Version reviewed: Japanese audio with English subtitles.

Some may rush to judge the Netflix original anime Little Witch Academia as an uninspired cute-fest at first glance, but those that do so would be writing off a truly splendid spectacle. This is because despite its appearance, Little Witch Academia flawlessly avoids the trap of becoming a predictably mundane magical-themed anime, instead offering up a twenty-five-episode-long helping of genuine delight.

Atsuko ‘Akko’ Kagari desires nothing more than to be a competent witch, despite having non-magical parents. Regardless, her enthusiasm and endearing “never give up” attitude spurs her into enrolling at Luna Nova Magical Academy, the school at which her idol, Shiny Chariot, had previously studied. After a turbulent first day, Akko befriends two of her fellow classmates: shy and sweet natured Lotte Jansson, and likeable oddball Sucy Manbavaran. These three central characters, and the development of the relationships between them, are truly the beating heart of Little Witch Academia‘s greatest moments. With all three of them boasting uniquely charming personalities, seeing them tackle their various magical endeavours is nothing short of smile-inducing fun. With this in mind, it is unfortunate that Little Witch Academia implements the decision during its latter half for Lotte and Sucy to step away from centre stage to create room for the (sometimes rushed) development of supporting characters.

Whilst Little Witch Academia begins in a lighthearted tone, it progressively grows more sinister, raising the stakes for our beloved characters while gradually implementing various elements of legitimate threat. Even from the very first episode, which features a desperate escape from a rampaging cockatrice, it is established that Little Witch Academia is more than happy to find the occasional time for a frantic and satisfying action sequence.

With animation tackled by Studio Trigger, the talented team responsible for the lightning-fast animation of Kill La Kill, it’s safe to say that Little Witch Academia‘s visuals are in safe hands. Boasting a minimal-but-clean style, seeing animated witches zap spells at stuff whilst riding broomsticks never looked so good. Unsurprisingly, Studio Trigger has done a knock-out job. Little Witch Academia‘s two opening and ending themes are also deserving of praise, and whilst they don’t quite reach the unfathomable heights of catchiness of the aforementioned Kill La Kill’s soundtrack, they’re still uplifting earworms that perfectly match the joyous tone of Akko’s adventure.

One definite fault of Little Witch Academia however is its pacing. With certain episodes being wildly entertaining, flaunting a perfect balance of plot and character development alongside exciting set pieces, some others feel sluggish and almost unnecessary. The show doesn’t necessarily possess blatant filler content, but at the same time it is somewhat hard to justify the necessity of certain episodes. With some important plot details being lightly brushed over, and frequent shifts in tone throughout the series, Little Witch Academia walks along a thin tightrope, attempting to balance an eccentric mixture of varied elements. As a result, it inevitably stumbles from time to time.

Fortunately, the show redeems itself from its faults tenfold as a result of its fabulous final five episodes. Overflowing with emotionally-charged exchanges, shocking twists, and white-knuckle adrenaline, the finale to this magical adventure is wholly rewarding. By successfully answering lingering questions, concluding plot threads, and delivering an edge-of-your-seat confrontation throughout its closing episode, Little Witch Academia brings down its final curtain to rapturous applause.

Little Witch Academia offers up a great time overall, and despite its pacing being uncertain on occasion and its underutilisation of Lotte and Sucy during its latter half, it stands tall as an enjoyable way to get a healthy dose of magic.

I have spent my life in England finding entertainment in both video games and music. Whilst not indulging in the latter, I invest my time in playing all manner of video games, and as of 2017, writing about all manner of video games.


Leave a comment below.

Latest Posts

'Firstborn' succeeds in crafting a queasy portrait of a loveless couple trapped in marriage.

Fantastic Fest 2017: ‘Maus’ Is Horror As Education

Horror has long been an excellent vehicle for political messaging, though rarely as concise and direct as in 'Maus.'

Fantastic Fest 2017: ‘Thelma’ Spins A Magical Story Of Awakening

'Thelma' is accessible, deeply human film-making about the process of growth and slippery nature of identity.

‘Steamworld Dig 2’ Review: Fracking Fun and Hole-y Engrossing

A direct sequel to the 2013’s Steamworld Dig (and less direct sequel to 2015’s Steamworld Heist), Steamworld Dig 2 is developer Image & Form’s crowning achievement.

‘JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure’: Which Story Arc Reigns Supreme?

What do muscular men flaunting flamboyance, outlandish superpowers, and villains bearing names that tribute popular musicians all have in common? They are all staple...

My First Experience With TIFF

Is the Toronto International Film Festival worth attending in person? You bet.

5 PlayStation Series We’d Love to See Return

With Sony in such a strong position at the moment and thus better placed than the competition to indulge in the odd passion project or two, wouldn’t now be the perfect time to revisit some of the platform’s former successes?
pokémon gold and silver

‘Pokémon Gold and Silver’ Remain the Greatest Pokémon Games

Pokémon Gold and Silver remain the greatest Pokémon games made to this day.

Buffyversed #29: “Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered” Lets Its Hair Down and Just Has Fun

If the second season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer shows us anything, it's a renewed sense of confidence in itself. Like its characters, Buffy is a hell of a lot more sure of itself in its second year. particularly as the season goes on. While "Halloween" showed that this show was more than willing to get silly for an episode, "Bewitched, Bewildered and Bothered" doubles down on that to glorious effect.