I was wracking my brain to think of some extremely clever tagline to use to introduce Strike Witches to readers, but the best I could come up with was this: If you like panties, you’re in for a treat! That pretty much encapsulates the majority of what you need to know about the series. The order of the day is fanservice and each of the 30-minute episodes supplies viewers with enough panty shots to last a lifetime.
The premise of Strike Witches is admittedly intriguing. The series is set in an alternative history and, instead of World War II as we know it raging during 1944, the Earth is under assault from a strange, other-worldly threat called the Neuroi. Traditional weaponry proves worthless against this foe, but thankfully the best and brightest minds the Earth has to offer come up with a solution: strap airplane-like mechanical devices onto cute, young girls’ legs and send the ladies off into combat armed with magical spells and massive guns. Oh, and somehow the girls grow animal ears and tails when they zoom off to battle. Like I said: fanservice!
Now, the thing is, if the series were to focus solely on action, it would be totally entertaining. The fight scenes are crisply animated and have some genuinely gripping moments. It is thrilling to see the ladies of the 501st Joint Fighter Wing square off against the menacing Neuroi. The girls dart through the clouds, blasting off round after round from firearms that never seem to run out of ammunition, which is pretty darn awesome. Unfortunately, these moments are few and far between and the series focuses much more heavily on the girls’ day-to-day lives back at their base.
Now, to be fair, the majority of Strike Witches’ fans (most of whom will likely be horny teenage boys) will probably be much more interested in the non-action scenes anyway. Viewers will have the pleasure of seeing the girls putting on and/or taking off clothing, bathing together, and struggling with “more-than-comrades” feelings about each other. Amazingly, there is very little in the way of sleaziness in terms of character presentation and development and I actually got the impression that the show’s creators genuinely wanted to give depth to their characters.
Where sleaziness rears its head is in the visual presentation. Watching Strike Witches made me feel very uncomfortable, especially since, at times, the close-ups of the panties are so detailed you can easily make out what’s underneath. No restraint is shown in depicting characters such as middle school student Yoshika Miyafuji topless. To a thirteen-year-old boy, Strike Witches might be the greatest accomplishment known to humankind. As a married thirty-something father, I found it to be truly embarrassing to watch.
I’m glad my wife didn’t walk into the room while I was watching Strike Witches because I don’t think I could really have provided any reasonable explanation that would justify what was on the television screen. “You see, honey, I’m reviewing this series for a well-respected website and I’m just as horrified as you are that these girls don’t have pants on!” Admittedly, there are some neat visual elements and a surprising amount of sincerity in the character development, but, on the whole, this is not an anime series I would ever recommend for purchase. Unless you need more extreme close-ups of young girls’ panties in your life, you can pass on Strike Witches.
Strike Witches: The Complete 1st Season
directed by Kunihisa Sugishima
300 minutes, Number of Discs: 4, Season set
Company Age Rating: 17+
Related to: Strike Witches by Noboru Yamaguchi, Yoshiyuki Kazumi