Yoshika-Miyafuji-strike-witchesEarth has been ravaged by the unstoppable Neuroi. Whole land masses have been obliterated and what it is left of the world is huddled together in a desperate defence against these unknown, alien attackers. Mankind’s only real weapon against the Neuroi turns out to be a mixture of technology and magic, given form in the Striker Units, mechanical legs that when worn by magic-wielding girls, deliver the power of flight and strength to its wearer. Armed with heavy artillery that no ordinary man can carry and protected against the Neuroi’s devastating corrosive miasma, these flying, fighting young girls form the front-line of Earth’s defence force. They are the Strike Witches.

The 501st Joint Fighter Wing is tasked with protecting the Britannian territory and this is where young Japanese-born Yoshika Miyafuji finds herself transported to after following a possible lead on her thought-to-be dead, missing father. Although adept at magic, particularly healing spells, she has long sinced vowed never to partake in war of any sort, because this is what cost her father his life and this is what hurts so many people around her.

However. It is not always that simple in life to get what you want, now is it?

Strike Witches is the creation of Humikane Shimada, and was brought to the Silver screen in 2008 in the form of a 12-episode long anime series, directed by Kazuhiro Takamura and produced by studio Gonzo.

The first thing you think when you see the opening sequences for the show is undoubtedly, “OMG, they’ve gone and crammed every naughty bit of anime pervertedness into a single show – surely no one can get away with this on prime time TV?!?” But they do. And it’s rather naughty of them I tell you.

Young, cute girls. Panty shots wherever you look (which isn’t difficult considering all the girls wear panty hot pants as standard issue uniform). Furry ears and tails on girls. Magical girls. Risque camera angles. My goodness, if it’s ecchi then it’s in here, that’s for sure. And then there is the story itself. The premise is pretty standard. Unstoppable alien force arrives, ravages most of Earth, remaining nations stage a resistance fight-back. However, at this point things get a little silly. What appeals to the Otaku male demographic? Why explosions and sword fighting of course. So the way to beat these aliens are with big guns and swords then, right? Correct. But wouldn’t it be cool if these giant guns were carried by cute teenage girls who just happen to perform magic as well? And then wouldn’t it be awesome to combine some kind of mecha technology into the show, I know, lets create mechanical leg exoskeletons that the girls hop into and power up with the magic. The result is magic propellor-driven girls who fly around, flashing their wares and firing big guns at giant aliens then. Perfect.

Or at least that’s how the discussion in Humikane’s head must have gone I suspect.

Still, despite the show’s silly premise, it does deliver a pretty interesting and intriguing first episode and I must say, I’m quite keen on seeing where the series goes next. There’s definitely a whole lot of mystery laying in wait, and with the assured combination of humour, cuteness and loads of action (and fan service) to come bounding in the episodes to come, I can see why Strike Witches became such a big hit with anime fans as it did last year.

On the animation front everything appears pretty smooth and well animated, with some great flight-choreographed scenes and some rather nicely integrated 2D CG effects to boot. Character designs are all ultra cute for the girls (as you’d expect) and the depiction of the Neuroi is actually pretty refreshing too. The colour palette used is good and as a whole, Strike Witches is a good bit of TV eye candy. Similarly, the opening and closing songs plus voice actor performances all fit in the package as seamlessly as what you could want.

Admittedly I’m intrigued. First, to see just how far the director and animators will push this fan service laden vehicle and secondly because despite the rather silly premise for the show, the actual story being set up sounds like it could be quite interesting indeed.

So I’ll let you know then once I’m done then! :P


Related link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strike_Witches