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Little Witch Academia – 09

「ブライトンベリーアンデッド紀行」 (Buraitonberīandeddo kikō)
“Brightonberry Undead Travelogue”

In this episode: the headmistress finally gives Ursula the boot.

*Snicker*

Ahem. Back to seriousness. This episode, the pendulum swings away from the meaningless craziness and back to the coming-of-age story. It’s the familiar LWA structure, I suppose: Akko is incompetent => accident! => hijinks ensue => everybody learns a lesson from it by the end. LWA has stuck with this formula because it works; the cast is very bad at self-reflection as a whole, so the best way for any development to happen is for Akko to stumble her way through it. Of course, this episode is more about the headmistress than Akko, but it’s development overall, including history lessons about the Golden Age of magic.

I do hope that LWA pulls back from this formula gradually, though. For one, it makes for slightly clunky storytelling. Notice how this episode is actually two halves—hijinks, and exposition—stitched together? Skeletor would get into trouble. Stop. He narrates a bit of his story. He goes off and gets himself into trouble again. Stop. He narrates a bit more of his story. Hijinks/exposition/hijinks/exposition. LWA can and has done it better before (e.g. in episode 06, the OVAs) and it just shows more in this episode (just too much narration, really), and there’s still plenty of great moments to enjoy (I’m partial to the quiet ones, myself) but use a formula enough and the working starts to show.

The other reason I would like LWA to use the formula a bit less is because relying on Akko’s screw ups to propel the plot undercuts her growth. She’s only just started to turn her stubbornness into drive and commitment (i.e. actual redeeming qualities) and it would be a shame to see her regress. One day she’ll manage to more ‘the solution to the problem’ than ‘actually the problem’. I believe. For now, I guess she’s picked up at least two talents: talking to fish, and raising the dead. That sounds like a career path already.

Let’s talk about that raising the dead thing a bit more. Remember how, back in episode 07, we were told that raising the dead was the worst? The punishment was apparently a fate worse than death. The most horrible thing you can imagine! Even murder is just ‘eaten alive by mice’! And yet the only punishment for our three stooges is more menial labour. Where’s the justice here? Am I the only person paying attention in magic class here? Yeah, I know, the headmistress is nice and it worked out well, but that’s sort of the point, right? Why is necromancy the worst? What we see of it looks both rather easy and rather harmless. There’s a lot of little bits of lore and development here that is hard to determine the importance of. As another example, the witch hunts in LWA; whenever a setting has historical witch hunts and actual witches I’m not sure what to think about it. Remember, the lesson of the witch hunts wasn’t ‘killing witches is wrong’ and was actually ‘persecuting helpless women out of nothing but hysteria and paranoia is wrong’. Now that the witches are actually poart of the setting, how am I supposed to take a casually inserted comment on the history? I love worldbuilding, and I appreciate any change LWA takes to do it, so I want to know what details are throwaway that I don’t have to concern myself much with (like ‘how do they recognise each other?’) and which ones are important pieces of lore.

Yeah, I know every week someone throws out the ‘you are overthinking it’ but 1) no, you’re underthinking it *blows raspberry* and 2) LWA does want you to think about it. Big character defining question this week: what’s Akko’s real amulet? We’re asked what the card means (it could be Diana’s actually, in which case that cut was cheating and you know it, LWA). The very fact that LWA requires such symbolic tokens of its characters means it wants you to put thought into them. LWA aspires to more than just mindless entertainment. Let’s not sell it short, here.

March 6, 2017 at 6:20 am
12 comments »
  • March 6, 2017 at 8:39 amAlhazred23

    I’m not sure that the LWA staff are daring enough to try and pull a fast one on us with Akko’s card; there hasn’t been enough foreshadowing of Diana’s opinions regarding Chariot. However, they have done some foreshadowing regarding the one card that Akko never managed to acquire, which seems like a prime item for Diana to own (and possibly use as her amulet.) That would allow for somewhat more options than if they both had the same card, since it allows for the cards to be mixed up in a way that the students would notice without requiring that a student have access to the whole box of amulets.

  • March 6, 2017 at 10:35 amFlipper

    It seems as if each week these posts are trying to make this show into something it is not. This is not Flip Flappers, nor is it Magical Girl Raising Project, Yuki Yuna is a Hero or any of those other Magical Girl shows which were making some sort of social commentary in the past decade. There’s hints of a plot here as well as some character development, but does that mean that it needs to be saying something? It’s almost like those people who looked at Georgia O’Keefe’s paintings and proclaimed how it was an expression of femininity and female empowerment when the Keefe herself was just like,”eh I just like painting flowers”. Maybe if this show started out with having something more tangible from the outset then I would agree with the past few posts about having more narrative depth, but alas it was never like that. In fact there’s only been a few scenes sprinkled throughout showing any real character development or a semblance of a plot and we are at episode 9. Overall I look at this series with as much seriousness as Gabriel Drop Out overall, which I feel has more actual character development in some regards. That show also has an interesting world and rules, but doesn’t extrapolate on it instead allowing it to be the but of many of its jokes. Ms. Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid also has been doing this as well. The worlds of these shows are a means to an an end for creating interesting character dynamics and comedy. Deep world building is not a goal of any of these shows and that’s why so many inconsistencies within the worlds are prevalent. I think the lesson I’m learning here is to let things be as they are, not what I want them to be because I’m only going to be burned and disappointed as opposed to enjoying the creator’s work as they had intended.

    • March 6, 2017 at 2:20 pmPasserby

      I don’t see why ‘this is not the same show as some other show’ gives any show a free pass on doing the things it sets out to do well. It’s not that LWA doesn’t strive to develop characters, or build its world, or have narrative depth (in this very episode, even!), and to merely dismiss its efforts out of hand because you’ve already put it in a box where it’s not supposed to do those things is surely insulting to the show. In any case, we don’t have to compare LWA to any other show, just itself. In the OVAs, it managed to deliver a good balance of plot, character development and light-hearted adventure, and I don’t think it unfair to aspire to a similar standard.

      Remember, I’m not even making a judgement on the overall quality or enjoyability of the show. I’m simply pointing out the things it tries to do and making a note of how well it does them in any given case. Sure, you may find those things unimportant and choose to ignore them, and that’s your prerogative. But it’s part of the show all the same.

  • March 6, 2017 at 11:07 amWorldwidedepp

    Yes, this Episode has LWA DNA. You found the flow

  • March 6, 2017 at 11:22 amDyrean

    I agree to Flipper, this show is not some Dark and twisted like other Mahou Shojou. It’s just a simple and fun series that we should enjoy. We don’t need to overthink every details for this show, just sit back, relax and enjoy the show.

  • March 6, 2017 at 11:53 amSmokex365

    As far as the necromancy if it’s like any other similar shows the main thing is intent.

    Accident and subsequent attempt to both help the risen and do the right thing. Bad but forgiven. Intentionally raising the dead with the intent of controlling them and/or doing harm. Bad enough to be worthy of the worst punishment.

    • March 7, 2017 at 3:25 pmRedRocket

      Judicial Discretion I like it, and when it the Headmistress that enforces the rules she can decide what the action is by the spirit of the law not the letter of the law.

  • March 6, 2017 at 5:19 pmstarss

    The moment I saw the photo, I knew the zombie was the headmaster’s father. What a coincidence it was that Akko’s magic with the mushroom fell onto a tombstone that HAPPENED to mark the burial ground of the father of their headmaster. But I suppose that’s what makes fictional stories entertaining.

    Speaking of, I am really warming up to the headmaster. She is so ADORABLE, with her short height and interest in the unusual like a hat boot! :D She was touched when she was reunited with her husband briefly, but also professional enough to punish the 3 girls as her first task after setting things straight.

    And of course we get more world-building. I expect Akko to turn magic into a trend that it once was again by the end of thie show!

  • March 6, 2017 at 6:15 pmJollygolightly

    I don’t know if this has been mentioned before but, has anyone noticed how the guy at the magic item shop looks just like Chumlee from Pawn Stars?

    • March 7, 2017 at 8:19 amstarss

      Tumblr beat you to it. It was nice seeing him again though.

  • March 6, 2017 at 7:26 pmBear

    Akko does have a goal: to be like her idol Shiny Chariot. The question is how is the story going to take her there? Seeing how Shiny Chariot had to work to become the person she idolized, she’s decided she has to study harder. My thought before this episode was that one way she could advance would be to see her gain some magical ability, misuse it (the Sorcerer’s Apprentice), and resolve the resulting problems by applying either the same magic or something else she’s learned. To my surprise that showed up in this episode. Ursula taught her how to use the restore spell, she used it outside of the school which caused the undead to rise, and then she used the same spell to get them back to the school in time to reunite the headmistress with her father. Now I’ve no idea if this is going to continue in this vein or not. Now that she’s (at least at some level) trying to study harder, I would like to see her realize that something like magical history is necessary and helpful if she’s going to become the next wielder of the Shiny Rod rather than her just focusing on the cool stuff. I think that would give the show some structure to hold it together through two cours. YMMV

    • March 6, 2017 at 7:27 pmBear

      Oh, and if she does go all Soccers’s Apprentice on those brooms!….

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