Everytime summer arrives, the big-budget Hollywood movies come too. It seems to be the most lucrative season of mainstream film the whole year, as blockbuster after blockbuster gets released in a span of a few months. Granted that there are some exceptions to the rule, but generally, summer blockbusters are usually shallow, popcorn entertainment for the masses. It’s not Oscar season, and so they are just raking in the big bucks for now by offering simple yet fun movies that one would probably forget after a while. In a way, this is how I felt Strike Witches was for me. It is an equivalent of a shallow, popcorny, simple and fun anime blockbuster… with a heavy slice of fanservice.
I don’t normally watch mecha or any mecha-derived anime, so I guess the main drive for me to watch this series are the girls. Girls, check. Fanservice… okay I can live with that. A couple of episodes later, I realize that the (non)pantsu just won’t let up. O MY GAWD, Strike Witches is a fanservice fest. There is at least one (non)pantsu sighting every freaking minute, and it annoyed me. Annoyed me a lot. But still I managed to ignore the (non)pantsu, because the rest of the package, as I said, is the makings of a Hollywood blockbuster. You know it’s classic GONZO when they are able to orchestrate exciting action scenes of the Gatekeepers 21 caliber. How I miss when they were at their prime. The animation is solid all throughout, and the music, especially the music, captivated me. There are so many epic and dramatic moments in this series, and these are driven by some of the cutest and most adorable characters that you can possibly fit in a limited 12-episode runtime.
The concept is odd enough. Young girls with magical affinities wear mecha stockings and fly around shooting stuff with only their (non)pantsu on. Add a dose of military and political themes, and we’re talking nonsense now. But there are two things special about Strike Witches. First are the characters. We have an overload of girls here, 11 if I’m counting right. Yoshika is our main heroine, and just like many main heroines, she’s a noobie, but she has something awesome up her sleeve. For one, she is the minna-mamoritai girl (girl who wants to protect everyone), so she has to be lively and positive. Then there’s Mio which is the eyepatch girl who is equally lively and laughs like a female pirate. One day they meet to talk about how Mio knew Yoshika’s deceased father and so Yoshika herself is led into military mess by enlisting into the Strike Witches, the only unit currently capable of exterminating the Neuroi, unknown aliens who took over some areas of the earth. I will get tired describing the rest of the girls, so let’s just say that whatever fetish you have in an anime girl, it most likely is included in the cast. The plot however, is just as written.
Simple and to the point, Strike Witches is so straightforward. No convoluted plot, and nothing too technical in the mecha tech side. Just nice character-based episodes, good action, and a popcorn-mode storyline. The second special thing about this anime? It has a “sense of wonder”. Whatever it does, it is good at it. It immerses you whether it be the action, the character drama, or the plot, no matter how simple it may be. It is because all the presentation elements are excellent. Again, nice animation, good pacing, epic action, awesome music, cute girls (can’t leave out that one). The only aspects that strayed me away were the (non)pantsu and fanservice, but thankfully as more episodes fly by me, the more I ignore those useless scenes.
To stick that Hollywood seal of approval further, the whole story of the anime isn’t revealed, and the ending gave us a teaser for a possible (eventual) second season. Agh, you smart people you. Well, it’s for the better I guess. GONZO had a wiiide string of misses from me over the last few years, finally they manage to whip up a strong one. All-in-all, Strike Witches is a solid title. Just treat it like your typical summer film blockbuster. High-budget fanservice entertainment that I’ll probably forget after a few days… but it was still fun.