Type: TV Series
Episode Count: 12
Genre: Historical / Sci-Fi / Fantasy
Version reviewed: Japanese Subtitled
Date of Review: 02 Mar 2013
revised 20 Mar 2013
A very different take on World War II.
The year is 1944. Middle-school student Yoshika Miyafuji comes from a line of magic users (known as witches) who use their skill to heal the sick and wounded. Her life’s goal is to take over her family’s clinic once she graduates. There is one thing keeping her from realizing this goal: the war with the Neuroi aliens who have come to Earth. Major Mio Sakamoto of the 501st Joint Fighter Wing has come to Fuso (Japan) scouting Yoshika for her potential as a medic. Yoshika initially refuses because she does not like war, partly because she was told a few years ago that her father was killed in the war. Mio then reveals a connection to Yoshika’s father which causes Yoshika to reconsider: Yoshika’s father invented the device which has kept humankind alive during the war: a machine called a Striker, which, when attached to the legs, allows a human to fly and fight the aliens in close combat. Yoshika finally decides to go with Mio to Britannia (England) to find out how her father has helped to keep the world safe.
Let’s get the obvious out of the way first. Strike Witches is a series brimming with fanservice. In this alternate history, girls don’t wear pants (or dresses or skirts… you get the idea). In the case of the girls who are Strike Witches, the argument could be made that since their battle gear requires free leg movement and they must be ready for combat at any moment, that’s why. Whatever the reason, get used to the idea of none of the girls in this series wearing pants; that’s the way it is. If a bunch of girls running around without any pants on wasn’t enough fanservice for you, whenever the girls use their magical powers, they sprout animal ears and a tail. I don’t know why; they just do. Of course, all of the usual fanservice shenanigans that one would expect are here as well in plentiful supply and shouldn’t need explanation. If fanservice is what you seek, Strike Witches has you covered.
Perhaps unexpectedly, there is even something for those interested in military aviation in Strike Witches: the girls’ Striker gear is made to resemble different fighter planes of the World War II era, and the characters are based on actual World War II pilots.
So, is there anything left to Strike Witches after you take away the ubiquitous fanservice? Actually, yes. At its core, Strike Witches is the story of a bunch of girls from different backgrounds and how they get along (or don’t). There is also the overall story of the 501st Joint Fighter Wing battling against the Neurois to save the world, along with Yoshika’s quest for acceptance in the group. Those looking for story over fanservice will be rewarded by sticking with the series past its halfway point. It becomes interesting enough that you almost forget that none of the girls are wearing pants. Almost. The end of the series also hints at a sequel, which of course it did receive.
Strike Witches is another case where dialogue and mannerisms are anachronistic to the historical setting. The only clue that the series doesn’t take place in the present day – or the future, for that matter – is that the year it takes place in is specifically stated. This is definitely an Alternate History. Strike Witches also falls into the Large Cast, Small Episode Count category; with so many characters, many of them get glossed over to give the leads the attention they need. It’s not a big deal in this case, though a few characters exist only as archetypes because of it.
I took a chance on Strike Witches as it lies outside my usual comfort zone; more to the point, it has much more fanservice than I would typically go for. In the end, I did enjoy the series. Strike Witches isn’t for those looking for something serious. It’s silly but fun with just enough story to keep it from being complete fluff. And yes, yes… it’s a show filled with girls who don’t wear any pants.