Make no mistake about it, Strike Witches is a pure fan-service anime that just happens to have some decent action and an actually interesting concept. It has enough to it that if it had to stand on its own two legs and wear pants (which don’t exist in this anime), it could be a more serious anime. But the clear intent of this show was having teenage girls without pants on all day, every day.
Regardless of its super-ecchi nature, Strike Witches actually has an interesting setting. The show is an alternate universe where instead of World War II, the world is forced to ally together to combat an alien invasion by beings known as the Neuroi. Early on, it was obvious that planes and tanks weren’t going to do anything to these creatures, so something else had to be done…and this is where the show sort of leaves logic at the door.
In this world, witches still exist in high amounts and are called upon as soldiers to aid the world in the fight against the Neuroi. When a breakthrough is made on technology known as Striker Units that help the witches (who are all female and young, no women in their 30s here!) fly on their own, helping them easily combat the Neuroi threat.
Presumably because of the design of the Striker units, the witches that use these contraptions do not wear pants. At best, Perrine wears pantyhose. I completely understand why the designers chose this, it creates endless panty and butt shots, which any ecchi anime fan will give a big thumbs up to. However, how is there not a single girl in the 501st Joint Fighter Wing who decides to wear at least boyshorts instead of panties? Perhaps they don’t exist in this era, but then again I’m not sure shima-pantsu did either, especially for an Italian in Francesca.
Obviously content like this becomes a major sticking point to people who don’t agree with such content. It gets classified as perverted material, sexual material, some would call this pedophilia cause they have to go to extremes like that. And I’ll partially agree on the first two, as there is an uncensored version where breasts are out in full as well and this includes girls like Francesca and Sanya who start the series a young 12 and 13 respectively. Is it a bit creepy seeing a 12 year old naked in the bath? Absolutely, which is a huge sticking point for me every time it comes up. But the majority of the time, it doesn’t bother me, pretty much all the characters except for the two I mentioned (thought Sanya turns 14 halfway through the first season) are 14 years old and up and I’ve said it before, I don’t have a problem with fictional characters at that age being targets of ecchi anime tropes.
Yoshika as the MC of the show is indeed the shining star of the series. She’s young and naïve, which makes her a perfect viewpoint fort he majority of the series. She’s from a family of witches who provide medicine and care for people, so her natural instinct to want to save everyone no matter what is a huge part of her character. And it’s not the obnoxious “I’ve gotta do it, no matter what!” superhero kind of personality, she’ll do even the little things to accomplish her goals, she doesn’t necessarily have to destroy an entire Neuroi force singlehandedly to get the feelings she wants.
Which is another thing I really appreciate about the anime. It’s makes no buts about it, you cannot fight these things alone. The majority of Neuroi defeated in the show takes at least 4 members of the 501st to get the job done. Several characters have these moments in episodes where they try to be the hero and they fail hard. It’s refreshing to have a show where the heroine(s) aren’t singlehandedly defeated everything in some crazy, elaborate scene, they start as a team and end as a team.
With a main cast of characters coming in at a larger than normal number of 11 girls, it’d be easy for plenty of them to get lost in the shuffle. Other than Eila, who honestly didn’t stand out much to me during the show, the other 10 have no problems separating themselves from the rest of the cast. From left to right in the picture, Sanya’s the more quiet, reserved adorable girl, Eila once again is really the odd one out, nothing really unique about her I find, Francesca ironically the most perverted of the girls, even at a young 12 years of age, constantly groping girls, Charlotte’s the non-chalant daredevil American, Gertrud’s the super serious ace of the team, Erica’s constantly asleep, Minna has some real mental issues at times, Lynette is the “I can’t do anything right” girl, Yoshika’s the “I have to save everyone” happy girl, Perrine’s the obnoxious, holier than thou girl and Mio’s the badass leader of the group, the only one who fights with a melee weapon rather than guns. They all (almost) have something very unique about them and not just with their looks, such as their hair colour, body type, or even the underwear they have on, hell Yoshika and Mio wear school swimsuits instead of underwear. They have a different personality and it’s not forced on them either, in both the Japanese and English versions, it’s still obvious the differences they have apart from each other.
Strike Witches is actually a surprisingly fun watch, regardless of the pure ecchi content it holds. Are there a few iffy things about it? Yeah, I’ll admit that. But I feel like the show overcomes that with a pretty interesting setting, unique characters and the pure absurdity that is teenage girls flying around in World War II era leg planes with giant machine guns and sniper rifles, killing alien beings…while not wearing pants.
It’s anime, what’d you expect?