As a young girl, Akko was fascinated by the shows of witch performance artist Shiny Chariot. Her passion inspires her to attend the witch academy Luna Nova. However, since she is not of witch blood, she finds magic difficult and is teased by other students. Problems plague her from her very first day – her inability to ride a broom means she can’t even get to school. Akko’s attempts to catch a ride with fellow classmates Lotte and Sucy cause the three to crash land in a mysterious forest.
It turns out to be the Forest of Arcturus, a place full of deadly creatures and magic from which even witches cannot escape. Potion-loving Sucy takes the opportunity to harvest feathers from a deadly cockatrice living in the forest, using Akko and Lotte as bait. Akko’s optimism and determination even in the face of danger lead to her discovering the staff used by Shiny Chariot. Her spirit renewed, she attempts to escape with the other girls, but the Cockatrice pursues them.
Professor Ursula, an instructor at Luna Nova, is warned of their danger and tracks them down just as the Cockatrice burns Sucy’s broom. Ursula tells Akko the spell needed to activate Chariot’s staff, and Akko uses the words to create a portal to Luna Nova. The three girls arrive at the entrance ceremony just in time, and are assigned as roommates.
I’ve been a fan of Little Witch Academia since the original OVA, and was excited to get the chance to review the long-awaited anime series. I know my positive reaction to this episode is not entirely objective. Still, I think this was a decent start to a show with a fun premise. It may not be anything new or revolutionary, but it definitely captures the sense of fun and adventure that was the hallmark of the OVAs. I’m also glad about the decision to have Akko find the Shiny Rod in the first episode, rather than partway through the school year as in the OVA, because that allows for a plot of her learning how to use it rather than just being “the kid that’s useless at magic” for most of the show.
While this show is another “kids at magic school” show, it does manage to differentiate itself in that there is (likely) no romance plot. Instead, the focal relationship as established in this episode is the adorable friendship between Akko, Lotte and Sucy. I’ve always been a fan of these three’s dynamics, and I’m glad that the anime is starting off with making them the central focus. It was really cool to see how they started off on the wrong foot but ended up growing close through their adventure in the forest. The opening sequence also showcased some new characters as well as other returners from the OVAs, so I’m quite excited to meet all of them.
The animation is definitely not the same amazing quality as the OVAs, but it’s still pretty good, and retains the fun, colorful style. It’s been criticized as “simple” and “cartoony,” but in my opinion it honestly fits the tone and themes of the show. My only complaint this episode was the design of the Cockatrice – while, yes, mythical cockatrices ARE supposed to resemble chickens, it really was just a regular barnyard chicken on a huge scale. Not exactly the most intimidating of monsters.
Again, I’m biased both by my prior interest in the series and the low quality of the other shows I’ve reviewed this season, but I do think this was a solid first episode. There’s a chance that future episodes may not be subbed/released regularly due to Netflix’s acquisition of the series. However, if it IS regularly subbed, this is likely the show I’ll be reviewing.
Out of 5 Dios: