Image source: リトルウィッチアカデミア on Twitter

We’ve already had two grand adventures with the characters from Little Witch Academia in the past few years, but these have been thrown out the window for the new TV anime–and it’s a good choice.

Little Witch Academia began as a short, thirty-minute film produced for Anime Mirai 2012–a government sponsored program to have established studios train young up-and-comers by creating a new original product. It was such a hit, however, that it was followed up by a kickstarter-funded, double-length sequel: Little Witch Academia: The Enchanted Parade. Now, a little over a year later, a full TV series has begun to hit the airwaves in Japan.

[Note: This article contains spoilers for the films Little Witch Academia and Little Witch Academia: The Enchanted Parade along with the first two episodes of the Little Witch Academia TV series.]

Image source: リトルウィッチアカデミア on Twitter

However, if you’ve seen the two films, you’ll notice something right away: the films clearly never happened in the TV universe. Or to put it another way: the TV series is a reboot.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I love both Little Witch Academia films–I genuinely feel they are among the greatest family friendly anime of the past few decades. I also personally love continuity between different works in the same franchise (and tend to get annoyed when it is ignored). And while Little Witch Academia (TV) no doubt could have kept the movies’ established canon and still produced a magical story, the fact that it didn’t opens up countless new story opportunities–especially when it comes to our main heroine, Akko.

The original film introduces Akko as a girl with ambition far greater than her skill when it comes to magic. Her broom-riding is shaky and even the simplest of her magic spells don’t seem to come out quite right. Yet, she comes full of determination–the determination to bring the joy of magic to others as it was brought to her by her idol, Shiny Chariot.

Image source: TRIGGER on YouTube

Much to Akko’s surprise, to the witches of the world, magic is serious business–and a woman who used magic for something as silly as entertainment is a blemish upon magical society. Thus, Akko seeks at every turn to show the greatness of Chariot’s magic–and thus prove that Chariot’s magic has a purpose in the world. Of course, this leads to Akko being somewhat of an outcast, ridiculed by many of the more successful students.

It’s a great setup for the character–and one that the TV series uses as well. The problem with the events of the film are that, to put it simply, Akko succeeds in her goal.

The main conflict of the film is that the lackeys of Diana, the best student in the school, let loose a tiny dragon. Unfortunately, they don’t realize that this dragon is special: he eats magic. Thus, every spell the students throw at the beast make it stronger–until not even the teachers can stop it.

Image source: TRIGGER on YouTube

Yet, through a mixture of luck and bravery, Akko defeats the dragon by using Chariot’s Shiny Rod and an accompanying spell that she once saw Chariot use in a stage performance when she was a little girl. At this point, Akko has done what no other person at the school could do: stop a dragon. She did it using Chariot’s magic and in front of hundreds of witnesses. There can be no doubt in the minds of everyone who witnessed the event that Chariot’s magic had meaning–even if it was just to inspire one little girl.

No matter how inept Akko is in the days and months forward, she prevented a huge catastrophe. It’s hard to seriously ridicule a person who saved your life without looking stupid and petty yourself.

By starting over from scratch, the series is able to focus on Akko as an outsider: the normal girl who, through drive alone, decided to become a witch–even as everyone else was literally born into the profession. Moreover, her love of a ridiculed outcast and her unwillingness to let her idol be made fun of makes her even more of one. Though that’s not to say that she doesn’t have companions.

Image source: TOHO animation チャンネル on YouTube

The first episode of the TV series shows Akko’s first meeting of her roommates, Lotte and Sucy, and their harrowing adventure to try and make it to the school’s opening ceremony on time. Like in the film, Akko finds the Shiny Rod, fights a giant monster, and she and her new friends only escape alive because of Akko using the rod’s magic to save them. The big difference, however? Only Lotte, Sucy, and their teacher Ursula witness the event. This means the only people who believe Akko is anything more than some random witch-obsessed fangirl are those three people.

The second episode takes this idea even further. In it, we are reintroduced to Diana, the school’s top student and the epitome of what a witch is suppose to be. While thinking Akko is misguided, Diana isn’t outright hateful towards her. Sure, Diana thinks she knows better than Akko–and she does 99% of the time, to be fair–but when everyone treats you like your infallible, eventually, you’re going to start to believe it.

Image source: リトルウィッチアカデミア on Twitter

Yet, by the end of the episode, it’s revealed that Diana was about to make a horrible mistake–a mistake that is only prevented by Akko’s Chariot-obsessed knowledge and indomitable will.

But when the dust settles, it is Diana who gets the credit. At first, Diana tries to deny that she was responsible, but put on the spot, she falters in her conviction and runs away. For the first time in her life, she knows she doesn’t deserve it. She is at a loss for what to do. Does she betray the expectations that everyone has for her by admitting she was wrong about Akko–and that she herself isn’t as great as everyone thinks she is?

In this way, having Diana be the fourth person in on the secret–that Akko really is more than she seems–allows her to develop in ways her post-movie counterpart could not.

Image source: リトルウィッチアカデミア on Twitter

Careful watchers may also notice one other major change in the first two episodes: Other than her using the special belief-based magic of the Shiny Rod in the climaxes of each episode, Akko is unable to perform even the simplest of magic like flying on a broom–she isn’t even able to use the Shiny Rod when other students demand that she back up her crazy story.

It’s possible that this new version of Akko is unable to use traditional magic at all, making the special properties of the Rod’s magic the only way for her to achieve her dream. Wild speculation? Sure, but that is the kind of story freedom the rebooting of Little Witch Academia allows for. And that freedom, along with how it allows us to explore the characters in new, complex ways, is why the reboot was such a good idea.

Little Witch Academia is currently airing on Japanese TV and has been licensed for English release on Netflix.

Anime News Newtwork Feed

    Close
    Prev
    Next