This episode of Little Witch Academia was a lot of fun, with plenty of explosive action and comedic dialogue to get the momentum of the narrative rolling. But for as whimsical as the plot may seem—and believe me, the show revels in it—there’s some strong hints at the depths of drama the show is capable of handling.
The show persisted with its whimsical tone through the colorful cast of characters. There’s a whole lot of personality to these seemingly simple girls and it’s the small things like how they interact with their environments that reveal it. We start with an unexpected homage to the Powerpuff Girls, but with its own hilarious twist. Kagari concocts the formula with vicious delight: “Sugar, spice, and everything nice.” The cake batter erupts onto her face, covering her in a thick layer of goo. Things like Sucy taking a lick of Kagari’s failed experiment, Jasminka hounding away at a bag of potato chips, and Constanze using a microwave to show off her resourcefulness add a layer of delight to the already joyful atmosphere. They’re all characters that are awesome in their own right.
Constanze pulls out a friggin’ magic shotgun to blast dragons later on in the episode. Amanda churns in for some playful banter, teasing Kagari’s ineptitude as a witch. She’s just kicking back and relaxing while Kagari is taking everything seriously. Their banter escalates and they inevitably find themselves at each other’s throats. Joyful music began to contrast Kagari’s plight to hint at an impending subtle drama that’s about to unfold. There’s a lot of underlying friction between the two, but its explored and handled in consistency with the shows lighthearted feel.
It is through the friction between Kagari and Amanda that the plot gains traction. For as many conflicting opinions as they have, they can at least come agree onto one similar thing: Diane needs to be brought back down to earth. Her high-strung, condescending attitude has them both riled up to the point of talking in unison about how much they dislike her. Watching these two polarizing characters come together infused the plot with comedy and purpose. It was honestly the highlight of the show for me. And it’s through their shared experience of punishment and misery, nonetheless.
But one thing remained conflicting for me. Diane’s harshness of approach to Kagari came off a bit surprising. She wasn’t just being condescending to her, she was really digging into her, hitting at her deepest insecurities. If it was episodes ago, before she realized Kagari had some potential as a witch, her behavior wouldn’t have bothered me, but that’s not the case. She’s seen what Kagari could do and even felt badly about stealing some of her thunder. Diane felt like she reverted back on the progress she made as a character. It wasn’t really jarring enough to detract from the overall narrative, but it still felt somewhat out of place.
The next scenes centered around retrieving the stolen Sorcerer’s Stone from an ancient dragon in glorious vibrance and style. We had no idea what these dragons wanted, but whatever it was, things did not look good for Luna Nova. There was a brief tinge of underlying despair while the girls tried to piece together what was going on, but again, it never detracted from the whimsical feel.
They look about as distraught as a child during a power outage—they all paced around, looking for things to do out of boredom and settled on chores to help Kagari and Amanda’s punishment. Kagari and Amanda decide to team up to find the stone with the rest of their crew to battle some dragons. There was a whole lot of pew, pewing in these scenes, with Contanze pulling out a magical shotgun and the rest of the girls hurling all sorts of magic at the beasts. It was exciting and every bit as magical as we’ve come to expect from Little Witch Academia.
However, for as playful as everything seemed, the entire crew was caught and the plot rose to a level of drama that we hadn’t really seen from Little Witch Academia before: They’re in a dark, dreary lair that’s much bigger than them, music escalating into high-pitched shrills to add to the tension, with Kagari catching sight of her witch crew caught in a cage on the other side of the room. A gigantic silhouette of a dragon looms over them as they panic. Kagari takes a bold leap at the dragon and the music stops.
The suspense of the moment was handled with excellence. When the music stops, we really feel the gravity of the situation. Kagari’s decision hangs in mid-air. Will this be the moment that Kagari’s boldness gets her in trouble?
That’s when Little Witch Academia pulls back saying, “just kidding.” That menacing dragon? Yeah, he’s actually just a coffee-loving investor collecting on a loan that the school defaulted on. When the school hadn’t paid, he collected the stone as collateral.
Well, the girls weren’t completely out of the water just yet; They needed the Sorcerer’s Stone to cast magic. Thankfully, Diane clears up the situation, proving that there was no statement of interest on the contractual binding between the dragon and the school and as such, the payments the school has made has long since covered the principal balance.
This unpredictability and humor is exactly why I’ve come to enjoy this series so darn much. The show can alternate its tone between surprisingly serious, comedic, mysterious, or a mix of anything in between, but it’s always handled with delicate specificity. That said, I have a feeling this is the first of many more dramatic moments to come.