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Strike Witches Review

July 27, 2011 By: Nopy Category: Anime

An anime from the summer 2008 season, Strike Witches was one of the anime that I had dropped after the first episode, disregarding it as pure fanservice with no redeeming qualities. After all, the main selling point was that none of the girls wear pants. Recently (several months ago), I was persuaded into giving it a second chance. Considering how popular it was and the fact that it was the only thing keeping Gonzo afloat, I figured that it couldn’t hurt.

After watching all 12 episodes, I have to say my feelings are mixed, sort of like when I was persuaded into watching Kodomo no Jikan. Let’s start with the plot. In a parallel WWII-like world, aliens called Neuroi have invaded and occupied Europe except for Britain. Young girls called witches, with magical powers, are brought in from around the continent to form the 501st Joint Fighter Wing in order to fight the Neuroi. Whenever these witches use their powers, they gain animal ears and a tail. For some reason, they are necessary in order to use a striker unit, which is basically just a pair of propellers strapped onto their legs. A more detailed summary can be found at MAL.

The setting allows for a great war story, but Strike Witches was far from being serious at times. Although they do cover some struggles like adjusting to a new environment and the loss of family and friends, the fanservice comedy simply took away from that serious drama feeling. As an example, it’s hard to relate to how Yoshika is feeling about joining the military and fighting the Neuroi when you get an entire episode dedicated to the girls stealing each other’s panties.

The only part of the series that I thought actually conveyed some emotion was the sixth episode when they covered Sanya’s backstory. She is by far the most mysterious of the girls due to her shy personality and appearing only at night and during meetings. It was heartbreaking to learn that she might never hear from her family again, despite sending out radio signals every night. The whole episode was just beautiful.

Unfortunately, the ending was nowhere near as impressive. The “real” enemy is revealed seemingly out of nowhere and getting rid of them was no harder than simply gathering the squadron members and disobeying orders. It was all very anti-climactic.

While the plot left more to be desired, at least the action scenes were good (when Yoshika wasn’t wasting her time trying to figure out how to do something or talk to people). I doubt that girls with propellers strapped to their legs would have the same aerodynamics as an aircraft, but it was nice to see them use the same tactics and strategies used by real WWII fighter pilots.

Of course, good action scenes need good animation and music to back them up. Considering Gonzo’s lack of quality in other titles, I was rather impressed with how well Strike Witches looked. I didn’t notice any lazily drawn faces or deformed body parts; it all flowed very well together.

So in the end, would I recommend Strike Witches? That depends. I did not find it to be as deep or engaging as others have made it out to be (with the exception of episode 6), but it would be a good series for someone who likes cute anime girls and WWII-styled dog fights. As for me, I don’t think I will be continuing with the second season.

For anyone wondering, my favourites were: Sanya, Lynette, and Erica.

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12 Comments to “Strike Witches Review”

  1. This is one of those animes where the characters are more important than the story. Also it’s sort of “it’s the journey, not the destination” in regards to the ending…

    I’ve seen bits and pieces of this but I actually ordered this today right before you posted this! I can’t wait to finally watch it all! ^^

    And wow, this is from 2008? moé really isn’t losing any steam at all. it keeps on chugging since we’re getting a Strike Witches movie soon! ^-^

  2. When I first heard about Strike Witches I wasn’t convinced it was worth watching. Too many “fetishes” all rolled into one was my reasoning. When I finally decided to watch it after buying the DVDs on a whim I enjoyed it a lot more than I was expected. I would have to agree that the overarching plot of Strike Witches was incredibly weak but that didn’t stop me enjoying it.

    What I probably enjoyed most was the interaction between the different characters. Yoshika was extremely annoying, but she acted as a catalyst for interaction between the other girls.

    Sanya and Eila were the most interesting characters I thought. Sanya for her mystery and quiet personality; and Eila for her unpredictable and brash mannerisms. They made a great pair.

    Plus I did enjoy the fanservice. It made some of the more dry/filler episodes a little more interesting.

    The Second Season was equally as enjoyable I felt. More interaction between the girls that aren’t Yoshika and more Sanya/Eila. I guess you’ll know if you like Strike Witches as a series enough to watch season 2, it’s not going to be much different from the first.

  3. I liked Strike Witches. Much like BioToxic, I watched mainly for the character interactions. At first they all seem pretty cold, but as Yoshika pokes them around you get to know more about them and get a sense of the bond between the 501 witches.

    The fanservice struck me at first because it’s sometimes literally shoved in your face. After a while I just stopped questioning it and enjoyed it.

    I must praise you for actually giving it a second chance. A lot of people just pass on with a series without actually giving it a chance.

    As for the second season, I would say it’s more of the same, not that I find that a bad thing. Maybe it has a little more action.

  4. @Junichi:
    I know, it’s hard to believe how old this series is already. I might give the movie a go if the reviews for it are good.

    It does have a lot of fetishes, mecha girls, animal ears, panties…

    The fanservice wasn’t exactly what I was looking for, which is probably why I didn’t enjoy it as much. I also wasn’t a big fan of most of the character designs.

    I did hear that the second season was basically the same as the first, which is why I won’t be watching it, except for maybe episode 6.

    I’ve given a lot of series a second chance, some even got a third chance, but most of the time my initial impressions aren’t too far off. Strike Witches was a bit better than I was expecting, just not quite the type of series I enjoy.

  5. So you finally finished it? Ah, you have the same favorites as my friend in the exact same order!

    Well, I think SW is the type of anime that you have to read in between the lines. All the pilots, tactics, and vehicles are based on real WWII figures. Of course, having a liking for moe kemonomimi also helps.

    SW has sharp graphics and a beautiful soundtrack–I was really impressed with the production. I noticed a lot of these finer details the 2nd time I watched it. But, I guess it’s not for everyone.

  6. At first the level of underage girl fanservice was quite over the top especially in the first episode. “god dammit I don’t want to see Yoshica’s crotch!” I said to myself XD

    Nevertheless I followed this show while it was airing.
    What I mainly liked in Strike Witches was the setting of the 1940’s, with the old buildings and the whole flair. I also loved the engine sounds of this kind of warplanes and the fights. This anime had good action and very nice character interactions.

    My favorite characters were Lynette, Lucchini and Charlotte ^^

    Overall Season 2 had more comedy and even better character driven episodes. Unfortunately the end was nearly the same as in the first season, which would be main critique point about the show.

  7. @MkMiku:
    Yep, it took me a lot longer than I expected, but I managed to make some time for it. Your friend must be exactly like me!

    It was cool how everything was based off of WWII, including the pilots, but I was looking for a better story to go along with it.

    The fictional WWII setting was refreshing in a way, but it lost its appeal after a while. When they introduced that new fighter, it felt more like sci-fi rather than fictional history.

  8. Gonzo you say? None of the series they directed rubs me the right away, so not sure if this will, but worth giving it a shot. Sadly, looking for something more soothing at the moment, so maybe later for this one.

  9. @tsurugiarashix:
    Some of their series have been less than mediocre, but at least they gave it a shot with Strike Witches. It wasn’t quite the big hit I think they were hoping for, but it gained quite a few fans.

  10. Yay you watched it! Agreed totally that Sanya’s story is the best highlight of the entire series. The climax in episode 6 was really touching, and I really really loved it.

    However, overall, the first season is indeed not especially impressive. I think most people who praise the series do so because of season 2, which was more colorful, more action-packed, and just a better story overall.

    I hope you didn’t get put off by the lukewarm first season so much that you won’t watch the next.

  11. Sanya’s episode was my favorite too, she’s my favorite character thanks to that one. I actually liked the first season quite a bit, but it did take me a while to get into it. I at first, dismissed it for nothing more than a fanservice anime just becuse that’s all anyone who was talking about it focused on, and it took me a while to warm up to the show. Now I’ve seen it a few times, own the DVDs and look forward to owning season 2 as well. Even though I love both seasons, they do leave a bit more to be desired.

  12. @Yi:
    You’re just tempting me to keep watching aren’t you? :P

    Everyone seems to be saying the second season is the same or better, so now I’m considering giving that a go too. If nothing, at least I hear there’s another episode 6.

    I liked Sanya’s character design before her episode, but when I saw that, that put her as my favourite witch.


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