This week’s episode of Little Witch Academia somehow continued off from the theme and feels of the previous one, but also took them to the next level. During the first-half, I was quite distraught despite the happy tone that was set, while I became both glad but still worried during the latter half. So, as soon as I finished watching, I was incredibly pumped to explode all of my feelings about it into this review! This show is just incredible when it comes to bringing people along to the emotions and the experiences of the characters!
Japanese Original Episode Title: オレンジサブマリナ―
Due to being even more highly motivated than usual to become a great witch like Chariot, Akko has finally started taking her studies seriously! When her friends noticed this, they were taken by surprise! Imagine, the Akko who often complained about the true, unusual nature of witches and often tried to do things on her own terms, suddenly started being so diligent and focused on studying! It’s quite a feat! However, it seemed like she still needed a huge miracle to be an excellent student, because she was still failing her lessons, no matter how hard she tried! I felt so bad for her every time her spells went wrong! But, nothing can ever stop our protagonist, even when she looked so close to being disheartened! And we even discovered that there’s so much more to her than her determination, that even when she had every reason to be selfish, her amazing character shone through!
Studying and Exams: Right from the get-go, Akko’s unusual behavior towards their lessons showed how much she was influenced by Chariot’s backstory which the Fountain of Polaris showed her. Unfortunately, despite the amount of effort she put into studying, she always seemed dumb because nothing she did ever worked! Plus, the level gap between her and her classmates was astoundingly great, so she was always (obviously) left behind. It was like pitting a preschool student, who’s still starting to grasp the basics, against a college student, who’s already studying advanced techniques! Her classmates have been using magic since they were little, after all, like Lotte who’s been summoning faeries since she was young. The worst part is, none of the teachers ever thought about this. They never really seemed welcoming of a commoner like Akko in the first place, don’t you think?
Mentorship with Professor Ursula: Finally we saw Ursula properly guiding Akko, although her student still couldn’t quite keep up with anything she taught. But it’s great that she’s been patient and encouraging with her all throughout, and even defended Akko when no one believed in her! Imagine, this professor had usually been so meek towards everybody, but stood her ground against Professor Finneran, who’s renowned to be very scary and strict! Professor Ursula showed her incredibly cool side at last!
Under the Sea: I really thought Professor Pisces died because of the mineral water Akko put into her bowl, but it turns out being thrown down the drain and into the open waters cured her! And also because of this mishap, Akko proved that she was improving bit by bit, with her metamorphosis magic (though she looked like a merman), understanding the fish language (though she needed to turn into a fish first), and opening the cage (though she had to be in a critical situation to do so). She also managed to help someone, albeit it was a fish, fulfilling the conditions of the exam! It presented to us Akko’s selfless character as well, because she risked her last chance to pass and stay in the school just to help the fishes.
The Principal’s Verdict: A huge ‘thank you’ to whomever called Luna Nova just to commend Akko’s help in saving the endangered fishes! It validated that what she did didn’t taint the name of the school, but instead boosted its dignity, denying Professor Finneran’s expectations! Unfortunately, Akko still did attempt to cheat on the exam, so she and her roommates were doomed to be stuck with their strict professor for the time being. Well, at least she passed the exam and can continue studying to be a witch, right?
Themes & Trivia
Character vs. Grades: Most of us who’ve attended conventional schools would attest that teachers reward students with good grades, more for their exam results rather than who they are and what they can do. And most of us now working can attest that none of those good grades matter in their jobs now. Sure, grades gauged how much you’ve learned and how diligent you can be, but just because you got bad grades doesn’t mean you’re a lazy person, right? Just because you were the last of the class doesn’t mean you’re no use to society! You can search the internet and find hundreds of stories about rich and successful people who failed, not only in school, but at least once in their lives! And they succeeded because of their character: their determination, their kindness, their resourcefulness, you name it! That doesn’t mean you should quit school or ditch studying, though! Just keep on doing your best like Akko, and believe in yourself despite failures!
Fitting expectations: I probably wasn’t the only one who noticed that Amanda, Jasna, and Constanze got lower grades despite being commended by their teachers. Why? Because they didn’t fit the norm! Amanda was so adept at flying her broom, but because she rode recklessly, she got a C-! Well, I guess that’s discipline, but still! Jasminka sweetened the grape properly, but got an A- for eating the other grapes! And then we have Constanze, who only got a B+ because she made a robot that wasn’t deemed practical by the professor! They were all great at what they did, but just because they didn’t meet the expectations, they were thought of poorly. If you need another example, Professor Finneran forcefully motioned to expel Akko just because she, from Finneran’s own words, ‘has absolutely no value as a witch.’ How absurd is that?
I have yet to see an episode of Little Witch Academia that never got to me emotionally! Not only did everything in this episode touch my heart in a personal way, but it also made me connect with the characters and their beliefs! Match that with lovely art and animation that’s been consistent since the start, thankfully, and you’ve got a show that will definitely leave a mark on you for a long, long time!
Break the molds!
Episodic as these episodes may be, but they all leave an impact both on the viewers and on the story, don’t you think? Though, while I truly appreciate these short stories, I wonder when a big plot conflict will arise? We’ll just have to wait and see!