Little Witch Academia: Enchanted Parade, even more so than its predecessor, embodies the sheer fundamental joy of animation. The sincere joy of seeing images come alive, images bound only by the limits of imagination coming into motion. Enchanted Parade is sometimes breezy and whimsical, sometimes awesome, sometimes funny, sometimes intense. But through genuine mastery it makes all those moods look like second nature. It’s Little Witch Academia‘s ongoing love letter to the traditions of animation and so much more.
Even the little act of Akko trying to piece together a wooden ark is a joy to experience. The push and pull of the wooden planks, Akko’s exasperated facial expressions, the sad little way they plop to the ground when Akko fails and the kinetic catharsis when the pieces finally come into place with a little help from some friends. A segment barely a minute long can be a labour of love. A labour containing both earnest creativity and weight. That creativity and weight transfers into the way each character moves. The usual hot-headed goofy earnestness of Akko, the stone-faced Constanze silently obsessing over quirky gadgets, the tomboyish coolness of Amanda O’Neill. All the characters that inhabit this world interact with it in different ways, each of which is fun to see play out.
My favourite example of this comes in the brief scuffle with the kids in the neighbouring town. Akko is the first to lose her head and start quarrelling, Constanze stoically follows suit with a silly magic-infused machine gun and Amanda begins cool-headed but escalates to violence immediately after being hit with a tomato. It’s a fun little sequence that makes itself look so easy, and yet beneath the surface you’ll find its driven by all sorts of these diverse subtleties.
The base characters are simple and archetypal and the series gets plenty of mileage indulging in their surface level quirks, but when it comes time to build genuine conflict Enchanted Parade respects their ability to be challenged and to grow through conflict. The core character conflict between the three main characters is a straightforward story of falling out because of fundamental differences before coming to embrace those differences and joining together for the last hurrah. From the first scene where Akko and Sucy’s bickering causes their classroom to be levelled to the climax where their hearts come together to all the scenes of conflict and resolution big and small in between Little Witch Academia shows it knows how to accumulate engaging character arcs. And all the while it still manages to build a cast of new endearing characters and further establish an implicit lore of the place of witches in their society. It’s a continually engaging world built on an ensemble of little pieces.
Enchanted Parade is a wonderful addition to the tapestry of Little Witch Academia. A pure work of creative craft that shows what animation is capable of, and also a pleasing little character narrative that invites further interest and investment in the series. Young or old, Little Witch Academia makes your life a little bit better just for having witnessed it. And that’s something animation should always continue to aspire to be.