「リトル・ウィッチ・アカデミア」 (Ritoru Wicchi Akademia)
“Little Witch Academia”
Created out of concern for the ever increasing amount of outsourcing in the creation of Japanese animation, the “Young Animator Training Project” was started in 2010 by the Japanese government. This project provides 38 million yen ($480,000 USD) each to four selected studios annually, in order to fund the creation of four 30-minute original shorts. These shorts must in turn be produced entirely in Japan and made in part by young animators who are being trained on the job. This year, Studio Trigger was chosen as one of the four studios, their project would ultimately culminating in the superb OVA you see here.
I mean, gosh darn—I was stunned at the quality of this production. There isn’t a single noticeable drop in quality from start to finish, there’s something moving in every single scene, and it was absolutely amazing. Indeed, I found myself just sitting there in awe after watching, as I couldn’t wrap my head around the fact that it was made in part by young animators in training. Really, you could’ve fooled me—because it definitely looked like professional, high quality studio work rather than something done (in part) by inexperienced animators learning things on the job. Keeping in mind that Trigger’s also relatively new and hasn’t had any large self-productions under its belt yet, and well, it makes this achievement even more notable. Animation-wise, it just seems like Trigger has a great future ahead, and this (and Inferno Cop from this past season), have me hoping for more from the studio. Who knows? We just might have the beginnings of the next great animation studio here.
Shifting to the series itself though, the story revolves around a girl named Kagari Akko (Han Megumi), who joins Little Witch Academia in hopes of becoming as cool as her magician idol, Shiny Chariot. In many ways, it’s ends up pretty straight forward plot—it is after all, only a 30 minute short to showcase animation—but it admittedly ends up quite enjoyable regardless, as they manage to fit in quite a lot despite the short nature of the OVA. There’s just nothing like wand-blasting, dragon-busting, and flying on brooms to make you feel like a kid again after all, and that’s what this OVA does. It creates a nice stand alone experience, giving just enough time to present the relevant characters and the world to ensure that you’ll understand what’s going on, while making sure they don’t spend so much time on it so there ends up being no real conclusion. Indeed, there’s actually a proper conclusion here waiting at the end—akin to a arc ending in a normal series’ arc—that provides you enough closure to wrap up the basic story, leaves you yearning for more, and keeps the door open for more from this same universe as well.
Ultimately, it’s like that old quote “All Roads Lead to Rome,” as virtually everything about this production ends up pointing to the same conclusion—which is that what Trigger’s managed to do here was superb. In turn, this ends up being a statement regarding the Young Animator’s Training Project itself—which is that it seems to be fulfilling its purpose quite admirably. Having watched the another OVA from this series in Arve Rezzle: Kikaijikake no Yoseitachi and enjoyed that as well—although not to the same degree as Little Witch Academia—it’s just quite obvious that the project’s likely having an exceptionally positive effect in terms of giving young animators with great potential a chance to really get somewhere, and it’s just nice to see how big of a part the government itself is playing in supporting this.
Regardless, the fact of the matter is this: If you have some time, you should be giving the series of the Young Animator Training Project a try. Aside from providing a rather interesting experience in and of itself, I feel like you can really get a sense of perspective regarding anime in general from the concepts involved behind the project, and it’s something that’s well worth the investment of time you put into this. For your reference, the other three shows and their studios are: Arve Rezzle: Kikaijikake no Yoseitachi (Zexcs), Death Billiards (Madhouse), and Ryo (Gonzo). Seems like only Arve Rezzle’s available to watch out of these three at the moment though.