Random Reviews: Strike Witches + Strike Witches II

So I’ve just finished marathoning Strike Witches, originally to bask in a bit of slice-of-life and comedy to get over an angsty psychological series. And the result? Its absence tore a hole in my heart instead ;_;

Title: Strike Witches
Aired: 2008-10
Genre: Action, Ecchi, Magic, Sci-Fi, Military
Animation Company: Gonzo/AIC
Episodes: 12 per season 

Note: Spoiler-free!

Story

Story? What do you mean, story? The storyline of Strike Witches follows the Second World War of an alternate world – instead of being fought among countries, it’s fought between the world and unidentified aliens called Neuroi, who have many different forms and laser beams that cause huge destruction. With the invention of the Striker Unit, girls who have magical power are able to equip them and take to the skies, battling Neuroi with machinery and magic. The story follows a healing witch named Miyafuji Yoshika, who is the daughter of the Striker Unit’s inventor. Upon meeting Major Sakamoto Mio she is enlisted into the 501st Joint Fighter Wing, the Strike Witches.

It’s a good setup, but despite that there isn’t really much focus on a story. Sure, Neuroi do turn up frequently, but they never really seem to get anywhere with them until the later episodes of the series (what do you expect when the Neuroi turn up one at a time) and even then you still have entire episodes dedicated to characters or fanservice. There ARE some awesome aerial battles though, especially near the season finales however if you’re in it for just the plot, it’s not for you.

Characters + Setting

I love the characters. I love them all. For me, it’s not so much the plot as it is the characters that makes Strike Witches so entertaining, with the fanservice being an added bonus. Originally I wasn’t too interested in them, but at the expense of plot there was heaps of character development, and I learnt something about every character that I think matters a lot. People like Trude or Perrine came off as stuck-up to start with, but they grew on me after I got to know them better; Trude with her devotion for Chris, and Perrine with her love for Gallia. I found quick favourites in Shirley (who wouldn’t?) and Erica, and there was even angst between witches you wouldn’t really expect, like Mio and Minna. For the record, my absolute favourite is Erica, and my OTP is Sanya x Eila. After that space episode it’s impossible to disagree (unless you’re into Yoshika x Lynne maybe) and I’m still spamming “Sweet Duet” regularly. EILANYA FTW!

“If it’s with Sanya…I’d go to the end of the world with you.” – Eila

We have a main character in Miyafuji Yoshika, who has a common trait with many protagonists in the sense that she wants to protect everyone, and will fight to protect at any cost. Unlike other protagonists though, I don’t actually mind at all – I think it’s admirable that a little girl has such strong morals, and there’s that sense of pride in watching someone initially weak grow through the series and eventually come out the other end a better person. She’s also got an influence on many of the other characters for the better, making her even more likeable.

The setting isn’t as imaginative as one might think, yet it works surprisingly well. You have the countries of the world with their names all changed – obvious ones are Britain to Britannia, Russia to Orussia, or maybe Japan to Fuso. Italy becomes Romagna, France becomes Gallia and Germany turns into Karlsland. Ironically enough, that’s the thing that’s changed the most about the setting. The guns the witches used are meticulously accurate to their WWII counterparts, and each witch is an archetype of a famous ace pilot in the war. Even the ships which are blown up are the same ships which were sunk in WWII. That level of dedication is impressive o.O I think they go into a bit more detail in the OVA, but I just wiki’ed anything I didn’t understand after. It’s a landmine of spoilers in there though, so enter at your own risk.

Fanservice

Yes, this deserves its own subtitle ^^ You only need to see the promo posters to realize that none of the girls are wearing any…lower clothing apart from pantsu, and it seems that in that world it’s somehow regarded as normal. Leading to the fan-coined name of Pantsu Witches, which I think was inevitable. But yeah, fanservice is like a key motif in Strike Witches, and you get used to it after a while. There are unofficial boobie size competitions going on, and bath/beach scenes everywhere. Panties are everywhere too, and so are NSFW camera angles of various characters. A huge serving of sexual connotations turns up regularly – one particular incident was the bug catching episode from S2, where Erica spanked Trude a bug went into the panties of nearly every girl, causing them to…undress to get it out. It was hilarious, and I sure wasn’t complaining xD On that note, if you’re downloading the batch be sure to get a DVD/BD version instead of the TV airings. Those not-so-subtle censor streaks are annoying as hell.

Recommendation

Strike Witches is the kind of show which has a very defined audience, and it’s usually obvious whether you’re part of that or not. Personally, School Days, my previous marathon did a heavy psychological number on me, and I just happen to like this sort of show, so I thought I would cleanse my mind off the cheating and jealousy with a ecchi show where the entire cast are all girls. In my opinion it’s great, and still manages to make itself stand out despite having stereotypes of the genre, and I can honestly say that I would still love the show even with minimal ecchi so long as the characters stayed the same. Of course, you may disagree, but if you’re tried this sort of show before I do urge you to give it a go. Don’t expect anything from it; just turn off your mind, enjoy and who knows, maybe you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Vantage

I love cute things.

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