Strike Witches 2

Strike Witches 2Type: TV Series
Episode Count: 12
Genre: Historical / Sci-Fi / Fantasy
Vintage: 2010

Version reviewed: Japanese Subtitled
Date of Review: 22 Mar 2013

Grade: B+

The 501st Fighter Wing is back and even better than before.

Plot Summary
1945. After liberating Gallia (France) from the Neurois threat, thereby saving Europe and the world, Yoshika Miyafuji has returned home to Fuso (Japan) and has graduated middle school. Just as she is getting settled back home, an unfamiliar Strike Witch crash lands in her back yard looking to deliver a letter to Yoshika from her father, which shouldn’t be possible as he has passed away. Yoshika seeks out Major Mio Sakamoto at the nearby air base to see what she may know. As this mystery is being investigated, a new crisis erupts: a wave of more powerful Neurois have invaded Venezia and Romagna (Northern and Southern Italy). The local Strike Witches squadron is overwhelmed by this invasion and troops from Fuso are called in as reinforcements. This time, Yoshika volunteers to return to battle to protect as many people as she can.

The Review
A change in production companies seems to have resulted in a sequel which is more balanced than the original. Strike Witches was produced by Gonzo; Strike Witches 2 is an AIC affair. For me, this is a bit of a welcome change, as AIC was my first favorite studio, responsible for such titles as Tenchi Muyo! and Ah! My Goddess.

Strike Witches 2 picks things up where they left off at the end of the first series. One big difference between the two is this sequel is much more story oriented. The fanservice is still here and in plentiful supply, but this time around the story is much stronger. It’s still meant to be a fun series more than anything else, but whether because of becoming accustomed to it or better writing, the fanservice doesn’t seem quite as blatant this time around.

Other than the strengthened focus on story, there isn’t too much else to be said about Strike Witches 2 which isn’t already covered by its predecessor. Those put off by the fanservice in the first installment may find reprieve here in the second, though if you jump right in at this point, you will miss out on some of the character introductions. Again, the ramped-up fanservice is still here, but the story isn’t sacrificed as much for it as it seemed to be in the first series. There is an episode which, in any other series, would have been the fanservice throwaway; Strike Witches 2 found a way to tie even that into the overall story. (Putting aside for a moment that “Strike Witches fanservice episode” is a redundancy if you really think about it…)

It’s also worth noting that some of the characters who were glossed over in the first series finally get an episode here in the second. With a main cast of eleven, characterization isn’t a strong point in Strike Witches. Given a total of twenty-four episodes over two series, the effort is made to expand each of the characters beyond their archetype; the result is more successful for some characters than it is for others.

Strike Witches 2 is mostly plot-driven and builds to a satisfying conclusion. Like its predecessor, the door is left open for another sequel. Overall, for me Strike Witches 2 is a case of a sequel surpassing the original. Things that many fans want from the series are still here (primarily fanservice, in this case), but the story is handled noticeably better this time around. As a result, I actively enjoyed Strike Witches 2 much more than the original. One thing I can say after watching both seasons of Strike Witches is that the amount of fanservice I can handle in a series has increased a bit. Whether that’s a good thing or not, I can’t say for sure.

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