Me regarding love in LWA
So.. anyone remember this? My very succinct review of Episode 10.
Because it is time to talk a bit about this character, Andrew Hanbridge. First things first:
I don’t dislike Andrew
I think he’s a decent character and have gotten better characterization after his first two appearances, but that he was implemented in a bad way and got put in a show where he wasn’t truly needed.
Because that is the thing, Andrew was introduced in the LWA series rather than in the OVAs.
A big appeal of Little Witch Academia’s OVAs for many people (myself included) was the fact that it had an all-girls cast. It is exceedingly rare for an anime to have an all-girls cast and to not be revolving around blatant ‘girly’ themes. Little Witch Academia is not inherently girly, it is just a bunch of teenage girls learning to become witches. By cutting away the boys, the series removed the need to include common teenage girl depiction tropes such as excessive focus on romance, boys, looks etc. Instead the series allows the different girls’ character traits and interests come to the fore.
However, with the introduction of Andrew in the series, Trigger regressed to rely on some of these clichés. In the first episode Andrew appears, all the students go gaga for this stoic, aloof guy solely because he is famous and rumoured to be handsome. So basically all the witch students of Luna Nova (except Lotte, Sucy and Diana) are shown to be gossipy, superficial teenage girls. This portrayal betrays the series earlier depiction of varied and multifaceted girl characters. If a pretty boy is around, then they get reduced to this one-dimensional clichéd stereotype. So the way Andrew was implemented into the series detracts from one of the strong points of the series.
What is Andrew’s role in the series? Reportedly, Trigger wanted him to be Akko’s connection to the ‘muggle’ world, so to speak. But personally, very seldom does he feel like he actually fulfils that purpose.
Instead, it feels like he mostly just behaves like a male ‘Diana’ and made to appear in scenarios where Diana couldn’t perform the same function. Both come from aristocratic families, both are well-spoken and rational-minded, both use careful rational rhetoric to solve problems and both of their character growths’ is because of them continually being amazed and inspired by Akko.
But why? Why would you keep around two characters that are so similar in personality and in character development (at least on paper)?
This is why Andrew being teased as a romantic interest to Akko feels like such a slap in the face to everyone who loved Akko and Diana’s chemistry already back in the OVAs. It makes it seem that Andrew wasn’t introduced despite Diana already existing, but because of it. Like Trigger wanted to cash in on Diana and Akko’s chemistry but turn it into something more ‘acceptable’ for the general audience.
But this is where Trigger confuses the hell out of me. If Andrew is the endgame romantic interest, why isn’t it more clearly established at this point? Why has there been so relatively little time for developing Akko and Andrew together then? Why did Trigger go full speed ahead to develope and show how much Akko and Diana deeply care for eachother rather than with Akko and Andrew instead? Why is there so much focus on and interaction between Akko and Diana in the openings, while Andrew is barely there and doesn’t appear together with Akko?
And to quote from this:
There is only one character holding hands with Akko in the OP. And that character isn’t Andrew.
Because there is one thing that makes me mad, and that is ‘Dianakko’ detractors that refuse to acknowledge Akko and Diana’s deeper connection.
Because the way Akko and Diana have grown so close, despite their differences and initial misunderstandings, shows that there is an unspoken deeper bond between them. Even when they looked down on eachother, they still both show admiration and care for eachother, with neither of them knowing why. There was something that slowly over time drew them closer.
So I must say, as a lesbian, the level of affection displayed by Diana and Akko is to me beyond than ‘just being friends’.
If anyone would carelessly throw themselves into danger to save me like Diana and Akko do for eachother;
if anyone would scream with a desperate worry for me like Diana and Akko do for eachother;
if anyone would keep looking at me with a look full of care and concern like how Akko and Diana look at eachother;
if anyone would tell me to keep trying and chase my dreams, while grabbing my hands and being moved to tears, like how Akko did to Diana;
if anyone would tell me “You continue to astonish me in unexpected ways” while them thinking about every time I’ve amazed and impressed them like Diana did to Akko;
if anyone invited me on a broom like this
or if anyone looked at me like this before replying to my invititation;
However, some people will never accept two girl characters loving each other unless they are being intimately physically affectionate, like kissing eachother. Until they are, it can be handwaved away and be explained that they are just “Gal Pals”, “very good friends” and so on.
If we switched out Diana above for Andrew, so that Akko and Andrew had shared all those interactions, you would definitely see people claiming that they are in love based on those.
This is a double standard that is sadly very real in real life too. Girl-loving girls have to go great lengths for their love to be considered “real” in the eyes of some.
Something that made me feel like I had giant pit in my stomach around the time Episode 10 was released, was how some ‘Ankko’ posts included gifs like these:
What the actual fuck? These moments were somehow considered “sweet Ankko moments” by some fans. One shows Akko being hurt by Andrew, while the other show how Akko very uncomfortably gets forcibly pushed to the wall by a love-drugged Andrew.
Both of these moments made me feel highly uncomfortable and feel genuine distress for Akko in these situations when I watched them. Neither of these abusive moments should be considered sweet or romantic. It is not a good representation of ‘Ankko’ or even Andrew himself alone. And I feel I can’t take any criticism of Dianakko in any serious regard from anyone who did feel these moments were “romantic”.
For me, ‘Dianakko’ is not a case of fanservice, it is a matter of representation.
Either on purpose or by accident, Trigger has managed to write one of the most heartfelt and organic depictions in animation of two girls managing to put aside their vast differences and come to closely understand eachother through what at least I would describe as love. I don’t even ‘need’ A Big Damn Kiss or a dramatic declaration of love. I’d rather want an ending more like the ending of The Legend of Korra, with Akko and Diana leaving together on a broom, to work on a shared future and a shared dream, with room for them growing further closer together and figure out what it means for them. Depictions of girls deeply caring
for each other
and slowly falling in love are rare outside shows not specifically focusing on girls’ love, thus I feel Diana and Akko are important.
I hope that Trigger soon either finally cements a final pairing and gently lets one part down, or that there will be no confirmed endgame romance. Trigger’s vagueness is just tiring at this point.
So I’m sorry Trigger and Andrew, but I’ve actually had enough of this dude.