Rolling Review – Little Witch Academia (19)


Me: So… we just had a Constanze episode back to back with an Amanda episode… does that me-
LWA: No. Diana episode.
Me: I didn’t eve-
LWA: Serious business.
Me: I was just kiddi-
LWA: Part one.
Me: …
LWA: …
Me: …Fine.

Episode Synopsis:

With the fate of her historic household threatened by her dismissive aunt, Diana drops out of Luna Nova to undergo a rite that will establish her ownership of the family assets. Unaware of the precise circumstances, Akko hitchhikes to the Cavendish estate, intending to retrieve her former classmate. While there, she gets a view of some family drama among nobles, culminating (for the purposes of this episode) with Diana confronting her aunt.

Review:

It’s not that I dislike Diana (as one might infer from my intro) – she’s a rather compelling character, it’s just that her contributions to the show tend to be heavier both in mood and in plot significance, which contrasts somewhat with the shenanigans that most of the other characters get up to. This episode in particular is dense with frustration and anxiety, with Diana herself, a pillar of the show’s character dynamic, poised to exit the mix by returning to her family’s crumbling estate.

Perhaps, though, it might be more apt to describe the episode as light on frivolity, as it doesn’t seem to have been particularly dense overall. I can only assume the staff had too much meat in this story to fit into one episode, and, in being forced to break it up, was forced to make that break at the confrontation. A couple of parts felt like padding (I do wonder if there’s going to be a payoff for the soccer riot), but we’ve still got a lot of good scenes to sink our teeth into.

Surely there’s a steak knife around here somewhere

Perhaps foremost among these is the reveal that Diana possesses the promotional Shiny Chariot card missing from Akko’s collection. Fans of the original short have probably been wondering for a while now if TV Diana has any closeted appreciation for Chariot, and this is a pretty solid yes. The context of Diana’s upbringing in this version really puts this aspect of her character in a new light, though. I can only imagine the kind of pressure put on a child of Diana’s aptitude growing into her position in high society, where respect is a carefully cultivated resource that wouldn’t allow her to hold onto anything going out of style. What could once have been interpreted as a mere guilty pleasure is probably now a childhood joy that she was forced to cast aside to try and retain what little standing her 1500-year-old lineage still possessed.

And for what? All of Diana’s sophistication and studiousness led her to the knowledge of the Grand Triskelion, only to discover that the key to changing the world was already in the hands of the least studious, least sophisticated, and least respectable witch to set foot in England for at least a decade. Such irony! But, even knowing what might have been, Diana still can’t bring herself to dislike Akko. For all of Akko’s foolishness, she has a kind and honest heart. For all of her ineptitude, she’s dauntless and persistent. And such wonders she’s already worked – with the Papilliodya butterflies and the ghost Vajarois! Surely Claiomh Solais has not chosen poorly.

And so, when Daryl and her twins put Akko down, Diana steps in. Akko may be a half-wit who routinely makes poor decisions (including, from Diana’s current perspective, the decision to follow her back to her home), but she doesn’t deserve the kind of prejudiced insults poured on her by Diana’s extended family. She’s accomplished too much for that. Diana may feel powerless to direct to Akko the recognition she deserves at Luna Nova, or regretful for not trying harder, but in her own house, Diana will stand up for her bumbling comrade.

This is a powerful line. And it’s in a complex scene, where Diana may also be reflexively trying to spite her relatives by bringing Akko in moments after making it rather clear that she wasn’t invited. It’s good to see Diana outside of the constraints of her usual social circle, where she’s not under so much pressure to act according to her persona. Here, we get to see from a new angle the intelligence and grace that really make her such a lovable character. I hope she and Akko lay the smack down on Daryl’s smug extinguishing-all-lights-in-a-room-and-fading-into-invisibility-in-the-dark-with-GLOWING-RED-EYES face.

Summary:

Similarly to how I felt about the Samhain episodes, I’m not sure this arc has quite enough material to fill two episodes flawlessly – but I’m more than willing to sit through a couple of minutes of chaff or redundancy if the material that they have as the main course keeps reaching these heights.


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