A look into the mind of Little Witch Academia’s Atsuko “Akko” Kagari

“Emotional pattern: yellow. Predictive ability: zero. Objectivity: zero. Traits: impulsive, selfish, pushy, simple, clumsy, carefree.”

-Croix’s personality analysis of Akko Kagari, Little Witch Academia, Episode 15

In Little Witch Academia Episode 15, modern magic professor Croix peers into Akko Kagari’s brain. The results are unsurprising. She has no natural ability. All of her top personality traits are negative — or at the very least, their complimentary nature is open to interpretation — although her yellow emotional pattern could be representative of bravery.

All of this matches what we already know of Akko’s character. From her in-universe actions to interviews with creator Yoh Yoshinari, Akko is not a complex entity. Wholly driven by her impulses and passions, she stumbles into most things by chance. This chance, or luck, is responsible for her acquisition of the Shiny Rod, an ancient magical artifact.

Does Akko care that it’s a powerful magical object? Not really. What matters to her most is that it was once owned by the witch she reveres: Shiny Chariot, or Chariot du Nord.

Akko’s empty-headed nature is hardly new to the anime protagonist. An overwhelming amount of anime default to a more generic character presumably to appeal to a wider audience. Akko somewhat fits this mold, very purposefully. She’s supposed to be an average person, not necessarily for audience-insert purposes — although it’s certainly easy to imagine young girls wanting to be Akko — but also because of her alternative role as a stand-in for an average artist or animator.

Even Akko’s character design is bland when compared to her group of friends. Lotte Jansson has short blonde hair, under-rim glasses, and freckles. Sucy Manbavaran has a sallow complexion, heavy-lidded eyes, and a toothy grin. Amanda O’Neill stands out immediately with shocking, bright hair, green eyes, and a very athletic build. Constanze Amalie von Braunschbank Albrechtsberger, Jasminka Antonenko, and of course, Diana Cavendish all stand out due to their character designs, all of which fit their personalities perfectly. By contrast, Akko is remarkably average.

Whatever Croix was expecting from Akko’s brain — presumably little, based on how easy it was for her to manipulate Akko into turning over the Shiny Rod (or Claiomh Solais) — it probably wasn’t something as simple as the images she received. Akko trying to fly and failing. Akko proclaiming the wonders of magic. Akko saying that she wants to be Shiny Chariot.

Above all else, Akko is simple. Through Croix’s analysis, we don’t learn anything new about Akko — arguably, neither does she, since these are all things that Akko has said publicly, multiple times, at a fairly high volume — but we do see what’s missing.

Akko has no ulterior motive.

In a world where every other character represents a path for reviving magic, including Akko herself, Akko is the only one who wants to revive magic for the joy of magic. She might want to fly before she can crawl, or animate master keyframes without putting in the effort, but she loves magic for the excitement and enchantment of it all. Even Diana, who was also inspired by Shiny Chariot as a young girl, went down the route of adhering to tradition, nurturing her talent into something truly awe-inspiring to both her peers and her elders.

It’s easy to characterize Akko as a selfish person, since she’s guided by her impulses and rarely restricts herself from doing exactly what she wants. However, her interest in magic, for lack of a better term, is pure.

 

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6 comments

  1. This selfless trait of Akko’s is the main reason why I keep coming back to LWA, despite my initial irritation with her character. I typically sided with Diana on most issues, but over the course of the series, I couldn’t help but be inspired by Akko’s views on magic (and how this pertains to the anime industry). Thanks, again!

    1. I’m happy that the series has made Akko’s empathy abundantly clear. She cares for other people more than anyone else in the series, and this impulse overrides all others.

      That being said, I don’t think that Akko’s way, for lack of a better term, is “the way” to save magic. Thus far, Little Witch Academia appears to be highlighting the best and worst qualities of each method for reviving magic, implying that all of them need to come together in order to actually solve anything. Akko may have the power to revive the words, but she very obviously can’t do it alone nor, do I think, is the series expecting her to.

  2. I’m thankful to find a perspective on LWA’s heroine that avoids the usual responses: namely, that she’s self-centered, impulsive, childish… At least on Reddit and elsewhere, that’s more or less the only kind of reaction to her I’ve seen.

    Granted, those are all true observations! Viewers aren’t wrong to see Akko that way… But.

    As my partner and I continue to watch this show, we’re struck by how much Akko’s struggle resembles the problems facing creative kids with learning differences, especially the ones who try to make it at “good” schools. Akko has the hallmarks of untreated ADD, from hyperfocus (“Metamorphie Facies!” x 10000), to inattention (the course debacle), to the ever-present frustration of teachers who want Miss Kagari to “get it together.”

    (Combined with the extended metaphor of animation-as-magic, it makes me wonder if Trigger did this on purpose, or if Akko’s “type” just happens to appear very often at animation studios.)

    The funny thing is, Akko’s already beginning to resemble the great witch she’s going to be, even though she’s blind to it because it’s not the great witch she *wants* to be. She’s kind to animals and fairies, she’s a whiz at transformation… Unlike Chariot the illusionist and performer, Akko is shaping up to become quite the formidable nature witch, and it comes entirely in spite of Luna Nova’s influence.

    1. As my partner and I continue to watch this show, we’re struck by how much Akko’s struggle resembles the problems facing creative kids with learning differences, especially the ones who try to make it at “good” schools. Akko has the hallmarks of untreated ADD, from hyperfocus (“Metamorphie Facies!” x 10000), to inattention (the course debacle), to the ever-present frustration of teachers who want Miss Kagari to “get it together.”

      This actually isn’t the first time I’ve seen this. In a recent reddit thread, someone made a similar case for Akko — specifically, that Akko’s academic struggles reminded her of her own with ADHD.

      Interestingly enough, the thread in question was asking if Akko is bilingual, since she presumably speaks English at Luna Nova, but is most certainly Japanese. There’s actually a strong case for Akko having a natural aptitude for languages, both with her ability to speak English fluently and how quickly she picked up the fish language. It reminded me that Akko’s so-called problems with magic stem from never having been taught as a child, and the school’s inability to nurture her natural strengths. Of all teachers, only Ursula has tried to develop Akko, and only recently did she see success. It’s this patience that has also prepared her to guide Akko in her quest.

      1. That’s a beautiful thought– Akko the natural communicator. It struck me recently how unique it is to have a Japanese, a Finn, and a Filipina hanging out together in a show– and the truth of the matter is, it’s all Akko holding them together. Good stuff!

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