Strike Witches

Rating: 3

I'm quite a bit surprised about my own reaction to this anime: I watched it all in just two evenings. I just couldn't stop: I had to see it through to the end.

Let me start by explaining what are the aspects of this series that predisposed me to not liking it.

First of all, it's got half-naked lolis. Even if the characters say they are 13 or 20, they all look terribly young. Big breasts alone don't make a loli look "older", they just make her look misshapen.

Secondly, it's clearly a "fighting story". I think I've already written that I don't believe a series of fights or battles constitutes a storyline; consequently, a series that seem to revolve around battles has to be particularly good to compensate.

So, with this in mind, I started watching Strike Witches.

The premise is something we've already seen many times: an alien menace suddenly appears, and it can only be opposed by absurdly young "soldiers". In this particular case, the aliens are black flying objects with beam weapons, and the "soldiers" are young magical girls riding things described as (I kid you not) "a new breed of magic brooms".

The year is 1939, in a world quite similar to our own, the main differences being the existence of magical girls, and all countries being named differently (Britannia, Gallia, Karlsland, Fuso…). At one point a character notices, talking about some military higher-up, that if they did not have the aliens to fight, they'd all be fighting each other, and there would be a world war. Ahem.

The main character is a Japanese—ehrm—Fusoan girl, daughter of the inventor of the "Striker Units" (the above-mentioned brooms), that gets enlisted / shanghaied into joining the Witches while looking for clues about her supposedly deceased father, from whom she's just received a letter.

She then proceeds to be the best member of the squadron, overcome most of the hostility and jealousy, prevent a military coup, make the first step toward peace with the enemy, and retire to her family's magical healing hospital, only to receive another letter from her father. Cue the second series, first released in 2010.

Yes, I have just given you the entire plot of the 12 episodes. I might add that nearly every girl is in love with another girl, there's at least one triangle (see "jealousy", above), several bathing scenes (with and without suits), no scene is free of fan service, and the girls sprout animal ears and tails when they use magic.

Oh, and every girl is dressed normally on top, but has no skirt or trousers. The most covered girl has pantyhose. I'm not just talking about the Witches, who could be excused such a weird "uniform", since they have to don the Strikers like socks: every young woman lacks lower-body garments.

So why oh why did I not just eject the disc in the middle of the second episode, watch the last one just for completeness' sake, and call it a day? Because it's a well-balanced mix of sure-fire ingredients, and I'm apparently a sucker right inside the intended market.

Make no mistakes: this series is designed from the ground up to sell, every detail is chosen from tried-and-true sources to appeal to a certain demographic. The animation, from Gonzo (Origin, Last Exile, VanDread) is gorgeous. The alternate-history almost-serious plot gives a plausible excuse ("I watch it for the plot, honest!"). The characters behave innocently, not noticing that they're mostly eye-candy. Even the fights are kept (mostly) short enough.

Even so, I must say that Strike Witches is a solidly crafted work. Not art, not by a long stretch, but definitely, if a bit guiltily, enjoyable.

DatesCreated: 2012-09-23 19:40:12 Last modification: 2023-02-10 12:45:24