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Anime: Little Witch Academia

"Never forget, a believing heart is your magic."

Witch-in-training Akko Kagari dreams of following the footsteps of Shiny Chariot, whose flashy stage magic captivated Akko during her youth. But Akko has three problems standing between her and her dream: Akko doesn't come from a wizard family (she can't even fly a broom), class queen bee Diana Cavendish continually upstages her, and most of the wizarding community thinks of Shiny Chariot as little more than a charlatan. But when a great threat threatens to destroy the school, can Akko's faith in Shiny Chariot ultimately save her friends and their magic?

Little Witch Academia is a half-hour short produced as part of Japan's "Young Animator Training Project," a government-sponsored program which hopes to train new animators under the guidance of industry masters; in this case, Yoh Yoshinari of Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann and Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt fame produced the show alongside Studio Trigger.

Studio Trigger later uploaded the short on YouTube with full English subtitles. Watch it here. It can also be seen on Crunchyroll. acttil, a new videogame and anime localization company, will release the short on Blu-ray in North America in Summer 2013 (which will become the company's first release).

While initially created as a stand-alone short, Academia now has a chance of becoming an actual series: after a Kickstarter campaign asking for additional funding for the second episode went live, it reached its goal in five hours. By the time the kickstarter ended it had made it's stretch goal of a half-million, earning over six-hundred-thousand overall.


Tropes:

  • Academy of Adventure: Luna Nova, a European school for witches. Bonus points for having a vast labyrinth filled with monsters and treasures right underneath it.
  • Accidental Pun: When the minotaur appears, Hannah and Barbera try to tell Diana that it's behind her (ushiro) but only manage to stammer out ushi (cow).
  • Adults Are Useless: Averted. While Akko's teacher is the only one present to deal with the dragon problem, she promptly reacts in a meaningful way by re-barring the dungeon door. When students attack it she cries to stop showing she knows about the dragon's ability of eating magic. Since the students aggressive magics make the dragon so powerful that it destroys the door she orders the evacuation of the building and uses herself as bait to allow students to reach safety.
  • All There in the Manual: The Manga acts as a prequel to the show, Akko's first day at Luna Nova, and gives a bit of extra information such as Akko's full name or the names of Diana's Girl Posse.
  • Alpha Bitch: Diana.
    • Lovable Alpha Bitch: In the end. Knowing that she's the one responsible for unwittingly freeing the dragon and letting her Girl Posse fire spells at it that only make it stronger, she helps to evacuate the other students and later saves Akko from falling to her death after the dragon is defeated. She also may be more of a fan of Shiny Chariot than she lets on.
      • And earlier, while being The Libby personified, she also removed the spell that had given Akko a pointy nose, without calling attention to it (the nose, or that she'd fixed it).
  • Asleep in Class: Akko is shown doing this the first time we see her at school. The teacher deals with it by using a spell to slam her head onto her book.
  • Awesome Art: 2D-animated glory from a Gainax veteran with nary a CG copout in sight.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Akko and her friends arrive just in time to save Diana and her posse from a certain death by angry minotaur, and Diana later returns the favor by saving Akko from certain death by falling from great height.
  • Black Bead Eyes: A few of the student extras have them.
  • Blondes are Evil: Diana, contrasting heroine Akko's brown hair. Though she's not evil so much as just kind of a jerk and even then she isn't fully mean.
  • Brutal Honesty: Sucy is shamelessly blunt.
  • Bucket Helmet: After awakening the dragon, Sucy and Lotte emerge from a pile of debris wearing a cauldron and a pot, respectively.
  • Bullying a Dragon: Diana's two friends with a literal dragon. As the trope implies, it doesn't go too well for them.
  • Cast of Snowflakes: Each of Akko's classmates are individually recognizable, even from a distance.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The Shiny Rod.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Extremely subtle, to the point where it's more of a Rewatch Bonus. In the end of the film Akko asks Diana how she knows about Shiny Chariot's attack, Shiny Arc. Now go back to the very beginning of the film and look closely at the first crowd shot. A young Diana is seen in the audience for Shiny Chariot's show.
    • There's also the professor who oversees the Dungeon Crawling test. She's first shown to be listening in when Akko and Diana are arguing about Shiny Chariot, and at the end she's revealed to be Shiny Chariot herself.
  • Chekhov's Skill: During her show, Shiny Chariot destroys a monster she materializes by aiming into its mouth so it swallows the blast and it explodes. At the end, Akko destroys a dragon by doing the same thing.
  • Christmas Cake: The dungeon crawl teacher seems to have a complex about this as she is leading the dragon away. (Dragon turns to chase Akko and company, ignoring her).
    Sensei: "Is it because they're younger?"
  • Closet Geek: Diana is a lot more knowledgeable of Shiny Chariot than someone who professes to hate her should be.
  • Cute Witch: It's right there in the title.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Sucy
  • Determinator: Akko is determined to be a great witch like Shiny Chariot, even though she's not from a wizarding family and lacks basic skills that all witches should have, not to mention that Shiny Chariot isn't viewed favourably in the wizarding community. In the end, her faith in Shiny Chariot allows her to defeat the dragon by using the Shiny Rod just like Chariot did in her stage shows.
  • Dissonant Serenity: Sucy, when confronting the Minotaur.
  • Dungeon Crawling: Much of the action takes place during a test that involves this, in which the students have to traverse a series of dungeons while collecting rare treasures and dealing with monsters.
  • Energy Absorption: Dragons grow bigger and nastier the more magic is used on them.
  • Eye Glasses: Lotte.
  • Family-Unfriendly Death: For a few seconds, you can actually see the minotaur melt and the bones seem to be popping out. THEN it turns into a puddle of blood that MELTS THE FLOOR.
  • Feed It with Fire: After Diana's party accidentally frees the dragon, they start blasting the creature with reckless abandon. Little do they know, dragons absorb magic...
  • Flying Broomstick: Knowing how to use one of these is supposed to be an extremely basic skill that all witches learn while growing up, but since Akko's not from a wizarding family she can't fly at all.
  • Fusion Dance: Diana fuses hers, Hannah's, and Barbara's broomsticks into a more powerful one.
  • Girl Posse: Diana commands one.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: The minotaur's death appears to be graphic, but for most of it, we can only see the girls' expressions.
  • Head Pet: Lotte's fire sprite spends a good deal of time on Lotte's head.
  • Hidden Depths: Diana is, or used to be, a fan of Shiny Chariot's spectacles.
  • I Was Just Passing Through: When Diana saves a falling Akko:
    Diana: No need to thank me. It is my duty to evacuate all students.
  • Ill Girl: Sucy constantly looks sickly and a bit depressed. Must be the vapors from all those potions she cooks up.
  • Inept Mage: Akko, much to her chagrin. She can use magic, but she's not particularly good at it and she's completely unable to fly a broom.
  • Instant Awesome, Just Add Dragons
  • Killer Rabbit: Sealed in an iron maiden deep within the school's dungeons, there's this lizard-looking thing. Sure, it's bigger than your average lizard, and it's got nasty-looking fangs, but isn't it a little tiny for a monster found so deep within the dungeon? Well, let's put it that way: for the sake of everything holy, do not use magic on it.
  • Living Gasbag: The monstrous whale-like leviathan conjured and then slain by Shiny Chariot as part of her show gives this impression, considering that it's very large and fat and yet somehow manages to fly with no apparent means to do so.
  • A Load of Bull: The girls confront a minotaur during their dungeon test. Sucy instantly kills it with one of her potions.
  • Magic Wand: All the witches have one, though Shiny Chariot uses her Shiny Rod.
  • Magical Girl: Shiny Chariot has elements of this. Interestingly, while loved by the Muggles of the setting, she and this archetype is absolutely reviled by most of the magic community who think she is nothing but a fraud. Apparently, she's not as much of a fraud as they think.
  • Magicians Are Wizards: Shiny Chariot is hated by most magic practitioners for spreading "the wrong idea about magic", namely grandiose "stage magic" augmented by many special effects to please the crowds.
  • Magic Skirt: Most noticeable when Akko plummets from the sky on a disobedient broomstick; her skirt just wiggles slightly. She is a witch, so actual magic may be involved.
  • Master Poisoner: Technically Sucy's specialty is potions in general, but the way she's able to instantly kill a huge minotaur with one of her concoctions has her border on this.
  • Meaningful Background Event: You probably won't notice it unless you're looking for it, but take a close look at the crowd shot at the beginning. See the blond girl in a witch's hat?
  • Meganekko: Lotte and the Professor.
  • A Minor Kidroduction: The short starts with a young Akko watching Shiny Chariot's stage show. Diana can also be spotted in the very first crowd shot swaying back and forth.
  • Morph Weapon: Shiny Chariot's Shiny Rod can be a Magic Staff, a Flying Broomstick, and an Energy Bow. Akko finds it in the dungeons and is able to use its Energy Bow form to defeat the dragon. The normal wands used by the students and staff also double as broomsticks.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Diana is very distraught after freeing the dragon from its prison, and tries to take care of it herself, but it gets out of the dungeon before she catches up to it.
  • No Kill Like Overkill: Sucy's potion to defeat the minotaur.
    "The formula might have been a bit too strong."
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Diana, in her search for more treasures, breaks a magical seal. The other witches inadvertently make things worse as well.
  • No Sell:
    • The dragon takes it to a whole new level.
    • Diana utilizing the swords against the Minotaur. All it seems to do is anger it some more.
  • Oh, Crap: The dragon's expression before being blown up from the inside by Akko's Shiny Arc attack
    • Akko makes quite a few of these, all while falling, on three separate occasions.
  • The Ojou: Diana certainly carries herself as such.
  • One-Gender School: The witch's school is naturally girls-only.
  • Our Dragons Are Different: They grow more and more powerful the more magic you dish out on them. And they are not very aggressive, just hungry for magic.
  • Panty Shot: Averted, despite the "flying lesson" sequence. Mostly because in the bits where they should be visible, the particular character's legs don't appear to attach to anything under her skirt (probably as a shadow censor).
  • Peek-a-Bangs: Sucy.
  • Poison Is Corrosive: Enough to melt flesh and stone alike.
  • Power Glows: Chariot's Shiny Rod.
  • Power Trio: Akko, Lotte, and Sucy.
  • Proud Witch Race Girl: Diana is very annoyed that Hannah and Barbara spend the entire Dungeon Crawl clinging to each other begging Diana to go back, and tells them that witches shouldn't be afraid, that they should be the ones feared.
  • Red and Black and Evil All Over: The dragon.
  • The Reveal: Akko's professor is a retired Shiny Chariot.
  • Sealed Evil In An Iron Maiden: The dragon. It is closed in the level under the last normally reachable one; it is closed in a torture device famous to drinking the blood of hundred of witches; it is kept closed by many seals... What can possibly go wrong?
  • Shout-Out:
  • Skunk Stripe: Diana has stripes of dark blond in her light blond hair.
  • Slasher Smile: Sucy briefly sports one when she successfully kills the minotaur with one of her potions.
  • Storm of Blades: Diana uses this in an attempt to kill the minotaur, but all that does is piss it off even more.
  • Tareme Eyes: Sucy.
  • Translation Convention: All the on-screen text is in English, heavily implying all the characters, Akko included, speak it. While the topic of the characters' nationality is never dealt in the OVA, assuming how different is the setting from our own world, maybe Akko learn English by herself or via Translator Microbes, since she's the only character with a non-Western name. This is enforced on the fact none of the characters, including Akko, use honorifics with the obvious exception of sensei (Professor).
  • Trick Arrow: Shiny Chariot's signature spell "Shiny Arc" is an arrow that, when fired into a monster's maw, makes the creature spectacularly explode in a shower of fireworks. And it works on otherwise magic-proof dragons.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Akko and Diana, they don't out right hate each other, but they are quick to argue and compete with one another. That said if the other is in trouble they don't hesitate to help.
    • In the Prequel Manga, this is Sucy and Akko's friendship.
  • Waterfall Puke: One member of Diana's Girl Posse is visibly (though very briefly) shown to be throwing up after seeing the effects of Sucy's potion on the minotaur.
  • Wave-Motion Tuning Fork: The wands have this appearance, with spells coming out from between the prongs.
  • Wizarding School
  • Youthful Freckles: Lotte has a few.

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alternative title(s): Little Witch Academia
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