Little Witch Academia – 01 (First Impressions)

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The Jist: After being inspired from a young age to become a witch like her idol Chariot, Kagari Atsuko, AKA Akko, enrolls at the magical Luna Nova Academy, meeting a standoffish fellow classmate, Sucy, along the way. Her journey hits a snag when she learns she needs a broom, and when she attempts to share a ride with a second classmate, Lotte, they end up going out of control in the ley lines landing in the forbidden Arcturus forest.

Sucy uses them as bait so she can pluck a cockatrice feather, and in the ensuing chase, a determined Akko summons Chariot’s “Shiny Rod” and uses it to speed Sucy, Lotte, and herself to Luna Nova in the middle of orientation. They later learn they’ll be roommates at the school.

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You Should Definitely Watch LWA because it’s gorgeous and immensely fun, and its first episode is a wonderful introduction both to Akko, the kind of tough, perservering girl she is, and the magical, whimsical world she’s gotten herself into. The show wastes no time subverting any expectations Akko’s trip to orientation will go smoothly.

Since this is my first exposure to the franchise, what it reminded me most of was, of course, Harry Potter, especially the stuck-up witches complaining about their academy admitting students who aren’t of pure blood (i.e. muggle-born). Akko is a perfect heroine, not too perfect, but has all the intangibles one needs to go far, including an unswerving faith that she’ll be able to fulfill her dreams.

It also reminds me, in a good way, of one of my favorite films, Kiki’s Delivery Service, if Kiki started out less well-versed in magic.

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As far as why you shouldn’t watch, well…what the heck is wrong with you, you monster?!? Seriously though, if you’re not a fan of Trigger’s Gainax-esque animation style (similar to Kill la Kill, but a lot less abstract and more focused here) or character design, you may find this a hard watch.

You may also just not into magical school anime, though the title should be a pretty good warning for such people to keep away. And of course, if you are very well-versed in LWA lore, perhaps you just don’t like the cut of this new adaptation’s jib. Again, I wouldn’t know.

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The Verdict: LWA is my first, and possibly only, truly Must Watch premiere of Winter 2017, joining Zane with his fine rakugo sequel. LWA sports heaps of heart without getting cheesy, exciting thrills without getting gory, and an overarching buoyant warmth and optimism that is lacking in so much anime these days, and thankfully isn’t undone in the closing moments by someone’s evil smirk or a Dun-dun-DUNNN.

It’s also less “kiddy” looking than My Hero Academia, and miles better-looking and sounding. Most of all, I’m looking forward to episode two more than anything else on TV, as Akko & Co. officially begin their training after an immensely entertaining introduction. If any of this sounds good, then take my recommendation and watch at once.

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Author: magicalchurlsukui

Preston Yamazuka is a staff writer for RABUJOI.

3 thoughts on “Little Witch Academia – 01 (First Impressions)”

  1. Animation alone makes this an 8, with fantastically elastic gestures and facial expressions that nail a quirky, fun, energetic mood. When Trigger nails it, they nail it, and they nail it all episode long here.

    What wins a full 9 is everything else about the world and characters doing all that expression. It’s diverse, comforating, and maybe even predictable a little, but not in a distracting way. This is a good feels romp and I can’t wait to see how all the personalities bounce off of eachother next!

  2. If you are not familiar with it. LWA’s story is an expanded version of the 30-minute short they released back in 2013. So this one offers a lot more backstory for that. Also, the animation seems that have been vastly revamped from the short., with the characters having slight redesighns from the original.

    But this definitely retains the elements that I loved from the original short, particularly how the animation feels like a throwback to the Ghibli and Disney films of old.

  3. Hooray! I’ve been curious to see if the long-running anime would live up to the hype the short films did, and it’s excellent to hear that so far it has. Look forward to the next reviews!

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