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GENRE: Anime ORIGINAL AIR DATES: January 9, 2017 - June 26, 2017
// review by Matt

Witch channel is it on?

"Believing in yourself is your magic!", the words bellowed out by magic entertainer Shiny Chariot as she puts on her sold-out show. Amongst the crowd is Atsuko "Akko" Kagami, a young girl so enamoured by the performance that it inspires her to become a witch. After several years and through many hardships, Akko manages to get into Luna Nova Academy, the school for witches, though she struggles with just about every class. This is a story of one young witch's determination to use magic to make everybody's lives happier, no matter how.

The first season starts off with Akko trying to find the "Leyline Station", believing it to be a bus or train station. It turns out that the Leyline Station is in fact where the magic portal to Luna Nova Academy is situated, on top of the underground roots of what's left of Yggdrasil, the world tree. Akko manages to get to school, though only after hitching a ride with a witch named Lotte, with whom she forms a strong bond. Along with a trouble-making witch named Sucy, Akko and Lotte barely escape a dangerous situation after landing in the Forest of Arcturus and almost get expelled for missing the school induction ceremony.

This is the start of a string of many consistent mistakes and accidents caused by Akko and her friends, all of which end in detention or punishment. Skipping class, using magic outside of the school grounds, eating food from the cafeteria in the middle of the night — all grounds for expulsion, but Akko manages to avoid that every time thanks to the helping hand of Professor Ursula.

Perhaps, a bit too formulaically.

Luna Nova Academy is struggling financially due to the gradual obsoleting of magic thanks to modern scientific advancements. The ways of tradition are kept up because of, well, tradition. These habitual rituals of the everyday day-to-day have caused the school, its magic, and its lessons to lose their relevance in the modern world. The school's quest for relevancy can be linked to the show's quest for relevancy, because as adorably cute as Little Witch Academia is... it's pretty much a non-show.

I like a good slice of life from time to time but Season 1 isn't a K-On, it's a K-Off. It's great to see some character development for Akko, and the season has its moments, but it's ultimately a chewing gum show that goes through the motions. Every bad situation is returned to the status quo; all it's missing is a celebrity cameo and it would be a modern episode of The Simpsons.

Stand out episodes are "Akko's Adventures In Sucy World", where Akko must enter the dream world of a comatose Sucy in order to rescue her from an enchantment gone wrong, and "Samhain Magic Festival", the finale where Akko's character development reaches its peak during the season. The last five episodes are when the season picks up and finds its footing, but a few quality moments near the end of the season doesn't make up for the slow start and run-of-the-mill opening gambit.

I'm not saying Little Witch Academia is a poor show, nope, not at all. It's just not got that on the edge of your seat nail-biting power a better series would have, and it's one of those (at most) two episodes per seating shows. Throughout all these episodes, no matter the hardship endured, you know Akko will eventually somehow fix the situation, so you don't feel concern for her or her friends. No cliffhangers, no multi-parters. It's just so clinical.

All of these issues are fixed in the far superior second season. I would not recommend watching just Season 2 alone, so despite the average score, I'll still recommend Little Witch Academia and its average quality dub on Netflix at least as some form of time killer. If the animation was a little rougher and the show handled things with a darker tone, it would be easier to recommend. Also, the second season fixes this.


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