In the year 1939 an unknown enemy called the Neuroi appeared. Their purpose is unclear and origin is unknown, but they attack and destroy any signs of human civilization they come across. Because conventional weapons are useless against them, humanity developed a striker unit known as the Strike Witches to combat the Neuroi. Miyafuji Yoshika is a girl with exceptional healing power but lacks control; she has been scouted to join the Strike Witches and fight the Neuroi, but all she wants to do is take over her family clinic. After witnessing an attack by the Neuroi on her way to find out if her father is still alive, Miyafuji resolves herself to fight for and protect the people around her. Who or what are the Neuroi and what do they want?
In 1939, an alien force called the Neuroi invades Earth and the regular military force of the Earth cannot defeat the enemy. A new military unit called the 501st Joint Fighter Wing is created to fight the alien invasion force utilizing new technologies and females with magic called Witches to lead the battle against the alien forces. Plot: The plot of Strike Witches in a sense is not completely original, an enemy appears, the old guard cannot fight them, and a new group comes allow bringing the fight to the enemy. Each episode focuses on either a specific character several characters, and gives them some development along with the war aspect. The development of the cast is done in a way that it feels natural and not some rushed product. Now the cast’s background stories are at times generic and nothing original but that doesn’t take away at from their development or their likability. One of the bigger issues on hand with the overall plot of the series is the lack of some vital information about various topics in the series. The series itself can still be enjoyed without this knowledge, however the lack of some information does take away from the plot a bit, though some of the can be taken into the fact that the series being 12 episodes in length. The other thing that must be mentioned about the characters is that the staff of the series based the characters of the show off historical pilots from WWII. The staff did a lot of research into these history figures and did their best to make the characters of the series and some of the episodes are based off of historically events (episode 5 and episode 7 come to mind though episode 7 is changed a bit to fit the series and be more enjoyable then the even it was based on.) Animation and art: Gonzo was the animation studio for Season 1 of Strike Witches. Gonzo has somewhat of a mixed history with its animation. With more recent Gonzo shows the animation at times will be great, then all of a sudden become very third rate. Show wise, the show has a bright tone overall and looks quite well. The fight scenes are animated well and are enjoyable to watch. While most of the time the scenes were the witches are flying look great, there are some times where this is not the case. There are several times that the flying appears choppy which this can be expected of a Gonzo show, this is not something that should be done. One of the shows reputation that is gets is the fan service that show has. Since the female cast does not wear pants, there are many shots of the pantsu during the series, and most of the cast is under 18, some may see this as sexualizing minors. While the fan service can be overwhelming as there are times where during a fight scene a huge shot of camel toe will come right in front of the screen, it never feels as that the fanservice is taking away from the seriousness of the series. Audio quality (English dub and Japanese dub) The Japanese dub for the series is quite good. The voices for the characters fit their personalities, however some of the voices themselves do sound a bit generic. Even though the voices may be generic, sounding the Japanese VA’s doing a very good job with their characters and their personalities. The English dub, which was done by Funimation, is a top shelf dub. Many veteran voice actors from the stable that Funimation normally uses lend their voices to the girls of the Strike Witches and they all do an excellent job. That being said there is one new voice actor Jennifer Forrester who voices Sanya who in her first role does a very good job for someone in their first anime dubbing role. Music & Sounds: The opening and closing music for the show is catchy and good overall in terms of quality. It is easy to get the ending theme stuck in your head mainly because the music itself it good, and the ending theme is sung each episode by a different duet. The music during the episode is orchestra string based, and the music fits the feel of the series greatly and fits within the time period of the show In the sounds department this is another area that deserves credit. Each of the striker units sound like a plane that would have been created in during WWII. The strikers have a piston like sound to them when they start up just like an propeller plane would. Where it can be obtain: Strikes Witches has been released in Region 1 by Funimation and is still in print. Strike Witches can be purchased from many online retailers such as Best Buy, Amazon.com, Right Stuf, Roberts Anime Corner Store, etc. Final thoughts: Strike Witches often gets a bad rap around the internet because of the fanservice that is has. While the fanservice is off putting to some, the series is a much surprise in terms of quality. While some background information is not given in the series, the cast and character development are done well enough to keep the show above the “just another fan service show.” While there are some issues with the fight animation being choppy the rest of the time the show is drawing very well and has some fluid fight scenes. Scores: Plot *** out of **** Animation *** out of **** (For some questionable quality issues and fanservice) English Dub *** 1/2 out of **** Japanese Dub *** ½ out of **** Music: *** out of **** Overall Score: *** out of **** Pros: The fight scenes, both dubs, likeable cast, and character development. Cons: The fanservice to some, not enough background information, and some animation issues.
Okay! Strike Witches, season 1. I enjoyed it, but it was far from perfect. Let's recap. THE STORY. The plot is a bit thin, but pretty nice. I like how it blends history with fiction, in order to make Witches from all different factions from the WWII fight together. An American, two Japanese, two Germans, a Frenchwoman, a Brit, Italian, Russian, Finnish, and one I'm not all sure of. At the beginning the story is very straightforward, but in the last two or three episodes thankfully there was some attempt at a plot twist that was pretty welcome, for the lack of progression at first. However, unfortunately it leaves a great plot hole about the true intentions of the Neuroi. (When it is implied that they may not be so hostile, one has to wonder "then why did it destroy Europe and plunge the world into chaos?") That's a fairly ugly and obvious misser there, and I'll have to subtract from the score, but to be true, this is not a very story-driven anime at all, so the damage is limited. THE CHARACTERS. Eleven Witches from all over the world, standard issue without pants on. They follow the predictable patterns of any anime involving an international company: a clumsy shy one, a happy-go-lucky energetic one, a haughty megane with a bad attitude, etcetera etcetera. The interpersonal relationships are as always in such animes very important: the main character, newcomer Yoshiko, has to gain the group's trust. Then there are some emotional barriers within and between some of the characters to overcome, such as insecurities and the unprocessed loss of loved ones. It's fairly standard and it doesn't go too deep, so you can't expect to be crying in front of the screen, but sure - it works. THE ACTION. This is the best part of the anime, probably. Each episode features some extremely brutal combat with teenage girls operating huge machine guns, rocket launchers and gunboats. The battles are fast and hard, and because of the Striker Units the Witches fly with, there's a lot of stunt flying. It's all brought onto the screen in a very smooth and attractive way, with the camera panning left and right, (into this crotch and that). Bringing us to... THE ECCHI. Well, plenty of ecchi here, and to be true I found it to be among the "harder" ecchi among what I've come across. Of course, part of the premise of the show is that Striker Units are machines for flying that are put on like metal boots up to the thighs. Which is a clever way of making sure the characters can not be wearing pants - you couldn't put on those Striker Units in a hurry if you are, can you now? This makes for panty shots panty shots panty shots all the way from very beginning to very end. By the way, why is Yoshiko not wearing any pants from long before she joins the Witches? And why didn't that nurse wear any? Oh well, let's not complain. Then there are bathing scenes featuring much nude, including nipples, something that's often censored away otherwise. I had not expected to see that. Yoshiko continually ends up with her face between her friends' boobs, and at some point even seems to have an erotic dream about it. Francesca Lucchini, the young Italian girl, also has a love for breast fondling. Implied lesbian relationships are galore throughout, almost all the Witches at some point seem to pair up into possible couples. Contact with the male personnel is forbidden. By the way - this is not loli. The youngest of the Witches are probably 13, 14 at their youngest. True lolis are elementary school age. In my opinion, at least. :) ANYTHING ELSE? What I didn't like was, when operating magic, the Witches sprouted animal ears and tails. I am not a furry and I thought this was very unnecessary and it kind of rubbed me the wrong way.
I'll start off this review with a disclaimer. I am a huge moetary junkie. I've watched both seasons of Strike Witches twice and read every manga that's been translated to english. I run a blog dedicated solely to moetary, with 99% of the content being Strike Witches related. I've cosplayed Strike Witches, I've roleplayed it briefly, I've written numerous fanfictions, I own more Strike Witches merchandise than for any other anime, and I can name most of the characters on sight regardless of whether they've ever appeared in any manga or anime. I often fantasize about flying around in my underwear and shooting aliens. So when I sit down to review Strike Witches, it's difficult for me to say I'm not biased at all. With that said, I do try to think critically about it, even when I have been desensitized to all its flaws by two years of on-and-off obsession. To start, the Strike Witches anime contains very little plot. The light novels and manga have shown that Strike Witches as a franchise has a ton of room to expand its story and universe, and plenty of potential for genuine conflict. Unfortunately, whoever was in charge of the anime tossed all of that out the window and decided that boobs and butts were far more important than story. The first two episodes have this sort of overplayed throwaway angst device where Yoshika wants to know what became of her father, but beyond that we never really hear of him again until Season 2. Episodes 3-6 are thin character development that you barely even catch. Episode 7 is all fanservice - the infamous panty stealing episode. Then more pathetic, withered character development, and then finally the season finale which actually has a plot, but it's scrunched into two episodes which happen to be incredibly unmemorable. The animation is not bad, but it's very standard and unmemorable. You never look at a scene and wish you could make something that looks like it. The most exciting animation I can remember in the series is the "transformation" sequence in which Yoshika's ears and tail manifest, but the only time the animation is particularly bad is when the witches are seen flying, at which point they use CG that looks like it was made in a knockoff version of MMD programmed by cavemen. However, it doesn't really take away from anything - they tend not to focus on it, and it's rarely noticeable unless you're going out of your way to find things to make fun of. The characters do have depth. However, their depth is masked by layers of fanservice and standard moe archetypes and doesn't really poke its head out to breathe until season two, or for some characters even until the OVAs. I feel that the anime could have been improved by choosing a different set of characters as well. The Strike Witches universe consists of a huge cast of characters (I count 163 on the wiki, but some of those are just a name and nothing else beyond that.) and the unit they chose to feature are about as boring as it comes. I would even go so far as to call them... and it makes me cringe to think that this term remains in my vocabulary... Mary-Sues. They're overpowered and the majority of them have no personality flaws. However, I found it difficult not to become attached to many of them. I loved Sanya immediately, and many of the other girls grew on me as I watched. So, my reccomendation is to look into the Strike Witches franchise, but maybe don't start out with the anime. I think much of the controversy around the series is that the anime is the medium people look at rather than the mangas or light novels, so they see something that consists of 75% panty-shots and lose interest. If you like panty-shots and played-out stereotypes (which I do...) go for it! I think Strike Witches does a great job of portraying something between a magical girl anime and a slice of life ecchi. Not to mention, there's no useless male protagonist that all the girls want for some unknown reason... Most of the witches are implied to be lesbians, in fact! Strike Witches is a lot of fun, just not something get serious about.
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