So moe-no-hi (10/10) was last week, and I celebrated by watching Strike Witches. It’s one of those shows that is infamous for having absolutely shameless amounts of fanservice, and I can report that it pretty much lives up to the reputation.
Where to begin?
Well, on an alternate earth, aliens attacked the earth in 1939, uniting the nations of the world against a common foe and averting the onset of World War II. Because this is a Japanese show, they kind of gloss over the whole thing where Japan had been at war for a couple years before that, but that’s the sort of minor historical detail that would detract from the point of the show, which is cute girls doing cute things, in this case flying around in magical leg armor and shooting aliens cutely.
Also they’re witches.
And when they put on their leg armor, they grow ears and a tail.
And because the leg armor requires direct skin contact, they can’t wear pants. This explanation is completely ignored when it comes to characters that AREN’T fighter pilots, because they also aren’t wearing pants. It’s not that pants don’t exist – some male characters do eventually appear, and are wearing pants – but they’re just glossed over as a thing that doesn’t necessarily exist. The characters actually use the word for pants – ズボン , rather than パンツ – when talking about underwear.
Seriously, if you’re not facepalming at least half a dozen times per episode, there’s something wrong with you.
OK, so let’s just admit that it’s an excuse to produce a show full of panty shots and move on. It worked for Agent Aika, after all.
What I watched was the first season, which was 12 episodes for a show with nearly that many characters, so it didn’t have much time to really develop any of them. It also spent the first 8 episodes being seriously goofy before switching tone drastically to throw in the REAL enemies, who are of course the military and who all wear pants.
Even with that tone change, it was about 5 hours worth of bright, cheerful anime with Much Heart and Barely Concealed Yuri Overtones and some aerial combat scenes that were, in all honesty, really spectacular. The sound design also gets high marks; the dogfight scenes sounded like dogfight scenes should, with all kinds of roaring engine sounds and machine gun noises.
Would I recommend it?
Well, yes. If you want to pour a big serving of moe anime into a bowl and cover it with sugar, this is part of your complete breakfast. It’s also super cheap – both seasons are available on Amazon for about 17 bucks each. That’s not a lot of money for something that managed to put a smile on my face nearly as often as my eyes were trying to roll back into my head and, the second season apparently wraps up the story rather than ending on a cliffhanger, which is a rare wonder.
And of course, technically, it DOES pass the Bechdel test with flying colors, so even the most enlightened post-feminist male should feel no shame in watching it.
Not recommended if you’re allergic to shows like Strawberry Marshmallow or Battle Athletes, and decidedly not recommended if you let things like physics get in the way of your enjoyment.