When I first started watching Little Witch Academia’s TV adaptation, something struck me as a little strange. I kept waiting for Akko to suddenly learn magic and save the day like in the original movie, but apart from finding the Shiny Rod in the very first episode, that never really happened.
Certainly, she saves the Pappiliodya butterflies and the Jennifer Memorial Tree in the very next episode, but all of the credit ends up going to Diana. After the Sorceror’s Stone is stolen from the school in episode 5, Akko rushes out to retrieve the Stone, but she ends up getting captured until the matter is resolved peacefully by Diana. By episode 6, I was more than ready for Akko to get her mid-season powerup from the Fountain of Polaris and mark a turning point in the series, but it disappears without granting her its power or the acknowledgement and redemption that would come with it.
See, episode 1 brings us into Akko’s perspective by giving us a glimpse of what magic makes possible and reminding us of the excitement of the Little Witch Academia movies, very much the same way Chariot brought Akko into the world of magic. Much like Akko, we’re given an expectation and a wish for her to suddenly be proficient at magic. But for the next five episodes, Akko struggles, even flounders, at casting even the most basic magic. She isn’t just playing the role of a dunce for a few quick jokes before she goes off and saves the day; she faces a real obstacle to her dream of becoming a great witch like Chariot that she struggles with emotionally. With failure being the only feedback Akko receives from school, she is lost, captivated by the starry radiance that she saw in the past, but unable to see any path to reach it.
When Akko wishes upon the Fountain of Polaris, it shows her that Chariot also wished upon the Fountain but was initially turned down. Chariot also failed constantly and was also a bit of a dunce. But through her failures, she grows into a splendid witch that is recognized by the Fountain upon her return. The Fountain of Polaris ultimately disappears without granting Akko its power, but instead it grants her something even more important than that: a path to chase after her dream.
I have thoughts on episode 7 too, but I think they’re on themes that will be explored much more through the rest of the season, so I’ll hold off on that.