Strike Witches

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Strike Witches

Postby tychocat2003 » Tue Feb 14, 2012 10:32 am

Strike Witches is an odd mix of history, real people, technically-accurate militaria, anime magical girls, and fanservice. I think it tried hard to be one of those something-for-everyone anime series, but...

This is an alternate history where in 1939 an alien invasion interrupts WWII, and unites the world under one banner to fight the aliens. The world's existing military technology is clearly inferior to the aliens' weapons, but we have magical high school girls to save the day. Enter the Strike Witches, a multinational coalition force of under-aged girls, whose magical powers (augmented by some odd anachronistic technology which conveniently prevents them from wearing pants) will save us all.

Military weapons of the day are lovingly and accurately depicted - biplane torpedo bombers, the male military uniform, and ships. The old Japanese Imperial Navy battleship Yamato is every carefully drawn, and some of it's camera shots appear directly taken from the previous live-action movie about the Yamato.

This is as far as history takes the 12-episode series. Depictions of the countryside frankly could be nearly any Miyazaki or rural Japanese setting. Much has been made of the fact the Strike Witches are all named for WWII heroes, but depicted as under-aged anime girls. I suppose some fans could see something of General Chuck Yeager's personna in the character of Charlotte Yeager, but I don't think even the French war hero in drag would have run squealing from a bug, and yes, there is an entire episode where the girls are terrorized by a beetle which likes crawling into panties. I watched the series twice, once without sound, and without sound there's absolutely nothing to distinguish the girls from, say, any other squealing anime fanservice.

There was one hugely amusing scene, where the Yamato is attacked by an alien aircraft which is shaped like the "Fat Man" atomic bomb, which was dropped on Nagasaki in our timeline. The series has a good share of striking design and drawing like this, which is also a curse of the series because it highlights things that aren't there.

The male characters, particularly regular troops, are drawn with startling clarity - the crew of the Yamato, for instance, are drawn accurately as looking slightly gaunt (rations in the Imperial Navy being stingy), but oddly, older than normal (middle aged). The girls, however, are all pure anime fanservice... from the waist down, with the exception of one or two clearly adult and top-heavy women. Meaning most of the girls are drawn accurately from the standpoint of being under-aged and flat-chested, a point driven home by the fanservice where scenes are drawn looking across (or occasionally directly looking at) the characters' crotches, or butts. Despite this, there's no male characters the girls' age in most of the series - I think there's a kid who's a messenger who shows up at the beginning and at the end.

Okay, so we have a cadre of teen-aged female military officers who don't wear pants in 1939, surrounded by an army of middle-aged men, who are at war with space aliens who appear without reason, act without explanation, and just exist so the animators have work. The basic plotline is stock - the lovable clutz who overcomes her doubts and the doubts of her teammates to become a star. I'm thinking the series works if you just regard it as an exceptionally well-drawn magical girls series, with a few historical in-jokes for the geeks. Yeah, it's no big deal to recognize the Yamato for anime fans; it's quite the other matter to recognize the Imperial Navy aircraft carrier Akagi, which was sunk in our timeline at the Battle of Midway in 1942.

The fanservice is what it is. Potential viewers are warned (or alerted).
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Re: Strike Witches

Postby ZeroRyoko1974 » Tue Feb 14, 2012 1:08 pm

sounds like you watched season 2 on CR. I enjoyed it. Lucchini was my favorite strike witch
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Re: Strike Witches

Postby bakamatt » Tue Feb 14, 2012 4:12 pm

tychocat2003 wrote:This is an alternate history where in 1939 an alien invasion interrupts WWII, and unites the world under one banner to fight the aliens. The world's existing military technology is clearly inferior to the aliens' weapons, but we have magical high school girls to save the day. Enter the Strike Witches, a multinational coalition force of under-aged girls, whose magical powers (augmented by some odd anachronistic technology which conveniently prevents them from wearing pants) will save us all.


I’m not sure I finished so much as the first disk of Strike Witches, so I gave up on it very early.

And yet, with only a little cut-and-paste, the above description becomes Sakura Wars, a franchise I enjoy. So why does the one work for me, and the other not?

I wasn’t moved to care about Strike Witches’s characters or stories. When adolescents become soldiers it has to mean something – often tragedy, but farce is okay, or even just adventure, but somehow it has to acknowledged that the situation is weird. Strike Witches is so perfunctory, not even pretending the fight is anything but a pretext to trot out teenaged thighs – show up, strap on a Striker Unit, and off you go to the wars with nothing but a “gambatte!”

(You know, until now I hadn’t appreciated the special niche ‘soldier’ occupies in my mind – it’s not the same as ‘hero’, or ‘covert team member’, or any of the other roles super-powered anime teens wind up in.)

Now, the Striker Units are vaguely cool – impellers are always better than propellers – though I’d have liked it better if it were more obvious that they’re magical foci, not technology. But they can’t hold a candle to Sakura Wars’s uniforms – I’ll admit, I’m a sucker for girls in battle dress based on Napoleonic cavalry uniforms.

most of the girls are drawn accurately from the standpoint of being under-aged and flat-chested,


Ahem. Aerodynamic.

I'm thinking the series works if you just regard it as an exceptionally well-drawn magical girls series, with a few historical in-jokes for the geeks.


You do know about Hetalia, don’t you?
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Re: Strike Witches

Postby Kitschensyngk » Wed Feb 15, 2012 6:57 pm

I've never seen this series. FUNimation's marketing campaign ("Winning the war on PANTS!") was a bit of a turn-off.
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Re: Strike Witches

Postby tychocat2003 » Thu Feb 16, 2012 4:26 am

ZeroRyoko1974 wrote:sounds like you watched season 2 on CR. I enjoyed it. Lucchini was my favorite strike witch


Nope. Season 1 on ANN.
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Re: Strike Witches

Postby tychocat2003 » Thu Feb 16, 2012 4:40 am

@Matt

I have no idea why you invoke Sakura Wars, which is a musical and whose girls are at least arguably of age.

Yes, I'm aware of Hetalia, thanks.

For my money, which I don't have, if I were to cite a good example of an alternate-history, I'd cite Zipang. Zipang, for those unfamiliar with the series, is about a Japanese navy Aegis destroyer which ends up in WWII. Unlike the American production "The Final Countdown" where the USS Nimitz aircraft carrier gets sent back just before Pearl Harbor but gingerly gets zapped back to the 20th Century just before any historical complications occur, in Zipang the commander of the destroyer gets involved. Excellent combat sequences, loving depictions of military hardware, and a real sense of how history would have been changed as the destroyer sails home. Oddly, there's no pants-less prepubescent girls running around.
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Re: Strike Witches

Postby bakamatt » Thu Feb 16, 2012 9:31 am

tychocat2003 wrote:@Matt

I have no idea why you invoke Sakura Wars, which is a musical and whose girls are at least arguably of age.


Because you've listed exactly the only two technical differences between the shows. On the similar side, we have young women in an overt military role fighting a mysterious enemy with magic/Clarke's Law capabilities instead of a World War, by means of apparatus that appears to be technological but is actually magic. Gosh, nothing in common at all. One might also cite Simoun, although it's vastly more thoughtful than either of the other two shows. (Although, come to think of it, the girls don't wear pants when they're practicing their formations.)

On the alternate history front, I'll mention the show variously marketed here as Geoarmor or Kishin Corps, in which WW II is interrupted by invading aliens. Our Heroes fight with first-generation, vacuum tube electronic mecha. Eva Braun's sister is one of the good guys(!)
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Re: Strike Witches

Postby ZeroRyoko1974 » Thu Feb 16, 2012 1:43 pm

tychocat2003 wrote:
ZeroRyoko1974 wrote:sounds like you watched season 2 on CR. I enjoyed it. Lucchini was my favorite strike witch


Nope. Season 1 on ANN.

oh yeah the one where wveryones panties were gerting stolen
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Re: Strike Witches

Postby tychocat2003 » Fri Feb 17, 2012 2:51 am

Yep. As I wrote in another thread, I figured I knew all I needed to know about this series by the fact you owned the figurines. But, I thought I'd be fair and actually watch the thing to review it.
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Re: Strike Witches

Postby ZeroRyoko1974 » Fri Feb 17, 2012 7:24 am

actually I don't have any strike witch figures
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Re: Strike Witches

Postby Tsunami3k » Fri Feb 17, 2012 9:53 am

I have a few. I try to pick up figures I like before losing all respect by a show by actually watching it (so I can't comment on how worthy the show is or isn't). Lest the moe-saber be rattled in my direction, I should clarify that, while the character designs are quite reminiscent of the Mecha-Musume designs, I was more intrigued by their detailed weaponry and aircraft inspiration having spent much of my youth making models of WW2 and Vietnam era aircraft. Flat-chested moeness aside, they're actually quite compelling and creative fusions of man and machine.
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Re: Strike Witches

Postby bakamatt » Fri Feb 17, 2012 3:12 pm

Tsunami3k wrote:I have a few. I try to pick up figures I like before losing all respect by a show by actually watching it


< snicker>

Flat-chested moeness aside


I keep on telling you, it's "aerodynamic". Put Yoko in a Striker Unit and see how much lift she generates.

they're actually quite compelling and creative fusions of man and machine.


Um hmm...
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Re: Strike Witches

Postby ZeroRyoko1974 » Wed Feb 22, 2012 6:58 pm

It seems that Finnish govt are fans of Strike Witches http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/interes ... r-birthday
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