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A beloved anime’s now on Netflix, but not quite in the way fans want

Little Witch Academia’s “season one” isn’t quite what fans expected

little witch academia art Trigger/Netflix

The Little Witch Academia TV series is now on Netflix, bringing one of the year’s most highly anticipated anime to the West for the first time. But stateside viewers will have to keep waiting to watch the full first season, leaving some disappointed with the Netflix release.

Although it’s labeled as “season one” on the streaming service, the magical girl series’ first 13 subbed and dubbed episodes are available as of today. The full season ran for a total of 25 episodes, with the season finale airing in Japan just last week.

Confusion arose around how many episodes would be available just before the anime’s Netflix launch on places like the main anime subreddit. An email from a Netflix affiliate reportedly said that the service would release “all episodes” of season one at once, despite Little Witch Academia’s Netflix page saying otherwise.

Regardless, that only half of the first season is up — with no release date set for the second half — has anime fans frustrated, especially since the episodes have been out on unofficial sites for months.

One user rattled off a variety of problems with the Netflix release, from the number of episodes out now to the subtitles being “shit compared to fansubs.” (There was also a problem within the first hours of availability where the non-Japanese audio tracks were only available on certain episodes, which has since been fixed.)

“I can't comment on the quality of the English dub because I haven't had time to sit down and watch it but I'm not at all optimistic,” the user continued. “How did they fuck this up so bad?”

“As a consumer who has slowly been importing the Blu-rays to watch and trying to support the show legally this is very frustrating,” wrote another user. “Perhaps it is entitled to say so considering Netflix is part of the reason this even exists but alienating Western fans this much is just not how the business model works anymore.”

Netflix is known for dropping all episodes of its original series onto the service at once, to satisfy viewers’ binge-watching needs. Not so with anime; fans routinely criticize Netflix for waiting until after seasons have aired and subtitled DVD releases are out in Japan to bring licensed anime to the West.

Meanwhile, Hulu and Crunchyroll — the most popular anime-streaming site — often air shows simultaneously with their Japanese debuts to deter pirates from getting episodes other ways.

Little Witch Academia fans who did wait can at least start watching the show’s first full season. The fantasy anime rapidly gained an audience in 2015 after reaction to its one-off debut short inspired a follow-up episode, which went on to raise more than half a million dollars through crowdfunding.

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