You can tell witch training is not going swimmingly for the young sorceresses Akko, Lotte, and Sucy—they face expulsion for screwing up one class too many, and their only way out is if they successfully organize their academy's annual parade through a nearby town. But when they stumble upon the momentous discovery that the objective of the parade is to humiliate witches and commemorate their past subjugation, Akko decides it is time for a change: It is time to show the world how fantastic modern witches truly are! However, with the other girls struggling to keep up with Akko's grandiose ambitions, and everything from mischievous boys to slumbering giants getting in their way, maybe pulling it off will require not only all the magical prowess the pupils of Luna Nova Magical Academy can muster, but also a miracle.
Like most sequels to beloved classics, expectations were quite high for Little Witch Academia 2. Considering that it was practically funded out-of-pocket by fans of the original short film via Kickstarter, anime fans really had every right to demand their money’s worth on this one. With the quality of the original and the hype that was created thereafter in mind, my inner cynicism led me to believe that LWA 2 was set up for failure. However, much to my delight, it can be said without hesitation that LWA 2 recaptures the magic of its predecessor and yet again contains more energy and charm
in its little finger than the entirety of the modern anime comedy genre has in its whole body.
Synopsis: Akko and her friends are tasked with organizing the annual “witch parade” for their town. As you might have guessed, not everything goes according to their plan.
If ever there was a difficult characteristic to describe, it would be “charm”, and yet it is just that which makes LWA 2 such an entertaining and heartwarming film. It captures that innocent, child-like sense of imagination and wonder that never fails to pry your lips upwards into a smile, and does so with the utmost perfection. Despite being an adult male, this movie made me giggle like a little girl from beginning to end. It’s not just heartwarming; it’s hilarious. The comedy is spot on and it hits every note that it needs to hit. Something about this anime brings back that Disney-esque feeling of seeing your wildest dreams brought to life by the power of animation; like seeing Fantasia for the first time. In an industry that many feel lacks the soul that it once had, LWA 2 has soul in spades. It reminded me why I like anime to begin with.
Another masterful aspect of this film was the fact that its pacing was flawless. Every scene has a purpose, not a single one of them drags on for too long, and no scene is a boring one. The fast, energetic pace of LWA carries on into its sequel, and it fits the spirit of the show to a T. Despite being less than an hour long, this movie goes through a full, satisfying story arc, several character dynamics, and effectively expands upon its cast of colorful characters. There’s something beautiful about the simplicity of a well-executed children’s tale; the premise isn’t anything remarkably original, but it doesn’t have to be because the execution is all that matters. The characters don’t have remarkable amounts of depth, but they don’t need to; all that matters is that they have personality, they are entertaining, and they are likable. Disregarding a recap scene or two, which you could potentially argue were unnecessary, I wouldn’t change a thing about the story direction.
One of the most important aspects of an anime in this style is the animation. When you write a quirky, upbeat script, it is absolutely imperative that your animation is equally quirky and upbeat, otherwise the show is doomed to fail. Needless to say, Studio Trigger totally nailed it, just as they did in the original. Comedic timing is something so nuanced that it comes down to fractions of seconds, and while many lighthearted anime (even the good ones) can sometimes find themselves a bit off on their timing or not executing jokes as well as they could have, LWA 2 has no such issue. It is no exaggeration to say this movie makes the most of each and every scene. The visuals are like eye candy, everything is polished and crisp, the character designs continue to be brilliant, and every movement is about as fluent as you’ll ever see. Simply put, it’s animation done right.
To sum it all up, LWA 2 is a brilliantly executed anime movie that appeals to everyone. All ages, all genders, and all cultures won’t be able to resist cracking a smile at a movie that is simply so much fun. It’s a fast-paced, heartwarming adventure that will bring out your inner child, and I highly recommend that everyone take the time to watch it. If you ever need a pick-me-up, I can’t think of another anime that will cheer you up more than this one.
Trigger has invited us back into the world of Little Witch Academia with a bang in The Enchanted Parade. The second, eagerly-awaited title in the series doubles the screen time and with it brings more action and characters to make its world feel as vibrant as before. Is it as good a film as the first? Maybe not. There’s a certain charm lost that was there the first time around but this is still a loveable, magical tale.
While I was worried in the opening portion of the film that we were substituting too much magic for drama, a satisfying and action-packed conclusion saw the series
back at its strongest. There are areas where the original animation excelled better but there’s plenty here that also adds a lot in areas of world building and action. This latest addition to the LWA series remains a family-friendly, energetic experience that’s going to leave you beaming as the credits roll by.
Akko, Sucy and Lotte plus a trio of new characters find themselves thrust into control of the upcoming town festival. While Akko naturally wants to showcase the best of what witches have to offer, her ideas bring with it a few problems and create tension with her fellow students. That’s not all that’s at play, however. Before they know it the group are forced to band together and use everything at their disposal to overcome their biggest hurdle yet.
Having roughly 40 minutes to put together a cohesive, interesting narrative is a big challenge but Trigger managed to overcome this previously in half the time so they’ve had their practice. They also get the bonus this time of being able to cut down on a lot of exposition. They use this time well to expand the scope of the story. Because of that though there’s a little less intensity and magic. It works both ways.
The overall tone of the story is the biggest change up when compared to the previous offering, with a bit of character conflict thrown into the mix this time around. There was a real sense of adventure and exploration in the first film. Watching the characters make their way around the school grounds was exciting, the lessons were amusing and story in general was a lot more fluid. With some extra time up their sleeves Trigger opt to at least give us a lot of new characters and new settings. There’s some small thematic jumps, so it’s great to see the studio didn’t simply opt to do the exact same thing twice. Some elements of the story have certainly been copied over, but an expanded cast and setting help make it feel fresh.
Adding new locations to the world our story takes place in has its ups and downs. I felt that bringing the witches out of their school environment and into town took some of the ‘mystique’ and the ‘magic’ away from them. At the same time it’s nice to see the wider community around them and what the witches place in that universe is. When you look at it, there’s only so much Trigger could do by limiting everything to the school. While it’s wonderful to imagine all of their adventures happening in their own little bubble, it adds a new dynamic between the magical and human societies. Some may like that, others may not.
Some themes have channelled over from the first film, but the biggest change this time is the focus on friendship. In the original show it was more on having confidence in your own ability. This time Akko faces a lot more conflict and troubles with those around her, friends included. People may be a little bit put off by this slightly more serious approach but it thankfully has its purpose. Trigger use their extra minutes to create character complications that stretch over a long run of the film. The strength of friendship is an easy theme to stuff up and instead come across as cheesy. They mostly avoided that here. Everything revolving around this theme is nothing original but that hasn’t stopped it being executed fairly. Characters are shown to have retained important lessons, reflected on what they’ve been through and apply all that knowledge to find a solution – much like the first film. It’s a formula that works, even though it brings nothing new to the table. It’s easy to watch and it manages to be entertaining while doing so.
When the action kicks into another gear as the film nears its conclusion, the ride feels worthwhile. One particular moment is immensely satisfying, and you’ll know it when you see it. It’s a perfect blend of Trigger’s animation capabilities and ability to put on some memorable set pieces.
Characters + Art
Akko returns as our loveable, often inept, lead character. While Akko remains a primary source of comic relief for the show she’s a lot more proactive this time around. It’s refreshing to see that the original LWA tale has had an effect on her in that way. The original series gave her a huge shot of belief in her own capabilities as a witch and now this is a look at how she applies her new knowledge. I think some may be a bit turned off by this new, confident side of her. It’s certainly quite the leap from what we’ve seen previously. Her outgoing personality and habit of acting before thinking gets her into trouble once again. Nothing new changes there at least – and you wouldn’t have it any other way.
Both Sucy and Lotte feel a little underutilised but, honestly, that’s not a big deal. That too serves a purpose of its own. When they are on screen not a second is wasted and their role to play in the story still feels meaningful. It can serve as reminder that even not being around can make the times you are more important. As for our new trio they’re not that memorable, more there just to help drive the story along than contribute anything of value. They get their odd scene of comic relief or chance to show-off but that’s about it. I think it’s also disappointing that Diana, someone who played a big role in the complication of the first film, gets cast to the back this time around. Strange that Trigger didn’t opt to make more use of a character with a more defined personality and presence than almost anyone else in the show. It’s a show that very much rides on one character, Akko, which means a lot of your enjoyment will come out of how much you can take to her character and how’s she’s changed from the first outing.
I’m personally a big fan of Trigger’s character designs. The exaggerated expressions and reactions are always worth a laugh. The studio keep things simple when it comes to effects and shading in the animation, putting most of the work into some nice backgrounds. As always in Trigger’s works there’s the odd lazy bit of animation scattered about. Some background characters look crudely drawn and it’s often very easy to pick out where the costs have been saved. Some frames look very hurriedly put together, but thankfully most pieces of action looks a treat. As a whole, however, the first LWA struck me as more visually impressive.
Even when given additional time thanks to the efforts of their backers, Trigger was going to find it hard to live up to a wonderful debut in this franchise. But they’ve come close. It’s a show dying for more exploration of its characters and an expansion of its magical elements. I like the friendship building side of things, don’t get me wrong, but there’s that sense of adventure and mystery lacking that was present in the original Little Witch Academia.
"Never, ever underestimate the importance of having fun." - Randy Pausch
Little Witch Academia was a surprise upstart in the Young Animator's Expo in 2012, and along with fellow member Death Billiards, these two productions started making waves. The fan outpouring was great, and demands fell on the then-brand new studio Trigger to make more! A kickstarter was raised, and incredibly, the $150,000 goal was smashed in 30 days with the help of nearly 8000 backers and a grand total of $625,318!! (This is all pre-Kill La Kill, guys and gals.)
Let's get into some other nice numbers- the score on this anime.
Artwork and Animation: 10
original was entirely hand drawn, and with an enormous budget, it turned out to be a spectacular showing of fluidity and vibrant, flashing magical colors. LWA 2 is no different; it's absolutely stunning to watch flow across the screen. I would go so far as to say that this is on a Disney level of traditional animation both techincally and in fluidity. The magic and characters practically animate themselves right off the screen, crisply, sharply, and beautifully.
You Yoshinari doesn't get enough recognition for his work at Trigger in my opinion. As a Key Animator and character designer for FLCL, Gurren Lagann, KLK, Dead Leaves, PSG, and others, this guy has a crazy credit list, and his work is always quality. As the director and creator for Little Witch Academia- his eye for animation really comes to life.
Sound and Voice Acting: 8
Same players, new game. Sounds great, and good performances by the VA.
Characters and Story: 9, 8
After getting in trouble in potions class by Professor Snape, the hyperactive Akko, the narcoleptic Sucy, and the brainy Lotte are forced to plan and create a parade float for the yearly festival in town. Traditionally, the parade
is about making fun of witches and reenacting middle ages witch hunts, but in a much less deadly way; but our trio team up to change the public's opinion of witches by making it into a fun and exciting show and showcasing how cool and exciting witches can be!
Along the way, Akko gets cross ways with her friends, and ends up having to work with three new characters, the "problem children". This little gang is constituted of Amanda O'Neill, the red headed, hot tempered girl, Constanze Braunschbank Albrechsberger, the silent German robotics engineer, and Jasminka Antonenko- the constantly grazing Russian girl.
The story is paced excellently, with not a magical drop of filler to be found. An hour of screentime practically flew by on a broom, from the opening with a very Harry Potter feel, to the magical dreams-come-true Disney ending.
It's a very heartwarming and enchanting watch- honestly, I know I keep repeating myself, but it just feels very Disney.
Enjoyment and Overall: 9
The extra length, the new characters, and the sharp, beautiful animation really sell Little Witch Academia. It's a fun romp through a gorgeous world.
Little Witch Academia 2 didn't have to be astoundingly original and bold to be charming and fun. The humor hits the right marks, the visuals are awesome, and it is simply easy to enjoy. The original was a very cute work that was obviously inspired by children's tales and movies from ages past, and this works well within that framework- another adventure, another day in the life of a little witch.
The original Little Witch Academia was a highly successful work from the 2013 Young Animator Training Project. It was a film praised for its energetic characters, stellar presentation and for quite simply being an incredibly entertaining movie from start to finish.
Fast forward two years to 2015 and it's finally time to rejoin Akko, Lotte and Suzy in the long-awaited sequel film, titled Mahou Shikake no Parade, or The Enchanted Parade in English. After a consistent spree of misbehavior inside the school, the headmaster gives the trio an assignment to take care of in the upcoming witches' commemoration festival taking place in the local town. In
this festival, the villagers throw rotten tomatoes at the witches, half-drown them and perform other cruelties, all under the pretense of reminding themselves of the witch hunts of the Middle Ages and why this tradition must never be implemented again. Akko however thinks this tradition sounds ridiculous and instead decides to put on a fun and lively show she calls the Happy Time Project for the townsfolk in order to make them see how cool and awesome witches are. Of course things never go quite so according to plan as they end up running into all sorts of problems along the way, and they may even have to do their fair share of fighting before everything is said and done…
The main character cast is the same as the first movie, but this time there are also three new witches joining the original trio. There is the resident burglar Amanda O'Neill, the tech addict Constanze Braunschweig Albrechtsberger (say that three times fast) and the habitual food thief Jasmineka Antonenko. All three of them are also tasked with representing the witches in the festival, and thus end up joining hands with Akko and her friends by also participating in her Happy Time Project.
The animation is fast, fluid and lively. It doesn't look spectacularly detailed but it fits the theme of the movie itself like a glove. I especially love when inanimate objects come alive through the usage of magic, then it truly looks like a classical Disney film more than anything else. Actually the entire movie reminds me a bit of Fantasia in that sense. As far as music goes, Little Witch Academia doesn't actually utilize a whole lot of it, but when it actually does use it then it sounds great. The more large-scale scenes and the climax have beautiful orchestral music which highly enriches the overall atmosphere and makes everything feel all the more dramatic.
Despite everything though, as a whole The Enchanted Parade is still a very simplistic creation, but what really makes it shine is quite simply how much fun it is to watch. It makes me feel like a child again, and as a result it manages to consistently make me smile when watching it. Even though it's 53 minutes long, I swear it only feels like half of that. It's just that captivating.
The first Little Witch Academia stands out as one of the most original anime films I have ever seen, and despite its simplicity I have always had a soft spot for it. The Enchanted Parade is no different. For what it's worth, I really cannot recommend it enough. Because every once in a while, you just have to let loose your inner child again.
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