There is actually no studio funding this. This is the Young Animator Training Project which is funded by the government of Japan who realizes their chief cultural export is anime and fund new animators to learn the craft. The funding is distributed to studios willing to hire these new animators. This year’s program, dubbed Anime Mirai 2013, featured entries from Trigger, Gonzo, Zexcs, and Madhouse. Studio Trigger’s contribution, a 26 minute OVA called Little Witch Academia, is a fantastic watch, and well worth your time.
A whole world seems to be fleshed out here and we’re only getting a slight glimpse. By the time it ended I was left wanting to see more of this world and the adventures of Akko, Sucy and Lotte during their years of schooling. Akko, the protagonist of the story is enamored with magic after seeing a magic show by a witch named Shiny Chariot. From that moment on she apparently wants to become a witch so she enrolls at Luna Nova, a school for young witches to learn their craft. However, her enthusiasm for Shiny Chariot is seen as misguided by not only her friends but the stuck up, talented and arrogant at times Sucy and her little group of followers/friends.
Of course, being set in a school full of witches there is some pretty obvious Harry Potter inspiration going on. However Little Witch Academia doesn’t stay comfortably within the realms of the boy wizard, and features plenty of reference to other mythologies and general magical folklore. The show doesn’t really bog down in too much exposition, save possibly around Shiny Chariot; most of the time, the weird quirks of the world are simply thrown out there with a sentence or two to enjoy. Certainly a nice change of pace from the hyper-moe style that seems to have taken hold of quite a bit of modern anime. I get a sense here of the same subtle feminism of Miyazaki’s female protagonists.
Most of the budget went elsewhere. The music help set the tone, but nothing more. The ending song was good, but not memorable. The animation was different, a fresh breath of new air. It wasn’t outstanding, it was about average in skill level. It was just different and I liked it in a world where current anime look mostly the same. So obviously, I liked it a lot but its shortcomings came up in budget for me. Still, with adorable artwork, and a quick ‘lunch time anime’, this is one I do recommend watching if you’re into the magical girl genre. It’s suitable for all ages, and sort of reminded me of Kiki’s Delivery Service with the flying and learning to be a witch.