Listen: I know you're upset that KILL LA KILL was delayed this week. With the climax of the series fast approaching, we're all craving more of Studio Trigger's special blend of style, animation, and insanity, but there's no way to get it!
At least, that's what you'd think. True, KILL LA KILL is Trigger's first original series, but did you know that Trigger has another animation that predates KILL LA KILL? Something that displays their unique visual style yet is suitable for all ages? It's true, and it's an utter delight! Allow me to present to you LITTLE WITCH ACADEMIA!
Inspired by the performances of witchy idol Shiny Chariot, heroine Akko enrolls in a prestigious witch academy despite not having much in the way of magical (or academic) aptitude. Looked down on by most of her peers, Akko's only friends are Lotte (a matter-of-fact bookworm) and Sucy, who I can only describe as "evil Fluttershy" (she'll take good care of you... with poison!).
The time comes for a practical exam, which when you're studying magic boils down to a good old fashioned dungeon crawl. When haughty classmates unwittingly unleash a monster that threatens the entire school, it seems that only Akko has the heart to do what needs to be done to save everybody. It's a fairly generic plot, sure, but it feels "tried and true" instead of "tired and typical."
While Akko and her friends are delightful protagonists, it's the animation that's the true star here. The virtuosity on display is intense! Case in point: in the first scene, a kindergarten-aged Akko waits impatiently in the audience of one of Shiny Chariot's performances. Chariot arrives in a wondrous display of magic; dancing neon energies coalesce into a dainty flower, from which Chariot literally blossoms onto the stage.
We fall in love with the world of magic with Akko, feeling exactly how she feels. This empathy with her carries throughout the film, putting the entire experience of the wizard school in a heartfelt and personal context.
If that ain't good storytelling, I don't know what is.
LITTLE WITCH ACADEMIA's only fault is a good one: it left me yearning for more. While a scant 26 minutes is all there is currently, response was so positive that a sequel is already in production! A wildly successful Kickstarter extended the runtime as well, so hopefully in winter of this year we'll be able to take an even deeper journey into the world of magic.
You can watch LITTLE WITCH ACADEMIA for free in its entirety here.
Matt Murphy is a freelance nerd who has contributed to many nerd websites. You can reach him by going to where the light meets the shadow, by sending out zeta-brainwaves or by following him on Twitter @Murphix.