitles is mandatory. However, the world of Little Witch Academia is extremely reminiscent of the Harry Potter series which can act as a major cultural touchstone for viewers new to anime. The narrative uses universal themes, and the comedy is mostly physical and situational (as opposed to plays on words) so that it survives translation. All in all, this is anime in its most western-viewer friendly format.
Little Witch Academia is absolutely bursting at the seams with beautiful animation, varied (but vivid) color schemes, and thrilling flourishes. As a work of art, it seems Trigger aimed to create a visual tour-de-force to showcase their talent… and they certainly succeeded. On top of that, even the writing, characters, and set-pieces have to pop and sizzle due to the compressed time format of Little Witch Academia being a short. There isn’t the time to explain and delve into every aspect of this world, so each character animation, each prop, each line of dialogue not only has to advance the story but also tell you about the world… which leads to a richness not usually present within 13 episode length shows. Trigger has to walk a fine line in creating a world that feels that feels both alive and understandable at the same time, and in my opinion they succeeded in creating a work that is both vibrant and relatable.
I thought the little witches were adorable. I loved their personalities and their cute little outfits. They reminded me of my sisters and I when we were their age. We were all just trying to fit in and found ourselves blundering through attempts at being ‘cool’. I also enjoyed their bedrooms at their boarding school. They were the kind of rooms I would have envisioned myself having in college with all of the sweet decor, although I couldn’t quite pull it off. On a cuteness scale with 10 cupcakes being the most cute and 1 cupcake being the least cute, I give the witches 10 cupcakes!
Little Witch Academia was created as a short, which means it is short ;-) For people, like myself, who want more… there really isn’t a good way to follow up the Little Witch Academia experience. Because this was not a manga adaptation, there doesn’t seem to be much manga to continue the experience (although a few serialized works are currently in production or just finished). Additionally, I’ve been wracking my brains to come up with some ‘Also Recommended’ series but have none so far. Although there are plenty of ‘magical high-school’ anime, they are usually so trope-laden and self-referential that it’s hard to recommend them. Few anime capture the spirit and tone of Little Witch Academia, which I feel is its most important and appealing aspect. If you have any suggestions, I’d love to see them in the comments.
On the other hand, I had overestimated my wife’s fondness of the Harry Potter series. Where I thought she would enjoy seeing another take on what, at its core, is basically the same material… she instead thought it skewed too close to Harry Potter and was not invested as a result. She was happy when we finished, and the brevity of Little Witch Academia was a boon in her eyes.
I wasn’t a huge fan of Little Witch Academia. While the witches have some cuteness playing in their favor, for me, there wasn’t anything I hadn’t seen before. As I was watching it, I really felt like it was trying to be Harry Potter, but simply did not have the lore or strong characters. In addition, I need a romance to keep me engaged (you know, like a Hermione and Ron type of deal?) and there was no romance to be found. Sorry Little Witch Academia, I give you 2 brooms down.
Because this is not an official Ani-TAY review, we have eschewed the normal review card.
If you are looking for an anime to introduce your significant other to, I would personally recommend Little Witch Academia. I found the world enthralling, the characters enjoyable, and every aspect of the production to be well executed. On the other hand, my wife would not recommend the show. Little Witch Academia is a very close take to Harry Potter, and if you don’t like Harry Potter there might not be much for you here. Additionally, Little Witch Academia isn’t an incredibly cerebral experience. If you’re looking for a serious show with large amounts of dramatic tension, fully rounded characters, and captivating storylines, then Little Witch Academia might not be appropriate. However, if you’re looking for a fun, light-hearted, colorful romp… you can hardly do better than Little Witch Academia.
Little Witch Academia and Little Witch Academia: The Enchanted Parade can be watched on Netflix streaming service. Little Witch Academia is a 2013 animated short produced by Trigger for Anime Mirai 2013. The short was created and directed by Yoh Yoshinari and written by Masahiko Otsuka.
Interested in watching anime with your significant other? My wife and I have written a guide based off our experience watching anime together that offers some tips.
Note: With the return of American broadcast television’s spring line-up, my wife and I have been watching anime together less frequently. Expect fewer ‘Watched with my Wife’ articles for some time.