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The first half (eps. 1-13) of Little Witch Academia is possibly the best blend of Japanese and Western sensibilities that I have seen in an anime up to that point. Everything in it (design, animation, voice acting, editing, use of color, multiple references to magic, astronomy, British culture etc.) is great, while of course being made with a lower budget than the films. The relaxed and funny, but still intriguing, tone manages to be something that can be enjoyed by everyone: kids and adults, animation buffs and casual viewers, anime fans and cartoon fans. The two-parter with the festival is excellent and could have been a great ending.
However the show goes on, but with Kill la Kill's same problem: in order to turn the series from a slice-of-life to an escalating battle where the academy and the world are at stake, much of the above has to be changed or removed.
While Ursula was my favorite character, the contrived ways in which she never manages to tell others who Croix is and that she's bad were annoying. Also the forced parallel between Ursula/Croix and Akko/Diana and the exploration of their past lives ends up leaving little to no space for all the other interesting and colorful characters, which turn out under-developed and doing almost nothing in the end. To say nothing of the Seven Words sub-plot that becomes almost an afterthought at times. The great difference between the two halves ends up ruining the charm of the series and leaves several unresolved questions, which hopefully will be answered by a second series.
Rating: first half 9/10, second half 6/10, global 7/10
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