Strike Witches 2
Studio: AIC Spirits
Format: Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack
Release Date: October 2, 2012
Price: $69.98 – Available Here
Guns? Check. Alien invasion? Check. Aerial combat? Check. Panties? Check. Put all of that together and you can only get one thing… the Strike Witches are back. In 2010 FUNimation brought quite an interesting show over to North America in the form of Strike Witches… a series based around girls flying through the air with no pants on destroying aliens.
Unsurprisingly, this turned out to be quite popular here but even more so over in Japan. As such Strike Witches 2 was created and now FUNimation has brought this second season over to North America as well. Does the war on pants continue unabated?
In an alternative world where aliens called Neuroi have invaded the world and wrought destruction upon every city they come across. With standard military weapons incapable of inflicting any major harm to the Neuroi, only one type of fighter can destroy these creatures and potentially save the world… a witch. These witches are young women capable of using magic and controlling a “Striker Unit” and they may be the only thing preventing the Neuroi from destroying everything they hold dear.
Six months have passed since the 501st Joint Fighter Wing, also called the Strike Witches, were able to liberate Brittania from the Neuroi occupation by destroying the Neuroi Hive and most of the members of the 501st have returned to their own countries, with our main character Yoshika Miyafuji returning to civilian life. However a new and even greater Neuroi Hive has appeared in the skies above Venesia and with the local Striker force nearly obliterated by the new Neuroi, the 501st begin to assemble once more, with Miyafuji and the rest of the group meeting once again to take down the Neuroi together.
Ultimately, Strike Witches 2’s plot doesn’t play too heavily into the series itself besides set up a structure for the series to follow. While the Neuroi are a very real threat, their role in Strike Witches 2 seems to be more of an obstacle to overcome than anything else as the girls never truly feel like they are in any terrible danger despite how fast paced some of the battles can become. It also doesn’t help that any development the Neuroi previously received in season one is completely forgotten thanks to the new hive.
Instead of featuring an overarching plot with plenty of story developments and twists, we are given substantial character development instead. Nearly every episode in season 2 is devoted to one character or a pair of characters in the Strike Witches and while Miyafuji may be seen as the main character, each girl is given her time in the spotlight. This is handled well enough through the use of plenty of comedy and overcoming of limitations usually resulting in the girl’s new ability taking down the Neuroi threat that episode.
This wouldn’t work on your standard show, but thankfully Strike Witches 2 features a rather colorful and diverse cast of characters that will quickly have viewers picking favorites. Obviously those who watched the first season will be able to enjoy these character developments further as they are already familiar with the girls and know most of their personality quirks such as why Hartmann is always asleep or Lucchini’s attachment to Shirley.
Despite this however, newcomers should quickly discern the girl’s relationships with one another and thanks to the fact that nearly each one is highlighted in some way, no one feels left out despite the large cast. As such, the girls of the 501st grow on the viewer even more than they did during the first season through their interactions and familiarity with one another.
That being said, Strike Witches 2 is best seen as more of a lighthearted slice-of-life anime than anything else thanks to the fact that while viewers will be treated to plenty of action, most of the show is spent focusing on the girls and their daily lives with one another, with very little drama interlaced with the comedic actions of these pantsless witches.
Let’s start with talking about the various set pieces and the non-girl segments of Strike Witches 2 first. As with before, the Neuroi are handled with CGI so they tend to look a little out of place in the world, but they seem to have seen an improvement since the first season, while the backgrounds and set pieces are still excellently handled. The battles themselves are similarly impressive with the studio making sure the various explosions and gunfire effects are handled well. It is especially worth noting that the war ships and various weaponry used by the Witches and the military seem to contain a rather extensive amount of detail.
As for the girls themselves, each girl is vastly different from one another both in appearance as well as proportions. Their faces are also expressive, though not quite as detailed as one would like. That being said, they are certainly cute in appearance and it is clear that the studio was aiming for this fact with their character designs, though they do seem to be drawn to a younger age than a few viewers will be comfortable with.
Now, on to the fan service aspect of Strike Witches 2. Now although their panties are described as “uniform” they are still panties in most cases. While the focus on this aspect of the show is slightly less than before, it is still quite an obvious factor, especially when most fighting scenes often feature camera angles behind the girls as they perform maneuvers, giving the viewer a clear shot at their backside.
It is also worth noting that Strike Witches 2 is uncensored so that means that there will be plenty of breasts and butts shown off during any bathing scene, which there happens to be quite a few of. As mentioned before, the girls all feature different proportions with each girl’s breasts matching their body size. Ultimately, this doesn’t really do anything to detract from the experience and those watching the series should know what to expect and will find that there is plenty of fan service available for those who are looking for it.
Like one would expect with a release from FUNimation, both the original Japanese dub and the English dub are provided with the release of Strike Witches 2 and the company was able to retain the same voice actors that handled characters from season one so there is no inconsistency in performances. As such, the English cast seems to have done a decent job with voicing each character, with the girl’s voiced by some of the more veteran female voice works in the field such as Jamie Marchi (Shirley), Trina Nishimura (Lucchini) and Cherami Leigh (Miyafuji).
As far as background music goes, Strike Witches 2’s soundtrack is relatively tame as most of the background tracks are hardly noticeable. On the other hand, the series’ sound effects are handled well with the sounds of gunfire, explosions and Striker Units all creating the feel of a dogfight in the sky.
The series features an opening song called “Strike Witches 2 ~Egao no Mahou~ by Yoko Ishida which unfortunately leaves very little impression on the viewer, while the ending “Over Sky” is sung by a different set of characters each episode, though it is still rather forgetful. The singing is performed by the Japanese voice actresses and usually the song is performed by the character or characters highlighted that episode.
As far as bonus features go, Strike Witches 2 comes with your standard collection of bonuses in the form of trailers for other FUNimation releases, a clean opening song, rather impressively, a collection of each ending performance by the cast with the names of the characters performing said song and commentaries for episode 5 and 9.
Episode 5’s commentary is hosted by Scott Sager and he is joined by Jamie Marchi the voice of Charlotte “Shirley” Yeager, Trina Nishimura voice of Francesca Lucchini. These two often work together and they discuss how they usually play opposites of one another and how it is nice to be friendly this time around. They also discuss how they deal with being typecast for specific characters. The commentary is nice and comedic as the two girls crack each other up throughout the commentary.
Episode 9’s commentary follows the episode a lot more than episode 5 and is still hosted by Scott Sager, though this time around he is joined by Scott Sager hosts Anastasia Munoz the voice of Commander Minna, Jad Saxton the voice of Perrine Clostermann. Interestingly it is both Jad and Anastasia’s first time on commentary and they do mention a few spoilers about later episodes so this commentary would be best left for viewing after finishing the season.
Strike Witches 2 continues to do what it does best this season, give viewers a fun and enjoyable show with very little drama and plenty of comedy. While it’s paper-thin plot leaves the series without any real substance, the cast of characters helps make up for this. There also happens to be so many bare breasts and countless panty shots that Strike Witches 2 succeeds on providing a fan-service laden show with impressive action sequences of girls flying around in their underwear that many will find a guilty pleasure.