“You’re a witch, Akko.” — Little Witch Academia and the Mundane

akko kagari closeup scared face, akko kagari little witch academia episode 1, akko flying on a broom little witch academia episode 1 tv series studio trigger

“I ordered a magic learning kit online but I had no idea what to do with it. I don’t really understand the basics all that well . . . “

-Akko Kagari, Little Witch Academia, Episode 1

Part of the craft in creating a magical world involves the mundane. Magic and fantasy worlds are created in contrast to the comparatively dull world in which we live our everyday lives. This contrast is important in selling a magical world to a reader or viewer of a specific fantasy franchise, whether it’s by forcing these two worlds to collide, lengthy and involved world-building that induces total immersion, or a protagonist who is new to the magical world in question and discovering it along with us. Last year, Flying Witch used Japanese rural life as a backdrop for witch-in-training Makoto Kowata. We discovered the wonder of pastoral Japan through the eyes of Makoto, and the wonders of her magic through the eyes of her young cousin, Chinatsu Kuramoto.

The most obvious, and popular, example of this is the titular Harry Potter of the Harry Potter franchise — now a veritable empire with facets upon facets of the wizarding world to discover. Even without Harry himself to take our hand and lead us from the mundane muggle world to the magical, Harry Potter already encourages complete and total engagement due to its attention to every last detail.

Although Harry is a wizard, he was raised as an average muggle — cupboard beneath the stairs and emotional abuse aside — and doesn’t discover his powers or the wizarding world until he turns 11 years-old. This allows us to explore the wizarding world through Harry’s eyes, our own eyes widening in awe at lengthy descriptions of moving staircases in Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, ghosts, moving pictures, and what it feels like to fly on a broom or levitate a feather. By contrast, Harry Potter gives us Draco Malfoy, or, for someone closer to Harry himself, Ron Weasley who have lived as wizards their entire lives.

Stuck somewhere between Harry Potter and Ron Weasley is Little Witch Academia‘s Akko Kagari.

akko and the luna nova witches at the leyline terminal little witch academia episode 1, little witch academia episode 1, akko kagari little witch academia leyline terminal luna nova

“Speaking of awful, I heard a rumor about the new students. It seems one of them isn’t of witch blood.”

-Luna Nova witch at the Leyline Terminal, Little Witch Academia, Episode 1

Akko is an odd case. There’s no Luna Nova letter, no dramatic moment where a half-giant tells Akko that she’s a witch — she simply chooses to become one.

Through her, Little Witch Academia strikes out on its own with a somewhat unique approach to mixing the magical and mundane. In the world of Little Witch Academia the series, the average person is aware of magic and is either unconcerned with it or views magic as a tourist attraction — seasoned witches are heard complaining about tourists at the Leyline Terminal. They also introduce the concept that witches are bred through a bloodline, not learned, although Akko was accepted to the prestigious magical academy Luna Nova despite her commoner blood.

akko shows sucy her shiny chariot rare card little witch academia episode 1, little witch academia anime series episode 1 akko kagari, akko kagari with shiny chariot rare card little witch academia episode 1

In the Little Witch Academia OVAs, Akko is looked down upon by Diana and company not for her lack of magical blood but for her idolization of Shiny Chariot, who is thought to be somewhat of a fraud in the magical realm. Friction between natural-born witches and learned commoners like Akko will presumably remain in the background throughout the series’ run — especially with the upcoming introduction of Diana Cavendish — an interesting addition to the world of Luna Nova.

The opening scene of Little Witch Academia shows a young and eager Akko at Shiny Chariot’s magical show. This inspires her to become a witch, in the same vein that attending the Boston Symphony Orchestra at a young age inspired me to take piano lessons and learn music — despite the mentions of bloodlines, magic also appears as an available talent that seemingly anyone can pursue. For me, at that time, the thought of playing Mussorgsky’s “Pictures at an Exhibition” was magical. For Akko, Shiny Chariot’s magical show places her on the path towards learning actual witchcraft.

akko kagari and lotte yanson in the leyline little witch academia episode 1, little witch academia episode 1 lotte and akko on a broom, lotte and akko flying on a broom little witch academia

When introducing herself to Sucy Manbavaran, Akko reveals that she tried to buy a magic kit online but didn’t know what to do with it. She meets Lotte Yanson after attempting to climb the vines on the sides of the Leyline Terminal to Luna Nova, doggedly trying to make her way forward without the necessary broom to fly her there. Luna Nova doesn’t give her help because she wasn’t born a witch — Hogwarts, for example, provides even muggle-born students with a list of required items — Akko comes to the terminal without even the basic knowledge of what a Leyline is, or how to get to the school. Although Akko is presented as a warm-hearted but self-centered dunce, she has a lot of catching up to do that involves no small amount of hard work and training.

The idea that magic can be learned rather than born into is a subtle difference that makes Little Witch Academia unique. It additionally serves as a way for Akko, and us by extension, to be continuously wowed by her new magical surroundings. If the opening sequence is anything to go by, Akko will figure out how to fly on a broom just as well as her peers eventually. The question is of how she’ll get there.

Advertisements

6 comments

  1. This was a great first episode! I loved the slight hints or callbacks to the first OVA with Akko finding shiny Chariot’s staff for the first time and turning it into a bow mid fall firing an arrow off just in time!

    We also get to see Akko meet Sucy and Lotte for the first time which we didn’t get much of that backstory with the OVAs so its cool that we get a sort of abridged version of their meeting and becoming friends, but Sucy seemed to be a bit more unwelcoming with Akko going on and on about becoming a witch even playing a few pranks to get away from her; however that character has always been strange! Even when she met Luluco in that one random crossover episode.

    I totally forgot that Akko doesn’t come from a magical bloodline and is just a commoner! It does add an extra interesting element to her character and as the audience we can learn about magic through her, but even in the OVAs Akko still struggled with magic resulting in hilarious events.

    Laaast note I heard LWA is going to have 25 episodes! Sounds exciting!

    1. Yeah I’m super excited that we get two seasons worth of LWA. ^ ^ It’s always been my favorite Trigger property so this series is definitely something I’ve been looking forward to.

      I think Sucy has always been a bit . . . I don’t want to say shy necessarily, but reserved. She has phenomenal magical ability even in the first OVA, but doesn’t seem to trust people easily. It made sense to me that she wouldn’t open up to Akko, especially since Akko is the complete opposite — overwhelmingly trusting and outgoing.

      I honestly don’t remember if they mentioned Akko’s bloodline in the original OVA, since they focused more on her idolization of Shiny Chariot than anything else. That being said, in Enchanted Parade, both Akko and Diana are shown as wanting to revitalize magic in the real world (with Akko and her over-the-top theatrics and Diana’s excellence in all things) which this first episode also touches upon. The witches at the terminal gossip about how the school doesn’t have any money and that’s why Akko is accepted in the first place. I’m curious to see how much friction comes from bloodlines and how much comes from Akko’s sheer force of will, since it also seems that people can learn it even if they’re not born witches.

  2. I mostly caught on to two things in the first episode:
    1. The wonder of magic, shown by Akko’s first inspiration and then the flashes of magical light during their ride throught the highway.
    2. Akko’s shounen protagonist personality, which, if the theme of commoners vs elites is to feature prominently in this series, might create some interesting conflict. It will be interesting to see.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s