Little Witch Academia Is a short film released as part of the Anime Mirai 2013 film festival in Japan. The festival is the annual culmination of work done by animators in training and is supported by the Japanese Agency of Cultural affairs in an effort to provide incentive for training of young animators in Japan instead of outsourcing all of the work.
The main character is Akko Kagari, a young witch from a non-magical family who was inspired in her youth by a flamboyant witch named Shiny Chariot. Many of the other students at Luna Nova Academy look down on her because she likes Chariot, as they think Chariot gives a bad impression of what witches are really like.
During one of the classes, the students are assigned to go through a dungeon and search for treasures, with the winner being determined by who finds the most rare items (yes, just like a stereotypical console RPG, which the students also point out). Akko sets off with her friends, though she is much more enthusiastic about than they are.
One of the arrogant students who picked on Akko then accidentally releases a dragon which absorbs magical power, making it very difficult for the witches to fight it. In order to defeat it, Akko must draw upon the power of her belief and put aside her fears.
If I hadn’t known the film was produced in part by students, I never would have guessed. The art in the film, especially the background scenery, is done in a gorgeous watercoloresque style which gives the whole film a very artsy feel. The music was very good and gave the film an epic feel despite the short length (about 25 minutes).
I really liked how I was thrown right into the middle of the story. Only necessary and very brief background information was given, thereby allowing the viewer to experience the world rather than having it explained. I could tell a good amount of time was spent in fleshing-out the world because it had a very old feel to it despite being set in current times (they have laptops and video games, after all).
After watching Little Witch Academia on the online service Crunchyroll, I did some looking around and found out a second release is in the works, scheduled for sometime in 2014. It was funded by a Kickstarter project, something I’ve never seen done for an animation project like this. I also found out that some of the founders of Studio Trigger, the studio which produced this film, were from the ultimate fan studio, Gainax.
I’m looking forward to it!
Release Date: March 2, 2013 (Japan)
MPAA Rating: Not rated
Original Title: リトルウィッチアカデミア
Violence: 2 (bullying, monster and dragon fighting)