“Are you an Akko or a Diana?” Sorting out the magic of Little Witch Academia.

akko kagari, little witch academia, young akko, shiny chariot show

Sometime last year, I hired a young man who was fresh out of university and had just been married. After working with him for a week, I discovered that he is a rare type of anime fan: one who watches currently-airing series without being plugged in to any sort of anime commentary, be it Anime News Network, anime blogs, MAL forums, social media outlets; you name it, he probably hasn’t read it. Additionally his wife, who is not as much of an anime fan as he is, relies on him to scout out series that she will like, namely shoujo romances. He watches the majority of things in a new season and cherry-picks a select one or two series to watch with her. If he can’t find anything from the current season, he’ll suggest that they watch an older, more established series together.

I recommended Little Witch Academia to them as something that they could watch together that was fun, didn’t require a large time investment – unlike his most recent suggestion that they watch Kare Kano – and most importantly, legally free. The result was somewhat surprising. He, the established anime fan, liked it well enough, but she loved it. Loved it so much, in fact, that the next time she visited him at work, she made it a point to seek me out to talk about it. In that conversation, where she excitedly spoke of why it resonated with her, she asked me this question:

“So…are you an Akko or a Diana?”

I’ve spoken previously about how easy it is to classify ourselves by hobbies and subsequently seek out others who have similar interests. Furthering this idea, there are always certain properties that will play to this tendency, and the conversation that I had with my coworker’s wife on Little Witch Academia reminded me of excited sorting arguments that I had with my high school friends as we made our way through the Harry Potter universe together. Before we were to discuss Harry Potter in earnest, it was far more important to discern which Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry house each of us would belong to. Thinking about it now, it fascinates me that we spent far more time on this than speculating what was to happen within the series itself.

This tendency to classify one’s self within set guidelines or boxes that a property has set up highlights the self-centered nature with which we sometimes approach reading fiction, or viewing anime. Participating in watching something often becomes primarily about how it relates to us, or how we may organize ourselves, rather than production values, overall content, and story. Above all, it’s about who we resonate with, and where we can sort ourselves into the story, especially when it comes to the intriguing, magical worlds of both Harry Potter and Little Witch Academia. Not only do we want to relate to the characters, we want to be witches and wizards too. We want these series to inform us about our own characters and where we would fit in.

Little Witch Academia is fortunate enough to have no small amount of things going for it – an interesting setting, emotional resonance, tight writing, visual bookending, fluid animation – which could go a long way in explaining how it thoroughly decimated its recent Kickstarter goal for a second episode in a matter of hours. Everyone I’ve spoken with who has watched it has made it a point to mention their favorite character when discussing the series, be it Akko, Diana, Lotte, or Sucy. Their assertions, and mine when I mention whom I believe myself to be the most similar to in the Little Witch Academia universe, either reinforce certain things I already knew about their personality, or offer new avenues through which to explore in growing closer to them. I honestly felt that I learned a lot more about my co-worker’s wife through the fact that she identified herself as “a Diana.” Regardless of whether she embodies what I know of Diana’s character, her assertion informs me of certain traits that she appreciates within herself.

As for me, I am neither an Akko nor a Diana. I see myself as more of a Lotte. Take that as you will.

13 comments

  1. Ah, but I wouldn’t call that natural human reaction to shows and fiction selfish, merely self-centred. How else would we relate to fiction but by what we know best – our own experiences, feelings and selves? Just like a creator adds his heart to the work during production, the viewer adds his heart to the interpretation as he or she enjoys the work. That’s no less worthy, and often more beautiful, than a more distanced and analytical reaction to a show.

    1. That’s completely fair, and it was a poor word choice that I may edit to read “self-centered” as I agree with everything you say. Additionally, I don’t feel as if I disparage approaching various media with one’s self in mind. In fact, the purpose of this blog post was to applaud that a bit.

      Thanks for the comment, and drawing attention to my error.

        1. Thanks! I enjoyed writing it (and obviously love Little Witch Academia).

          So you’re a Sucy, eh? I love her character design, and how she quietly waits in the background for her turn to shine. (When she does shine, look out. ^ ^)

  2. Sucy is pretty popular with standard otaku-types. She’s like them, a bit geeky and brooding, with a highly specialized obsession.

    As for me, I don’t think any of the girls is a great fit, but if forced to pick I’d say Diana. Now to work on my ojou-sama laugh. Ooohohoho~

  3. Okay, a real comment this time.

    What I love about this post is that it calls attention to what it takes for us an audience to resonate with characters of a fantasy world not too distant from our own perception of reality. There’s a magic in these characters (not necessarily the one that conjures the wildest spells and summons) that lures us to their humanity, defined by hobbies and pointers that sort us into groups and identifiable archetypes and personalities. When I think about the characters in Little Witch Academia, I think about that duality between Akko and Diana, not necessarily from a personality standpoint, the outer onion layer that we are exposed to throughout the duration of this half-hour, but rather the core that hopes and dreams, that sees the world in a particular way and perhaps informing us about how we should look at the world ourselves. The contrast is set out right from the start of the story, yet is a seed that is planted in our two girls in the exact same manner, sprouting through differing, highly understated circumstances.

    What is your dream? What do you want with your life? Little Witch doesn’t ask us this question directly, as it prefers to show off the dreams and ambitions of our favourite witches, and we root for them because they genuinely want to achieve them through their own brands of ambition. Until the day we die, we always have a dream, and we are always striving for it. Seeing other people with similar goals struggle against the obstacles brought before them, forcing them to evaluate their view of the world, that’s what draws us to characters, and it’s their stories that depict the process of achieving those dreams that allows us to say with pride, “I am a Diana” or “I am an Akko.”

    Little Witch does this with a deceptively sizeable cast of characters in a mere 30 minutes, and it makes me think that the characters that I wish to write about ought to be treated with the same subtlety and attention. That’s the magic of storytelling that I seek, and that’s the goal that I wish to attain, one paragraph of prose at a time. Thank you for writing this Em. I’m fortunate to have watched this show with you, and to have been reminded (by you, through this post and this show) not necessarily what my dreams are right now, but what they could be.

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