I had the opportunity to come to Los Angeles for this year’s Anime Expo. Despite the lines, the heat, and the lines that came after the first lines, I had a good time. Between all the merchandise and witnessing the Little Witch Academia x Inferno Cop crossover with my own eyes, there were plenty of things to see. But it was the world premier of Trigger’s Little Witch Academia 2 that would be the highlight of my entire experience.
Like the first one, The Enchanted Parade is a standalone story about our plucky witches-in-training, Akko, Sucy, and Lotte. The school has had enough of their chaotic shenanigans and tasks them with handling the annual witch parade held in the town or face expulsion. Three new witches join our fellow troublemakers in the form of ex-cat burglar Amanda, magic super scientist Constance, and the ever-hungry Jasmineka. Together, they must work together to make this year’s parade the best one yet. But when Akko’s ambitious ideas get the better of her, that’s going to be easier said than done.
Like its predecessor, the plot is still a relatively simple one, dealing with friendship, boundaries, and ideals. And just like its predecessor, The Enchanted Parade carries itself with a joyous simplicity that doesn’t overwhelm its 50 minute run time. Director Yoh Yoshinari keeps it straightforward, instead focusing on comical flair and a solid theatrical execution that makes it wholly enjoyable from start to finish.
But of course, what most of us remember about the first Little Witch Academia were its gorgeous visuals. The Enchanted Parade brings back the same visual achievement that made the first one stand out so much, though admittedly, spaced out more judiciously. The original was a 20 minute OVA packed to the gills with beautifully animated motions. The Enchanted Parade is still a fantastic spectacle, but its finest scenes are spaced apart, with slightly less impressive visuals during the slower moments.
But when Trigger hits, it hits hard, and The Enchanted Parade is no exception. Amanda must have been a popular character among the staff because many of her scenes are easily the highlights of the entire film. The last part of the film focuses on the titular parade, and it’s easily one of Trigger’s finest works yet. The animation truly flows in a way that only former Gainax animators could accomplish. It’s a wonderful mix of fluid Disney-esque influence and the kinetic spontaneity that put Gainax on the map. Yoh Yoshinari’s visual touch can be seen everywhere in the film. Foremost would be his more fluid directing style compared to fellow Gainax veteran Hiroyuki Imaishi. Additionally, Yoshinari’s love of visual effects marks the entire film as uniquely his own. The way the smoke flows, feathers fall, and light dances are all hallmarks of a man whose illustrious career was built on his ability to draw the best effects in anime. I excitedly await the day Yoshinari finally gets his chance to direct a full-length series.
Little Witch Academia – The Enchanted Parade is shining proof that we were right to have faith in Trigger’s audacious Kickstarter nearly two years ago. Filled with both style and heart, it’s the kind of work that reminds you that its animators and staff originated from one of the greatest animation studios Japan had ever seen. In a ways, despite its straightforward plot and simple characters, it’s a beautifully original thing in a medium ruled by mediocrity and and imitations. Nobody can quite say for sure if Trigger has saved anime yet, but The Enchanted Parade has me wishing they could.