So, the first series of Strike Witches spent quite a few episodes goofing around, started to get serious, and then ended with a pretty significant sequel hook, one that hinted pretty heavily at the idea that the Alien Invaders From Beyond were slightly more interesting than just monsters of the week.
The second series tosses the sequel hook straight out the window in the first five minutes, then spends the remainder of the show’s dozen episodes bouncing back and forth between being Serious Business, or at least as serious as business can get when nobody is wearing pants, and Light-Hearted Goofy Fun Times, and then finishes with an ending that is (a) cribbed from the ending of every magical girl show EVER and (b) pretty definitively the end of the story as far as the main character is concerned. The aliens still dutifully show up most episodes so that they can get shot at by cute girls, but the hints of depth in the first series have been tossed into a dustbin labeled “plot ideas that would take away from showing more cute girls doing cute things”.
That isn’t to say that I’m complaining overmuch. The series still manages to toss in enough laughs to offset the eye rolls, the fan service generally stays in the category of harmless fun, and the aerial combat is really fun to watch.
In its one hint of Serious Subtext, the show trots out the Yamato as the flagship of the naval forces allied against the alien invasion. Pretty much, if the Yamato shows up in a movie or TV series, it’s going to be destroyed to Send A Message To The Viewer, and Strike Witches doesn’t disappoint in this regard. What you take away from the actual how, why and where is probably heavily dependent on your own feelings, but I think the REAL lesson is that you probably shouldn’t build really big ships and name them in a way that implies that they represent the soul of the nation, because when they get sunk it’s going to take a long time to get over it.
But I digress.
Anyway, while I can’t recommend the show to anyone with any semblance of shame, I liked both series. It’s precision-crafted to make you pick A Favorite Character, and the above-average size of the cast means that you may not see a TON of your favorite character, but it spreads the “A Spotlight On…” episodes around enough that none of them really get shoved into the category of Background Witch.
There’s apparently a third series on its way, and this one will focus on a different squadron of witches, though I’m guessing that some members of the first two series will probably at least make cameos. I’m looking forward to it.