Little Witch Academia is Studio Trigger’s all-female Harry Potter. There have been a lot of Harry Potter knockoffs, but this one has its own sense of style, own plot and is by far the most enjoyable.
The animation has moments of being interesting, flashy, and cutting-edge. Unfortunately, it also has moments of being boring, stale and unmoving. But usually it’s fun enough to look at, and the good character designs that are different than other magical girl anime and interesting setting mean that there is always something to look at, weather it’s an interesting background detail or an expressive emotion.
The character designs all manage to be distinct while also looking fresh and interesting. Each character feels unique, and you understand what they’re about instantly. I especially enjoy the designs of Sucy and Dianna. Sucy looks like she’s a bit lazy and she comes off as chill. She is obsessed with mushrooms, and this comes through. Dianne is cold and calculating. Her design is very sleek and elegant, and provides a lot of contrast to Atsuko, the main character.
Each episode mostly stands alone and doesn’t require watching the previous episode, but as the season builds, there unfolds a very interesting overarching narrative. I think it’s accessible in that no single episode is that challenging, but the overarching questions and mysteries are very challenging and interesting. (spoiler) It ends up that Atsuko has lost her natural abilities to do magic because of a character who had been a traveling star magician performing and stealing magic. I’ve heard this is supposed to be a metaphor for animation. So it’s like, watching animation kind of steals your ability to create stories. Thinking about like, otaku culture and staying inside and watching anime rather than actually drawing and writing it, this makes a lot of sense. And it adds a layer of existential horror to it.
The dub is not bad. Each character sounds like a districint girl. The main character’s voice is a little bit high-pitched for my taste, and her voice often gets on my nerves. This isn’t necessarily wrong for her character, though. The dub also takes out some curses and makes it more strictly child-friendly.
Little Witch Academia has really stayed with me. Not only are the characters truly cute and fun, but there is also a really strong story there that does a lot towards challenging the audience.