Japanese entertainment has a fascinating way of taking Western pop, claiming it, and giving it an extreme makeover. You better believe anime’s offered oodles of responses to the biggest ever book series in the world. In fact, there have been enough shows about magical academies over the past ten or fifteen years, they might as well constitute their own sub-genre.
We’ve seen official Harry Potter chibi and a visions of how HP would’ve looked as an Akira-esque feature. If you’re curious how Potter and anime could find a more abstract connection, though, then perhaps you’ll enjoy the scholastic sorcery in these shows? Enjoy our recs…
The Asterisk War
Gryffindor/Slytherin school rivalries are writ large on the island nation, Rikka (which is indeed shaped like asterisk). Six academies are situated at each point of the megalopolis, and their super-powerful students regularly compete in spectacular tournaments. So, for anybody who can never get enough Quidditch, this show zeroes in directly on such inter-scholastic sorties. Ayato, the floppy-haired prodigy we follow, is also on a mission to find out what happened to some members of his family. While Harry circles the fate of his parents, Ayato is looking for his recently-disappeared sister. So, yes, plenty of comparison points.
Now, are these kids called “wizards?” No. Are they learning “magic?” No. But really, “powers” are only just “spells” by another name, aren’t they?
Little Witch Academia
Trigger (the studio behind Kill la Kill) always wears its heart on its sleeve. And it’s just as overt about its inspirations here, so the magical McGuffin in this short-form feature is indeed called “the Sorcerer’s Stone.” The plight of its heroine Akko also broadly recalls that of the titular character in the Worst Witch, a Potter predecessor. She’s hardly the best student at Luna Nova Magical Academy, and she barely knows how to even ride a broom.
Though, while Akko’s classmates may chide her admiration for an outlier witch named Shiny Chariot, her love of that offbeat idol may actually come in handy when her class is sent down for a dungeon crawl. After the top student breaks a seal and lets loose a dragon, Akko’s retrieval of Chariot’s “Shiny Rod” could actually save the day. Maybe. As long as she doesn’t fumble the ball, of course.
Concepts and premises can be similar. It’s always about execution. And this whole outing has all the breakneck humor and manic energy that’s made Studio Trigger world-renowned.
Mahou Sentai Magiranger
Yeah, this is live-action, but c’mon. Super Sentai is always a cartoon with people. As you’ll recall from our “secret history” of Power Rangers, each season of the show riffs on whatever’s big in contemporary pop culture. There’s a Rambo-esque Sentai, and a Sentai clearly inspired by Top Gun. Really, there’d be something wrong if Sentai didn’t take some cues from Potter. This series concerns a civil war between the camps of “Infershia” and “Magitopia,” and its plot is precisely as convoluted as every other iteration of the zany superhero series. Honestly, all you need to know is that the Rangers wear capes, wield wands, and ride brooms this time. And their theme song is the one of the catchiest and most whimsical in the whole Sentai canon.
Would any other anime titles make better Potter companion pieces? Should we coin a better name for this magical academy sub-genre? Fill the talkback with suggestions. We want to hear ’em.
Image Credits: Studio Trigger, Toei
Featured Image Credit: Studio Trigger