Reviews: Strike Witches

A very enjoyable cliche storm that doesn't quite go beyond the line

While it is a cheap cop-out to say that "If you like this kind of thing, then you will enjoy this show", such words have never been more appropriate when describing Strike Witches.

This show is quite literally a storm of cliches. If you have ever watched any other war anime series, you know what to expect here. The main character is the newbie who joins the unit, she works under a tough-but-fair commander and the usual pick and mix of war movies and anime characters.

So what is there to recommend, then? The cliches are quite well done, and surrounded in an unique premise. The female, teenage version of world war 2 ace pilots fighting aliens in a fan service-laden alternate version of Europe? Certainly unique!

But while the characters and the premise are interesting, the story never goes anywhere with them. Aliens show up, teenage girl blow them up, one of the characters learn something that makes her grow up as a person. There isn't much feeling of a war going on at times. The aliens themselves are just plot devices; they showed up one day and started blowing humanity up for no reason. Unlike Evangelion or Attack on Titan, the show doesn't spend a lot of time concerned with humanity's future. While this is a refreshing change from the usual dark tone, it did strike me as missed potential for an already fairly insubstantial story.

So there is Strike Witches in a nutshell. Interesting premise that never goes anywhere, cliche characters of various nationalities that are fun to watch. It's the strange mix of a slice-of-life show and a wartime anime, with copious amount of fan-service thrown in it. If the above description caught your interest, it might be worth your time to check out. If not, I doubt that your opinion will change after having seen it.

Unfortunately fails to live up to its promise, but still good.

This series is one of the few that starts of so incredibly strongly that it's hard to believe it could be anything but amazing. Many shows take as much as the entire first season to show just why the characters are likable, create character development, or do anything more than flesh out the universe a little bit. Strike witches has massive character development as early as the first and second episodes, where the main character reveals her heroic character traits but remains completely believable and her power level is as perfectly balanced between "Special" and "Believable" as is, essentially, physically possible for a series of this type.

Add to that an amazing musical score and the presence of flying witches fighting aliens with the equivalent of anti-tank weaponry, and you have a series that really had the potential to be absolutely amazing.

Then, sadly, it doesn't do anything with it. Following the amazing character development and everything of the first two episodes, it degenerates into fanservice interspersed with anti-alien combat. That alone is fairly amazing, but it lacks the great character development promised in the first two episodes. Later in the series(Spoiler alert), there is a plot element that could have been amazing, where the Neuroi apparently try to make friends with our Witches, before being blown out of the sky by ANOTHER set of aliens, but afterwards that event is completely ignored, and again, an opportunity for character development is lost. At the end they try for a heroic sacrifice, but because there hasn't been a trace of character development for nearly a season by that point, it comes off as flat and bland, and what could have been an amazing heroic moment becomes a bittersweet ending. After all, leaving the witches doesn't have to be a bad thing(as being in combat is a tough rap, after all!) but they fall into the easy trap of "It's better to be normal", which is a moral message that I'm really not watching a series about cute animal witches batting aliens to receive.

So my recommendation? Watch the first two episodes. Actually, heck; watch the first three, or maybe even four. But then stop watching, and imagine that they all become great friends, befriend a rogue group of aliens, defeat the alien menace, and live happily ever after. It's what I do, and I'm that much happier for it.

Moe anthropomorphism in the skies? You bet!

Strike Witches is an unique anime in several aspects; set in the World War II era, the series possesses elements from both a war film and a slice-of-life series. These two elements mesh together to form the basis of the plotline, cycling between character development (which is given a lot of attention to and shows positively in the series) as well as the state of the human-Neuroi conflict. The latter is actually one of the secondary aspects of the show: there is no central plot outside of shooting down a Neuroi every week, and in this respect, is the weak end of things. However, the characters breathe life into the show; depicting the livelihoods of the 501st, much of the enjoyment value is derived from watching the characters interact and mature. Every pilot of the 501st was based off a real pilot from WWII, so for individuals with a strong background in history, subtle details such as the military tactics, weapons, aircraft and events will demonstrate the effort that went into generating a story that hints at the actual events of WWII. In fact, sufficiently knowledgible individuals with a keen ear will note that every striker unit possesses a slightly different engine sound. The Striker units incorperate elements of WWII planes and turns the girls into anthropomorphic combat aircraft; taken together, the implementation of such a concept gives rise to appealing visuals during combat sequences. Meanwhile, the Neuroi are depicted as mysterious antagonists with no speaking roles. Following Awakening of the Trailblazer, such aliens aren't too much of a surprise, and have the effect of simplifying the plot further, which in turn allows for extended focus on the characters. When everything is considered, Strike Witches is a visually rewarding anime, with character development being its strongest suit. The presentation of the plot is a unique and pleasing one, despite being a touch shakey at times. For fans who are sufficiently mature to get over the fanservice, there is much to be enjoyed from this series.