With the TV adaptation of Little Witch Academia coming out this Winter (January 9), I just watched the 2015 movie (The Enchanted Parade) and it reminded me of the strangely cathartic feeling I felt when I watched the 2013 OVA.
Synopsis: A magical (literally) performance of the renowned witch- Shiny Chariot- enchants Atsuko and aspires to become a witch. She enrolls to a Hogwarts-for-girls and finds out that learning magic is harder than she thought it would be; she also learns that Chariot is mocked as a clown. The OVA tells us a short, well-paced story when Atsuko and her friends learn magic and runs into danger at the end; the movie gives us a longer narrative on friendship, introduces new characters and another simple story- though not as masterfully paced as the first- about how Atsuko fights with her friends, struggles to master magic for a parade.
The pretentious wording of this post’s title might tell you I don’t know what I am talking (or writing) about, but I really think this franchise is an important addition to anime culture. This passion project sets itself apart in terms of setting, narration and animation. Sure, the story is pretty simple and strangely Ghibli-ish; but add fluid animation, dynamic character expressions- and you have a great visual representation of adolescence, friendship and adventure.
And boy, does Little Witch Academia succeed. The small details to just-enough-exaggeration of different emotions are so well animated that it makes me wonder why few anime attempts to animate in such a style. The character designs are by no means basic, they are drawn in a western cartoon-y style but they still look like teenagers in an anime; and this uncommon combination keeps the models animation friendly.
I keep bringing up the animation, but I think that the animation is the strongest point of this anime (hats off to the key animator Hori Takafumi)- it helps out to flesh out the characters in different ways; through their movements (like the agitated movements of Atsuko and the calculated, graceful turns of Diana) and like I mentioned before: emotions. The animation undoubtedly adds spice to the narration and pacing of both interactions and the ‘fight’ at the end.
The characters of this anime are memorable; the eerily calm with the classic evil-witch personality Sucy, the graceful and slightly tsundere Diana, the conservative Lotte and of course, the passionate and energetic Atsuko.
See, these characters are not awfully gimmicky and not characterized for otaku-pandering that most ‘moe-anime’ have now. No exaggeration, this is an evolution of ‘moe-anime’ for me. Whenever I look back at these characters, I feel that these witches have a potential for good character development and since a series is underway: I hope Yoshinari You steps up his game.
As for the story- I don’t really mind formulaic narratives as long as they are executed properly and paced well. So, I am not expecting much from the series as far as plot is concerned.
Back to what I started this post with: the weird cathartic feeling that I got from watching an action-adventure anime rather than a iyashikei anime. I don’t know if I am wording it right, but I was feeling happy and warm inside as I was watching the Enchanted Parade: the character interactions, the nicely carved out characters and simple-to-follow story. Then again, maybe I am one of the few who connects to this simple piece of animation on such an excessive level.
That wraps up this short piece. I look forward to the TV series.