Weekly Ramblings 9 – Little Witch Academia, Evoland and Visual Prejudice

Hey folks! I’ve been on placement all week so this may be a little rushed as I haven’t had time to think about what i’m going to write. My one week vacation is coming up though, so i’ll have that index I mentioned last week up in the next wee while.

Right now, however, i’m going to introduce you to Little Witch Academia, the anime that took Kickstarter by storm and Evoland, the tribute to RPG gaming over the years, before finishing up with a quick discussion on visual quality and how it affects our enjoyment of GSNs (games, series or novels).

Little Witch Academia Anime

Little Witch Academia is a single episode anime created by Studio Trigger for Anime Mirai 2013, which is a project aiming to support animators in training. The episode is 26 minutes long and features a school for witches and their training. To me it seemed like an interesting combination between traditional Anime and Looney Tunes cartoons from the west. It was entertaining for the time needed to watch it, but i’m not sure whether I would watch an entire series if it existed…i’d probably have to watch more before I came to a decision on that.

What’s really interesting about Little Witch Academia, though, is the Kickstarter project for its second episode. Within the first few days (or was it hours?) the project reached its goal of $150,000, and over the remaining days amassed a staggering $625,518. The weirdest thing about it all in my opinion is that the original goal was only for 15 extra minutes of animation to bring the episode to 35 minutes long. In addition to this the extra $475,518 is being used for audio commentary, a making-of documentary, an original sound track and a line-art book. I don’t know about you guys, but for that kind of money i’d want to see more episodes rather than a few extras of questionable meaningfulness.

Evoland logo comparison title

The Legend of Zelda and Final Fantasy are the only two series to have influenced modern RPGs, right? While it tips its hat to a few other games along the way, that first statement may as well be true for Evoland’s intents and purposes. Starting with 8-bit graphics and only the use of the right arrow key, Evoland takes you through the history of RPG gaming, highlighting all of the major innovations that have led us to the titles we play today. Diagonal travel, save points and being able to take more than one hit before you perish are all examples of what you can unlock as you progress.

Shiro Games has presented us with a really interesting concept. I really liked the mystery of just what would change every time I approached a treasure chest, whether it would be a new feature entirely or a reference to a specific franchise. However, the gameplay itself is shallow and the story is shallower still, though I suppose that neither of those are intended to be reasons to play Evoland in the first place. If you’re interested literally playing through the history of one of gaming’s biggest genres then it’s probably worth picking up, but don’t expect a thrilling gaming experience at the same time.

Evoland comparison

That above picture leads into my next topic pretty well. Visual quality is always something that’s taken into account when playing video games, but it applies to anime and visual novels as well. The question is how important that particular aspect is in each medium. Poor visual quality is probably the most forgivable in video games (or visual novels with gameplay features), simply because of the extra gameplay factor added on to whatever story is present. Visual Novels come second, with limited animation and a heavy story aspect shoring up any older art style that may have been used (Fate/Stay Night has a very minimalist style, and is still one of my favorite VNS). Unfortunately Anime comes out as the medium that is most hurt by poor animation; while the story aspect remains, as in the other two, anime is predominantly a visual experience as it can be reviewed on both base art quality and animation quality. People watch anime to see characters come alive, so if they don’t do that then it’s a lot harder to keep viewers interested.

I personally feel incredibly frustrated when others won’t give my favorite games a go because the graphics look a little dated but I have to admit that i’m also guilty of Visual Prejudice. If any type of GSN has older or poorer graphics then I am less likely to play them. However, that doesn’t mean that I think high visual quality is necessary for a GSN to be enjoyable. There are a huge number of examples out there, including modern indie titles, of GSNs that are loved despite being older or of lower production value. A truly well crafted Anime, Video Game or Visual Novel doesn’t need state of the art visuals to be amazing, even though it cannot be denied that (almost) any such production would be better if it did have them.

Fate Stay Night Bad End Chibi Rin

That’s all for this time. I don’t actually have my little book of quotes with me this week (or next week, even >.>), so i’m going to wing it and see what happens.

“As things are now, I don’t really feel the need to understand myself. For me it’s enough that I am in the first place.” – Silvachief (The Geek Clinic)

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About Silvachief

I'm a Gamer that dabbles in a little bit of everything. I'm big on Video Games, Visual Novels, Anime, Books and TV Series, but there's more to me than just those!
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6 Responses to Weekly Ramblings 9 – Little Witch Academia, Evoland and Visual Prejudice

  1. froggykun says:

    Yeah, that Kickstarter project sounds like a terrible idea. I do think LWA would be an interesting TV series if it had a different adventure every week. Kind of reminds me of this old witch academy TV show I used to watch when I was a kid, can’t remember its title anymore, though. The characters LWA used felt very, very similar to that.

    • Even if the LWA kickstarter was a bit different from what it could have been, I wouldn’t call it a terrible idea. It was a financial success for Trigger, and people who paid for it are getting their own BD copies and a lot of extras at more or less market value. Also, it shows that studios can get money from international fans on the scale to fund anime; the $600k LWA got is somewhere between 30-50% of a 12-episode anime budget when people knew all they were getting was 15 extra minutes.

      Granted, Trigger could have said in the beginning that 15 minutes was a hard cap. They originally thought $150,000 was roughly what they were going to get, so they neglected to mention starting out that Fall’s Kill La Kill is currently their main focus and infrastructure/personnel limits at the studio made are prohibitive to a full LWA TV series.

      • Silvachief says:

        I hadn’t realized that Trigger was tied up with another anime series, which actually makes a few of my comments redundant. Thanks for pointing it out though =) I agree that the people who contributed are getting a good deal for the amount they donated (and that they will probably be very happy with that), but I also agree with Froggy-Kun in that I would have liked to see a larger Little Witch Academia series.
        Whether it would be random adventures each week (similar to cartoons) or something with more of a storyline, I don’t know. I think I probably would have given either type a fair go.

        Your other point about this perhaps setting a precedent for future anime funding on kickstarter is also an interesting one. I look forward to seeing what other projects crop up in the future.

        • Oh yeah, LWA would definitely work as a TV series. It’s got characters and setting to spare for 12 episodes of material. That’s still something that could definitely happen. I’m going by the Kaiji rule of thumb: if it’s got a way to make money and is less than three years old, the odds of a sequel are decently high.

  2. Interesting take. Good, smooth art is usually a plus, and it pulls people in, but it’s not necessary in making a great game or anime.

    I think another issue is that people often only recognize artstyle/character designs as indicators of visual quality. But a lot of the things that make anime visually appealing come from places other than artstyle (like where the camera decides to focus, detail in background art, etc.)

    • Silvachief says:

      I think you’re correct in saying that “camera” technique, like in live action filming, is also incredibly important in Anime. While it may not make or break a series, it can be those details that push it from good to great. The way that special effects are used also plays a role (that being animation above and beyond the movements required for the base anime). I have to say that I don’t often notice backgrounds unless they are horrible or excellent, but I do think they’re a great opportunity to wow a viewer and get them interested before anything actually happens.

      Interestingly enough, the same also applies in Visual Novels (camera movement, special effects etc.) – they’re often seen as added extras since most VNs don’t feature them, but they can really add to your experience.

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