Ah… Strike Witches. The cover art itself would usually be enough to put off some of the more casual anime viewer. Strike Witches is an anime that some people would usually look at and dismiss simply because of the fact that the anime focuses entirely on a female cast that mostly wear no pants. And those that do wear any form of pants are simply stockings. If you’ve caught wind of any rumors about Strike Witches they will most likely be true. At its core you will see loli type characters in military format that fly around with no pants on. However there is much more than meets the eye in an anime like Strike Witches. What these are exactly you’ll have to keep reading to find out.
Strike Witches takes place in an alternative styled Earth around the middle of the twentieth century. This is an Earth where magic exists and young women who possess this magical talent are recruited into a special military unit known as the Strike Witches. The reason that the Strike Witches have been assembled is because of alien life forms known as the Neuroi have invaded the Earth and normal weapons are ineffective against their ships.
On the other hand, the 501st Joint Fighter Wing, better known as the Strike Witches, equipped with specialty Striker Units on each of their legs are able to damage and destroy the Neuroi ships. These Striker Units have propellers on each leg which allows the wearer a limited amount of time to fly around and in most cases, fight against the Neuroi.
The main focus of Strike witches revolves around Yoshika Miyafuji. Yoshika is a new recruit to the Strike Witches and joins the force primarily to find information and search for her father who she previously thought was dead. Instead he is the man who invented the Striker Unit, providing her all the motivation she needs to join the Joint Fighter Wing.
Now with an anime like Strike Witches, which features plenty of fan service moments you would think that the balance between actual plot driven episodes and episodes that are focused more around the fact that none of the girls wear pants would be something difficult to swallow but Strike Witches actually manages to avoid this quite well.
Whenever a battle occurs, they are usually well thought out and can help develop the characters further than just showing them running around in their panties would. This is heightened more by the fact that all of the girls in the Strike Witches force are there for a purpose. As I will talk about in the character section, many of the characters in Strike Witches hold a deep friendship with one another and care about each other. Each of these girls has lost something precious to them; some have even lost their homelands and their only hope of regaining what they have lost or find a new place in the world is to fight together as a unit in the 501st.
Of course outside of the battles, there is fan service galore. There is a bit of explanation to why none of the girls in the Strike Witches wear pants however. Apparently the Strike Units work best when they are in complete contact with the user’s skin to work properly and with the constant threat of being attacked by the Neuroi the girls are always on standby, meaning they never wear pants. Because of this there will be plenty of times you will see a lot of skin on these girls.
There are scenes in the bath where you will see uncensored breasts but none of the actual nudity in the title is exaggerated or enforced, instead it is simply commonplace rather than filled with unnatural beams of light or excessive steam. Outside of the bath there will be plenty of panty shots from all different angles, especially while the girls are flying around in the sky. The best example of this is an episode on the second disc which involves stolen panties and girls running around with no panties on.
As a whole the plot is well done, there is enough drama and character interaction to help balance out the fan service side of the anime nicely. The balance between these episodes is tipped slightly more towards plot than fan service mostly due to the fact that, barring a few, most episodes involve at least a little plot development or action with a mix of fan service thrown in.
The animation for Strike Witches is very impressive and is exactly what you would be looking for in a Gonzo animation. The animation and drawing quality does not suffer during combat and stays at a steady pace regardless of what is actually happening on the screen at the time. The mixture of CG and standard animation also blends together flawlessly when the two are combined on screen.
The character’s themselves are surprisingly well drawn as well as diverse in appearance. You will find that most of the characters are rather distinct from one another, except for those from the same country. Yes, the girls do sprout animal ears and tails when they use their magic power but this is more for the moe aspect than anything else and the animal ears don’t appear out of place. Also a nice touch is the fact that most of the Striker Units that the girl’s wear will have a rough resemblance to famous fighter planes from World War II such as the Spitfire and other planes.
The opening song for Strike Witches, “Strike Witches: To Do What I Can”, is very catchy and is fast paced to keep up with the action. There is plenty of battle shown off in the opening to go along with the music which means that you will most likely find yourself not skipping the opening each episode despite seeing it many times already. The ending song “Bookmark a Head” is always the same music but actually is sung by different voice actors from the series from episode to episode which is a very nice touch.
The background music during the anime itself does a superb job of providing extra emotional support for the scenes. The actual sound effects from the series work well enough with gunfire and explosions sounding good enough to be realistic but obviously these weren’t the focus and have not had as much attention paid to them as the rest of the audiowork.
Strike Witches is fully dubbed which means it comes with both an English and Japanese voice track. The English cast does a well enough job for many of the characters in the series, but one of the main characters voice actress, Mio, does a poor job of actually making her character sound as good as the original Japanese voice actress. Besides Mio, the rest of the characters are well voiced and I found myself happier listening to the English voice-cast than the Japanese one.
Now Strike Witches deals with plenty of different characters, with the focus being primarily on Yoshiko Miyafuji. Some of these characters aren’t really fleshed out as well as they should be, but that could be accredited to the twelve episode limit. The large amount of characters does provide a good balance to the series and helps show that the Strike Witches really consists of a diverse group of girls from all across the globe.
Yoshika Miyafuji is the star of our show who initially starts out very meek with her abilities. She is the newest recruit to the 501st unit and, possibly due to the fact that she was recruited by Mio, she develops a strong bond with Mio. Yoshika is searching for information about her missing father and also seeks to help out anyone she can and protect those who cannot protect themselves. She initially begins as a pacifist but realizes that she must also fight to protect those close to her.
Mio Sakamoto is perhaps one of the strictest and toughest member of the Strike Witches. After recruiting Yoshika in the beginning of the series she takes her under her wing and helps teach her the knowledge she needs to be a proper witch. Mio is not the highest ranking member of the unit but can be seen taking the lead more often than not. Many of the characters in the series look up to her in one way or another due to her diligence and commitment to the battle ahead of them.
Lynette Bishop is a native to the Britannian Commonwealth and becomes one of Yoshika’s first friends in the series and the two quickly become best friends. Lynette fills in the clumsy girl role of the series, though she tries to do her best whenever she can despite her clumsiness.
The true ranking officer of the 501st is Minna-Dietlinde Wilcke. Minna is one of the oldest girls in the Strike Witches and often puts the safety of her comrades at the highest priority. Outside of battle she is gentle and caring to the other members of the unit which makes her a stark contrast from Mio’s disciplinarian-like personality. Because of their contrast in character Minna usually tries to protect Mio as well as command the unit in combat.
Clostermann Perrine is one of the more interesting characters in Strike Witches. This is mostly because she carries an air around her that makes you believe that she is spoiled at first and she holds herself above the rest of the witches on the team. Perrine holds a deep love for Mio and usually stalks her and fantasizes about being together with her. Because of Mio taking Yoshika under her wing, Perrine develops an intense jealousy for the girl and often will try to compete for Mio’s attention which leads to plenty of comedic moments.
Erica Hartmann is one of the most effective members of the team. She has ranked more confirmed kills and victories than any of the other members of the Strike Witches. This is the complete opposite of her usual behavior however. While in combat she is deadly efficient, outside of the fight she is very sloppy and often will leave her room a huge mess. This leads to a few moments where her laziness causes problems for the rest of the team outside of combat, though her stark contrast is hilarious to witness because most of the other characters will usually make a remark about her odd personality trait.
Another older girl of the unit, Gertrud Barkhorn is the quiet member of the team. She has been around just as long as Minna which means she also supports her with a number of her leadership tasks around the unit. Her quiet nature lends itself well to the battlefield as she is usually the calmest member of the team while in the air. The only time she isn’t quiet is when it involves Hartmann as she usually is seen complaining to her about her sloppiness and reminding her of her importance to the team.
Eila Ilmatar Juutilainen is another of the best fighters in the Strike Witches and her ability to see into the future slightly allows her to use effective strategies in battles. Eila also is very protective and affectionate towards the youngest member of the team Sanya, allowing the young girl to get away with things she would usually punish other members of the team for.
Sanya V. Litvyak is the second youngest team member being only thirteen years of age. Sanya has a habit of sleeping in strange places at times and occasionally even ends up sleeping in Elia’s bed. Sanya often sleeps during the day and this usually places her on the night watch which means she doesn’t interact with the other characters as much, though this also can be seen due to Eila’s protectiveness.
Charlotte E. Yeager is the only member of the team who comes from the United States of Liberion and is relatively high ranked among the witches. Her impressive figure often leads to her mocking other, lesser developed characters. Charlotte is one of the fastest members of the witches and also has a close relationship with Lucchini thanks to their casual attitudes matching up perfectly.
Finally we have Francesca Lucchini. Francesca is only twelve years of age which makes her the youngest member of the unit and this also shows in her personality. She is usually quite childish and often avoids training and her duties to spend time around the base or nap. Her favorite napping place is usually somewhere off the ground, usually a tree branch. Because of her easy going personality she is great friends with Charlotte and the two often work alongside one another in battle and are seen together outside of the fight.
Strike Witches is an anime that should not be overlooked. Sure at first glance it may be something you wouldn’t even think about watching if you do not like overly ecchi anime. However besides the fan service and lots of panty shots, the series does a great job telling its story.
The different girls’ backgrounds and personalities meld well with one another and their emotional bonds are the highlight of the series outside of the action. If you came for the animal tailed girls flying around in their panties then you should certainly stick around for the story itself. For those who may pass it up for those exact reasons, take a second look because Strike Witches certainly deserves it.
I give Strike Witches Season 1