As part of the Young Animator Training Project which is dedicated to the training of young animators, the fledgling studio Trigger, created from the ashes of Gainax’s old talent, has created a short animation. As a huge fan of Gainax’s work, ranging from Gunbuster to Panty and Stocking, I was quite excited to see what Trigger would bring to the table. You may also remember Trigger for their rather…notorious “debut” work, Inferno Cop, which suffice to say, while highly entertaining, certainly set the kind of reputation Trigger wants for themselves. How does Little Witch Academia stack up as Trigger’s first true debut? Here’s our take!
The Premise: Akko is a girl, whom inspired by a witch named Shiny Chariot who espoused the values of belief and heart, enters an academy for young witches. Basically, it’s Anime All-Girls Harry Potter. Energetic and optimistic, she enjoys spending her days with her classmates, but has trouble paying attention in class and quite frankly isn’t a very good witch. In addition, other witches at the school make fun of her for looking up to Silver Chariot, whom others consider a charlatan.
Let me get this out of the way. The animation is gorgeous. Trigger absolutely knocks it out of the park with this one. And I’m not just talking about the art, but the motions themselves. The characters move with real mass and weight, and there’s a real sense of personality and kinetics in everything in this 22-minute short. The character’s expressions shift with cartoonish grace befitting the classics of Walt Disney himself. You can tell the animators went all out with this one and simple screen caps simply will not do this anime justice. If Inferno Cop was an example of the laziest of lazy animation, Little Witch Academia is like a 22-minute long boast of how good they really are.
As for the story, it’s a simple and lighthearted story about a girl trying to find her place in the world and come to her own terms with what it means to be a witch. Nothing groundbreaking here and if you’re expecting anything as ridiculous as Inferno Cop or Panty and Stocking, you’ll be sorely disappointed. And just the same, there simply isn’t enough time for drama so don’t expect much gravitas either. However, what I guarantee you’ll find is a short entertaining story. Akko’s rambunctious enthusiasm reminds me of the likes of Noriko and Nono, which is befitting considering who the Trigger crew consists of. The remaining characters are also fun to watch and I’m sure Susy’s method of dealing with the minotaur will be quite a popular gif for a while.
Overall, I suppose there really isn’t that much to say about Little Witch Academia. As a piece done for the Young Animator Training Project, it will remain a single episode, with no prospects of a series or OVA (for now anyways). And quite honestly, it fits perfectly. The pacing is well done and I imagine an anime such as Little Witch Academia would drag on if it were any more than a 13 episode series or OVA. It works as a little vignette about a girl who wants to be like her hero. Since it’s a short, there’s little investment required so I cannot recommend checking this out enough. Even if the story doesn’t exactly enthrall you, the animation work done by Trigger is absolutely stunning and must be seen with your own eyes, my words and pictures simply cannot do it on their own.
Update (April 22nd, 2013): Turns out Trigger has uploaded Little Witch Academia to their Youtube channel for free, with a full translation included. You guys have no excuses now.