I aim to make this series something in between a first impression and a more in-depth review. If you like what you read or don’t agree with me, feel free to try any of the shows for yourself. In the end, the decision to watch or not is up to you. Decide for yourself what you do and don’t like, all I can do is alert you to impending awesomeness, awfulness, or just give you a laugh or two as the case may be. For the record I’ll be trying to stay as far away from “WTF Japan?!” type dismissals as much as possible.
Every once in a while when I’m browsing anime, I try watching one I don’t think I’ll like or one that isn’t something I’d normally watch. I do this on the off chance that I’m wrong. It’s a habit I’m glad I got into because sometimes I’m pleasantly surprised – such as when I tried Sword Art Online or the hodge podge of existentialism, lovecraftian horror, and Detective Conan that is Neuro. This was not one of those times.
Strike Witches starts out with a bit of the ol’ exposition to help build the world that the audience will be visiting for the next 24 minutes. In 1939 the world is invaded by an extra dimensional alien force known (some how) as the Neuroi. We know they’re bad because they start blowing crap up the minute they show their computer generated faces without any warning or indeed any kind of communication at all. This leads the world’s powers to unite to face the alien threat. Putting Japan on the side of good in World War 2. Nice try guys. Unfortunately the alien’s advanced technology and dimension hopping capability has earth’s forces just slightly out matched. Fortunately we have a secret weapon! Twelve year old girls in panties! No, seriously.
It’s explained that a piece of technology called “Strike Units” was invented to help tackle the alien invasion force. These torpedo shaped objects attach to human legs like boots, and sprout propellers as well as giving the girl who wears them furry ears and tail, bestowing the ability to fly and boosting their magic ability enough to let them wield heavy weapons. Anti Aircraft guns and rocket launchers that were normally mounted on vehicles and the like. No, seriously. If you are starting to get the feeling I’ll be using that phrase a lot then you win the prize, you smug ass! The girls who use the strike units are called witches instead of something that makes sense, like pilots, because why not? Witches using strike units. Strike witches, there you go.
We are introduced to the main character, Yoshika Miyafuji, having just climbed a tree to rescue a stuck cat. It was during this scene that I sensed one of the main patterns of the series forming. As Yoshika clings to a tree branch and tries to coax the cat down the camera isn’t pointed at her face as you might expect. It’s not even pointed at the cat. Its focus is squarely and steadfastly on her butt. Yes, for the show, looking at human faces during conversations is ever so boring, so it decides to hang around the backdoor in pretty much any scene that would be better served by a shot of a character’s face.
The show tries to explain its weird obsession with twelve year old asses thus. Girls have the most magical potential because reasons. The girls of the fighter wings have to be ready to scramble at a moments notice and the strike units need skin contact (because of course they do) to work properly. So the standard strike witch attire is a military uniform top representative of the girl’s country of origin paired with matching panties. No, seriously.
As the show progresses we learn through more ass conversation that Yoshika is opposed to conflict. Not just spats between friends but all conflict up to and including war. Such as the current one involving aliens. You know, the aliens that just popped in and started wrecking our shit without any word or warning first. I could almost understand the show’s need to establish the main characters pacifism if the aliens had tried to communicate and there was some sort of misunderstanding. It would have set the character up to learn that sometimes fighting is necessary to defend the people you care about. It would also have helped her bond with her squad mates as a surrogate family to fight for. Oh she’s an orphan too, guys. Did I forget to mention that? Cause having a healthy, grounded family life when showing your ass to middle aged military men is sooooo overrated.
Normally I can force myself to watch at least three episodes of anything in the vain hope that it turns itself around or suddenly becomes interesting at the very least. As you may have guessed, this wasn’t one of those times. The poor writing and baffling character development are one thing, with a little self awareness they can make something so bad it’s good. However the show’s bizarre and unironic obsession with prepubescent posterior and vintage heavy ordnance just threw me for a loop I couldn’t recover from.
All in all I can’t give a recommendation to Strike Witches. I’m not sure what audience it was meant for. Whoever those people are, I sure as hell don’t want to meet them.