The origins of the Strike Witches franchise of manga, anime, video games and light novels stems back to the release of a ten manga series back in 2005. This Silver Link spinoff came in 2016 but added little more to the central canon other than move the action to a different Joint Fighter Wing operating out of (St) Petersburg in (O)Russia in 1944. It joins such tales as “Girls und Panzer” and “Azur Lane” in alternative universes where under-dressed teenage girls get to engage in combat using World War Two military equipment. As such it is one of those delightful cross-overs somewhat in the mould of Babymetal in inserting the kawaii anime waifus into a usually rough-tough, male-dominated world. You like heavy metal? You like guns? You like World War Two history? You can tell a Churchill tank from a Panzer IV? You know the difference between a Spitfire and a Yak-3? Let’s face it, whatever you’re into, it just gets better when you insert cute schoolgirls into it. It is heartening in a world where actual teenage girls struggle to get out of bed in the morning and get into an emotional mess about the members of BTS.
The peculiar hallmarks of the Strike Witches franchise are all here: the witches fly in a squadron (probably inappropriate to call it a “wing” really) made up of pilots pulled from the main powers: Russia, USA, Japan, Britain and Germany. They (and all other female roles) seem to yet have discovered the joys of wearing trousers. That said, the Brave Witches is probably more family-friendly than Strike Witches (and even that was rarely ever risqué). The “ecchi” tag is hardly deserved at all. Several characters from Strike Witches get cameos here so keep an eye out for them. The tech used is often based upon real-world equipment from the era and even the faceless alien menace sometime display shapes eerily familiar in representing contemporary technology. However Brave Witches doesn’t push the boat out or explore any new ideas at all. It is a show that knows its audience and sees no reason why it should challenge that fan-base with anything too complicated. In fact, it sometimes goes too far in taking itself too seriously. The characters are all hysterically funny yet predictably so. It would be nice for the show to explore a more adult plotline or for the girls to experience a problem slightly more serious than being a bit shy… Yet, there is simply no point comparing stuff like this to anything else outside of its sub-genre. It is simply a lot of fun. Just don’t think too hard about it. After a good seventeen years it is heartening that this show still has legs with “Luminous Witches” slated for release in 2022. We’ll be watching. Can’t wait.