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In Association with
Strike Witches (2008)
Director: Kazuhiro Takamura

review by Alexandra Bunning

Strike Witches (aka: Sutoraiku uicchizu) is set in an alternate universe; a very European looking Great Britain in 1945. The overarching plot is a retelling of the events of the Second World War, with the Nazis being replaced by a faceless race of aliens known as the Neuroi. Gallia (France) has been conquered, and Europe is in turmoil. The only weapon the human race have against these aliens are the 501st Joint Fighter Wing, alias 'Strike Witches', a group of adolescent and teenage witches, who use magic to power their 'striker units': the technological age's answer to the witches' broomstick. The action centres on a young witch, Yoshika Miyafuji, from 'Fuso' (Japan) whose father created the striker units, before apparently being killed in the conflict. At the start of this anime TV series, she is living a normal life in Fuso with her mother and grandmother, and attempting to learn to use her magic to heal, when she is approached by Mio Sakamoto, a member of the Strike Witches, who delivers a letter to Miyafuji from her deceased father, and in doing so, pulls her into the ranks of the Strike Witches and the war.

Thus begins Miyafuji's life in the 501st Joint Fighter Wing, which seems to consist largely of ogling her fellow witches, before whining about not wanting to fight, then stepping into her striker unit to sail ineffectually around in the sky when a Neuroi shows up. As far as I can make out, the creators have not really made any effort to pull together a particularly cohesive story-arc. Instead, the focus is on the witches' rampant lesbianism, boob-grabbing, underwear-swapping and fantasising about each other. In fact, I would say that approximately 50 percent of the anime is comprised of what can only be described as a lot of 'crotch shots' and boob jiggling, some of which is really quite full-on.

I think it fair to say that it becomes clear very early on in this series that I am not the intended audience for this anime, and as such, a lot of what may attract the target audience does nothing for me. But even ignoring these crotch and boob related distractions (which is pretty hard, I assure you!) the plot still has such enormous gaping plot holes that it's hard to forgive. For example, at one point, there is the allusion to the fact that the Neurois may not in fact be the two-dimensional baddies that they were previously thought to be. By the end of the series, we are none the wiser about this suggestion, making me wonder why they bothered!

There is so much about this anime that made me think 'erm... what?' and which is never really explained. For example, when the witches use their powers, they suddenly grow the ears and tail of an animal. There is never any mention of why, or what this signifies. In the end, I assumed this was simply to make the scantily clad girls look even cuter. And, scantily clad they are! Almost no female in this series seems to think it worth her while to wear anything other than underwear on her lower half, although no effort has been made to provide a neat little plot device to explain this. Just an entire episode in which the witches steal each other's underwear, resulting in members of the 501st Joint Fighter Wing running around a military base bare-assed. The witches themselves have the barest hint of characterisation, something on a par with the seven dwarves. I ended up just thinking of them in those terms: sleepy, grumpy, booby, earnest, etc.

My advice is, if you're interested in some plot driven sci-fi anime, look elsewhere, but if it's boobs you want, and girls wearing skimpy outfits scampering around trying to save the world, this will definitely float your boat.

Strike Witches

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