Luna Nova’s academic year continues and with exams around the corner, Akko willingly and boldly trudges onward, determined to overcome her shortcomings as a student of magic. This is a completely different Akko than we’ve seen before. While her determination was always prevalent, the inherent flaws in her self-absorbed approach have been exposed. No longer can she afford to ignore her lack of effort. After coming to startling revelation willingness alone is not enough to achieve your goals, she finds herself face-to-face with her lack of talent. And she’s every bit motivated to show Luna Nova she has something to offer.
Through Akko’s point-of-view, we get to experience first-hand what it means to work towards something. With exams around the corner, Akko studies hard, pays attention in class, and even takes notes on things people wouldn’t even ordinarily take notes on. For Akko, fun is just about the last thing on her mind—She wants to succeed at all costs.
But seemingly enough, nothing is changing for Akko (Well, at least on the surface). She hasn’t been able to keep up with the minimum that’s expected of her as a student: She can’t communicate with crows, she can’t make tea, and she can’t even use basic magic to open a window. Despite Akko’s best efforts to learn even the more mundane aspects of magic, the rest of Luna Nova wants to remind her she’s a talentless dunce that’s still failing all her classes.
Little Witch Academia handles Akko’s characterization rather well while at same time bringing to attention another one of its underlying messages with clarity: It is not enough to simply try. It is not enough to have passion alone. What you’ll often find with anything worth pursuing in life, you’ll need a consistent amount of effort combined with passion to make any kind of significant breakthrough (unless you’re a savant, but even then, you’ll have your own fair share of problems us average joes couldn’t imagine). You need to fail to learn. You’ll have to be willing to make yourself look foolish, make mistakes, and put yourself out there as you constantly reassess your strengths and weaknesses. Most importantly of all, you have to be willing to listen to yourself even when it seems like the entire world is doubting you.
Fortunately for Akko, part of her inherently knows this, as her passion allows her to stay focused and keep going in spite of all her failures. It also helps that she has people like Professor Ursula in her life who do their darndest to support her. After realizing Akko is in low spirits, Professor Ursula teaches her repair magic. Oddly enough, Akko learns the technique with relative ease which is a true first for her. This excites her to no end. When she’s tested on her new technique in class, she’s quick to flaunt it because she desperately wants to show everyone she has some semblance of talent. The problem is, no one else is really excited for her since everyone else is much more capable at the technique, successfully integrating it with their own personality.
Akko’s situation only gets worse before it gets any better. Because she continues failing all her classes, Professor Finneran wants to expel her at all costs. In Professor Finneran’s eyes, Akko is a stain on the school’s pride—An incompetent, foolish, and ungifted girl with no redeeming qualities as a witch. As a result, Akko finds herself in a predicament where she must pass her next exam or she will be forcibly removed from Luna Nova. The problem with that is her next exam is for a class she thought was a self-study, but was actually being taught by a goldfish. As it turns out, the goldfish is her professor and this class seems to be for the more seasoned students.
Inevitably, Akko does manage to pass the exam in the usual, boisterous Akko fashion that we’ve come to expect, but it’s not before a series of unpredictable (and comedic) events. Akko, in an attempt to get on her Professor’s good side, mistakenly gives her bottled mineral water. After Professor Pisces doesn’t move, Akko panics and takes her out of the fish bowl, only for the professor to slip out of her hands and straight into a toilet bowl. Moments like these are when Little Witch Academia is at its strongest. There’s something just so endearing about watching Akko fumbling about, trying to make the most of the cards she’s dealt. Watching Akko’s face as she shrieks in terror over realizing what she’s done is seriously funny in a way that you just can’t do anything but laugh at how unfortunate the event is. Eventually, Akko does gather the group and patrols the sewers to find the professor.
Overall, the episode maintained the playful tone the series thrives under while successfully confirming that Akko is indeed growing, both as a person and as a witch. The episode ends with the usually timid and reserved Professor Ursula up in arms, defending Akko from Professor Finneran. Ursula couldn’t stand by while Professor Finneran tarnished Akko’s good efforts.
“Should you not be appraising how she is unable to ignore those suffering before her, putting their feelings above her own? Putting grades or outward appearances above that… is pure foolishness!”
– Professor Ursula, Little Witch Academia, Episode 7
Professor Ursula’s perspective highlights an important fact of the episode: In spite of what Professor Finneran says, Akko has undergone significant growth, regardless of her where she stands amongst her peers. She used metamorphosis to turn into a Merman to find the professor, learned and used fish language to communicate with fish, and even became a local hero, protecting the fish from would-be poachers. Professor Finneran’s contrasting viewpoint on Akko brings to light an underlying issue that’s prevalent in society today. Acadamia will have you believe that the sum of our worth as people can be measured by a letter grade. Little Witch Academia argues against this, using Akko’s journey to show that the only competition that truly matters is the one against yourself.