Strike Witches – Episode 1

You guys are assholes.

I hope you know that. I open up my viewing schedule for anything you all want to support, and what happens? You fund The Room and God Damn Strike Witches. I hope you’re proud of yourselves. You got me to watch Strike Witches. You got me to make despairing jokes on twitter about Strike Witches. The first episode of Strike Witches now exists in my past. When Saint Peter scans down my MAL at the pearly gates, he’ll take a momentary pause at the S section, glance at me with one raised eyebrow, and then continue without a word.

So, how was the first episode of Strike Witches?

Strike Witches

Well, for the most part, it was a functional but unremarkable first episode of what’s almost certainly going to play out as part slice of life, part action drama. In an alternate 1940s, World War II is replaced by the attack of the “Neurois,” evil CG planes that threaten all countries indiscriminately. This means all the big WWII fan favorites get to team up in fighting this threat, which they do through use of the “striker unit,” magical airplane boots that young girls fly around in to shoot bad guys. The show opens with a very dull battle between a bunch of flying girls and one of these evil ships, which is noteworthy only for this episode’s one defining feature (which I will certainly get to). After that, we meet Yoshika, a young girl who hates war because it stole her father away. Yoshika has plenty of magical potential, though, and so she’s scouted out by the military officer Mio Sakamoto. Yoshika doesn’t want to fight, but it seems like Mio might lead her to the truth about her father, and so she tags along back to Britannia until they’re ambushed on the high seas.

There’s nothing much to say about the narrative elements of this show’s premise. The episode moves well enough, though its beats are very tired and routine. The premise is definitely more convoluted than most, and the seams of its “let’s find a way to throw a bunch of classic WWII countries together as friends to fight something” objectives definitely show. This world wasn’t designed from the ground up as a compelling or coherent universe – it’s “I like WWII military stuff” + “I like panties,” full stop. The artistry and animation are lousy, and the CG of the battle scenes very bad. If this was an ordinary show, I’d give it a two out of five in the preview guide, say “maybe you’ll like it if you’re really, really into this genre,” and be done with it.

But this isn’t an ordinary show. This is Strike Witches.

Strike Witches

Strike Witches’ claim to fame, the one thing that separates it (at least so far) from the many shows much like it, is that it just Can’t. Stop. Doing. Crotch Shots. The show takes place in a world where pants apparently don’t exist (I’d assumed this would be handwaved by the apparel necessities of the striker unit, but even Yoshika’s ordinary classmates just don’t believe in pants), and the show takes full, leering advantage of that to indulge in every single fanservice shot imaginable. That first sequence that introduces the girls in battle is easily the worst offender – every single character is introduced with an extended panty-flash sequence so invasive they often verge on grotesque. This is What Is Up With Strike Witches.

These panty shots serve a variety of key purposes in the show. First, they make sure the battle scenes have absolutely no tension whatsoever. Though the direction is really just serviceable throughout, when it comes to the fight scenes, the prioritization of panties over drama means there’s no real reason to care. We get no sense of scale or momentum – we just get crotches and butts, whizzing past as the characters grimly fire their weapons at a big CG thing. Combining the camera’s priority being butts with the generally lousy artistry of the CG means all of the well-drawn shots are situated roughly five inches from a character’s crotch, leaving no room for exciting sequences and a consistent sense of “how can anyone die in a scene that only cares about vaginas.” Any sense of pacing or drama is lost in the crowning desire to Get Those Panties In There.

Strike Witches

This lack of investment also (obviously) bleeds into the character moments. Before we learn anything about her life circumstances, Yoshika is introduced with her own suite of extended butt shots. Jumping from that to a sad monologue about her absent father is just laughable – you can’t expect the audience to care about a character when the camera was treating them as an object to be leered at literally seconds earlier. And “leering” is definitely the right word for it – unlike potentially character-empowering or sex-positive fanservice, everything here comes across as intensely, creepily voyeuristic. The characters are not showing off their butts because that’s a reflection of their personalities or desires – they’re showing off their butts because they’re designed to be innocent in an in-world sense while also acting as objects of sex appeal in a meta-textual one. They’re showing off their butts because this show is a mechanized loli butt assembly line.

So yep, that’s Strike Witches. The show almost seems specifically designed as a strawman version of otaku anime – it is a perfect storm of military fetishization and plain old regular fetishization, served up in a competent but wholly unremarkable genre package. You guys knew how I’d feel about this, and that is exactly why you funded it. You are all jerks, and I should know by now not to trust any of you. That is all I have to say about that.

This article was made possible by financial bullying. You guys are super funny.

11 thoughts on “Strike Witches – Episode 1

  1. You know, when I watched this show, I was disappointed. Considering all the controversy surrounding this show, I expected something really dumb, really offensive and really ridiculous. This show is none of that. It’s just bland. This is not the dumbest show I’ve seen ( I can count at least 25 shows this year dumber than Strike Witches). It’s not the most offensive show I’ve seen(that’d be DearS) nor it is the most ridiculous show ever ( at least 31 anime and movies I’ve seen this year are weirder). Not to mention that I’ve already desensitized to panties shot by episode 3. The anime did get better, and at one time managed to be genuinely good. But in the end, it’s just mediocre.

  2. JAJAJA, you’ve made me laugh so much with this review. Your fans really hate you. But the worst part is that I now want to watch and hate this series just like you, damn.

  3. I promise that I did not contribute money to this debacle, nor to The Room. In hopes of making your review of The Room more bearable, might I point you to the Rifftrax version? (If you are not familiar, Rifftrax is part of the group that used to do MST3K way back when)
    (Unfortunately it looks like they only have the audio track for sale, likely due to copyright issues, but you can find audio + video though other, less legitimate means if you catch my drift)

  4. The issue with Strike Witches is that there is a lot of effort put into characters, references, historical information, etc., but it’s all overshadowed by the weird fanservice it contains. This series has a lot of value beyond the butts in your face, but many people don’t want to tolerate the amount of crotches and nudity to observe it.

  5. I started watching this because:
    1. I’m desperate for representation of catgirls. Yes, really. Call me a goddam furry if you have to, I don’t even care.
    2. I’m not above watching shows as porn. Currently watching Valkyrie Drive, and not because I think it’s worth watching.
    3. Someone mentioned that they thought it was similar to Girls und Panzer and Sora no Woto.

    I’m probably not going to continue, because:
    1. Too much creepy, dehumanizing fanservice. At least with Valkyrie Drive the characters themselves often get into consensual makeouts/groping in view of other characters, so having the camera/viewer there as well doesn’t feel that creepy. (What’s creepy is the worldbuilding that makes lesbian makeouts a good combat technique. And the characters that institutionalize it.)
    2. Not really catgirls, not going to be a focus.
    3. Is only similar in that they’re all cute girls doing military things.
    4. Not actually good or entertaining in any way. Not even in a so-bad-it’s-good way.

    But yeah. I think I’ll read Nick’s writeups over watching any more of this. It’s a much better experience.

  6. Would you consider putting a “safe-for-work” (or NSFW) warning on your posts? I’ve not traditionally viewed from work, but nowadays I tend to check out your stuff at work for 5-10 minutes a day or so to see what’s going on. Normally all’s well, but today I scrolled down onto the lips of a Striker Witch vagina, and.. uh, quickly closed the window, hoping it wouldn’t lead to my termination! 😛

    • Sure! This one was kind of a special case, since it’s, well, friggin’ Strike Witches. It probably won’t often be relevant.

      • Haha, yeah — I can’t imagine it will be relevant very often. If it were I’d probably not be here, and certainly wouldn’t dare to check your writing out from work!

        I appreciate your willingness to throw a NSFW tag up on the very rare occasions that it’s justified. Thanks!

  7. You know, the one reason I even looked into watching Strike Witches is that it features my favorite VA – Miyuki Sawashiro (Himeko Inaba, Suruga Kanbaru, Celty Sturluson) – as a main character. I came to the conclusion that it probably wasn’t worth it just for her performance, and your review backs that up. Part of me is still weirdly curious, though.

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