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Little Witch Academia – 08

「眠れる夢のスーシィ」 (Nemureru Yume no Sūshi)
“Sleeping Dreamer Sucy”

Little Witch Academia (and a lot of Studio Trigger, really) has never made a secret of the influence of Western animation in its works, but it’s an episode like this one that really hammers the point home. I suppose anime, from Astro Boy up, has historically drawn a lot from the works of Disney, it’s just that LWA has decided to be explicit about it. These Western stylings seem to be something that LWA breaks out more the more off-the-rails it goes, and indeed this week packs all the unhinged crazy that one may expect from a drug induced reverie.

It was all hearty fun while it was running, but looking back on the episode, I do kinda wonder what it was all about. Journey to the centre of the mind stories do pop up now and again with fair regularity, and they’re usually direct ways to uncover hidden aspects of a character, maybe develop their relationship with the person who learns these secret things, and perhaps even make a point about humans and their quirks. Our dive into Sucy’s inner self, though, doesn’t really reveal anything that we don’t already know. That Sucy is something of a horrible person all the way down. That her relationship with Akko is one based on abuse and Stockholms. That unless we forcefully suppress the whimsies of our personality or they’ll, er, merge into a giant monster and devour our soul. Right. Oh, hear that? That’s Jung, rolling in his grave.

Obviously, little of this episode is supposed to be taken very seriously. But here’s where we once again bump into one of the great dissonances of Little Witch Academia. Does it want to be a coherent, progressing story with continuity, with character development and an overarching plot? Or does it want to be more akin to the just-for-fun Saturday morning cartoons that it adores, able to shake things up with whatever crazy thing, safe in the knowledge that when the episode ends continuity is reset and status quo is restored? The two approaches undercut each other, and striking a balance is a tricky thing. Ducking with ‘it was all a dream’ (or was it?!?!?!) at the end, for example, does let you burn the house down in the episode itself without repercussions, but also sabotages any chance of real development. What do our characters take away from this 20 minute escapade? Apparently, nothing.

Little Witch Academia is still heaps of stylish fun whatever it does, and a great watch, but I think it’s possible to be stylish fun and still, perhaps, aim a little higher. Flip Flappers, an even more stylistic magical girl show, for example, actually went out of its way to make use of its style in its storytelling, whereas for LWA the style seems to be more of something that ebbs and wanes by its own whims. Sure, it’s enjoyable enough still, but I’m not sure how much of my enjoyment comes from playing spot the reference and how much is from the substance of the episode. We know from, say, episode 06 that LWA does, on some level, want to be a full-fledged coming-of-age story, so perhaps spending and entire episode with zero pay-off on that front is an overindulgence. Don’t just be flippantly didactic then throw it all away, LWA. Just a tiny step further and you could have made something out of it.

Instead, I guess the moral of the story is, er: don’t do drugs. On a very special episode of Little Witch Academia.

February 27, 2017 at 5:46 am
31 comments »
  • February 27, 2017 at 6:46 amLin

    You’re overthinking it. This was just an Imaishi episode. That’s all the explanation you would need to understand why it was so over the top and nonsensical. Trigger just let Imaishi play around for one episode and this was the result. But you don’t have to worry. This won’t happen again because it has been reported that Imaishi moved on to his own project after this episode.

    Not that LWA doesn’t have its silly side, but this was clearly a special case.

  • February 27, 2017 at 8:01 amstarss

    I heard Imaishi was storyboarding this episode. … now I totally know why. :P

    Well THIS was clearly a mind trip! If people were asking for a Sucy episode, they GOT A SUCY EPISODE! So much that her voice actor got to voice countless versions of her (her lines took up at least 60% of the entire dialogue), and the pace was so fast and the content so crazy, I was wondering if I was watching an episode of Mighty Magiswords! And the references went by just as fast, from Wonderland, to Star Wars, to Sleeping Beauty, to horror films, to 1920′s animation, to even Akira! Beneath all that was a genius analysis of who Sucy is and what could possibly make her develop into a bad or good version of herself depending on what direction in life she takes. Bravo!

  • February 27, 2017 at 8:08 amGrahav

    While this was a Sucy episode the character development was for Akko. Killing or supressing arts of yourself, may make Jung roll in his grave, but in life it is not always that we have time to make a hearty reunion with our shadows sine they are a permanent presence. Many times, specially when they are being super retarded, we just have tell them to shut up.

    It was a very fun episode.

  • February 27, 2017 at 8:11 amFlipper

    I’m just in this show for the ride. The show is so off the walls bonkers that I’ll just enjoy whatever they throw at me as long as it remains quality like this. Overarching story? The only thing that seems to really be happening is Ako to become the next Chariot, but other than that this series is falling in place with its ova and movie predecessors; providing goofy fun, charming characters and great animation. Flip Flappers was trying to say something, abstract as it was. Little Witch is just having fun. Not every show has to have some message in order to be worth watching. The expectation that this show is suppossed to be anything more than it is, which has been pretty clear from the aforementioned ovas and episode 1, will only lead to disappointment.

    • February 27, 2017 at 1:46 pmPasserby

      But Little Witch Academia does have something to say, it just forgets what that is now and again.

      • February 27, 2017 at 2:37 pmZen

        Does it forget, or (going by the comments of some of the folks here) is there some kind of behind the scenes politicking going on where studio founder Imaishi and other big wigs are throwing around their weight and confounding the original creator/auteur Yoshinari’s creative vision by “storyboarding” (essentially commandeering direction for entire episodes) and creating a lot of throwaway filler?

      • February 27, 2017 at 5:59 pmbassgs435

        @Zen.
        You can leave your conspirancy theories at the door. Imaishi isn’t forcing anything. It’s more like
        “hey dude, do an episode” “ok, cool”. There’s no politicking. Imaishi’s actually got his own project he’s working on. Sounds to me you’re forcing the show to be what you thought it was and refusing to accept what it’s being. Also, nothing wrong with filler if it’s as fun as this episode. It’s not like LWA’s format doesn’t allow for it and it’s not like there’s a big story that needs every single episode

      • February 28, 2017 at 8:47 amstarss

        There is no conspiracy. Artists on a show let others take turns storyboarding an episode to keep everything running quick and smoothly and also so each episode doesn’t have the same touch.

      • February 28, 2017 at 4:55 pmKarmafan

        Love the series but hated this episode.

  • February 27, 2017 at 8:13 amBROOKLYN otaku

    Episode was a TRIP, blazed hard to this one…..SucY OVERLOAAAD!!!!!!!!

  • February 27, 2017 at 9:07 amWorldwidedepp

  • February 27, 2017 at 10:52 amsithstormjedi

    As a person who isn’t a fan of the series but is watching LWA just because im bored, i found this episode pretty bland (also because i have no attachment to the character). Its fun in nature ill give it that, but i kinda wish this would add more character depth to Sucy, but its more or less a dream sequence. I’d like the series to go forward with the unveiling of Chariot and the rise of Akko now.

    Also…
    I thought the beginning part of the episode was a spoof of Dexter’s Lab. Maybe im over thinking it.

    • February 27, 2017 at 12:01 pmDavid

      No, I was getting that Genndy Tartakovsky feel as well, in the opening sequence.

  • February 27, 2017 at 12:11 pmWorldwidedepp

    I get a felling that the “Inferno Cop” Director made this Episode. Many reused animation, zoom in and so on

    • February 27, 2017 at 12:26 pmWorldwidedepp

      i do not want to hurt someones feelings, but this Episode feels like an Alien. This is not LWA DNA stuff.

      I only can speculate this was done for an fast filler…

    • February 27, 2017 at 12:27 pmbassgs435

      He actually handled last week’s episode. This episode was done by Imaishi (the director for Dead Leaves, Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt, Tengen Toppa Gurenn Lagann, Kill la Kill, Space Patrol Luluco and other stuff)

  • February 27, 2017 at 2:46 pmmac65

    The guys from Flip-Flappers got loose on the set and this is what happened!

  • February 27, 2017 at 4:36 pmstarss

    “This? …. no this will just turn Akko into a good witch. That wouldn’t be any fun.”

    :D Best effin line in the show so far!!

  • February 27, 2017 at 5:30 pmBear

    OMG, what happened to my Little Witch Academia? I loved the original OVA but this…? If I felt like I was watching an episode of Kill La Kill (and not a good one). I never thought I’d like Diana more than Sucy but they’ve turned her into a monster IMO. Somebody throw water on her, oh wait that’s a different story probably wouldn’t work with her. What a shear waste of what could have been a great character and a waste of my time watching this dreck. It just feels like the show is going down hill the longer it’s on. WTF was the ending supposed to mean? I’m sure that was meant to mess with our minds about what actually happened but frankly that was just crappy story telling.

    • February 27, 2017 at 5:53 pmbassgs435

      Again, They let Imaishi in charge of the episode. But he isn’t credited in any more future episodes for now and has gone back to work in his own project. This episode was pure Imaishi and I loved it. Then again, I love everything touched by that man

      • February 27, 2017 at 6:23 pmBear

        God I hope so. YMMV but I found this a travesty to the series. What next? Have David Lynch or Tarantino do a guest episode?

      • February 27, 2017 at 8:18 pmfero

        @Bear
        Could be fun

    • February 28, 2017 at 8:49 amstarss

      You are comparing the OVA to ONE EPISODE out of a possible 24 episodes of this series. MOST of the episodes will not at all be like this. It’s called BizarroEpisode, there’s a trope. Get over it.

      • February 28, 2017 at 3:42 pmBear

        My opinion is just as valid as yours. Get over it yourself.

    • February 28, 2017 at 11:44 pmZen

      @Bear

      Geez, the fanboyism force is strong with this Imaishi fellow. Unfettered aesthetic randomness with the depth of a puddle, that’s the best way to describe this episode.

      There’s nothing wrong with an abundance of aesthetic randomness per se, but there still needs to be some semblance of focused order- whether that be a central theme illustrated through allegory, or an overarching plotline. This episode had nothing of the sort; it is, thus, naught more than an…

      unhnged crazy…drug induced reverie.

      I’m going to venture out on a limb and speculate that this Imaishi fellow’s the kind of guy who has a penchant for artsy, unfettered randomness, but possesses little actual literary skill, relying mostly on the talents of others to make up for his own deficiencies in this capacity, and to temper his lack of focus. What makes him so successful as a director is likely his signature “artsy” randomness serving as an overlay which provides an X-factor to otherwise competent (but perhaps unremarkable) underlying stories written by far more accomplished authors.

      The terrible that is Little Witch Academia Episode 8 is likely an exemplar of what occurs when a person of Imaishi’s *ahem* proclivities takes full control of the narrative wheel. As it stands, this episode’s scenario could’ve been written by just about any stooge with half a brain and a bag of extra-strength psychedelic shrooms…

  • February 27, 2017 at 7:13 pmJuliana

    I liked it, but it was a weak episode. I saw some people talking about a Imashi guy, I don’t know much about the professionals, but I’m glad that was his last episode.

    I think the episode purpose was to show that Sucy is there, I mean, In the episodes she doesn’t seem to care what happens, compared to Lotte, and here we see that she does cares. Or it’s just an episode with more participation from Sucy, because we had one from Lotte. Probably the second.

    Well … I hope the plot comes back.

    • February 27, 2017 at 7:22 pmbassgs435

      >muh plot
      How long until you people figure out this show isn’t for you and that you should look elsewhere for a plot?. Not every show needs a continuous plot

      • February 28, 2017 at 2:53 pmJuliana

        ???
        I really like LWA and I’m not looking for THE PLOT.
        LWA has a simple plot, show that magic still important, and yes, I hope this topic comes back.
        Which doesn’t mean I don’t like episodes like this (I laughed a lot, actually), but it wasn’t done well, comparing with others.
        And I agree with you, good show don’t need a continuous plot, but plot episodes are more interesting. (Not better, but more interesting.)
        And I’m sad that it has only 25 episodes, it would be perfect in AT and Steven Universe format.ç-ç 11 min and hundreds of episodes.

  • February 27, 2017 at 7:55 pmhjerry

    I’ve said before that this series reminds me of the Saturday Morning Cartoons of old. It’s just simple fun for the sake of it. Not every episode has to be thought provoking and move the plot forward. Sometimes you get to just enjoy watching the characters do something wacky.

    If you think of this series in the same vein and something like original Transformers or TMNT, then it’s a lot easier. It’s a really relaxing watch for me.

    If I want a series to be really deep and weigh on me, I’ve got plenty of other options. (Kuzu comes to mind lol).

  • February 27, 2017 at 8:34 pmPithata

    The more i read your work the more I feel the despair. I am out when I see your name I won’t bother any more

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