Japanese animated tv series (2017). Trigger. Created and Directed by Yoh Yoshinari. Written by Michiru Shimada. Voice cast includes Megumi Han, Noriko Hidaka, Yōko Hikasa, Shōzō Iizuka, Rie Murakawa, Michiyo Murase, Fumiko Orikasa and Junko Takeuchi. 25 24-minute episodes. Colour.
This Television series was preceded by two short films: Little Witch Academia (2013) and Little Witch Academia: The Enchanted Parade (2015), both directed by Yoshinari, the former written by Masahiko Otsuka, the latter by Michiru Shimada.
The Luna Nova Magical Academy, located near Glastonbury, trains young witches but has fallen on hard times: in an age of science and Technology, Magic is viewed as old-fashioned, with the Academy being an embarrassment to politicians. The situation is not helped by a decline in the strength of magic and fewer girls wanting to be witches. However, inspired by seeing the performing witch Shiny Chariot (Hidaka) when young, Atsuko "Akko" Kagari (Han) joins the fee-starved Academy, despite apparently lacking magical abilities. She quickly befriends bookish Lotte Jansson (Orikasa) and deadpan mycologist Sucy Manbavaran (Murase). Akko clashes with the Academy's teachers and their star pupil, the aloof Diana Cavendish (Hikasa), but is supported by Professor Ursula Callistis (Hidaka), who is clearly (though Akko is oblivious) the retired Shiny Chariot.
The early episodes serve mainly to familiarize the viewer with the cast and the Academy, though Akko does acquire the magic staff Shiny Rod. The plot kicks in – sidelining Lotte and the show's best character, Sucy – when Professor Croix Meridies (Takeuchi) arrives. Croix is both a witch and a Scientist, using science to boost the power of magic. She has an ulterior motive: to break the seal of the Grand Triskellion, a prehistoric relic, and release its power. This plan goes awry and a nuclear missile (see Nuclear Energy; Weapons) becomes possessed. Fortunately Akko and Diana, now friends, save the day.
Though the series is clearly rooted in fantasy and inspired by the Harry Potter franchise, sf elements do appear. The belief that science is rendering magic redundant is reflected by the Dragon Fafnir (Iizuka) having advanced technology, including Robot wyverns, and using online investments (see Economics; Internet) to gain vast wealth. Croix's technology hybridizes magic with science, linking it to apps, tablets etc; her laboratory is ultra-modern. There is another scientist at the Academy, the serious but likable student Constanze Amalie von Braunschbank-Albrechtsburger (Murakawa), an engineer who builds complex machinery that boosts or modifies her magic, such as guns, robots and a giant wooden skyship (see Airships). There is a Steampunk feel to her creations: whilst Croix's science is seen as cold and threatening, Constanza's is portrayed as fun.
In one episode Susy experiments on herself (after briefly considering Akko as a guinea-pig), drinking a fungus-based potion and falling into Suspended Animation. Akko enters her mind to wake her, braving Susy's psyche (see Dream Hacking), whose many inhabitants – all Susy variants – include her angel and devil personas, differentiated by the former wanting to kill Akko humanely. A surreal, mushroom-dominated journey follows (see Drugs), including a black-and-white silent movie of life at the Academy.
Little Witch Academia is an entertaining Anime, with likable characters and much to amuse; the early episodes are the most fun, but there is plenty to enjoy throughout. [SP]
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