Rolling Review – Little Witch Academia (24)

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Episode Synopsis:

Despite her weakened magic, Chariot confronts Croix in the hope of stopping her plan to forcibly reach the Grand Triskelion. However, Croix’s manipulation of Luna Nova’s magic goes far deeper than anyone else suspects, and she heads to Arcturus Forest atop her magi-tech siege engine to break the seal of The Nine Olde Witches and restore the world of magic on her terms. The disruption of magic also dumps Akko and co. into the forest, where they see that Croix’s plan has not gone as intended. Will Akko succeed where her idol and mentor failed, and reinvigorate magic throughout the land?

Review:

Episode 24 is a solid penultimate episode, but one that leaves me a little perplexed. It’s got bursts of high-octane Trigger action, some emotional moments between great characters, and a heartwarming ending that then seems to punt the conclusion into episode 25. It feels like the writers are having a tough time sticking the landing on the finale, but they’re still making a good show of it nonetheless.

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Things kick into high gear almost immediately as a partly de-powered Chariot faces off against Croix and her techno-magic. Even after the intervention of some of the faculty, Croix is several steps ahead, having long ago put Luna Nova’s magical energies under her control.

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Yeah, I’ve been planning this for maybe… 13 episodes now, so bite me

With the literal push of a button, she’s able to take out the last few people standing in her way before her titanic obsidian golem/magic rod takes to the skies and plows ominously towards Arcturus Forest. It’s a hell of a scene, on par with any of the action set pieces we’ve seen so far, and accompanied by some classy foreboding organ music (something that always earns at least a golf clap from me).

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Man, the villains always get the coolest scenes

Once Croix reaches the seal, she subdues Chariot and has her robot laser straight through the ward. Her long-running scheme works perfectly, until she sees that the Grand Triskelion is not the world-changing magic she believed, but a mere parlor trick by magic standards. Her rage and frustration at this discovery is wonderfully realized, and it’s hard not to sympathize with her. After all, though her methods are obviously immoral, her goal is ostensibly noble; to prevent magic from vanishing from the world and restoring it to a place of wonder and respect. The problem is that her quest is tainted by her own bitterness and inability to see the simple joys that make the art worthwhile.

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This oversight bites Croix in the backside almost immediately, as her robotic seal-breaker goes into overdrive. The anger Croix spread has become too strong, and her machine is now beyond her control. Not the most subtle moral lesson, perhaps, but a worthwhile one. It’s only the actions of Chariot and Akko (whose party arrives in the nick of time after Croix’s magical chicanery dumped them into the forest on their way home) that stop the device.

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Okay, sometimes there heroes get cool ones, too

Akko has a lovely little reunion with Chariot, acknowledging her as both her inspiration and the person who guided her, and vows to continue her hard work at becoming a magnificent witch. This idealistic energy unlocks the Shiny Rod’s full potential and reveals the final Word, restoring life and color to the bleak forest. In any other show, I’d be gagging a little at the feel-goodiness of it all, but LWA has played it so straight that I still found myself invested.

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And then things go a little bananas. With less than a minute to go, Croix’s magical app starts blaring alerts as a black magi-tech rocket is seen blasting into the stratosphere.

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Wait…  a WHAT?!

What the HELL, show?! I thought your ending felt a little truncated and you were probably going to use the last episode for denouement and lighthearted shenanigans after two pretty heavy ones. Instead, it looks like you’re pulling out some sort of final boss that had absolutely no lead-in or explanation? Was this Croix’s backup plan in case her robot failed? A magical ICBM?!

Summary:

I really don’t know how to feel about this episode after that last bit. The rest of it was quite good, even if the final moments felt a bit rushed and the B story with Andrew and his father trying to deal with the riots in the country beyond Luna Nova didn’t amount to much. All of the elements for a great ending were (and are) still there, but I fear that the writers may not have felt it was enough. LWA has been a pretty spectacular ride so far, and I’d hate to see it tarnished by a final episode that feels pulled out of someone’s butt. You haven’t steered me wrong yet, Trigger, don’t you start now!


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