"Strike Witches": Strike Three, You're OUT!
In the 1940’s, the world was in turmoil. Against a threat from beyond our shores, we sent out the best and brightest. They were skilled. They were young. They wore panties.
What, you don’t remember how, in 1939, a second Great War broke out between humanity and aliens? You don’t remember how teenage witches, powered by jet leggings/Striker Units, flew into battle against the Neuroi, those enemies from beyond the planet? How an elite team, the Strike Witches, brought together from the United States of Liberion, the Fuso Empire, Imperial Karlsland, Gallia, the Commonwealth of Britannia, Ostmark, Orussia Empire, Hispania, and more defended the planet? You need to brush up on your history.
Strike Witches follows a young girl as she goes on a quest to find out if her father is still alive. She is aided by the military, who can use her abilities, and on her journey she ends up helping them in the fight she swore she wouldn’t join.
Some parts of the series work really well. It’s an interesting concept to modernize a witch’s broom into jet leggings. The general conceit of a girl leaving home to find her missing father has potential, as does its alternate-history take on World War II.
All these concepts fall by the wayside when you get to the actual execution of the show, which quickly turns out to have little on its mind but fanservice. It’s slightly creepy, what with episodes like the one dedicated to the story of how one of the witches loses her underwear and steals another’s. If the characters were in their 20s, sure, it’d be odd, but you wouldn’t feel like a dirty old man watching it. But with the entirety of the cast being in their early-to-mid teens, it feels slightly disturbing, especially when the show and the animation tend to focus on the underwear when it comes to framing and action scenes.
If anything, the most scathing criticism is that, at the end of the day, all the characters are generic types, and that a trip to Wikipedia is needed to remember anybody’s name or affiliation. At best, only a few of the episodes plots are memorable, and even then it’s more for their novelty (a grand inquisition regarding underwear) than for their character development (being crippled kinda kills your pilot skills). At least some characters (like the strong-willed one being a young, one-eyed adult) are less generic than others (like the “American” being a brash, well-endowed, and slightly less hateful Asuka Langley Sohryu).
There’s a commentary on the second disc, covering the last episode. Aside from that that, there are no extras. Reportedly, the retail release comes with a patch, but my review copy didn’t come with packaging, so I can’t comment on any physical extras. Still, while one commentary is nice, something more on the disc would have been welcome.
Additionally, research shows that calling it “The Complete Series” is slightly misleading. The set does not feature the OVA preview episode, nor does it feature the upcoming second season. While this doesn’t affect what’s there, it may cause some people to think this is all of Strike Witches there is.
This series is a poor witches’ brew. It is far more clichéd than a story about witches fighting World War II against aliens should be. Its pitch should garner it some attention, but its execution suffers from too much perversion, and its lazy and predictable characters make it instantly forgettable. This unit deserves to be grounded.