Originally bursting into life as a short animated film in 2013, Little Witch Academia has since spawned a second film, a manga, and an anime series (available on Netflix). It’s this anime series we’re here to discuss today, along with the love and praise which it showers on its biggest inspiration: Harry Potter.
Little Witch Academia is, in many ways, a love letter to the best-selling book series of all time, albeit with some wonderfully whacky Japanese anime twists thrown in; and the anime is, without a doubt, the perfect show for fans of the adventures of The Boy Who Lived.
10. A Trio of Heroes With More Personality
Three is the magic number, and if you spend a few minutes pondering over your favorite cartoons, kids’ books, and TV shows, you’ll notice just how many protagonists come in threes. The most famous of all being, of course, Harry, Ron, and Hermione.
LWA takes this same rule and twists it to create three girls of distinct and caricatured personalities. Akko, Lotte, and Sucy are arguably imbued with far more personality than Harry and friends, with Akko being an incompetent witch full of heart and charm, Lotte being a Hermione type with an obsession with this world’s version of Twilight (more on that later), and Sucy having an uncomfortable obsession with mushrooms (more on that soon, too).
9. A Protagonist With Even More Growth
As mentioned, Akko is a girl full of charm and sweetness, but she is also rather stupid, clumsy, and slow to learn. This leads to far more growth than that which we see in Harry Potter. Harry is a boy with a destiny, and his character growth comes with the things he discovers, learns, fights, and overcomes.
Akko, however, is always struggling to keep up. She cannot fly a broom, messes up every spell she attempts, and has to use her brain (and a pinch of luck) to get out of every bad situation. This creates a far more hilarious tale than that of ol’ Harry, and gives us a character to root for as she learns and grows.
8. Dragons Are Giant Talking Loan Sharks
In an early episode of the show, the Sorcerer’s Stone – the source of the school’s magic power – is stolen by a herd of dragons. Later, it is discovered that they took the stone as payment for a loan that the school’s headmistress took out. This is absolutely one of the smartest and funniest twists on the world of witchcraft and wizardry we’ve seen.
While dragons have become a tired trope in the fantasy genre, Little Witch Academia not only turns this on its head, but also uses it for a little light social commentary, introducing the issue that magic is losing its popularity amongst the kids these days and the school must get its funding from somewhere – so, why not from giant monsters known for hoarding gold? Bloody clever.
7. Technologically Savvy Students
Little Witch Academia, like Harry Potter, is set in the modern day. Unlike the witches and wizards of Hogwarts, however (who are often totally baffled by simple tech and machinery), students of Luna Nova Magical Academy are far savvier. One, in particular.
Constanze is a girl who can often be seen, episode after episode, tinkering with her magic toys and tools, adding rocket boosters and navigation systems to her broomstick and kitting herself out with gizmos and weapons lifted straight out of an old sci-fi novel. Her tech occasionally gets the other girls out of a tight situation, and give magic a well-needed twist by combining sorcery with machinery.
6. An Obsession With Twilight
The show’s first episode to give Lotte any real character focus reveals her to be a Twilight-obsessed fangirl (of course it’s not actually called Twilight, but instead a series of books that have reached 365 volumes over more than a century of being in print).
The character closest to Hermione exists as a kind of parody of her, and everything about this is hilarious. Lotte is sweet and kind; learned and bookish. However, the books she surrounds herself with are not spell books, history books, or some heavy dusty tomes, but rather an endless series of shallow love stories. The way that this plays into her personality is smart and sweet, and makes for a character who is, arguably, far more relatable than fan-favorite Hermione.
5. The Sorcerer’s Stone
In the UK, America's choice to change the name of The Philosopher’s Stone to The Sorcerer’s Stone is something we have been laughing about for twenty years and change. In LWA, however, this stone is actually a sorcerer’s stone, and it is the source of power for all of Luna Nova Magical Academy.
The Sorcerer’s Stone of Little Witch Academia is what allows the broomsticks to fly and the school to remain protected. It is stolen by dragons and rescued again by our trio of lovable girls; and it is an excellent plot device to give a little more lore behind how magic works and where it comes from.
4. Hermione Is Draco
Although it was previously mentioned that LWA’s Hermione is a Twilight fangirl, there is another Hermione-alike girl in this show, and she plays the role of this anime’s Draco Malfoy: a girl who excels at everything (as Hermione does) but also serves as Akko, Lotte, and Sucy’s adversary.
Diana Cavendish, like Draco, is a young British student who hails from a grand old family of famous and accomplished witches. Arrogant and self-assured, Diana, like Hermione, proves perfect at every class she attends, and she frequently clashes with Akko, who, as we’ve established, is less than perfect at, well, anything at all.
3. A Love Of Magic Mushrooms
Not what you’re picturing (well, not quite), magic mushrooms are the key ingredient for most potions in the world of Little Witch Academia and, for Sucy, they are her sole purpose for attending Luna Nova – in fact, they’re pretty much her only true joy in life.
The love and obsession that Sucy pays to magic mushrooms is hilarious. Sucy is very much a dark and moody type, with her emo hair and monotone voice; when she begins experimenting with mushrooms, however, her passions explode out of her like fireworks. It is in these moments that the show is at its most weird and wonderful.
2. Magic Is No Secret
The existence of magic is a secret in the world of Harry Potter – in fact, it is such an important secret that the word which JK Rowling invented to describe non-magic people, muggles, can be found in the Oxford English Dictionary.
Rowling did an incredible job at creating inventive ways of keeping magic a secret, while also allowing her witches and wizards to move around freely. In the world of Little Witch Academia, however, magic is no secret. In fact, as we’ll discuss in a moment, it is considered rather uninteresting and old-fashioned by many people in the world today.
1. Magic is Considered Old-Fashioned
As Akko searches for the bus stop which will lead her to Luna Nova in the opening episode of the anime, she asks a group of children the way – these boys are playing on their Nintendo DS handhelds and show no interest in her strange robes and magic wand.
The headmistress of Luna Nova has resorted to borrowing gold from loan sharks (or, rather, loan dragons) in order to keep the school running, as attendance plummets year after year. This is such a fascinating idea that was never even considered in the world of Harry Potter, but it really adds another layer to the distinction and disagreement between magic and science.