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Little Witch Academia

Other (International) // Unrated // October 31, 2013
List Price: $60.00 [Buy now and save at Ecq]

Review by John Sinnott | posted December 19, 2013 | E-mail the Author
The
Show:





In Japan, the government funded Young Animator Training Project grants
money to companies for the express purpose of passing on animation
expertise to the next generation through on-the-job training with
novice animators working with more experienced talent. One of the
projects that were created under this program was style="font-style: italic;">Little Witch Academia,
a charming
and well crafted short film that has met with a lot of positive
reaction from the fans. A sequel is being created, partially funded
through a kickstarter campaign, and if that one is a success there's
talk of a TV series. The original has been released on Blu-ray in Japan
on a region-free disc with English subtitles in a very nice package. It
is a bit pricey, but die-hard fans will sure to appreciate it.



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Akko has wanted to be a witch since she was a young girl and saw her
idol, Shiny Chariot, at a live performance. Though her parents had no
magical ability, she's made it to the academy where witches are
trained, and things aren't quite what she expected. The classes are
either boring (magic history) or terrifying (broom riding) and all of
the cool young witches look down on her because she's a Shiny Chariot
fan. (They believe the star is just a hack who gives people the wrong
idea about witches.) Even with these problems Akko has managed to make
some good friends including Sucy (pronounced "Susie" in the show) who
likes to experiment with potions and is willing to try them on her
roommates and Lotte, a quite, shy girl who worries a lot.



Things get a bit exciting when the teachers send their students on a
treasure hunt. The open up the deep subterranean vault and teams of
young witches compete to see who can bring back the most valuable
treasure. There's a three hour time limit, and the deeper you go the
more dangerous it becomes... but the treasure becomes more valuable.
Akko is determined to beat her rival, Diana, but the snooty witch is
pretty good at slinging spells (a skill that Akko lacks) and is very
competitive herself. When Diana finds a sealed casket she ignores the
warnings and releases a cute baby dragon, which soon grows to gigantic
proportions. Could the staff that Akko discovered really be the same as
Shiny Chariot's, and even if it is, will it be able to subdue an out of
control dragon?



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There's a lot to like about this show. In just half an hour the
creators were able to establish the setting and populate it with
likable characters. Yes, some of the students are a bit stereotypical,
but it's nearly impossible to flesh out a supporting character in just
one half hour show.



More than the characterization and story, the show has a lovely design.
The opening sequence alone rivals the animation at many big-time
studios and the whole program has been lovingly crafted. The action
scenes are smooth, and the creature designs are very good. It's easy to
get pulled into the show and when it's done you'll sigh that there
isn't any more.



For North American buyers the price will probably seem a little steep
as anime costs a lot more in Japan than it does in the US. At 6000 yen,
about $60 American, it is a lot of a half hour show. The extras do go a
long way toward taking the sting out of the price however and hard core
otaku will want to own a copy of this attractive set.



The
Blu-ray:






This release includes more than just the movie... it's a very
attractive set that comes with a Blu-ray disc and the CD soundtrack in
a beautiful book-like case as well as a 112-page art book. See the
extras section for more details.



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Video:



The 1.78:1 image looks amazing. The colors are bright and vivid, the
lines are tight, and there aren't any compression artifacts. The level
of detail is also very good. It's an impressive looking short film.



Audio:



The Dolby TrueHD 5.1 soundtrack is equally impressive. The disc comes
with the original Japanese soundtrack (there is no dub track) but there
are a slew of optional subtitles including Japanese, English, Spanish,
Chinese, German, French, and Italian. The battle scenes are enveloping
with the full soundstage taking part and there are sections that will
really make you appreciate your subwoofer. The dialog is crisp and
there aren't any audio defects.



Extras:



This set comes with some cool bonus material. One the disc itself is a
making-of featurette that runs over twice as long as the anime itself
(66 minutes verses the 26 minute run time of the film). The only
subtitles available are for an English translation, but that's suits
me. The documentary takes viewers through the creation of the film,
from the storyboards and bringing on the new animators to the final
product. It's very interesting, especially if you've ever wondered how
an anime show is produced.



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In addition there's also a very nice art book. The 112-page tome is
printed in color and has literally hundreds of images from character
sketches to rough drafts of sequences and much more. The text is only
in Japanese, unfortunately, but it's still amazing to look at even if
you can't read the text.



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Packed in the attractive book-like case are both the Blu-ray disc and a
CD with the soundtrack of the show.



Final Thoughts:



The show itself is really great and well worth tracking down. Whether
it's worth the price for the Japanese import is hard to gauge. On one
hand it is a bit pricey, but on the other this probably won't be
released in R1 in any other format any time soon. The extras do go a
long way toward taking the sting out of the price however and hard core
otaku will want to own a copy of this attractive set. style="font-weight: bold;">Recommended.




C O N T E N T

V I D E O

A U D I O

E X T R A S

R E P L A Y

A D V I C E
Recommended

E - M A I L
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