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Little Witch Academia – 03 »« Little Witch Academia – 01

Little Witch Academia – 02

「 パピリオディア」 (Papiriodia)
“Papilliodya”

Finally, now, in episode 02, we’re putting the academy in Little Witch Academia and actually going to school. And it turns out, magic school is just as capable of boring and monotonous as Muggle school, just with a slightly higher chance of lung cancer. It’s good, I guess that Little Witch Academia starts of showing things this way instead of throwing the books out the window and try to turn its school setting into an action show. Often you’d see shounen anime aimed at slightly younger audiences with school settings just as a formality, where students are too busy goofing off/saving the world/playing card games to actually go to any classes. Not LWA! Being nominally a magical girl show, I guess it feels the need to at least be somewhat instructional to the younger generation and offer more than just escapism from the classes many of them no doubt detest. Every school has its constants: creepy teachers, boring lectures, hostile cliques. Rather than pretend they don’t exist because MAGIC, let’s have our protagonist deal with them so we can empathise with her struggle. I approve the undercurrent of realism to the fantasy, even if LWA is hardly the only story that does that. What I never see done, though, is these magic schools teaching anything that isn’t magic. This is still primary schooling, right? Do witches have no use for grammar or mathematics? Didn’t someone mention Pythagoras? Are these people too good for our Muggle geometry?

I suppose the actual lesson in all of this is about the nature of education itself. While it’s good to recognise that classes can be terrible, it’s equally important to stress that they don’t have to be terrible. Atsuko is, by all accounts, a poor student (she’s the protagonist, after all), but she’s capable of memorising all the text from her card game. Turns out, when you don’t just read from a textbook (which is the absolute worst way to teach history, by the way) and actually turn your information into something engaging, it sticks. I tell you, today I can’t remember how to do any calculus. Not even a little. Magic: The Gathering? No problem. When people want to learn, they’ll learn better. No duh, right? But why do we still expect to see teacher’s like the language professor who, knowing that no student has managed to decipher her scribbles since she started teacher, still starts her lesson with it? Why does she do it? To beat a sense of inferiority in her students? Why not try positive reinforcement instead? In world that can rely on literal magic there’s basically no excuse to have a lesson that can’t engage students.

Let’s not give the trading cards too much credit, though. There’s only, what, bloody twelve of those things but they’re still sold in random booster packs. That’s downright predatory monetisation. Anyone want to take bets on how much money Atsuko sank into this wallet trap? Sell all the merch you like, but baiting children with artificial scarcity deserves a special place in hell. Oh, I know why Shiny Chariot has disappeared for so many years. If I was her, I’d take the money and run, too.

 

ED Sequence

ED: 「星を辿れば」 (Hoshi wo Todoreba) by 大原ゆい子 (Ohara Yuiko)

January 16, 2017 at 6:18 am
26 comments »
  • January 16, 2017 at 7:24 amVelvet Scarlantina

    • January 16, 2017 at 9:06 pmstarss

      No you’re not.

  • January 16, 2017 at 7:25 amVelvet Scarlantina

    By the way… Does this count as Mahou Shojo?

    • January 16, 2017 at 9:04 amsithstormjedi

      if by literally then i say yes since the girls in the academy are magical in nature or can use magic and the earliest mahou shoujo characters like Sally the witch is similar to this.

      But in the “modern” definition that are characterized by series like Magical Princess Minky Momo, Wedding Peach or Sailor Moon where the girls transform to combat evil or save the world, then its not mahou shoujo.

  • January 16, 2017 at 8:07 amJack

    If you guys noticed in episode 1, in the beginning of the episode Diana was among the audience during the Shining Chariot performance, as she was also a big fan to boot. Which explains why she wasn’t as dismissive towards Ako’s Shining Chariot staff as much as her cliques.

    • January 16, 2017 at 8:31 amHanabira.Kage

      Viewed another way, it could have just been a friendly warning (as friendly as it gets anyway) so Atsuko wouldn’t land herself in more trouble.

    • January 18, 2017 at 1:46 amLlyrin

      Yes, Diana was at the show in the flashback…and want to bet who has that last card missing from Akko’s set within her own collection?

  • January 16, 2017 at 12:40 pmMatsuhime

    I think those twelve cards were just the premium ones … kind of like super-rare golden cards in MTG?

  • January 16, 2017 at 12:51 pmChris hall

    Moe Moe anime so far

  • January 16, 2017 at 2:18 pmmac65

    A winner so far! Wonder if it’ll get darker / deeper
    than its slice-of-witch-school-life. But I like it!

  • January 16, 2017 at 4:14 pmFaolin Eye

    A solidly entertaining episode and the quality of the animation is still as great as last week; all together in the top 5 of this season for sure.

    What I never see done, though, is these magic schools teaching anything that isn’t magic.

    Well, Passerby, for that I reckon you should look into fanfiction: right off the top of my head I’d say that Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality and some of its sequels fanfic, like Significant Digits qualify, where they effectively teach Muggle science in a magic school. And it’s interesting you’ve mentioned in last week’s post that you are not that big a fan of the Harry Potter series and I can sympathize with this sentiment, since I also don’t find the story of the Harry Potter books that engaging. That said the magical world both in the Harry Potter universe and here in Little Witch Academia’s case is quite captivating, and when used to the fullest (like with the more heavy involvement of patronuses and dementors in HPMOR) it could be really cool. So I hope for more fights in LWA like the one in the OVA to come, though the slice-of-life aspect of the show is also pleasant.

    • January 16, 2017 at 6:42 pmdaikama

      @Faolin Eye: Not a huge fan of Harry Potter either (did not read the books, but read numerous comments that books > movies), but I have seen the “what about normal school lessons” issue raised before (e.g. Cinamasins). Honestly, the issue didn’t cross my mind this episode. Valid point (at least potentially), but LWA (or arguably Harry Potter) isn’t a super serious show, so not sweating the details on that. That being said, I would like more world-building in general for LWA. As it was, it played out as expected (magic school so viewers get magic classes) even if cliché. *shrugs*

      But sure, if you want to dig deeper “in-universe” then there is that question. Really the issue IMO is “what do you do for a living once you graduate from magic school?” Don’t get me wrong, general education is important – even if one is to become say a professional athlete. Still, unless one is independently wealthy, IMO the primary driver for education is to get a good job. A lot depends upon the story universe.

      [DISCLAIMER: Again, not a huge Harry Potter fan so I might be mistaken on some things]. So in HP, magic is supposed to be kept secret from the “muggles” (in theory – in the movies they sure don’t seem to worry about that at times). Fine, but if you graduate from Hogwarts then what? Is the magic world economy sufficient to provide jobs for all mages? There’s the magic shopping district and the Dept. of Magic, but wouldn’t think those alone would be enough. IDK. Maybe magic world economy is sufficient, and if so, then I’d imagine focusing on magic lessons at magic school would be sufficient. Not ideal, but certainly on point for magic work.

      However, if some wizards need to get a “muggle job” then… Good luck I guess. That Hogwarts transcript ain’t gonna help with getting a “muggle” job and/or into “muggle” university. Imagine the job interview. “Ms. Granger, I see you got top marks in… potion making? … divination? … magic defense? Is this a joke, because I don’t find it funny. We at ABC Corporation take our work seriously! Good day!”

      In LWA world, magic seems to be out in the open from what I can tell so at least the Luna Nova diploma would mean something in “RL”, but there’s still the issue of job fit. That potion class ain’t gonna help with say accounting. Might work for pharmacy and could always get a retail job I suppose. Again, comes down to world-building.

    • January 17, 2017 at 1:15 amPasserby

      I also find the worlds of both Harry Potter and LWA rather interesting, because I do love urban fantasy. One of the most interesting things for me, though, is how the fantasy is meshed with the urban, and I’d prefer to feel that the creators have put more thought into their setting than I have.

  • January 16, 2017 at 5:44 pmKarmafan

    I’m shocked that this series is actually pretty good. Never saw the OVAs and I try and watch the 1st episode of a new series to give it a chance and really liked the 1st episode.

  • January 16, 2017 at 5:45 pmdaikama

    On the whole an enjoyable watch though can’t say it was spectacular either. Pretty much “steady as she goes” type of deal. Maybe a bit unfair to compare to the original OVA, but gonna happen. This captures a lot of the OVA’s “essence” (for lack of a better term), but still doesn’t seem to have the same quality. OVA did have some severe limitations due to short length which the anime can fill in (e.g. character background/development + maybe some extra world-building). Only two episodes, but so far there’s nothing noteworthy added IMO on that front.

    Might be the case that what we saw here is the way the show’s going to go. Keep it light, fun and a bit superficial in terms of episodic adventure type stuff. That can work from an entertainment standpoint, but not gonna elevate the show either. Again, still early.

    While on some level I guess it fits, I’m not really a fan of having Akko get shiny rod right off the bat. I think the OVA was better in that regard. It’s too much of a crutch for both her character and storytelling. Hopefully not the case, but I can envision where every episode we get shiny rod ex machina resolution. :/

    So not without issue, but in the end, as noted, overall I found Ep. 02 an enjoyable enough, fun watch. I’m in for the season.

    • January 17, 2017 at 6:10 pmNemonowan

      Oh, great. I can see it from here:
      First episode, Akko has to use the spell Chariot used to open the leyline and leave the stage, in order to save the day.
      Second episode, Akko has to use a spell from one of her 11 Chariot cards in order to save the day.
      Episodes 3 to 12, Akko will have to use the spells from her Chariot cards 2 to 11 in order to save the day.
      Episode 13 and last, Akko will need the spell from the 12th Chariot card in order to save the day. But she never got that unique card! Pinchi! Fortunately that is when Diana reveals that she also is a Chariot fan and provides the 12th card that she still carries with her! Day gets saved, friendship ensues, Ursula approves.
      The End.

      • January 17, 2017 at 7:17 pmBear

        Rats you spoiled it all! LOL. If the second episode uses another card I think you’ve nailed it.
        Show Spoiler ▼

      • January 17, 2017 at 11:59 pmdaikama

        Very well could be right on the cards playing a similar role to what we saw in Ep. 02 for future episodes. Need to use a light touch with that IMO. However, MAL has this as 2-cour, 25 episodes so not enough cards for one as a plot device every episode.

        You raise an interesting point though about Diana and that one missing card. Not sure how that might factor into the story. Could just be a reconciliation bonding moment between the two vs. has some important info for solving the monster/magic crisis of the week.

  • January 16, 2017 at 6:16 pmKarmafan

    Anyone else thinking…

    Show Spoiler ▼

    • January 16, 2017 at 6:45 pmdaikama

      @Karmafan: Regarding the question in your spoiler:

      Show Spoiler ▼

      • January 16, 2017 at 8:19 pmKarmafan

        Ah thats good to know… thanx.

  • January 16, 2017 at 9:03 pmstarss

    Already this show feels more like a relaxing slice-of-life show than the action-packed first OVA. It retells everything from the OVA so far but in different ways and in more detail, meaning that watching the OVAs isn’t mandatory in order to enjoy it!

    • January 17, 2017 at 1:16 amPasserby

      Considering that this is a re-telling (of a somewhat different story, too), perhaps it’s even an advantage to not have watched the OVAs.

  • January 19, 2017 at 1:14 pmjhpace1

    Okay, Passerby, you just earned your bonus for the week with this one: “And it turns out, magic school is just as capable of boring and monotonous as Muggle school, just with a slightly higher chance of lung cancer.”

    I liked the “wallet trap” comment in the last paragraph too. Fond memories of college days, when Magic: The Gathering made me go on a Dining Facility diet, as all my spare change that should have gone to fast food went to finding that hidden Black Lotus card in the booster packs instead.

    • January 19, 2017 at 2:09 pmPasserby

      Hurray! Now I can feed my family.

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