Sunday, January 8, 2012

Strike Witches Season One Anime Review

Strike Witches Season One
Complete Collection - 2 discs
300 min. - 12 episodes
$59.98 (2010)
$49.98 (2011)
ISBN 704400011900
Japanese/English Audio - English Subtitles
Director - Kazuhiro Takamura
Studio - Gonzo

Synopsis: It is 1944 and the world is threatened by an extraterrestrial threat called the Neuroi - unidentified flying objects which have destroyed and occupied much of Europe.  The national armed forces of the world have united to fight the alien threat, but conventional warfare has proven useless.  Instead the magical abilities of young women have been put to military application and give the world a fighting chance. 

The Witches' powers include enhanced strength, tracking, telekinesis, a deflector shield, healing, and a myriad of others.  Each Witch manifests dog ears and a tail when using their powers.  Scientists have developed the Striker Unit for the Witches' use - a hybrid magical/mechanical propeller device worn as a pair on the Witches' legs.  The Striker Units allow Witches high-speed, maneuverable flight capabilities and may only be used by highly adept Witches in their prime (typically below age 20).  The units also enhance the magical abilities of the Witches.

Each Witch possesses a unique Striker Unit based on airplanes from their home country.  Because the units affix to the legs of the Witches, require a high amount of skin-to-machinery contact, and due to the unpredictable attacks of the Neuroi, the Witches have stopped wearing pants as part of their military uniforms.  The lack of pants allows them to quickly don their units and race into battle.

We first meet Yoshika Miyafuji, a witch with powerful healing abilities, as she is recruited into the 501st Joint Fighter Wing aka the Strike Witches.  Her father was a prominent scientist and largely responsible for creating the Striker Units, but died in the war.  She is anti-war, but wants to help protect those who fight the Neuroi.  Does she have what it takes to become a Witch and what secret is the military harboring which may affect the future of the Witches?

List of Strike Witches:
  • Yoshika Miyafuji (Mitsubishi A6M Zero) - Japanese, healing abilities, father created Striker Units, peaceful and cares greatly for the welfare of others
  • Mio Sakamoto (Mitsubishi A6M Zero) - Japanese, veteran fighter of the Neuroi, chief trainer of the Witches, wears an eyepatch over her magical eye (enhanced sight)
  • Minna-Dietlinde Wilcke (Messerschmitt Bf 109 G-2) - German, enhanced spatial awareness, ranking officer of the 501st, lost her lover during the war and afraid of losing those close to her
  • Lynette Bishop (Supermarine Spitfire Mk IX) - British, superpowered magical shots and sharpshooting, becomes best friends with Miyafuji, sometimes clumsy
  • Perrine-H. Clostermann (Arsenal VG-39) - French, lightning spell, emotionally traumatized by the Neuroi destruction of her homeland, has a huge crush on Sakamoto, highly jealous of Miyafuji because of Sakamoto's time spent training her
  • Erica Hartmann (Messerschmitt Bf 109 G-6) - German, wind-based spell to distrupt enemies, a flying ace, only serious when the situation calls for it, panty stealer
  • Gertrude Barkhorn (Focke-Wulf Fw 190 D-6 Prototype) - German, enhanced physical strength, has a younger sister injured in a Neuroi attack who resembles Miyafuji
  • Francesca Lucchini (Fiat G.55 Centauro) - Italian, pinpoint energy burst, childish and self-indulgent, enjoys naps, friends with Yeager
  • Charlotte Yeager (North American P-51D Mustang) - American, superior speed abilities, tall and buxom, neat freak, obsessed with speed and broke land-speed record on a motorcycle
  • Eila Ilmatar Juutilainen (Messerschmitt Bf 109 K-4) - Finnish, precognitive abilities, mischievous, possessive of Litvyak
  • Sanya V. Litvyak (MiG-60) - Russian, enhanced spatial awareness and intercepts hard to detect signals (like radio waves), flies the night patrol
Pros: Excellent animation, tons of fan-service, some nudity during extended bath scenes, Striker units are pretty cool and modelled after actual WWII fighter planes, this show was obsessed with panty shots

Aerial group hug panty shot maneuver
Cons: Neuroi are a bland plot foil - generic alien enemy for the Witches to fight, excessive panty shots (I can't believe I just wrote that), girls appear very young - kinda pervy if you add in the panty shots (although perfect if you're a teenager), lolicon (see explanation below) - may be offensive to some viewers

Mike Tells It Straight: This show literally felt like one long fan-service panty shot.  Good animation, some character development, and a heaping dose of young, barely-clothed girls loosely wrapped in a paper-thin plot.  The Strike Witches evolved from a series of illustrations by Humikane Shimada depicting kawaii (super-cute) teen girls combined with WWII era military airplanes.  The idea became popular and a series of novels/manga was created prior to this anime series along with some video games.   

The Witches celebrate another victory...over pants
The fan-service was very well done (pretty much the show's main focus) and the character interactions were entertaining, but the plot was an afterthought.  The girls themselves were prime examples of "Lolicon" the Japanese version of the "Lolita complex" where underage girls are portrayed in sexually suggestive poses, clothing or situations.  The loli's could be offensive to some viewers (i.e. your parents). 

Bathtime is fun time for Perrine

If you're looking for panty shots and nudity with a sparse plot then park your rear.  Want a good story with some depth?  Not happening here - pass on by.  Miyafuji's character development was a tiny diamond in the rough, but not enough to carry the show.  Seriously, there is only one reason to watch this show - hot young girls allergic to pants. 
TO BUY and Recommendations: