So I recently sat down and marathonned my way through both seasons of Strike Witches. I had heard of the show many years prior and even preordered a few figures based on some of the characters, but had not given it a serious run. Like many others, the loli-fanservicy aspects of the show, which were blatantly advertised everywhere during its run, turned me off and I put the show on the backburner until now.

Recently I’ve had an itching for historical works and since this falls into an alternative WWII scenario, I guess it fits. I’d rather not write a long intro to this whole series and its quirk so I’ll just copy a bit of Wikipedia which ilustrates the setting pretty well,

“Set in an alternate Earth in the mid twentieth century, Strike Witches tells the story of a fight to protect that world using a combination of magic and technology in a fictional recreation of events occurring in World War II with the national armies joining forces to confront an overwhelming alien threat together instead of fighting among themselves.

The titular Strike Witches are young women with high magical potential who are recruited into military organizations around the world to fight against the enigmatic Neuroi, which began an invasion of unprecedented scale on human territory in the year 1939. This puzzling enemy force has appeared frequently and without warning in many areas across the world throughout history. The weapons of the Neuroi mostly take on forms similar to aircraft, but their most troubling tactic is the spreading of a corrosive miasma. Not only do normal humans have no defense against this miasma, but the remnants of the land affected by it are processed by the Neuroi into new weapons, crumbling huge sections of former nations into the sea. As the miasma seems to be unable to spread across large bodies of water, humanity has designated such areas as their main lines of defense.

In order to bring out their potential for use in battle, each Witch equips a unique machine onto their legs: the Striker Unit. With the Striker Unit equipped, they gain the ability to fly and their tapped magical potential provides the strength to utilize weapons far too heavy and powerful for a normal person. A defensive field is also created that can protect the Witches from the Neuroi’s miasma, as well as other physical weaponry, making them humanity’s trump card in the war.”

There’s a few issues I had with the show and most of them involved Miyafuji, the “main” heroine of the story. I realize that she was one of the youngest characters in the series, but her whiny attitude and the fact that she
ignored military emotions way to often to follow her emotions really took away from the suspension of dis-belief I had goin for the show.

I can understand that young girls are needed because they apparently have magically abilities that wane after they hit 20+. I can take the whole no pants thing cause they need to have skin contact with their machines to properly utilize them. I can even take the subtle Yuri undertones between some of the team members (admittedly, knowing the commander had a male lover prior to the series start really added to the “realism” of the show for me). But the blatant ignoring of military regulations on multiple occassions to do what she felt was right really made me hate her character.

Thankfully, the rest of the cast is rather enjoyable and have enough screen time for it not to be a major issue. My favorite character in particular is Gertrude Barkhorn, she’s the typical excellent soldier archetype and I really enjoyed scenes with her in it, as she added a bit of proper military regulation to the team. Her main partner, lazy ace Erica Hartman, was also quite enjoyable to watch and she makes my second favorite character. If I had to label it, Hartman is the guy’s girl, totally tomboy and lazyish, but still skilled at what she does.

Looking back, it’s kinda ironic that my two favorite girls are both female version of their Luftwaffe counterparts and Minna, the commander and 3rd German girl, is definitely in my top 5 of the characters. Though sadley she loses out to Charlotte E. Yaeger, the American and thrill seeker, and Eila Ilmatar Juutilainen, the only Finnish character outside
of Hetalia I can recall in an anime, respectively.Another thing I was pleasantly surprised by was the use of actual aerial tactics within the series. And the weapons/airplane technology was surprisingly close to what it was in the actual era. (Go go Zero Fighters and Mustangs) The battles take place around the same time too, with the first season concentrating on the Battle of Britian (in this case Britannia) and the second season focussing on the Adriatic Campaign.

Overall the plot and character interactions, especially if you are into WWII history, make the show.  The characters stay true to the style of the ace they portray, the combat has enough realism to pull you in (though the last parts of each season took QUITE a bit of suspension of disbelief), and the amount of history they cram in, albeit alternative history, is quite amazing. If you can get past the fanservice (which admittedly gets toned down quite a bit in season 2) and the annoying “lead” then I wholeheartedly recommend the show to you.

Here’s to a third season and the success of the movie. I’m lookin forward to an animated version of the North African Campaign and more appearances of the “Star of Africa.” For now, Strike Witches Season 1 and 2 earn a well deserved spot in my anime favorites list.