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 its stretch goal of a half-million, earning over six-hundred-thousand overall.

A second longer movie, Little Witch Academia: The Enchanted Parade, premiered for Kickstarter pledgers July 3rd, 2015note  and will be released for the general public in October of the same year. Akko, Sucy, and Lottie are tasked with planning the annual Witch Parade, a parade that commemorates the Witch Hunts of the middle ages, after they have once again caused trouble. They are not the only trouble makers tasked with the "prestigious" task as they are joined by Amanda O'Neill, wannabe thief, Constanze Braunschbank Albrechtsberger, a Magi Tech Gadgeteer Genius, and Jasminka Antonenko, a Big Eater.

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).
  • The Ace: Diana, an extremely powerful witch who never shirks responsibility or backs down from a fight.
  • Admiring the Abomination: When the giant reveals its full self in Enchanted Parade, Akko's reaction isn't freaking out but rather "Whoa, this is a giant...?"
  • 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.
  • All Part of the Show: In Enchanted Parade Professor Ursula manages to make the town believe a giant is all apart of Akko's witch parade by announcing it like a hero show.
  • Alpha Bitch: Diana. Being a straight A student, she's mostly an Academic Alpha Bitch.
    • 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).
  • Apathetic Citizens: In Enchanted Parade, when the group of witch-hating bullies that had attacked Akko and co. earlier on return and sabotage the parade, no one lifts a hand to stop them.
  • Art Nouveau: The series has this as a definite design theme, from promotional work to in-series posters.
  • 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 Studio 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 favour by saving Akko from certain death by falling from great height.
    • In Enchanted Parade Lotte and Sucy return in time to save the day when things are looking bleak.
  • Big Eater: Jasminka, the Fat Girl with Girlish Pigtails, is never seen without a snack. In fact, she got recruited for the parade team as punishment for regularly eating in class.
  • 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.
  • But for Me, It Was Tuesday: Played for Laughs in Enchanted Parade, Akko and co. have been brought before the headmistress so many times they have lost count, and when trying to recall the actual reasons, Sucy and Akko start admitting things they haven't actually been punished for.
  • Cast of Snowflakes: Each of Akko's classmates are individually recognizable, even from a distance.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • The Shiny Rod.
    • The Luna Lana spell and Lotte's ancestral song in The Enchanted Parade.
  • 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.
  • Crush Blush: Thomas, the ringleader of the band of kids who harass the witches , sports some of this when he's rescued by Diana in The Enchanted Parade.
  • Cute Witch: A whole school of them in fact.
  • 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.
  • Die Laughing: In Enchanted Parade, Akko and Sucy during class manage to make a giant mushroom monster that releases a type of gas that causes those who breathe it in to collapse in laughter. Later Sucy, when discussing how to make the Parade more enjoyable, suggests using an army of them on the town. The idea is rejected as bio-terrorism.
  • Disaster Dominoes: In Enchanted Parade, Akko throws a broomstick in frustration... which knocks over the other broomsticks, which leads to the accidental premature activation of the float.
  • Dissonant Serenity: Sucy, when confronting the Minotaur.
  • Dungeon Crawling: Much of the first installment's 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.
  • Eyes Always Shut: Jasminka in Enchanted Parade is almost always this combined with Perpetual Smiler.
  • Family Honor: The reason for Diana's holier-than-thou attitude is because she comes from a prestigious clan of magicians, and feels obliged to uphold it's greatness.
  • 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.
  • Fantastic Racism: Muggles and witches don't get along. The activities in the eponymous Enchanted Parade are recreations of things that happened during now-defunct witch hunts. Akko and the others get into a fight with witch-hating brats.
  • 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.
  • Gadgeteer Genius: Constanze is a tinkerer who uses her wand as a literal Magic Tool and uses it to create and power various inventions such as a little Robot Buddy or even a laser gun. She's forced to work with the girls for selling technology within school grounds.
  • Girl Posse: Diana's followers, Hannah and Barbara. They actually seem have worse attitudes than their leader, given how much quicker they are to insult, while Diana's comments lean more towards constructive criticism.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: The minotaur's death appears to be graphic, but for most of it, we can only see the girls' expressions.
  • Hard Work Montage: Akko gets one halfway through Enchanted Parade as she tries to get the Happy Time Project to work.
  • 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:
  • Insult Backfire: In Enchanted Parade, after the disastrous trip to town, Diana spots a forlorn Akko and hits her with a "The Reason You Suck" Speech... except that she makes the mistake of mentioning Shiny Chariot, which ends up getting Akko's spirits up instead.
  • 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.
  • Losing the Team Spirit: In Enchanted Parade, after Akko accidentally tears in half Lotte's ancestral music scroll, Lotte gets pissed off and goes her own way, and Akko splits from Sucy too. Noticeably, for the next few parts, it's the new girls who give Akko help, while Lotte and Sucy are nowhere to be seen.
  • 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.
  • Muggles Do It Better: At the academy, the Sorceror's Stone allows the witches to use magic freely. But its effects don't reach all the way out to the nearby town, greatly limiting the amount of magic witches can use, which proves troublesome when Akko and co. go there and get beset by a bunch of witch-hating hooligans.
  • Mukokuseki: Greatly averted, for the most part. The show does a good job of subverting the usual traits kids from different nationalities may have, somewhat helped by the fact that the series takes place in a European witch school. For example, the Russian Jasminka doesn't have the Cleopatra Nose that regular Russian characters would have, the American isn't a blonde, etc.
  • Multinational Team:
    • Akko hails from Japan, Lotte is of Scandinavian descent, and, if her surname is any indication, Sucy is Cebuano.
    • In The Enchanted Parade, they team up with Luna Nova's misfits, Irish American Amanda, German Constanze, and Russian Jasminka.
  • 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.
  • 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.
    • In Enchanted Parade, Akko rattles off a number of variations on "I mean no harm" after she accidentally tears Lotte's ancestral music scroll in half and drives a wedge between herself and the rest.
  • 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.
  • OOC Is Serious Business: In Enchanted Parade, after Akko accidentally tears Lotte's ancestral music scroll in half, Lotte gets visibly angry. Sucy points out how pissed off she must be for the normally gentle girl to get mad.
  • Ocular Gushers: Akko does this in Enchanted Parade after Lotte returns for her.
  • 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.
    • Our Giants Are Different: The enemy of Enchanted Parade is called a giant, its incredibly powerful and able to turn objects into monsters as well as fuse them to itself to create armour, and unlike the dragon cannot be destroyed only resealed.
  • 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.
  • Perpetual Frowner: Constanze from Enchanted Parade is almost always frowning.
  • 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. She tries to get the witch parade cancelled in the second movie because she finds the whole thing offensive to witches.
  • Red and Black and Evil All Over: The dragon.
  • The Reveal: Professor Ursula is a retired Shiny Chariot.
  • The Rival: Diana is this for Akko.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can:
    • 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?
    • The Giant in Enchanted Parade is sealed in rocks by Jennifer the Witch. The rocks are later revealed to not be rocks at all but the giants hand with the rest of him buried under the town.
  • Scary Shiny Glasses: Lotte's specs do this when she's angry.
  • She's Got Legs: Amanda in Enchanted Parade, being a dancer/thief has nice legs and shows them off frequently.
  • 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.
  • Tempting Fate: In Enchanted Parade, the professor Ursula really didn't have to say "I just hope nothing bad happens..."
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill: Sucy's potion to defeat the minotaur.
    "The formula might have been a bit too strong."
  • 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).
    • The chalkboard map seen in Akko's Magic History class (about 2:50 in) shows the location of Luna Nova Academy to be roughly in or near Bath, Somerset. Possibly supported by Akko's use of a Union Jack as an improvised parachute in Enchanted Parade.
  • 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.
  • Tsundere: Diana, espesially when it comes to Akko.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: While Sucy and Akko are friends, Akko's Hot-Blooded-ness annoys Sucy, who likewise uses Akko as an ill-fated guinea pig for her potions.
  • 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.
  • Witch Hunt: The Parade in the second movie is a traditional reenactment suppose to show how horrible Middle age witch hunts were, but in practice it's just a few inlucky witches from Luna Nova being tortured by the towns people which includes pelting them with tomatoes, dunking them in water, and just thowing them in the river. Needless to say Akko is horrified and decides to show everyone the wonder of magic, Diana tries to get the tradition ended altogether.
  • Wizarding School: Luna Nova, an all girl Witch school.
  • Your Magic Is No Good Here: The characters note that their magic is only really power and longer lasting on Luna Nova due to the Sorcerer's Stone collectively powering all magical items. Using magic outside camp grounds makes magic more limited unless you bring a ling-lasting magic "battery" with you. Which is exactly what Akko does to power her team's float in The Enchanted Parade.
  • Youthful Freckles: Lotte has a few.