Score: A

It is always nice when a show can go above and beyond your expectations. Anyone who has seen the Little Witch Academia OVAs had expectations going in, but there was no telling how good the full length series was going to be. I’m glad to say the first episode started off on a really strong note. It was certainly one of my favorite first episodes of the season so far. The road to this show even existing is an interesting one. Trigger created the first OVA for the Young Animator Training Project and released back in 2013. They then partially sought Kickstarter funds for a sequel which came out in 2015. Now here we are in 2017 with a full 2-cour anime on our hands that will be taking the characters and general plot and running with them.

In a lot of ways I was simply curious how they were going to handle the first episode. Would it basically just be a remake of the original OVA? Well yes and no. The start is very much the same, the characters are the same, and they both do involve Kagari Atsuko starting off at the school for witches Luna Nova. But the plot definitely goes in its own direction. I won’t spoil the OVA for anyone since it is definitely worth seeing on its own. Overall I’m pretty happy with the direction they went for this first episode. An episode just focusing on Atsuko (or Akko) meeting her eventual roommates Sucy and Lotte. Of course while that was the focus of the episode that wasn’t the whole thing.

The fun part of this show is probably just going to be the setting. This show has its own idea for magic and magical society in general. We can already tell that Akko is going to have a tough time with some people in this school. There definitely seems to be an elitist nature to some of the witches. Whatever having “witch blood” means, it might be a problem for Akko with other students that she doesn’t. I’m guessing that is some kind of class thing? It doesn’t seem like you need to come from a certain bloodline to use magic period since Akko did just fine in this episode. Although maybe Akko is an irregularity and she had to pass tests showing her having latent magical potential. That’s just one question I hope the show covers later.

What is safe to say is that Akko is bound to run into some trouble. You have people who will treat her like a “commoner” just because of her background. Plus her personality is pretty darn upbeat and in other’s faces. While things turned out fine by the end of the episode, Akko did run into trouble with Sucy initially. For the sake of comedy it worked, but wow Akko had a rough time with that girl. First the toy pecking her in the eye, then the rope trick, and even Sucy trapping her in that cage with Lotte. I kind of wonder how things will work out going forward since it feels like Sucy’s personality is a bit warped.

The one fun thing is how much strange stuff they ran into during this episode. This world has the potential to show off some strange and magical creatures. We already got to see this series’ version of the mandrake plant and the cockatrice. Talk about one dangerous giant chicken. Though I suppose any chicken with a snake for a tail is going to be dangerous. Just in this episode they were dodging petrifying breath, fire breath, and just a really large beak that would kill them on impact. And yet somehow the show still managed to make it all pretty light and entertaining.

One question coming out of this is what the heck is the Shiny Rod? That thing just popped out of the ground when Akko needed it. We can presume that it has some kind of magic power that lets it transport to a person who has the right mentality for it. But how powerful is that thing? Who made it? And why does Shiny Chariot no longer have it herself? That does also lead to the question of what happened to her. Although really it has been around a decade or so since Akko saw her perform last and it is possible she retired to do other things. It doesn’t sound like she’s been active for a while since people around Akko consider her to be stuck in the previous decade.

The big question for me is just where the show is going to go. The OVAs were pretty self-contained stories and that made sense. Trigger probably never expected to do anything else with it after the first one. They just have the potential to tell a much bigger story with 2 cours. They could just have a couple seasons of Akko having fun at magic school with her friends, but I have a feeling we’re going to get more than that. We could see Akko turning into some kind of chosen one character with her finding the Shiny Rod which even a teacher at her school considers a big thing. Although the others didn’t seem to care much about her walking around with it…so who knows if it matters that much.

Mistakes were made

In terms of a first episode this definitely worked. The story introduced the main cast and a bit of the world they inhabit. There is a lot of world building they can do with this show and the overall plot is still uncertain. For now we’ll see how Akko settles in. The big issue for her is that she is lacking knowledge about the basics for magic. So I think catching up with her fellow classmates in terms of overall ability will be the first big step for her. Hopefully it’s a pretty fun experience for her overall. No telling if I’ll pick this up for the season, but it definitely deserved a first look post.

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An older member at 25, yet a new addition to Anime Evo. Recently graduating University and in the difficult point between school and a true career. Anime being a salvation and blogging a good way to put all those hours of writing essays to some use. Enjoys talking about series, yet not taking on so many that the quality dips. A Canadian who enjoys his anime and hearing what others think about the series he enjoys watching.

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  • Flower

    I think that the main reason for the conflict between Sucy and the cockatrice lies in the fact that Sucy just does NOT have a plucky personality. Shoulda left that to Akko. (Sorry, couldn’t resist. XD )

    Its been a while since I watched the two OVAs, but I remember that I enjoyed them quite a bit. Interestingly for me, though, this first episode came across in a very different way – somehow, even with the trigger speedy animation signature styles the strongest impression it left at the end of the first episode was one that was unexpectedly … hmm … pensive? Or perhaps even “serious”. Like someone who was going to sit down and “get to business”.

    That made me very curious as to where this split cour series is headed. Such a feeling was absolutely not present at the end of the OVAs. Actually, part of me also wants to continue to see if my impression was a mistaken one or will be carried out as well. ^^

    • FlareKnight

      Hmm that’s an interesting point of view. Not sure I got a pensive feeling from it, though I can somewhat see where you are coming from. It is a question about where this is going to go. I think the different tone made sense in the original episodes. They were basically one-shots that didn’t have to consider a larger story.

      With the amount of episodes they have for this I wonder if they have a bigger plan in mind. Could be more than just Akko going to school, making friends, and running into some hijinks. Curious to see the next episode to see what kind of tone is there.

  • Lin

    It has been hinted pretty strongly that Ursula (the teacher) is Shiny Chariot. That’s why she considers the Shiny Rod a big deal. She knows exactly what the thing is capable of.

    • FlareKnight

      Seems entirely possible. Though there are just a lot of questions about that person. What kind of sensors were tripped that alerted her to something going on in that forest. That she knew something that seemingly no other teacher did makes her an interesting figure. I’m not sure what we saw in this episode is enough to make any serious guess.

      Though I still wonder why everyone doesn’t know what that thing is capable of. It’s not like Shiny Chariot was subtle. This person was going around making big productions and shows with her magic. Kind of makes you wonder how she was considered by other witches. Something that we’ll probably find out sooner or later. Not like Akko avoids talking about her.

  • DMS

    Haven’t seen the OVAs myself, but I can safely say that I’m definitely hooked. The characters are quirky and likeable (well, potentially for Sucy, as she was kind of an ass in this episode), the animation is top-notch and the overall mood is fun. I think the biggest draw for me so far is the potential worldbuilding, there’s so many thing that they can expand on, and since this is 2 cour anime that means they got enough time to do it if they wish so.

    Regarding the tone of the series, my guess is probably ‘started lighthearted and slowly getting darker’ Gurren Lagann style. Though whatever decision Trigger decides to go, I have a feeling that I will enjoy it regardless. Anyway, hope you’ll end up covering this series, always enjoys reading your thoughts.

    • FlareKnight

      Yeah, I have to agree with you overall. A strong opening episode that has me really excited for where this might go. And I liked most of the main characters. Sucy might turn out ok, but she was definitely more on the jerk side this time. But with her turning around near the end I think she’ll be fine. Likely still a poison obsessed nut, but should at least support her friends (I hope).

      A fair prediction with the tone. I could see them going that route as well. I tend to expect Trigger to do something creative when you give them enough time to work. But it should be fun regardless.

      We shall see how things play out. A fair number of tempting shows to cover and only so much time XD. But without a doubt this show is very much on my radar for the winter season. Thanks for the comment.

  • That was a lot of fun! I especially enjoyed the landscape where Akko was looking for the ley line to get to Luna Nova, because it was so clearly modelled on Glastonbury in the UK (a town with a lot of witchcraft folklore). Looking forward to seeing how the characters develop and settle in to the witching world.

    • FlareKnight

      Yeah, that’s a nice bit of info that I certainly didn’t notice.

      It should be nice to see how the cast develops and how Akko settles into that society. No doubt going to be an adjustment period for herself and likely for those around her.