I watched the original Little Witch Academia short way back when it was all the rage and I got plenty out of it. I thought it was cute and fun and engaging, a sign that Studio Trigger was a force to be reckoned with in the industry. But it’s only rewatching it now that I appreciate its craft. It’s an absolute pleasure of a work that almost anyone can find something to appreciate in, and it’s full of all sorts of little details that make that possible.
The most obvious element of its craft is its visual construction. Its rounded western animation inspired designs and soft flat colours allow its characters to be easily identifiable by distinct visual quirks, ranging from the everyday looks of Atsuko to the casual eccentricity of Sucy. This simplicity also allows its characters and environments to move around a lot, and boy do they move around. The only thing that matches the sheer energy of Little Witch Academia’s animation is its hugely impressive elasticity. Whether it’s big magical explosions or subtle character gestures every little thing is smooth and bouncy and just a pleasure to see in front of you. It’s exactly the kind of energy and pure fun that I find synonymous with animation itself.
As a story Little Witch Academia is endearingly straightforward. Atsuko wants to be like the famous witch Shiny Chariot, and through the shenanigans of witch school she starts to find her place in the world of witchcraft. It follows a simple narrative arc from her discovering her adoration for Shiny Chariot as a child to unlocking her potential when a dragon attacks the school; a fulfilling story in a tight episode-sized package. In between it manages to sprinkle in plenty of enjoyable character interactions and little twists and turns, giving the sense of a living breathing world of interesting characters. In having this its big plot points feel fully earned and satisfying.
Not only does all of this make Little Witch Academia a fun experience for children, but equally so an experience of wonder and excitement for adults. It transcends boundaries with the sheer joy of its craft and its pleasant simplicity. If you’ve got a half hour to spare this is bound to make your day a little better.