Little Witch Academia: Enchanted Parade – Anime Review
Synopsis: When Akko and other troubled students at Luna Nova are assigned to manage the annual witch hunt parade, Akko wants to make the event more positive.(Official Netflix Synopsis.)
Review (Warning: Minor Spoilers to Follow)
Enchanted Parade is largely a retread of the first short, hitting so many of the same beats and story developments that this sequel mostly feels like an expansion of the first film. That’s not to say that Enchanted Parade is literally a carbon copy, as the basic plot is different, we’re introduced to more characters and even some world building. But the way in which this short film progresses feels all too similar to the first.
Take for starters Akko’s character arc. Again Akko’s trajectory is one of a stalwart character standing firm in the face of adversity. Akko and Co. are given a task, one that demeans witches and fails to capture the vision she holds onto so tightly from the first time she’d seen Shiny Chariot’s performances. Refusing to back down, Akko ropes her two friends, Sucy and Lotte, along with three other problem students, into putting on a far flashier, positive display of what makes Witches so great. Akko largely succeeds by refusing to back down, and while there’s some, very much welcome, characterization and reflection during this journey, it feels like a retread of 2013’s outing testing Akko’s devotion to her beliefs. It’s only Akko, Sucy and Lotte’s friendship subplot that gives Enchanted Parade a new angle, but even that is solved by Akko and Shiny Chariot’s rod managing to make Akko’s dreams come true in spite of the adversity she faces both from students, mean kids, and the very setting of Little Witch Academia.
As characters go, this film is much more focused on Akko, Sucy and Lotte, giving the three plenty of time to shine, featuring greater aspects of their personalities. But other characters feel significantly sidelined. Diana barely appears in the film, save for a couple important scenes and to vaguely participate in the final battle. Otherwise the film introduces three more characters to round out the cast, but these three are limited to wooden, one note shticks that make Akko, Sucy and Lotte’s first time appearances feel like masterful three dimensional character portraits. That said, at least Amanda, Constanze and Jasminka add more variety to the comedy and some new and interesting takes on witches. Such as Constanze and her building robots and devices to utilize with her magic.
Not only is Akko’s character arc largely unchanged, but the same goes for the progression of the overall narrative. Again we’re treated to an ancient evil, once locked away, coming free during what should be a frivolous exercise. Like with Little Witch Academia (2013) there’s nothing inherently wrong with this, save that Enchanted Parade could’ve been a more unique tale without taking similar elements from the first outing and retooling them.
Enchanted Parade isn’t a total copy though, utilizing it’s extra half hour of run time to introduce greater aspects of the world, a more meaty middle of the film, some expansion of the characterization for Akko, Sucy and Lotte, as well as fun animated sequences that really showcase the whimsical style many love Trigger for. It’s just such a shame the film is otherwise so predictable.
Turning my attention briefly to the world building: Enchanted Parade introduces several concepts previously untouched or generally unexplored from the first outing. The film gives slightly more time to discussing Shiny Chariot and her affect on the magic world. We learn, or get a more fleshed out explanation anyway, of how Shiny Chariot tried to make magic fun and appealing to the masses, but largely failed and is looked down upon by the witch community. That said, even with the extra run time we barely go into why the magic community hates Shiny Chariot for this. We don’t ever really understand the fall out from Chariot’s efforts, save that Akko was convinced. It makes it hard to understand why Diana holds such extreme distaste for Shiny Chariot and Akko’s love of her. It’s something I would’ve love a deeper look into, but the film isn’t interested in that.
Finally, lots of questions are raised once it’s made evident how weak magic is once you venture too far away from the academy and the magic stone: Like, what use is magic if you can only use it in proximity of the academy? Or was magic ever more prolific than it is today? These are questions touched upon in the TV anime, but it feels like we could’ve had just a bit more sense of the world here.
Overall Enchanted Parade is a retread with enough new ideas, characterization, and world building to not leave it feeling like a complete rehash of what’s come before. That said it only adds to my befuddlement for the eccentric love this franchise generates, as what’s here again is competent, but hardly magical.
Little Witch Academia: Enchanted Parade is available for streaming via Netflix.