Strike Witches Special Commentary + Review
by Polly


Strike Witches has created a bit of a stir since its original airing last year. All across the interbutts, from stuck-up hoity-toity sites like Anime News Network and Animesuki to various armpits of the internet such as 4chan, you'll find debates raging on and on about the show's content. The accusation most often hurled at GONZO's budding cash-cow state that the show has no substance and that it merely exists for the purpose of being lolicon wank material.

Most often you'll find posts in these little back-and-forth affairs claiming to have dropped the series as little as five minutes into watching the first episode and people simply bashing the show while proudly admitting to having never seen so much as the opening title sequence. The other side of the debate has those that claim to watch it merely for the fanservice, but there's also a sizeable amount of fans that typically defend the show while making light of its merits, whether they be characters, story, action, whatever. They enjoyed something other than the fanservice. Maybe I just live under a rock, but I can't remember the last time I knew of a show that was so hotly debated as Strike Witches seems to be. Naturally, this spurred my interest in the series, and after a bit of back and forth inner-debate on whether to even bother with it, I decided to finally cave in and see what all the hub-bub was or wasn't about.

Firstly, it is of my opinion that fanservice is just a part of Japanese Cartoons. Sexualizing characters in some form or other has just been par for the course for much of the genre for years. A lot of shows do escape this from time to time, but odds are in almost any show you watch, the animators either drew a character to be sexually appealing, or put them in a provacative situation, because they wanted to trigger the "brain candy" receptors in your brain for a few moments. A female character in a Japanese Cartoon stands about an 80% chance of being sexualized in some way, regardless of her age, which seems to be the big debate surrounding Strike Witches.

The reason this debate catches my interest so much is because fanservice is so common in these kinds of shows. Digging back to the most recent show I can think of featuring underage nudity, 2005's Elfen Lied which saw an uncut release here in the states, I don't ever remember that show sparking so much debate and it featured a fair bit of underage nudity. Going back a bit further, Tenchi Muyo's Pretty Sammy featured a naked Sasami transforming into a magical girl and I can't think of even one instance where I've heard someone complain about that. Fanservicey or not, it's still all nudity. Is all underage-related nudity created equal?

Well, offensiveness is a fairly subjective thing. What I consider offensive and what you consider offensive are likely vastly different things. That's exactly how I'm approaching this little write-up.

So, is Strike Witches the PANTSU DEVIL or just horribly misunderstood, featuring no more pandering or maybe just a little more than any other show of its ilk? As I stated before, the answer is purely subjective. What follows are my opinions and commentary on what did or didn't offend me, if I enjoyed the show or not, and if the supposed pandering in the show took away from the overall experience. I'm one insignificant little voice in the crowd, just looking for an answer for curiosity's sake and writing about it on the interbutts.

The Strike Witches Diary

I'm gonna do things a little different this time around. You see, I've never seen the Strike Witches TV Series at all! I'm going in completely blind, but at the same time, with a completely open mind. I'm not going to let any of what I've read on the internet in the past six months about this show influence how I view it in any way, if possible. I may reference things I've read, but I'm not letting them influence this write-up.

I'll be handling this Strike Witches write-up on an episode-by-episode basis, writing up each one individually in tiny blurbs sorta like a blog immediately after I watch it so that my initial reactions are what's presented. There will be not editing (just proofreading) and I won't go back and change my mind about something once it's written. So what you get is my opinion as a viewer immeidately after the images have entered my eye-holes. This is entirely more free-form than anything else I've done on the site so far, so let's hope for the best.

Introduction: What Do I Know Already?

I figure we should start this off with a little bit of info on what I know or don't know about Strike Witches. If the info is wrong, it's because I either read wrong or forgot. This is just to get my thoughts down early on what I know about the series and see how this transforms over time.

Putting aside all the loli-pantsu nonsense for a moment, this is all I know about Strike Witches: It's an alternate history world where World War II didn't happen, but instead aliens attacked. A team of girls zoom around the sky shooting shit, wearing special attachments on their legs known as a Striker Unit. These Striker Units are modeled after World War II fighter planes and the most of, if not all of the main characters of the show are loli-ized versions of famous fighter pilots from the era. For instance, the only character whose name I'm familiar with at this moment in time is Charlotte Yeager, who is obviously modeled after Chuck Yeager.

For some reason, when they're fighting, the girls magically sprout animal ears and tails. I'm assuming there'll be some really dumb explanation behind this at some point.

Oh and Mio is the chick with the eyepatch.

Yep! That's all I know right now. God, I wish all write-ups could be this easy!

So, with the basics out of the way, let's begin our trek into Strike Witches by having a look at the 8-minute OVA produced a year before the TV series aired.

Episode 00: OVA

Other than getting some simple setting stuff out of the way, you're really not gonna get much done in eight minutes. The whole thing is over and out before you even blink, but that's not to say it's not interesting or exciting.

After getting the general gist of things about the world being attacked by unknown forces and the Strike Witches being the only ones able to combat them, we're presented with a very slick mock battle between the girls. This is pretty much the meat and potatoes of the mini-feature, and it's a damn fun little fight, I must say. It ends with Yoshika Miyafuji, who I'm pretty sure will be the main character throughout, taken down in bad-ass fashion by eyepatch bitch Mio, because she refused to shoot a teammate in the mock battle.

An emo moment, a couple of fanservicey stills, and a full-group embrace for Yoshika as she returns to greet her fellow witches, and the whole thing is over before it started.

The mock battle is a good bit of eye candy and there wasn't much fanservice. An enjoyable little piece for what it was, but I have my doubts that the action in the actual TV series will be even half as slick as it was here.

Episode 01: Magical Girl

First episode starts off with some quick exposition to give us the gist of what's going on in the world. In 1939 an unknown entity appears in the sky one day and decides that Earth needs its shit fucked all to hell and begins doing what all crazy alien-types like to do and goes all ID4 on us. We named this enemy "Neuroi." In retaliation, we developed the Striker Units mentioned in the OVA section which, of course, can only be handled by witches.

Witches exist. It's just a fact of the Strike Witches world. I like that they just get that out of the way. I'm cool with suspension of disbelief, so telling me witches exist sets the right mood for me to shut my brain off and not think about it.

Really guys... Really?
After the opening story bits and ridiculously catchy as shit OP theme, we're thrown right into the heat of a Neuroi battle. It's a nice battle and the animation used throughout it is fairly slick. Starting the show in hyper-drive is also a-okay with me.

This is the point where I began to understand why some people gave this show up after only five minutes. Yes, I'll admit, it doesn't even seem that far-fetched to me now. For lack of a better word, the PANTSU fanservice in this brief sequence is just flat-out gratuitous and to an almost disgusting degree. I can deal with panty shots here and there, but the detail presented here is clearly pandering and unnecessary. I'd actually like to enjoy the fight sequence, not stare at close-up and detailed shots of your vagoo, thanks. It's not every panty shot that gets this treatment, but it happens often enough that I can understand why it may scare a lot of folks off.

A little trivia: On another quick glance-through I counted 17 panty shots in this brief 90 second fight sequence. I'd say half of them were far more detailed than they should be.

I do believe the entire casts of Agent Aika and Najica Blitz Tactics just collectively blushed in embarrassment at being outdone by a smarmy little group of mostly underaged girls.

After the action, we're introduced to Yoshika Miyafuji. In her brief introductory scenes, the animators still seem quite a bit overzealous in showing off the naughty stuff by giving her plenty of awkward ass shots. Aside from that, she's initially your typical "I wanna be a good person and help everybody" character as evidenced by her quickly rushing to a friend's aid and trying to use curative magic on her after a nasty injury occurs.

During this time she's being scouted by Lieutenant Commander/Major Mio Sakamoto for recruitment into the 501st Joint Fighter Wing Strike Witches brigade thingy. Yoshika isn't really all that jazzed on fighting in a war, however is convinced to join up once she finds out that Mio knows a thing or two about her estranged father.

The episode ends like a lot of these shows do: Things going to hell in a handbasket as a Neuroi appears out of nowhere. It's probably time for Yoshika to strut her stuff in a Striker Unit in the next episode with lots of pantsu, no doubt. I predict her first time is gonna be a marvelous failure and she'll either need her ass saved by Mio, the entire Strike Witches team who miraculously show up, or she'll take to the whole process like it's second nature and impress everyone.

There's a brief fanservicey scene prior to this fight which features a couple characters lounging around in bikinis, but I don't really consider this anything more than I've seen in other Japanese Cartoons.

Anyway, aside from the gratuitous pantsu-rama which can easily scare away newcomers (good job, guys) or keep your intended audience intact, I think Strike Witches has sewn enough interesting seeds with the starting story bits to keep me interested for the moment. Though my tolerance for the kind of fanservice this show's exhibited so far is fairly high, it'll be interesting to see how much that holds up as I continue through the series.

Episode 02: To Do What I Can

Well, I wasn't exactly right about this episode, but I wasn't exactly wrong either. Yoshika does end up in a Striker Unit and she doesn't fail miserably, but exhibits good defensive potential and a surprising lack of PANTSU, which was nice. There is a slight hint of yuri-esque undertones when Mio gives Yoshika a tranceiver for communication, but eh. No biggie. She and Mio spend a good deal of time trying to take out the Neuroi before it wipes out the entire fleet of ships headed to Britannia. Watching Mio go crazy in combat ended up being pretty fun and her trying to coordinate a tag-team final attack on the enemy with Yoshika a couple of times was exciting enough. Of course, they do get bailed out by the end of the episode as a long-range sniper (yet to be named) finishes off the job.

After the fight, we learn the fate of Yoshika's father which was kinda unexpected. I was thinking this would be something they'd hold out on until the end of the series. After learning of what happened to her father, Yoshika finds the resolve to officially join the Strike Witches crew. Of course she's accepted just as quickly as she asks to join and the end of the episode gives us a brief (no names or anything) introduction to the rest of the 501st.

I think the thing I'm most surprised with out of these first couple of episodes is Mio's character. We've only spent a lot of time with Yoshika and Mio so there's not much to say about anybody else yet. I figured Mio was gonna end up being all-business, all the time coldbitch who only cares about the mission, but in actuality she's a fairly easy going person, prone to fits of laughter, and seems to genuinely care for the safety of others.

So, I guess it's onto episode three now. Going with how I finished the last episode's write up, I'll go ahead and predict the next episode being a low-key, fanservice-heavy "getting to know the crew" episode with little or no action. I also predict my patience being tried...

Episode 03: Lonely No More

Aaaannnd I was pretty on the mark with this episode's prediction. Yoshika gets introduced to the rest of the Strike Witches lineup, though still rather hastily. No real real time gets spent helping me really get familiar with anybody. All I can tell you at this point is there's the big-boobed one, the silent one, and the "hands off my Mio" jealous as hell one. I also got a peek at some of the "higher-up" girls with high kill-counts, but once again, it's all done in passing. A lot of weird boob-grabby and ass-shot stuff here, but nothing too unsettling. It still feels really out of place, but it's not exactly trying my patience. God, I really hate to harp on the fanservicey bits, but it's kinda hard to since they're there and stick out like decoy at a Skinny Dudes' Convention.

Yoshika spends this episode palling around with a somewhat shy and unsure girl named Lynette Bishop. It's pretty obvious from the outset that these two are gonna be BEST FRIENDS FOREVER! They spend a good deal of the episode getting to know one another and training together, which Lynette excels at. However, when it comes to the front-line and real combat, she chokes and can't deliver any real firepower when it's needed. The pressure of being a native Britannian and defending her homeland is simply too much for her to be able to perform her duties in a live combat situation.

Predictably, a Neuroi attack breaks out and the vast majority of the team (minus Yoshika and Lynette) is deployed to take care of it, however this turns out to be a ruse, as the real danger is headed toward the vulnerable Britannian home base. Minna and Eila are the only two witches at the base of significant rank who can currently take on the problem and after some insistance are joined by Yoshika and Lynette.

What follows in the fight with the Neuroi is fairly predictable. Minna and Eila aren't give a chance to shine here so that Yoshika and Lynette can work as a team in order to dispatch the threat and hopefully shake Lynette's stage fright.

All in all, it's not as horrible as an episode as I was thinking it would be and the climax with Yoshika and Lynette working together was handled reasonably well. I could have done without the victory panty shot. Though it was clearly censored in my version (so maybe I have no real right to complain), I'm pretty sure I know what the DVDs show. They're starting to skimp on the action a little bit too, but this was likely meant as a fluff/padding things out episode anyway, so I can look past it for now.

Episode 04: Thanks

What a nice little episode that was. Still fairly low-key compared to the rest, but all-in-all another fairly good showing for the series that's got me in the mood to continue enjoying what's to come.

In this episode we finally branch away from Yoshika in the spotlight and move the focus over to Gertrud Barkhorn and her backstory of having a sister who was gravely injured during the destruction of her homeland. Her sister apparently shares a lot in common with Yoshika, which leads to quite a bit of tension between the two and is having a noticeable effect on 'Trude's work. Though some write her odd behavior toward Yoshika off as simply being her personality, the higher-ups within the group quickly notice otherwise and pair the two up for training to see if any bugs can be worked out.

Another rogue Neuroi appears out of nowhere during some random training excercises to provide us with a little bit of action and also acting as a bit of a string to help pull our band of witches together. Perrine is still jealous as all hell that Yoshika gets along so well with Mio and it's driving her up the wall, however after Gertrud has a bit of a rage-fit in the middle of combat and gets her shit fucked up by charging straight into the danger zone, Yoshika and Perrine are forced to work together, with Perinne playing defense while Yoshika heals Gertrud's wounds. In the end it all comes together and helps make a cast that's felt fairly distant up until now feel a lot more solid.

Fanservice check time... From what I gather, the bath scene in this episode seems to be the one scene I find most people on the internet having piss-fits about. Having now seen both the censored and uncensored versions of this scene, I can't really say it's any more offensive than the bath scene in Elfen Lied where Nana is presented completely nekkid and appears around the same age as Yoshika. There's nothing sexual about either show's bath scene. On top of that, Mio is given the biggest dose of fanservicing here with a full frontal shot of everything other than her hoo-hoo. She's 19, so nothing illegal or vastly immoral here. Unless you watched Elfen Lied and were disgusted by its nudity, I don't see much to get worked up over. Easily skippable if you so desire.

The show continues to hold my interest and I find myself looking forward to the next episode a bit more after I finish one. So far, I like where this is going.

Episode 05: Swift, Gigantic, and Soft

Well, I'm guessing the name of the episode pretty much gives away the content. It doesn't take much of a genius to figure out that this episode's all about TITS. Oh, and something in there about Charlotte (though, I guess her friends call her Shirley for some reason... I think I'm missing something here.) breaking the sound barrier. Not with her tits though.

She does possess huge tits.

I think we found our first episode that's pretty much all fanservice. Nothing super-disgusting, detailed, or raunchy really, just distinct focus on tits, tits, tits. Being the requisite beach episode, it also features all the girls running around in skimpy little outfits here and there.

Yoshika spends the entire episode in a perpetual state of tit-envy toward basically everyone she encounters. The episode starts with her apparently waking up from a sex dream involving Lynette's tits, trying to grab Lynette's tits on a friendly morning stroll, followed by groping Mio's tits, and finally engaging in an all out grope and nuzzle-fest with Charlotte's tits to wind down the episode. A lot of it's done for comedic effect, so I really wasn't too bothered. Breast groping is another one of those really common things that just happens in Japanese Cartoons, even with underage characters.

No, what really bothered me was that the episode pretty much felt like a waste of time. Charlotte's journey toward breaking the sound barrier just didn't make for all that interesting of a story, and Yoshika and Lynette learning to survive with their Striker Units in the water didn't really go anywhere either. The episode as a whole did provide some cheap laughs, but all in all it's probably the lowest point of the show thus far.

Episode 06: Solidarity

Well, I've made it this far without dropping it, so I guess Rhete loses the bet... I've now made it 50% through that sicky-icky series everyone's talking about and have no desire to drop it just yet.

Another character-centric episode, this time focusing on the silent one mentioned before named Sanya. She keeps a fairly low-profile and is more suited to night night missions, which this episode features. She also has the ability to visualize radio waves and guide other transports with her singing making her an excellent scout.

Sanya is teamed up with Eila and Yoshika to engage in night flight training since that seems to be when a new type of Neuroi is attacking. More bonding between the girls occurs as these three characters spend most of the episode interacting with one another about their homelands, pasts, and parents. A sauna and another bath scene also pop up here and I'm pretty sure the DVD version contains uncensored Sanya booblets. The stories shared by the girls and the revelation of Sanya and Yoshika sharing the same birthday are okay'ish single-episode story elements, but really, I'm getting a little tired of waiting for something bigger to happen.

Another episode and another gimmicky Neuroi fight as well, this one mimicing Sanya's singing. The fight never really ever feels all that threatening and it's over fairly fast and in rather anti-climactic fashion. We've been skimping on action for a bit too long now as well.

The end of the episode sorta hints at the possibility of some other more meaningful plot elements getting ready to kick in concerning the Higher-Ups and what they know about the Neuroi. Whether any of this will actually pan out though is pretty up in the air at this point.

The visuals were also a distinct highlight of this episode, specifically the night time training and Neuroi fight. The night time skies in Strike Witches are definitely quite pretty.

50% in and the show really feels like it's rapidly losing its steam. Something much bigger really needs to happen and soon, because these one-off character-centric stories just aren't cutting it.

Episode 07: Nice 'n Breezy

Oh my...good grief...


Well, I guess that's really only a pretty "duh" statement for this show at this point right? We've already have the beach 'n boobs episode, right? I mean, it's the only logical progression we have the panties episode to complete the collection, as you've no doubt already figured out yourself! If it's not obvious what the episode's about, then the opening 3 seconds of the episode focusing on Sanya's crotch as she flies through the air pointlessly should help drive the point home adequately.

This episode's loose attempt at a story involves Erica Hartmann receiving special commendation for her efforts in the war having shot down over 250 enemies successfully. WHEN? WHERE? AIN'T SHIT HAPPENED IN THIS DAMN SERIES WORTH A FUCK SINCE EPISODE 4! If she's such a damn ace I'd kinda like to actually see her maaaaaybe do something!

Anyway, the real chaos of the episode begins when she... misplaces an important part of her uniform... Yeah, I think you guessed it. To remedy the situation she "borrows" someone else's. This sets of a radically bizarre chain of girls swiping each others panties and trying to get away with it. What the hell's the deal here? Did everyone come to this damn base packing only one pair of underpants? That doesn't strike me as very hygenic... Regardless, I must admit that while the episode lacks substance, I did laugh out loud at a few of the situations when the mischieveous Fancesca Lucchini decides to make a run for it and has everyone chasing her all over the base. Okay guys, you got me. Panty humor was kinda funny. Assholes.

I still keep wondering if seeds for a deeper underlying story are being sewn with the random character asides from the past couple of episodes. This episode finds Minna and Lynette travelling off-base to deliver an unknown package for seemingly no reason, but some of Minna's actions and words have felt a bit off lately, so I'm wondering if she knows something the others don't.

I really am a bit disappointed that the story that I keep hearing about has yet to materialize. With only five episodes remaining things either need to get into gear soon or I'm facing a typical GONZO rushed ending.

Episode 08: Forget You Not

Another character-centric episode, this time focusing on Minna and the fall of her homeland. Will we get to the bottom of her somewhat "off" behaviour over the past couple of episodes? Well, maybe.

Minna's story is a rather simple one of love lost in the flames of an ongoing war. I get that they want me to connect to these characters with their backstories, but they all feel so hastily thrown together. It's either something you've already seen before or something you just don't give too much of a damn about. Though Minna's is quite sad and bookends the episode nicely, it still feels entirely too compacted to me. Maybe these stories are handled better in the manga or novels? I really wish I could care, but they're just not reaching me. A show with only 12 episodes doesn't have this much time to piddle around.

Also, we finally get to see the girls in action again as another Neuroi attacks. Still not the greatest action sequence ever, I mean how good of an action scene can it be when the enemy is a giant cube that splits off into hundreds of other cubes ensuring a fairly easy fight for the team. It's at least a change in gears for a bit that the show's needed for a while now.

Something very odd happened to Mio at the end of this fight, like her shield or something didn't work and a shot ended up grazing her face. Curious...

After all the "been here, seen this" routines I'd already found myself familiar with, the final 20 seconds or so of the episode end on a fairly "what the fuck" moment out of nowhere. Finally it looks like something is really going to happen and maybe the answers to the questions I've had are about to be answered! Just as I was about to resign myself to the prediction that the rest of the show was gonna be a dud, it now looks like things may start to pick up with the next episode.

With only four episodes remaining, this show has a hell of a lot of work to do if it's gonna wow me at this point. It's still watchable, just not all that re-watchable or memorable.

Episode 09: Defend At All Costs

And things FINALLY decide to pick up a bit! A lot happens in this episode to help push things in a more focused direction, seeming to set up the final arc of the series. It's about goddamn time.

That little cliffhanger at the end of the last episode is answered in the opening moments of this one as well as answers to exactly what happened to Mio's shield at the end of the previous fight. If the conversation after this revelation of Mio's condition is any indication, I'm pretty sure I see them setting up the ending of the show right here. The drama in this opening scene is well-played for the first time in the series and finally had a bit of the impact other stories in the series seem to lack.

Onto brighter news, Barkhorn's sister has finally awakened from her catatonic state! Hooray! Naturally, she travels off-base to go and see her sister (with Erica Hartmann in tow...for some reason...) and on their way out find a note addressed to Minna stuck to the windshield of the car. The note's contents read: "Do not get involved. You know too much." My, oh my, I can't believe it! Real storyline and intrigue!

Upon further discussion by the higher-ups, it's revealed that the Air Force holds some kinda ill-will toward the Strike Witches (why wouldn't they just be a part of the Air Force anyway...) and the note is from a man named Trevor Maloney. Honestly, this is the kinda stuff that should have came to light much sooner, because now we run the danger of this entire arc feeling half-assed and rushed because we had to have boobs, sound barrier, and panties episodes. Bleh.

Perrine's jealousy of Yoshika's closeness to Mio finally reaches a boiling point and the only way it can be settled is a duel. As you may expect, Yoshika isn't exactly happy about this, but obliges Perrine in the end anyway.

If you guessed that a random Neuroi attack would happen during this mock fight, then congratulations: You know Strike Witches' formula just as much as me now. This encounter goes entirely different than any in the series before, as the Neuroi takes a human form, mimicing the appearance of a witch in a Striker Unit. Yoshika makes first contact with the Neuroi and quickly finds herself questioning whether the Neuroi are really their enemy or not. We won't get an answer to that question though, as the rest of the team shows up to begin combat despite Yoshika's pleas to wait. Things take a disasterous turn when Mio, fed up with the talking, fires on the Neuroi and ends up sustaining what looks to be a life-threatening injury to cap off the episode with a cliffhanger.

Seriously, it's about damn time some semblance of a plot decided to finally come along. We've spent way too much time playing house and not enough time developing the background elements that are sure to come to light very soon. This is essentially Strike Witches' final chance to prove it was worth my time or not and it's only got three more episodes to do it.

Episode 10: Trust and Friendship

More and more of Strike Witches' story begins to open up in this episode that's packed full of all kinds of fun new revelations.

Yoshika is at the center of this episode as her actions in the previous episode led to Mio being seriously injured. She spends most of the episode doing everything she can with her healing magic to ensure that Mio survives, and of course she does, because Mio's a bad ass. Yoshika's attempt at contact with the Neuroi also leads to serious disciplinary action for disobeying orders and causing the injury of a superior officer.

In another nonsensical, awkward, and boobtastic bath scene, Yoshika tries to convince the other girls that something's seriously weird about the Neuroi that she was interacting with, but none of them are interested at all in what she believes. They'd much rather run around playing another game or two of GRAB DA BOOBIE.

Being the stubborn little girl she is, Yoshika simply can't let what happened on the battlefield go and is determined to get the answers she desires, so she escapes and heads toward the Neuroi Hive for perhaps another shot at speaking with the humanoid Neuroi.

This isn't taken lightly by the powers above the Strike Witches' command and the team is ordered to hunt down and eliminate Yoshika. Something's very fishy here... They won't get the chance to shoot her down though, because by the time they reach her, she's already slipped into the Neuroi Hive and contacted her target once more. We're still left with more questions than answers here, because all the Neuroi does is display images from previous encounters with the Witches.

Shortly after this, a ginormous Neuroi-lookin' robot of some sort flies in from out of nowhere and lays all 1700 kinds of waste to both the humanoid Neuroi Yoshika tried to contact and destroys the Neuroi Hive just as easily. By the end of the scene, it's quite obvious that Minna knows exactly what's going on and is looking more uncomfortable than she has the entire series.

The answers to what's going on are quickly revealed as the Witches return to base and find themselves surrounded by members of the Air Force and faced down by the formerly mentioned Trevor Maloney. Seems the gigantic bucket o' bolts is his and he's here on some very important business. What business may that be? Who knows! Another cliffhanger!

Things certainly aren't looking good for the 501st, but thankfully they're looking a little more on the up-and-up for the series.

Episode 11: To The Sky

Alternate episode title: Hell in a Handbasket

Alternate episode title 2: So Fucking Predictable

The coming of the Military's own big bad unmanned Anti-Neuroi unit Warlock ushers in the order for the Strike Witches 501st to disband. What we have here is an episode full of teary goodbyes and everyone in the group heading back to their respective homelands' units.

While this is going on it's revealed (quite predictably) that the Warlock is the product of Neuroi research and has a core similar to all the random Neuroi that've been encountered thus far. The Military sees fit to prove its new toy's efficacy by sending out its lone unit into the heart of Neuroi territory to whoop a little ass. And whoop ass it does. It manages to take out multiple units in one shot and uses its Neuroi-like core to turn another fleet of units against one another managing a swift and almost effortless victory.

Anyone wanna chance a guess at what happens next? Did you ever see Evangelion? So, I'm taking it you know what happens when the Military gets all huffy and wants to puff out their chest and prove that their technology is much better than what's worked up until now. Yep, that's right, shit goes haywire and the Warlock goes on a tear through the former 501st base as well as the carrier transporting Mio, Yoshika, and Perrine home.

Conveniently, Mio manages to weasel Striker Unit out somehow as it's hidden on the deck of the carrier and before a still injured Mio can take off in it, Yoshika steps up to the plate to sortie until help arrives.

I think I have a pretty good idea of how the next episode's gonna go and you probably do now too. I'm at least hoping there's some decent action in this FINAL BOSS ENCOUNTER!

Episode 12: Strike Witches

Well, the last episode of Strike Witches certainly delivers on all the action the series had lacked up until this point. Things get so crazy by the end of the episode's climax that simply leaves the rest of the series in the dust.

The final battle with the Neuroi Warlock features a nicely choreographed dogfight sequence with Yoshika pulling out all the stops and holding it off until the rest of the crew arrives (you knew this was gonna happen too) to put the final shot in.

Things get even crazier when the Neuroi Warlock finally falls into the ocean and fuses itself with the sunken carrier creating A WONDERFULLY MAGICAL BOAT THAT FLIIIIIES! It's so over the top and ridiculous, I don't know how it can't be considered so dumb it's awesome. This fight sequence isn't nearly as great as the dogfighting earlier and Yoshika literally defeats the damn thing by essentially just taking off her shoes. I'm not even kidding. Sure it's a Striker Unit, but she just drops her's into the damn thing's core and the boat along with the giant Hive both disappear. No final barrage of shots, no fancy sniper shooting, she just drops her Striker Unit in and saves the day. Woo-hoo?

In the end, the 501st Strike Witches unit is still disbanded with the looming threat of the Neuroi now vanquished in the region. A scene after the end credits leaves the series wide-open for another sequel, which was just recently announced.

The bottom line is that things needed to get to level of excitement this episode had much sooner. In all honesty with how everything plays out in the end, this may have made a far more entertaining 6 episode OVA with character stories cut out because most of them are wasted time and they don't even cover everyone's. Or they could have gone the other direction and expanded it to 24 episodes or so and had time for characters' stories to resonate a bit more and given the actual main story better time to settle in. That's really the series' biggest fault. It didn't manage time well at all.

"I'm being about as serious as one can be expected to be without pants, sir!"

"So, why does my sword wear a sheath then?"
In my opinion, it's fairly obvious that the show wants to stand out more for its fanservicey elements, rather than telling a decent story. My opinion is only reinforced by the series' gimmick of pretty much every female on the planet lacking pants. It just looks [REDACTED]ed and it's hard to take anything seriously most of the time when a girl is having an emotional moment or engaged in a really cool fight and she's wearing only half of what looks like what would be a really cool uniform. It wouldn't even be half as bad if they wore pants or skirts while at least hanging out on base and not in combat. This stupid gimmick even goes beyond the main cast of witches, with even nurses not having so much as a skirt to finish off their uniforms.

In the end I can't really say I personally felt Strike Witches was all that offensive. I can think of three or four shots here and there that really bugged me, but that's it. The fanservice is detrimental to the series not because it offended me, but because there's so much more they could have done with their time than pointless crotch shots, bath scenes, and titty grabbing episodes. My final opinion is that Strike Witches isn't a bad show, it's simply mediocre. It starts with a good amount of ambition and I was really looking forward to a lot of the things that caught my interest in the beginning, but Strike Witches delivers on none of it by the end, instead going with the same old generic stuff I've seen before in better shows.

SMPS Discord | Twitter | Submissions and Contact | GB | Store | i | c | v3
Contributor Central
© 2005-2023 smps/*-|):D