Little Witch Academia Review

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"This is one of the finest animated shorts to come out of Japan in years and I cannot wait until the recently launched Kickstarter sequel makes its way to the West."

Yoh Yoshinari is a renowned name amongst Japanese animators. He’s regarded as one of the industry’s best key animators, storyboard artists and Anime directors and his prominent accomplishments like Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, Neon Genesis Evangelion, FLCL and Dead Leaves are only a few testaments of his rare talents. Yoh’s unequaled design direction is instantly recognizable. Hyper-exaggerated animations combined with swift camera movement and rapid narrative pacing are his signature traits and they become evident as soon as Little Witch Academia sets in motion. Produced by TRIGGER for the Anime Mirai 2013, Little Witch Academia is a 26 min Harry Potter flavored action-comedy filled with charisma and personality. The film is short, but Little Witch Academia wastes no time as each second radiates with masterful animations, witty dialogue and incredible action sequences. This is one of the finest animated shorts to come out of Japan in years and I cannot wait until the recently launched Kickstarter sequel makes its way to the West.


"Akko and her roommates Lotte and Sucy are constantly engaged in hilarious banter and their nemesis, Diana Cavendish, is a comical mirror image of Harry Potter’s Draco Malfroy."

The Luna Nova Academy is a school for young witches. Imagine Hogwarts enveloped in Anime aesthetics. After being inspired as a young girl by the infamous Shiny Chariot, Akko Kagari enrolls into Luna in hopes of one day becoming like her idol. Unfortunately, Akko’s classmates view her fascination with Chariot in disdain believing she gives the witch community a bad name. Akko’s clumsiness and inability to control the flying broom don’t help either. Despite all the naysayers, Akko is determined to pursue her dreams. During a dungeon exploration assignment, Akko uncovers Chariot’s Shiny Rod and takes the opportunity to prove her worthiness as a powerful witch.

Masahiko Otsuka, previously a member of studio Ghibli and GAINAX and co-founder of TRIGGER, delivers a superb script that’s clever, funny and effervescent. Akko and her roommates Lotte and Sucy are constantly engaged in hilarious banter and their nemesis, Diana Cavendish, is a comical mirror image of Harry Potter’s Draco Malfroy. The voice acting is equally impressive. Megumi Han’s energetic performance perfectly accentuates Akko’s vivid persona and the sickly looking potions expert Sucy is solemnly portrayed by the talented Michiyo Murase. Accompanying the silky animations and playful cast is a remarkable soundtrack that’s included on a separate CD. Legendary composer Michiru Oshima, who’s best known for his work on Ico, Legend of Legaia and The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, delivers a series of thrilling tunes that beautifully blend Classical, Orchestral, Electronic and Ambient genres.


"Overcoming sleepless nights and tremendous pressure, TRIGGER’s newcomers are required to endure strenuous challenges in hopes of becoming industry’s top Anime artists."

The most unfortunate thing about Little Witch Academia is that it’s over too soon. Quality Anime is becoming scarcer so when an animation this good comes along…it’s hard to go back to things like Blessing of the Campanella or Antique Bakery. Aside from the main film, Little Witch Academia includes a fantastic making-of featurette that thoroughly documents each step of the animation process. From initial funding to the editing process and voice recording, the making-of Little Witch Academia features a remarkably intimate look behind TRIGGER’s dedicated and talented team. Comprised of a few veterans and mostly newcomers, each animator faces daunting revisions each day with impossible deadlines around every corner. Overcoming sleepless nights and tremendous pressure, TRIGGER’s newcomers are required to endure strenuous challenges in hopes of becoming industry’s top Anime artists. Reworking a single line of motion dozen times a day is the norm at TRIGGER and witnessing everyone pull together under Yoh Yoshinari ‘s guidance and come out with such masterful work is nothing short of amazing.


"This is a collector's dream come true and anyone passionate about the animation industry needs this on their shelf."

The collector's edition also comes with a breathtakingly detailed art-book filled with storyboards and character sketches. While the text is entirely in Japanese, the images speak for themselves. Every page exhibits the animators' laborious effort to refine each shot until perfection. From basic rough drafts to refined environmental shots, the art-book contains every step of the creation process. This is a collector's dream come true and anyone passionate about the animation industry needs this on their shelf.

Little Witch Academia is a must for both Anime and movie lovers. It’s a spectacle of exquisite draftsmanship from a team wholly dedicated to their craft. Every frame is meticulously rendered with thrilling action and superb writing from beginning to end. The film has more personality in its brief 26 mins than most shows have throughout entire seasons. This is an exemplary achievement by a team of rising animators whose careers can only go uphill from this point on. If Little Witch Academia becomes a serialized show, it has potential to be one of the best Anime franchises in decades. It’s beautiful, it’s funny…it’s perfect.


Review by: Tin Salamunic | Review Format: Blu-ray | Running Time: 26 Minutes

A+

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