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I've recently finished watching both seasons on Netflix, and I have a lot to say about it.
So to summarize the first season, you have the Inept Mage protagonist "Akko" Kagari, who decides to enroll in a Wizarding School to look for Shiny Chariot, a witch celebrity who inspired her. She goes on several misadventures with her friends, which mostly feels like Narm Charm because of Akko's behavior as an Idiot Hero. Although many of the other students make fun of her for attempting something that shouldn't be possible for a Muggle, there are some who begin to see that for whatever reason, she had potential as a witch. By the end of the season almost everyone acknowledges this too. Through the power of Dramatic Irony, we also find that Akko will soon stumble on something greater than what she was looking for...
As I watched the second season, I knew the series was bound to escalate to a deep level, and I was right. Because of Dramatic Irony, Akko's favorite teacher kept hesitating to tell her that she was the celebrity who vanished 10 years ago. (I knew she was Shiny Chariot the moment I saw her eyes.) I'm glad the series took its time to put some other characters in the limelight, such as Amanda and Diana. I'm also pleased that Diana turned out to be the way she was thanks to having a Cinderella problem with her family. One would expect Diana to turn into an actual rival for Akko, but this is subverted when she reveals that they really did have a lot in common. The rest of the season continues with Akko learning the Awful Truth that came with finding Shiny Chariot. By the end of the season, however, Akko had shown that believing in magic really can make dreams come true.
I wouldn't be surprised if a third season came up, but regardless,I give the first season 7/10 and the second season 8.5/10.
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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