Minna wo Mamoru Tame ni: For the sake of protecting everyone
"It's my mission and duty to guide her on her path to becoming a full-fledged Witch, for the sake of my, no, the world's benefactor, Dr. Miyafuji..."
— Mio Sakamoto on Yoshika Miyafuji
Originaly a Shōnen manga then a series of Light Novels, Strike Witches became an anime series animated by GONZO and was broadcast between July and September 2008. A second season was released in July 2010 by AIC, following GONZO's bankruptcy. Both seasons contain 12 episodes, with the first half centred around the titular Witches' backstories and livelihoods, while the remainder of each season unlocking more secrets about the nature of the war between humanity and the enigmatic Neuroi. A movie with an original story was released in March 2012. A new TV anime and an OVA were announced as having been greenlit in October 2013, although it was later clarified that neither are continuations of the existing story.The events of Strike Witches are set in an Alternate History; in 1939, the extraterrestrial Neuroi began their conquest of Earth. Despite lacking understanding about the Neuroi's background or motives, it was clear to humanity that the Neuori presented a grave threat to their civilization; this prompted the world's armed forces to mount a counteroffensive, enlisting the help of female magic users known as "Witches" and a newly developed weapon christened the "Striker Unit" (devices which bolster the Witches' magical abilities). Wielding spells and specialized firearms, they take to the skies and strive to repel the Neuroi invaders. The anime tells of Yoshika Miyafuji's story, a Fuso witch whose desire to learn about her missing father's fate eventually led her to join the battle against the Neuroi and understand what being a "Strike Witch" means.The anime series is one component of the franchise: additional materials includes eight light novels (covering the Suomus Misfits Squadron and the African front of the war), four manga series, five official doujinshi (also covering the African front), four video games, and occasional short stories released on Humikane's Twitter feed which follow the adventures of the 502nd JFW. Most of the early material is available in Japanese only, though more recent doujinshi and light novels have been receiving international releases, and fan translations exist for several of the Twitter releases.On first glance, Strike Witches appears as little more than a Fanservice-focused series. However, it ultimately presents what is, at heart, a war story about the camaraderie between the pilots of the 501st Joint Fighter Wing (aka Strike Witches) and their battles against the unknown enemy. Strike Witches shares a superficially similar concept with Sky Girls: both series saw Humikane Shimada's contribution as a character designer. Naturally, a character sheet is included and may be accessed here.
Strike Witches provides examples of:
Absurdly Sharp Blade: Mio's Katana in the first season is used to cut the wing of a Neuroi the size of a battlecruiser. She makes an upgraded sword that can bisect a Neuroi in addition to its strongest beam attack in one slice.
A-Cup Angst: Yoshika Miyafuji experiences this at times early on. Featured most prominently in Episode 5: "Fast, Big, Soft".
Averted with Lucchini, who believes with all her heart that one day her breasts will be as big as Shirley's. If Humikane Shimada's speculative Where Are They Now illustrations set in 1947 are to be taken as canon, then her hopes weren't entirely misguided.
Alpha Bitch: Perrine is a moderate form of this towards Yoshika early on.
Alternate History: While the period of when history begins diverging is not known, the impact is clear, with some countries having different names and different borders. WWII is replaced with fighting off an alien invasion. However, all of the witches are based on real World War II pilots, including General Chuck Yeager. By a curious turn of fate, screenshots of episode 5 have been posted on Yeager's Myspace page.
According to official artbooks◊, while history went normally in the BC era, the divergence began when Julius Caesar survived his assassination and went to become the Emperor of Roman Empire. More divergences in history included Chingiz Khan became the Mongol Emperor, a war between the Mongol Empire and the kingdoms of Karlsland(Germany), Oda Nobunaga escape his assassination, unified Fuso(Japan) and defeated the Spanish Armada and the Britannia East India Company battles the Dutch and their Fuso Mercenary allies for the spice routes which latter led to two Britannia-Fuso wars before both nations made peace and became allies. Read the link for more info of the history of the Strike Witches universe.
Art Evolution: There is a very noticeable change in the artwork between the first season by GONZO and the second season by AIC
Artistic License-Gun Safety: Surprisingly averted. In a season two episode newly arrived pilot Hanna-Justina Marseille during a routine training mission points her fully loaded and recently fired machine gun at Erica and mimes firing it as a sort of egotistical boast about catching Erica off-guard. Commander Minna witnesses this and is understandably furious, immediately cancelling the training mission and restricting Hanna to confinement to her room, mentioning that she would have thrown her straight into a jail cell if they had one on base.
Attack Its Weak Point: All Neuroi have a core that is their de facto Achilles heel, and only Mio can spot it when covered by the Neuroi's body. Without Mio's abilities, the witches would be forced to rip the Neuroi to pieces just to find the core, something extremely difficult considering the kind of enemy they're facing.
Aww, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: Erica and Trude in The Movie. After listening to Erica whine her way through a Neuroi battle, Trudy carries her on her back and feeds her chocolate; Erica then fights a Neuroi all by herself to spare the exhausted Trude (though she might have just been itching for a fight).
Badass Army: The Witch regiments of every country, where a handful of them are the equivalent of several fleets of warships.
Beach Episode: A few episodes are set on the beach, although the emphasis on typical elements from such episodes is not particularly strong.
Beam Spam: The Neuroi's weapons essentially fill the combat airspace with beams.
Beehive Barrier: The Neuroi appear to be made out of a tessellating material, and the Warlock, once assimilated by a Neuroi, can also project a tessellated shield.
BFG: Most of the girls have heavy machine guns as their primary armament. In Season 2 Episode 4, Barkhorn gets new (temporary) weapons. A QUADRUPLE mounted MK 108 30mm autocannon and another MK 214A 50mm autocannon.
BFS Yoshika picks up a glowing one of these roughly the size of her in the trailer for the film. She effortlessly slices through a Neuroi barrier and the alien's core with it.
Bilingual Bonus: In the 2nd season, the witches sent to training to the Venezian (counterpart of a part of Real Life's Italy) Anna Ferrara. The training is hard, an generations of witches left scribbles on the beds of what they think about her in different languages, e.g. Sakamoto left "old hag" in Fusoan resp. Japanese, and other witches have left other swearwords like "Merde!" (Gallian resp French for "shit").
Bittersweet Ending: To save Mio from being used as a living battery for a now completely-invincible Giant Neuroi, which is implied to be able to singlehandely wipe out humanity, Yoshika uses ALL of her Magic energy to power a mighty strike that defeats the Apocalyptic Eldritch Abomination. Though Romagna is finally saved, the war still goes on. And just like Mio, Yoshika's life as a witch and warrior ends as she spends the rest of her life a mundane doctor.
Bland-Name Product: Spem. Which as a product name sounds even more gross than the real stuff is.
Also, many aircraft/striker manufacturer has been given alternate names such as Flakwulf, Miyabishi, and Boening.
Body-Count Competition: While they aren't shown agreeing to one, both Gertrude and Erica count off the number of Neuroi they've shot down in episode 8 of the first season. Gertrude won, with 20 kills to Erica's 10.
Boss Rush: the final battle against the Warlock-Akagi combined mech.
Bowdlerization: Inverted by Fan Sub Group Strike Subs. Because the removal of Censor Steam in the DVD version just revealed Barbie Doll Anatomy below the waistline they took the liberty to release an alternative version of episode 7 with some digital video editing to make the characters more anatomically correct in the groin area. This "uncensored" version got five times as many downloads as the unaltered one.
But Not Too Gay: Depending on how you interpret the girls' displays of affection, there are at least two couples, plenty of hugging and plenty of couple tropes. No actual kissing however. See No Hugging, No Kissing below. This trope is finally averted during the second season.
Call Back: The structure of the second season's first episodes seems to follow that of the first season. For both seasons, the first episode ends in a cliffhanger with a Neuroi attack just as Mio and Yoshika arrive in Europe, the second episode focuses primarily on fighting the Neuroi and meeting everyone else, the third episode focuses on training, with the trainees having to save the day at the end, and the fourth episode has Barkhorn almost getting herself killed. And now, the sixth episode looks to be Eila/Sanya centric. The seventh episode is base hijinks with panties stripping and lots and lots of Fanservice.
Calling Your Attacks: Used liberally by Mio and her Death Strike Reppuzan!. Perrine's Tonnerre and Erica's Sturm are less offensive examples than most anime as they're short and actually said in real time, and are dispensed with later on.
Chekhov's Gun: In the second season, when Mio was talking with Minna, Minna laments on how she kept busy by their superiors and is one point away from getting a medal acknowledging her 200th kill. What better way, then, to enjoy a furo episode than have everyone chase a butt loving Neuroi and end it with Minna killing the bug by squeezing it with her butt and getting that 200th kill medal.
Combat Pragmatist: This is why the Witches are used. Word of God states that conventional weapons can and have actually defeated the Neuroi which is why the conventional armies on-screen are shown to still engage the Neuroi instead of running away and waiting for Witch support not because they're holding the Idiot Ball or setting up The Worf Effect. It just takes a whole lot more firepower and significantly greater losses compared to Witches. As an example, the Afrika doujin/light novels show that the infamous Flak 88 is equally as good at killing Neuroi as it is with killing everything else.
Comically Missing the Point: The Fuso Navy turned the Yamato into a flying battleship, the ridiculousness of which is lampshaded by the other girls. Mio says that the Rhine was too shallow for the Yamato to sail in, hence the floaters.
Conspicuous CG: England's pastures never looked as plastic as in Season 1 Episode 9. Most conventional ships and airplanes in the show are very conspicuously CG as well. CG is also heavily used with the girls several times in the air to create more elaborate but fluid movements.
Cool, but Inefficient: Weapons tend to differ wildly in size and caliber between Witches, some more efficient than others against the Neuroi, ranging from heavy machine guns to anti-tank rifles. However, this trope is averted in the sense that weapons with an increased rate of fire corresponds with the speed the aircraft are moving: it is easier to aim at high speeds using such weapons. Since some forms of Neuroi are Zerg Rush drones, the increased rate of fire is also useful. Finally, Charlotte lampshades the fact that they can only carry so much without being grounded or encumbered. Of course, the supplemental material points out that with so many different weapons, logistics are become challenging.
Covert Pervert: Several characters have these tendencies, but Yoshika and Perrine stand out. Yoshika's eyes and hands seem drawn to every bit of cleavage around, especially after her dream of 'flying in formation' with Lynette, her best friend. When Mio was putting a radio in her ear, she thought Mio was about to kiss her. Perrine has a strong attachment to Mio, border-lining on extreme proportions.
Darker and Edgier: The Movie is significantly more serious and subdued than the TV seasons before it, focusing more of the effects of the Neuroi war on a personal scale, as well as putting a spotlight on Yoshika's medical knowledge; as such, there's quite a bit of blood spilled in this film, a far cry from the largely Bloodless Carnage of the preceding installments.
Gertrude: "For a soldier of Karlsland, discipline comes first! Second is discipline! Third is discipline, and fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth, and ninth are also discipline!"
Erica: (sleepily) "What's tenth?"
Death Seeker: Mio, realizing that her magic is failing due to her age and her usefulness as a soldier on the front lines is nearing its end, seems utterly determined to go out fighting. Even with Minna begging her to step down from duty before it's too late, it takes her a lesson from Yoshika to realize her mistake. As of the first episode of Season 2, she's still dead set on fighting. It's astonishing she hasn't been microwaved by the Neuroi yet.
Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: During the defensive battle of Petersburg, Kanno Naoe, a witch of the 502nd Joint Fighter Wing whose magic talent compresses and strengthens her shield, literally punched out a neuroi by using this ability to focus her shield around her fist.
Distaff Counterpart: The Witches are all Distaff Counterparts of real-life flying aces, and have similar names. The one exception is Sanya, who is based on Lydia Litvyak. Chuck Yeager's counterpart is also the first person in the Strike Witches world to break the sound barrier.
Dowsing Device: Eila uses one to track down the small, bug-like pants-invading Neuroi, with Sanya's sensors helping out.
Drives Like Crazy: Shirley, with an Army Truck. According to Takaaki Suzuki, the guy responsible for setting, the truck Shirley was driving had its engine exchanged.
Drum Bathing: The fourth episode of Strike Witches 2 has an example with two barrels right next to each other.
Falling into the Cockpit: During an early encounter with the Neuroi in season one, Yoshika finds a Striker Unit and takes it into battle. Despite being her first time piloting one, Mio is impressed that Yoshika was able to do all the things that she does.
Fanservice: Prevalent throughout practically every episode, but especially so in the seventh episodes of both seasons.
Fastball Special: Charlotte throws Francesca in episode 12, with Francesca using her shield to protect herself and inflict damage.
Feminist Fantasy: Despite and because of this show's brand of fanservice. While the show is loaded to the hilt with fanservice, the girls make up the main cast, drive the story, and are given very strong and positive Character Development instead of being pawned off to service some generic male lead. Many of them are military officers and positive figures of authority, and those who aren't have their own unique strengths. Love interests with males (rare but there) are treated as the girls' story not the boys' and even the fanservice itself is a kind of pro-feminist Fridge Brilliance in and of itself. The trademark "pantlessness" of the Witches has become iconic, popular among women and publicly accepted because of their heroism, which is made even more significant when one considers that this is happening years before the pro-feminist movement happened in Real Life.
Flawed Prototype: The jet striker in season two. It has speed that makes Charlotte jealous, but absorbs way too much magical power to be safe.
Flying Brick: In addition to their inherent gift magic their magic also seems to grant them super strength, flight (on brooms), and increased physical endurance. If their shields are counted then they also have nigh invulnerability.
Foreign Fanservice: Charlotte seems to think 100% of the fat a woman consumes goes straight to her breasts, and that this trait is unique to American women. Amazingly, she seems to be entirely correct about this.
Full Potential Upgrade: Yoshika needed a new Striker in season two because her power was overloading her current one. Conversely, Mio is an inversion, while her powers were growing weaker, she managed to upgrade to a Striker Unit that let her maximize what she still had.
Gag Dub: While not really true of the series itself, the trailer for Funimation's dub gleefully points out the girls' lack of pants at least half a dozen times. Ironically, the "They're not panties, so it's not embarrassing!" line was originally meant not as a justification, but to tell the audience to treat their underwear as if they are wearing something over them.
Glass Cannon / Fragile Speedster: Mio in Season 2 can't use shields anymore, to compensate she got the Fuso Army to make her the fastest, most agile striker seen yet and made herself a sword that's practically a Game Breaker: It easily deflects energy beams and can instant kill enemies.
Good Thing You Can Heal: Nikka Edvardine Katajainen, Suomus Witch from the novels/manga, is a spectacularly unlucky pilot that destroyed enough Striker Units to earn the nickname "Jinxed Katajainen". An example of this is seen in her appearance in the movie. Fortunately, her signature magic is Healing Factor.
Gratuitous German: The plans for the rocket boosters in season 2, episode 6 are written in really bad German.
Barkhorn has a few lines in German in the movie and one of the CD's.
Groin Attack: Used to amusingly demonstrated in episode 3 season 2 why broomsticks are no longer used for flight. That and other things.
Growing Up Sucks: The Witches gradually lose their magical powers when they grow older, typically they appear at 12. By 20 their shields become so weak that they can't even stop handgun bullets. That doesn't mean they lose their powers completely as elderly witches can still use spells and fly. Used inconsistently, as multiple adult witches are shown to almost as powerful as the main characters (though they do not use shields) while Mio is almost powerless and can barely fly in the last two episodes of season 2..
Guns Akimbo: Gertrude dual-wields two MG42 heavy machine guns.
Gunship Rescue: At the climax of the movie, the Yamato arrives to assist the witches, having been able to navigate up the Rhine thanks to special flotation devices
Handicapped Badass: Lieutenant Gundula Rall, to an extent. A stray shot during the evacuation of Karlsland fractured her back, and even after nine months of rehab she had to wear a magic-imbued corset to soothe her old injury during combat. That didn't stop her from securing the title of Karlsland's 3rd greatest ace, after Gertrud and Erica.
In episode 6, Minna comments that if the Neuroi hadn't invaded Earth, their superiors (Europe's political and military leaders) would likely be fighting among themselves.
Also Barkhorn referring to the division of her's and Hartmann's room as the Siegfried Line.
In the extended canon, Hartmann and Barkhorn, with fellow Karlslanders Waltrud Krupinski and Johanna Wiese, were once given audience with the Emperor of Karlsland, alluding to the real-life incident where, coincidentally, a drunken Erich Hartmann grabbed the Fuhrer's hat by mistake.
The Home Front: Even though it's an alternate universe and the enemy are aliens instead of Germans, they're still fighting the Battle of Britain.
Hotter and Sexier: Oddly enough inverted for The Movie, which aside from half a dozen incidental Panty shots actually downplays the Fanservice of the two TV series, and even those shots were nowhere as sexually-detailed as those found in said two series.
Alternatively, you may regard Yoshika as holding this in the 10th episode, but think that Mio is holding it in the 9th episode, due to her charging in to attack a Neuroi herself, even knowing her shields are failing, because she refuses to listen to Yoshika's reasons for not attacking and even though she is quite aware that Yoshika has been alone and unharmed by this Neuroi for several minutes already and she can see that it is inviting Yoshika to touch its core, an act roughly equal to a human willingly tearing open its chest and allowing somebody to take hold of their still-beating heart. Even if the Neuroi are the enemy, this one was clearly acting aytpically, and prudence would have been better then just charging in blindly.
I Call It "Vera": Mio names her new sword Reppumaru, a reference to the A7M Reppuu (fierce wind) fighter, which was intended to succeed the A6M Zero (the basis for Mio's Striker in season one).
Image Song: In response to the fans, five image song CDs were released covering all the main characters (Yoshika got two solos, though) The CDs also included duets and covers of songs from the girls' home countries from around that era. Except for the Karlslander trio, which has the lyrics rewritten, since a Nazi song wouldn't have flown in this day and age.
Improbably Female Cast: It is theorized by some fans that only females can use magic. And as the main characters are the magic users...
The novel states that 'the vast majority of magic users are female' which, while not excluding male 'witches' completely, does show that Strike Witches is mainly a girls' party.
Interservice Rivalry: Between the 501st and the conventional armies. Europe's political and military elites are not too pleased about having to rely almost exclusively on Witch units.
Averted in some cases as most witches are friendly towards each other regardless of their serving branches, and are adored by males soldiers and officers generally. Played straight in Zero manga series when Imperial Fuso Army and Navy generals, and witches from both branches starts three-way argument in an imperial conference. It goes far enough that during a big operation Navy actually dispatches a separate fleet not part of plan to steal the credit of killing the Big Bad by deliberately bombarding area of operation with witches still in there, posing as friendly fire.
Istanbul Not Constantinople: Since Strike Witches is an alternate history, this trope is in full effect. The Fuso Empire is Japan, Gallia is France, Suomus is Finland, Orussia is Russia, Karlsland is Germany, Liberion is the United States, Italy is divided into the Romagna and Venezia Ducates, Britannia is the United Kingdom, Belgium is Belgica, Romania is Dacia, and Canada is Faraway Land (It hasn't yet gained dominion from Brittannia, which makes the name... Okay, it's still lame). For some reason, India and Egypt have kept their names the same. The show also refers to real life locations within those countries, and at least two real world currencies (Fuso's yen and Britannia's pounds) have carried over.
Ostmark was the official designation for Austria (Österreich) after the 1938 Anschluss.
A lot of the names are based on historical terms for the countries. The Nazis stole "Ostmark" from the historical name for Austria before it became its own realm in the Middle Ages, for example, and most of the European nations are based on Roman Provincial names. For (further) example, Spain is Hispania, Bulgaria is Moesia, and the many mentioned above. It seems that the convention carries over to Asia, where Fuso is based on a Chinese term for Japan: Fusang. Suomus is based on Suomi, the Finnish name for their country. Orussia just added an O to it's name, Karl was probably meant to be Charlemagne or another "Karl" who was Holy Roman Emperor (there were a few), The Italies use the Roman naming convention while not progressing in their unification past getting the North and South solidified, and Liberion is pretty self-explanatory. As for "Canada", it is mentioned as being a "Britannian Commonwealth" in the Strike Witches Wiki, which leaves the actual status of the country vague... Okay, it's still lame (Especially considering the many other cringe-worthy proposed names for Canada that the creators' could have just borrowed from English Wikipedia). Interestingly enough, a couple of Britannian Witches are based on Canadian archetypes, which fits in nicely with Commonwealth Air Training program IRL and Canada's contributions to the Empire's two War efforts.
Katanas Are Just Better: Mio's sword, of course. In her hands, it is "just better." (read: puts heavy machine guns and rockets to shame.)
Kissing Under the Influence: Mio, plastered on an oversized jug of wine, boldly kisses Minna. She faints from the shock of it and, at the end of the episode, wistfully recollects it.
Kung-Fu Wizard: As the Witches are the front line soldiers in this war, Strike Witches is one of the rare settings in which a magic-user is also "multiclassed" as a warrior by default.
Last Episode New Character: Meet Amaki Suwa! Of course, since there's less than a minute left of the final episode, don't expect a lot of character development. The implications of this was, of course, a second season.
Lens Flare Censor: This series makes liberal use of this Trope. It is most prevalent in episode seven of the second season. It has the glare moving around, disappearing, and reappearing as necessary. Somehow, the moon can also produce massive beams of light in all the right places.
Lolicon: Only in the legal and partially moral sense, since all of the characters are teenaged. However, there is a degree of subversion in that, with the exception of one petty officer and one dead fiancé, none of the male cast show the slightest romantic interest in 501st. Despite the best efforts of Flying Officer Erica Hartmann. In Season One, Episode Eight, it is revealed that due to her own experience, Minna has forbidden men from talking to the Witches, to avoid emotionally bonding.
Male Gaze: An interesting thing to note is that males in-universe think nothing of the fact that the Witches and women who ascribe to the Witch fashion trend aren't wearing any pants. The lover of one Witch in Humikane's doujinshi actually pays more attention to her ample cleavage rather than her well exposed lower half. This is actually a Truth in Television as during that time culture and gender movements basically allowed women to wear things like bikinis and miniskirts which had previously been considered taboo up until the point where today such things are seen as normal but fashionable.
Meaningful Name: Except for Sanya, the names of the characters are gender-swapped versions of those of their real-world counterparts. In a neat little bit of attention to detail, the "Ilmatar" in Eila's name refers to an ancient Finnish sky goddess, an appropriate name for a flying magic user.
In episode 4 of Season 2, the witches receive a prototype jet unit, which is capable of traveling much faster than their current ones. Unfortunately, it also drains their magic energy at an alarming rate, which Captain Barkhorn found out when it physically exhausts her to the point she faints after using it for too long. It ends up destroyed in the process and Ursula Hartmann, Erica's twin sister and one of the developers of the jet unit, takes it back to work out the kinks in it.
In episode 8 of Season 2, Yoshika gets a new Striker unit. The reason was her magic was growing much stronger, and as a result, the old unit's limiter was kicking in to prevent damage to the engine, which severely crippled her ability to fly in it. Unlike the jet unit, this one is stable.
Mildly Military: The Strike Witches don't act much like a military unit in a warzone. Then again, the actual military is a bit better about this so the mildly military attitude of the 501st is probably due to the fact that they are highly valuable former civilian volunteers. This is realistically applicable particularly when dealing with experienced and higher ranking Witches who have actually been training for longer. For on, they're Air Force Aces whom did actually have quite glamorous lives back then due to propaganda among other things. High rank Witches like Minna spend most their time realistically pushing papers while the lower rank Witches are shown to spend most of their time training, drilling or doing maintenance work or catering for themselves and running for supplies. Military law is also carried out such as with Miyafuji's eventual dishonorable discharge despite her heroics and strict hierarchy of command is also maintained, it's just that some punishments have to be lighter because they justifiably can't replace their losses.
Lampshaded heavily in the Movie by new character Shizuka, who comes from a heavily disciplined military family and thus is rather put out by Yoshika's attitude of helping out with chores on the aircraft carrier despite holding an officer's rank. After meeting the rest of the 501st and seeing how they operate, she's convinced to lighten up a bit.
Monster of the Week: Lampshaded when Mio comments that the Neuroi no longer adhere to their previously established "once per week" pattern. Early in Season 1, 2 of the girls are sunbathing, when a third calls them on not training they say "A neuroi attack isn't until 8" and then when it happens "it's too early". That's right, the monsters of the week have scheduled, and precalculated attack times.
Mood Whiplash: The first season's tone becomes much more serious from episode 9 onward.
More Dakka: Most of the girls carry heavy machine guns into battle.
Multinational Team: The Strike Witches are an international military unit, with members from their world's equivalents of Japan, Germany, England, France, America, Russia, Finland, and Italy. Supplementarymmaterials show thatnthe rest of the Joint Fighter Wings are also this.
Yoshika having bigger and better shield than everyone else.
The Napoleon In spite of her small stature, Kanno Naoe of the 502nd Joint Fighter Wing is known for her belligerence and "ferocious personality". Incidentally, she's described as harboring a great admiration for Gallian(French) language and literature.
Necessary Drawback: Mio's new sword, Reppumaru, is extremely powerful - so powerful, in fact, that it gives Yoshika burns just from holding it - but as Minna explains, using the sword has accelerated the draining of what little magic Mio has left.
Not What It Looks Like: In episode 7 of Season 2, a Neuroi disguised as a tiny bug infiltrates the witches' headquarters. After Shirley's "bugdar" gets destroyed by the bug, Eila runs to her room to fetch two L-shaped dowsing rods. It points towards a sleeping Sanya. Eila seems hesitant to search Sanya's underwear, which the bug had been invading on the other girls earlier in the episode, but then does it just as Sanya begins to wake up. In the next scene, Eila explains to the other girls what happened, and has a big bump on her head.
Outof Focus: Good lord, the movie. Mio doesn't appear at all until the end, and Eila and Sanya (who are very popular with the fandom, to boot) get about five minutes of screentime before being stowed away until the final scene.
Panty Shot: All witches go without pants (or only with really tight pants/tights/etc. leading to constant panty shots. Except they're apparently not panties, so it isn't embarrassing. The technical explanation is their legs aren't actually inside the Striker Units they wear due to the space needed for the magical engine to operate; they're instead shunted to an alternate dimension of sorts, and this can't be done with anything that isn't skintight. As the witches have to be prepared to fly at a moment's notice, they go pants-less constantly.
To add to the confusion, they call whatever they wear "zubon", which translates to "trousers".
The style has even spread to the general female population, thanks to the idolization of witches. Some girls, like Yoshika, don't even know where it comes from but still follow it.
At present, there is exactly one female known to wear pants: Adolfine Galland, the counterpart to real-world ace Adolf Galland, who was the only pilot to fly without pants.
To make it even more awesome he flew his fighter plane in "swimming trunks" while smoking his pipe and kicking ass! Someone tell that's not inspiration right there.
Eventually adressed and turned on its head in The Movie. A brief history section showing drawings and film material (including a witchyfied Saint Joan of Arc) shows witches fighting alonside men in various eras, from ancient greece to early WWII. About none of the witches wear skirts coming even close to covering everything.
Panty Thief: When Hartmann lost her panties, she ... "borrowed" them from Lucchini, who borrows Perrine's, who in turn tried to steal Sakamoto's swimsuit (with great delight), but was caught red-handed. By Sakamoto.
Petting Zoo People: A Witch's animal traits are a result of synchronizing with their Familiars. In the novels a Witch had her Familiar die as result of a freak accident. The anime glosses over these details, probably for time.
Psycho Lesbian: Perrine, jealous over the attention Mio gives to Yoshika, lures Yoshika into a duel carrying live weaponry instead of the usual practice guns, though this is mollified somewhat by the terms of the duel (no rounds — practice or otherwise — were fired, the winner was determined by who could stay on the others' tail for ten seconds). The appearance of a Neuroi stops it early on.
Queen Incognito: Lucchini's new friend in season 2, Maria, who turns out to be the Duchess of Romagna. The second half of the episode in which this happens is basically an extended shout-out to Roman Holiday, including the moment at the Mouth of Truth.
Red Herring: Second season. With apparent decline (due to age) in Mio's magic power, the fact that Yoshika's striker unit goes dying on her begs for a reveal that her magic dwindles as well due to some other reason. Turns out it's the opposite, she's just packing too much magic for the unit to handle. And then the season ends totally depleting all that XXL package anyway.
Running Gag: There's a few relating to the girls sleeping arrangements. Sanya always seems to flop into Elia's bed when she comes off her night patrols, Lucchini seems to like sleeping in high narrow places (Tree branches and a beam in the hanger roof) and Hartmann generally seems to prefer the floor to her bed.
Scenery Censor: When Perrine slips on a bar of soap and spectacularly "flies" into the pool, the soap bar serves as the scenery censor to cover her bits in mid flight.
School Swimsuit: Yoshika and Mio wear them under their other clothing. Also Shizuka in the movie.
Sequel Hook: Not so-subtle hints include The letter from Yoshika's father in the post-credits sequence., a novel about Anabuki Tomoko, and the Afrikakorps and the introduction of the 504th Joint Fighter Wing in the second season.
Shades of Conflict: Subverted It was later revealed that the Neuroi displaying its history to Yoshika was an elaborate and effective psyop tactic on the part of the Neuroi. Not that their wholesale genocide of several continents wasn't a dead giveaway, which excuses the military's unwillingness to negotiate, genuine willingness on the part of the Neuroi or not...
It was shown in the novels that the original plan was to capture Yoshika and learn of her reflector shield defenses ability and now that it has failed. Generally the normal plan was to capture witches and then use them against each other, but it did not work so well against them as the novel shows the best way to snap someone out of it is to rip her uniform in two.
Shock and Awe: Perrine's trademark spell, Tonnerre. Looks really cool, and messes up her hair.
The 501st could be named after several real world units, including:
The 501st Infantry Regiment, the first airborne unit in the US military
The 501st Heavy Panzer Battalion in the Wehrmacht
Darth Vader's own personal stormtrooper legion and the real-life group of cosplayers that inspired the naming.
The Auxilary RAF Fighter Squadrons that served in the Battle of Britain, No. 501 (County of Gloucester) Squadron
The Warlock mech in fighter mode looks vaguely like Vic Viper especially when it opens to fire its laser...
Somebody in the season 2 staff really likes GunBuster. In between the SUPER LUCCHINI KICK and the fact the first episode is basically episode 5 of Gunbuster... This may be the Kazuhiro Takamura's choice: he was in GAINAX before Strike Witches, so probably it's from that. Also, The scene in S 1 E 2 where Yoshika is on elevator on Akagi, is definetely Gunbuster reference too.
The second-half of Episode 5 Season 2 (set in Rome) is basically a scene-for-scene remake of/tribute to Roman Holiday starring Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck, with Lucchinni (in the role of Peck's reporter character) even re-enacting the famous "Mouth of Truth" scene.
In the movie's final battle, Perrine's Tonnerre + Erica's Sturm = lolified Ideon Gun anyone?
Show Some Leg: Subverted in episode 11, when Erica tries to get a passing truck to stop, and it doesn't even slow down. Clearly, men have been desensitized by the lack of pants of every attractive female in the world, rendering this method ineffectual.
Shown Their Work: Despite being a show about 13-20 year old girls fighting an evil alien threat, many WWII references were made in both moefied and non-moefied ways. The example of Erica Hartmann stealing panties was Hitler's hat being taken by Ace Pilot Erich Hartmann.
They had to settle for her stealing Francesca's panties since there was no Hitler Distaff Counterpart, though the ensuing chaos over the issue was done well enough to parallel the situation.
And in the sound department, each Striker Unit has its own piston-driven propeller airplane sound.
Every piece of machinery, including the Neuroi, are based on something from the era. Though the second season may have moved on to include later material.
Season 2 episode 6 has fan dubbed "Yuri Rocket" referencing Russian Yuri Gagarin who was the first person in space. Note that the launch is exactly how a multi stage rocket operates.
Trude's first impression of the Me 262 jet Striker is that she's being pushed by angels, which was exactly what the real Barkhorn said about the real Me 262.
Shower of Angst: Late in season 2, Mio becomes aware that her time as a witch is running out. This is paired with rain when it becomes painfully obvious that her magic has just about run dry to the point that flight is now difficult.
Shur Fine Guns: Appears to happen to Lynnette in the OVA, given that it happened on her first shot it's more likely she forgot to take the safety off and panicked into thinking it jammed. It happens to Shirley, too, but she gets caught in a pincer attack with literally no time to fix it.
The Himegoe voice albums reveal Shirley has numerous problems with her gun. Like some problem's CAN'T be fixed.
And then in the movie Barkhorn and Hartman get one each in THE EXACT SAME SCENE. Although they're in an arguably more serious situation...not to mention Crazy-Prepared for it.
Skinship Grope: Quite a few times in the series proper, and Francesca in the end credits.
Sleep Cute: Quite often involving roommates, the most adorable ones being those involving Sanya/Eila and Yoshika/Lynette.
Super Strength: More apparent in the OVA, where a fourteen-year-old girl easily one-hands a gun so massive that it requires two grown men to carry it. Gertrude can also amplify her strength using her magic to lift and throw objects as massive as a steel girder. The Super Strength seems to be an ability inherent in the witches, not given (but probably amplified) by the Striker Units.
Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: Not all the Witches get along, as shown by Perrine's initial antipathy towards Yoshika. Charlotte and Gertrud in particular really don't like each other, and they are not exactly shy about showing it either.
Theme Music Powerup: Sanya and Eila's joint character song, "Sweet Duet" is played as they destroy the awesomely tall Neuroi tower.
The 501st has the Karlslander trio as described above; Yoshika, Lynette and Perrine are often shown together in the buildup to and actual second season; Minna (commander), Mio (combat OI/C) plus Gertrud/Shirley are the leadership figures.
The 502nd has the infamous "Break Witches" trio of Krupinski, Kanno and Katajainen.
The most blatant examples are the 504th's Fernandia, Luciana, and Martina; all members of the Romagnan elite corps, the Pantaloni Rossi, and who appear together in one official profile.
The "Three Crows of Libau," Sakamoto, Takei and Nishizawa.
The "Three Birds of the Fuso Sea," Katou "Higashi" Keiko, Katou "Fuji" Takeko and Anabuki Tomoko.
After Heinrike Prinzessin zu Sayn-Wittgenstein was given an official character design and depicted as associated with Heidemarie Schnaufer, fandom was quick to put them together with Sanya as a trio of Night Witches — Heidemarie and Sanya were already shown to be familiar with each other before Heinrike's design was created.
Tim Taylor Technology: Striker Units will shut down if the wearer's magical potential is or becomes too great. Yoshika learns the hard way before eventually upgrading to a model that can handle her, leading to a subversion. This may be an anime only detail, or a newer feature; in one of the manga runs, Yoshika's power ends up overloading and wrecking a two-seater unit she was merely a passenger in.
Took a Level in Badass: Yoshika in the eighth episode of season 2. Not only does she One-Hit Kill a Neuroi, but Minna notes that her magic power surpassed the operational threshold of her old Striker.
Translation Convention: Most likely. Perrine and Yoshika arguing about honorifics early in season 1 seems to depend on the fact that everyone is speaking Japanese. This one's fairly easy to handwave by saying that magic also acts as a universal translator.
Trash of the Titans: Erica Hartmann shares a room with Gertrude Barkhorn. Contrasting the latter's side, her side is so messy that in one episode she can't find her own underwear, so she ends up stealing a pair from one of the other girls who are taking a bath at the time.
Treasure Map: After sorting through boxes within boxes within more boxes, Perrine, Yoshika, Lynne and Lucchini find one and go spelunking. Hijinks ensue.
Witch Launching Sequence: Prior to each sortie, viewers are treated to the mechanics of Witches' pre-flight preparations, whether it be the ignition of their Striker units or their magic circles.
A Wizard Did It: Magic drives the entire plot, ranging from character development to the function of the Striker Units. From a historical perspective a lot of technology was made possible by using magic to fuel experimentation. Major religions are notably absent as well because of the presence of magic.
Wholesome Crossdresser: From the light novels, Itokawa. Given that Tomoko fell for her, thinking she was male, when she was already struggling with her sexuality... let's just say she doesn't take it well.
Worst Aid: Yoshika attempts to use her Healing Hands on a sailor in the 2nd episode that likely has broken ribs and shrapnel lodged in his torso. She's told to stop by another sailor who knows she's only making it worse because magical healing might set the bones badly, and leave all those bits of shrapnel. She smartly settles on using her super-strength to ferry medical supplies.
Worthy Opponent: Marseille and Hartmann. In the past, any competition would end in a draw.
Yuri Gagarin: While the neither the man nor his Distaff Counterpart make an appearance, the entirety of season 2 episode 6 is one extended Shout-Out to his accomplishment. Yuri —one of them an Orussian— are the first girls in outer space!