“Comedy is great because there’s no overhead.” –Ron White
In the aftermath of their triumph over the Neuroi Hive, the 501st Joint Fighter Wing’s members head their separate ways, and Yoshika returns home a hero. With her magic depleted, Yoshika decides to study conventional medicine instead, although she feels that she’s become useless in the days since her return. When Mio visits and learns of Yoshika’s ambitions to pursue medicine, she passes this information to Minna, who suggests giving Yoshika a recommendation to an European medical school, thereby giving everyone an opportunity to be with Yoshika again. Sargeant Hattori Shizuka is assigned to help with escorting Yoshika over from Japan to Europe, and upon arriving in a port in Calais, Yoshika reunites with Lynette and Perrine. Meanwhile, upon hearing of Yoshika’s arrival, Charlotte, Francesca, Sanya and Eila prepare to head off to join the rest of the 501st. En route to Dijon, Yoshika and Shizuka encounter a Neuroi. They rush off to sound an evacuation of a nearby village, only to find the village deserted. When a massive Neuroi appears, the two hide under a jeep. However, having caught snippets of their communications, Minna and the others arrive to help Yoshika and Shizuka out: the Yamato also joins the group en route to the combat area. Erica and Gertrude swiftly locate the pair, and the Yamato shells the Neuroi, destroying it swiftly before Shizuka has a chance to see the famed 501st in combat. Amidst the reunion, Yoshika’s magic reawakens. She heals Charlotte and Erica after Gertrude mangled their faces in anger for having lied about Yoshika being lost to the Neuroi. With the 501st back together, Mio invites Shizuka to join them as they continue on with escorting Yoshika to applying for medical school.
Going from the summary alone, one would never have guessed that Joint Fighter Wing Take Off! The Movie was a spin-off comedy of the main Strike Witches series. The film premièred in Japan in October 2019 and saw a home release on Christmas Day, acting as a continuation to the events of Joint Fighter Wing Take Off!. In practise, Joint Fighter Wing Take Off! The Movie is a light-hearted parody of the events seen in Strike Witches: The Movie, which similarly started out with Yoshika accepting an offer to pursue medicine overseas, reunite with the 501st and help fight off a massive Neuroi, regaining her powers in the process. Despite Joint Fighter Wing Take Off! The Movie parodying the events of Strike Witches: The Movie, it manages to inherit the original movie’s thematic elements in showing how one’s heroes aren’t always what they seem. In both films, Shizuka learns that the entire 501st aren’t exactly the stoic heroes she’d imagined them to be, but these imperfections do not diminish each Witches’ sense of duty when the moment calls for it. Joint Fighter Wing Take Off! The Movie thus comes across as being particularly enjoyable because comedy is injected into every turn of the film: Yoshika laments being a freeloader while at home, Lynette’s openly aware of Yoshika’s perverted tendencies and greets her in a way to avoid being groped when she arrives in Europe, the town Yoshika and Shizuka are empty and therefore didn’t need saving, and Shizuka’s hopes of seeing Mio and the 501st in action are dashed when the Yamato one-shots the Neuroi threatening the town. Distinct character traits about each of the Witches are brought out in full force, but rather than degrading the characters, serves to make their dynamics more hilarious than in the original movie.
Joint Fighter Wing Take Off! The Movie ended up being an unexpectedly pleasant surprise with respect to its artwork: from Calais to St. Trond, and the Miyafuji Clinic, all of the backgrounds and settings in the film are rendered with a surprising amount of detail, comparable to the main series itself. While Yoshika and the others retain their distinct, flatter appearances, the artwork in this movie is improved over that of its predecessor. Despite being thirty minutes in length, Joint Fighter Wing Take Off! The Movie does indeed feel like a movie, taking the Joint Fighter Wing Take Off! universe and expanding in the scale of both universe and story. The high quality of artwork suggests that the creators had fun making this series, and despite the emphasis on comedy, Joint Fighter Wing Take Off! should be considered as a legitimate part of the Strike Witches universe. For a series that was meant to act as a light-hearted romp, a parody of the original Strike Witches, Joint Fighter Wing Take Off! proved quite enjoyable in its own right, and the movie certainly reiterates this. Joint Fighter Wing Take Off! The Movie wisely chooses not to do anything novel with the story or introducing anything new. In this way, Joint Fighter Wing Take Off! The Movie succeeds in giving viewers a very brief, but enjoyable primer on what Strike Witches: The Movie had been about, leaving them in a good spot for the third season.
Screenshots and Commentary
- A quick glance at the calendar shows that today marks the twelfth anniversary of the Beijing 2008 Summer Olympics. It’s bewildering as to how time flies, but I still remember their opening ceremony, which concluded with Li Ning igniting the cauldron by ascending into the air on wires, after a stunning four hour show of Chinese heritage and culture. To this day, no other nation has ever put on as extravagant and spectacular of a show. It’s also been more than a year since I last watched and wrote about anything to do with Joint Fighter Wing Take Off!: my original plan had actually been to write about the movie back in January, but circumstances would eventually result in my writing about the film only now. Those same circumstances have also resulted in this being the only (not just the first) talk out there on Joint Fighter Wing Take Off! The Movie – I haven’t been able to find anyone who’s seen the film or write about it anywhere else online.
- Because there is no discussion at all on the internet surrounding Joint Fighter Wing Take Off! The Movie, I’ve decided to make this post a little bigger so I can showcase more moments from the film. I feel that for a thirty minute special, it’s a bit of a stretch to count Joint Fighter Wing Take Off! The Movie as a film: this one handles more like an OVA than a movie. However, since the title is given as Strike Witches Gekijōban: 501-butai Hasshinshimasu! (げきじょうばん, Hepburn gekijiōban, means “movie of the TV series), I’ll continue to refer to it as a film rather than OVA.
- I’m rather fond of the chibi art style used in Joint Fighter Wing Take Off!; it creates an adorable feeling that gives the series the same atmosphere as something like Yuru Camp△ and GochiUsa. The original Strike Witches never evoked this feeling, being more of a thinly-veiled excuse to show off pantsu. As time wore on, Strike Witches increasingly delved into world-building and exploring the extent of the impact the Human-Neuroi War has had on everyday life.
- Joint Fighter Wing Take Off! The Movie introduces Shizuka Hattori in the Joint Fighter Wing Take Off! style. She sports the same spirit and admiration for the 501st as she did in the original movie, but lacks the persistent belief that Yoshika should act more like a soldier. Because Joint Fighter Wing Take Off! The Movie occurs when Strike Witches: The Movie does, the timeline of Joint Fighter Wing Take Off! relative to the actual series becomes much more uncertain, and it makes more sense to say that this is a full-on spin-off set in its own timeline.
- Going just from this still of the Miyafuji Clinic alone, one would never guess that Joint Fighter Wing Take Off! The Movie is a chibi spinoff of Strike Witches. The background and artwork are detailed enough to be used in Strike Witches proper. The series has come a long way in visuals; Gonzo handled the first season, and AIC would take on the second season, as well as the movie. The artistic style AIC used would carry over to Silver Link’s production of the Operation Victory Arrow series, and Joint Fighter Wing Take Off! is jointly produced by acca effe and Giga Production.
- Whereas Joint Fighter Wing Take Off!‘s animation had been deliberately inconsistent in places, Joint Fighter Wing Take Off! The Movie is much smoother and clean by comparison. Since Yoshika’s returned home, her friends in the 501st phone her on a fairly regular basis, although they tend to forget there is a bit of a time zone difference: Japan Standard Time is eight hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time, so whenever the girls call Yoshika, it’s always two in the morning for her.
- In Joint Fighter Wing Take Off!, Erica is a bit more mischievous than her usual self, although she’s still slovenly. Gertrude’s sisterly concern for Yoshika is even more pronounced: I remember Gertrude for her constantly striving to be a model soldier, but she also has a soft spot where Yoshika is concerned. In Strike Witches: The Movie, she dismisses a report as a rumour until Erica mentions Yoshika is in the area, which prompts her to change her mind immediately and kit up. GochiUsa‘s Rize Tedeza greatly resembles Gertrude, and one can’t help but feel that Rize is a stand-in for Gertrude in a fluffier environment with no warfare.
- Joint Fighter Wing Take Off! was originally based off a 4-koma manga, and as such, each episode was distinctly divided into subsections that contained a handful of strips’ worth of jokes. Running for ten minutes each, they represented a short-lived but fun experience. Joint Fighter Wing Take Off! The Movie is three times the length of an ordinary episode, and has a more movie-like feeling in that transitions between scenes are a bit less abrupt and more smoothly woven together.
- When Shizuka encounters a bear, she immediately plays dead, compliments herself on outsmarting a primitive beast and then is left to wonder what next. Most guides suggest playing dead if encountering grizzly bears, as they attack when they feel threatened. In this case, moving off slowly once it’s certain the bear is out of the area is what one should do. By comparison, black bears are more easily intimidated, and making oneself bigger, as well as vocalising loudly, is usually enough to consider these bears to run off. What Shizuka encounters is a Ursus thibetanus japonicus, the Japanese Black Bear: Japanese guides advise backing away slowly while maintaining eye contact rather than being noisy or playing dead.
- Ever since rescuing a bear cub back in the day, Yoshika’s befriended both the cub and his mother: the bear that Shizuka encounters turned out to be the same bear that Yoshika’s friends with. He brings Yoshika to Shizuka, who assumes that the latter is dead. She decides to perform CPR on Shizuka and decides to attempt chest compression, but ultimately uses the Schafer method, where the victim is placed prone and pressure is applied to the upper back. Designed to expel water from the lungs, the method was replaced by the mouth-to-mouth in 1959, which was found to be more effective in delivering air to the victim.
- Despite being a comedy, the producers for Joint Fighter Wing Take Off! The Movie did indeed take the time to research smaller details to create a plausible world. Anime that include such details end up creating a richer setting for its events, increasing immersion, but there is also one small caveat – it attracts the minds who demand utmost realism in their fiction. These people have historically attempted to speculate on events within a given series using real-world statistics and facts as the basis, but because fiction has an objective (i.e. telling a specific story), such speculation has missed the mark as writers may choose to discard some aspects of reality to better accommodate the message.
- In Japan, Yoshika is rarely seen without her best friend and classmate, Michiko Yamakawa. Michiko often brings small animals for Yoshika to heal, although in Joint Fighter Wing Take Off! The Movie, when she spots the bear, she also decides to play dead, saddening the bear and leading Yoshika to believe she’s in need to CPR. This time, Yoshika decides to go with the more modern route in the hope of copping a feel, but Michiko reveals she was never in any trouble to begin with.
- With the 501st’s message delivered, Yoshika heads off to Europe with Shizuka accompanying her. Shizuka, even more so than in the movie, begins dreaming of what she would need to do to support Yoshika and quickly ventures into yuri territory. Joint Fighter Wing Take Off! had taken what fans believed to be romantic subtexts in the original series and put them in the open for the sake of humour. I’ve seen folks taking yuri very seriously, and in fact, have lost a handful of readers over the years because of my decision not to venture into discussing these matters with an academic mindset – for me, yuri isn’t serious business in any way, and I’ve never felt it necessary to call in various –isms or -tives in my discussions of it.
- En route to Europe, Yoshika decides to hit the books and ends up going through the pile of textbooks that accompanied her. One of the questions she gets involves management of a panfacial fracture. Contemporary studies suggest that the “occlusion first” approach (i.e. reconstruction starting from the mandible to restore airways) is effective, although for Yoshika, she previously used magic to rebuild damaged faces. She begins to go on a tangent about Charlotte and Francesca, who had often received such injuries from angering Gertrude. As it turns out, they’re in North Africa on reconnaissance, but are recalled when they run up a massive invoice for their “necessities”.
- Joint Fighter Wing Take Off! The Movie‘s portrayal of Calais is solid, rivalling the movie in terms of visual quality, and the only difference is that the Amagi looks to be a little simpler, flatter, which is a part of the aesthetic seen in Joint Fighter Wing Take Off!. Traditionally, Strike Witches is something I know best for its blue skies and ocean scenery. This is the one thing about Strike Witches that has remained constant despite all of the different studios working on it. Here, I note that Joint Fighter Wing Take Off! The Movie is going to be trickier to find, and I believe Funimation is the only way to watch the film for folks overseas. Their copy of the movie, however, is of a far lower visual quality than the BD that I watched: besides having more compression artefacts, the Funimation version is also hard-subbed and watermarked.
- If I had to guess, the watermarks and hard subs are present to prevent people from taking screenshots of the movie. Funimation has a history of doing dubious things that constitute gatekeeping, but that will be a topic for another time. Returning to the movie, if memory serves, Lynette flew into Yoshika from the front when they meet during Strike Witches: The Movie. Joint Fighter Wing Take Off! The Movie has her flying in from behind – it would appear in the parodies, the other Witches are well aware of Yoshika’s fascination with mammaries and do their best to reduce the risk of Yoshika groping them. In the first season of Strike Witches, Yoshika became enamoured on the topic of mammaries after meeting Lynette and even considers groping Mio, although this trait became increasingly subtle and infrequently shown as the series wears on.
- I’d actually just gotten around to watching Joint Fighter Wing Take Off! The Movie earlier this week: it had been a long weekend, and having spent a nontrivial portion of Sunday exploring the Blackrock Depths in World of Warcraft, I was exhausted, so on the Monday, I decided to take it easy and spent the morning doing yard work, mowing the backyard and clearing it of weeds. With an open afternoon and nothing on my itinerary, I dozed off for a bit, then sat down to watch Joint Fighter Wing Take Off! The Movie and then focused on dinner prep: the August long weekend is, after all, a time of celebration: on the menu that evening was roast beef, garlic prawns, fully-loaded mashed potatoes, and roasted broccoli with red Bell peppers.
- Temperatures topped out at 28ºC on Monday, and it was a beautiful evening that I sat down for dinner to. Over the past week, it’s remained quite warm, and this is the time of year that I enjoy the most, even if it can get quite stifling once temperatures pass 25ºC: while beautiful summer days invite going for walks under blue skies and warm weather, on the hottest of days, there’s a satisfaction in lying down somewhere cool and taking it easy. This past week, it’s been hot right up until yesterday: after reaching 32ºC on Tuesday and 30ºC on Wednesday, Thursday was a cooler 28ºC, and a morning rainfall brought the high yesterday back down to 20ºC.
- Back in Joint Fighter Wing Take Off! The Movie, Eila and Sanya decide to head off and find Yoshika after Eila’s fortune-telling finds that Yoshika’s in danger. A practitioner of Tarot divination, Eila finds pulls “The Tower”, which is usually interpreted as sudden, unexpected change or adversity. However, some interpretations of “The Tower” read it as accepting higher education or liberation, as well. For folks versed in Tarot, then, “The Tower” that Eila draws has dual meaning, foreshadowing what lies ahead for Yoshika.
- At the prospect of being alone with Sanya, Eila is so aroused that her common sense evaporates, and she tries unsuccessfully to get intimate with Sanya. In the end, Sanya decides to hold hands with Eila so that she doesn’t fall asleep mid-air, sending Eila into a state of pure bliss. Of everyone in Strike Witches, the relationship between Eila and Sanya is the most obvious to spot, so even in a parody like Joint Fighter Wing Take Off!, Eila’s actions aren’t too exaggerated (which is saying something).
- Along the way, Eila and Sanya encounter the Yamato and consider asking for permission to use their communications array. However, they are pleasantly surprised to find Mio on board: at least, Sanya is happy. Eila is frustrated that her alone time with Sanya is over. This is a recurring joke throughout Strike Witches, but here in Joint Fighter Wing Take Off! The Movie, I find that Eila’s had a pretty good run compared to other series, where she gets interrupted in minutes or even seconds.
- A tunneling Neuroi appears as Shizuka and Yoshika head towards Helvetia: a small town is right in its path, and when attempts to get in contact with nearby Witches fail, Yoshika decides to take matters into her own hands. In Strike Witches: The Movie, Yoshika and Shizka separate here, with the latter heading into the town to help with the evacuation, and Shizuka taking to the skies in an attempt to engage the Neuroi. However, when Shizuka is injured, Yoshika attempts to deal with the Neuroi herself. She is able to take down the tunneling type, but is overwhelmed when an even larger Neuroi appears.
- By comparison, no one is in any imminent danger in Joint Fighter Wing Take Off! The Movie from the Neuroi; instead, it is Yoshika’s deadly driving that Shizuka must contend with. The reason why Perrine and Lynette wanted to have Shizuka drive was because Yoshika, having learnt from Charlotte herself, doesn’t exactly demonstrate the safest of practices while on the road. Shizuka sees for herself what this means, as Yoshika takes the wheel and jumps down a cliff edge in a bid to get to the nearby town more quickly.
- The tower type Neuroi leaves a bit of a plot hole in Joint Fighter Wing Take Off! The Movie, as it’s never destroyed. Still in shock from the horrors of Yoshika’s driving, Shizuka is in a deathly shade of grey and wearily remarks that she’s already dealt with the Neuroi, but Yoshika finds this a little hard to believe. As soon as this gag is over, however, it’s onto attempting to get the whole town evacuated. Transitions between moments in Joint Fighter Wing Take Off! The Movie are smooth, and there are times where viewers can forget that this film has its origins in a 4-koma manga.
- This is probably the most adorable moment in all of Joint Fighter Wing Take Off! The Movie; when Yoshika and Shizuka arrive in town, they find it completely deserted. After entering some of the buildings and calling out to people, it becomes clear that all of the residents have already evacuated, saving the two the trouble of having to do it themselves and fend of Neuroi. One of the unexpected aspects about Joint Fighter Wing Take Off! was that it proved to be as heart-melting to watch as something like Kiniro Mosaic or GochiUsa.
- In classic Joint Fighter Wing Take Off! fashion, after Shizuka and Yoshika ascertain that the town’s residents are likely safe, they encounter a ludicrous number of Neuroi. The look of shock on Shizuka’s face contrasts well with Yoshika’s attempts to get a door open so they may take cover from the Neuroi. Funny faces are high on my list of reasons why Joint Fighter Wing Take Off! is so enjoyable to watch, and here, after Yoshika fails, the two resort to hiding under their jeep while waiting out the storm.
- While hiding out, Shizuka begins daydreaming about what the 501st might pull off if they were all present, and Yoshika develops a minor nosebleed. As Shizuka and Yoshika share conversation, the members of the 501st manage to receive fragments of said conversation, pin down their approximate location and decide to head on over right away after assuming Yoshika’s taken a serious injury. Gertrude faints in shock, so Minna and Erica carry her into the combat area.
- Sanya picks up Charlotte and Francesca’s signals, as well. Hearing this, Minna formulates a simple strategy: the Yamato is to engage the Neuroi while everyone else searches the town for Yoshika and Shizuka. By now, the tower-shaped Neuroi is gone, replaced by the ship-like one that spews a legion of drones into the skies before taking to the skies itself. It’s no hive, but for the Witches, still represents a considerable challenge to take down.
- Upon arriving at the town, the 501st find the deserted jeep. When Gertrude becomes distracted by the thought of Yoshika being injured, Erica decides to convince her that in the worst case, she’d simply be able to simultaneously visit Christina and Yoshika at the same time. Gertrude flies off, leaving Erica to check the jeep, and indeed, she finds the pair hiding out here away from the Neuroi.
- Unaware that Shizuka and Yoshika are nearby, Erica brings her Striker unit close to the ground, kicking up dust that forces the pair out. Erica and Charlotte decides to pull a fast one on Gertrude: from her dialogue, it would appear that Yoshika had succumbed to her wounds. However, while the phrasing might be dubious, Erica’s not wrong: Yoshika only has a minor nosebleed that clears up in no time at all, and she isn’t in any need of healing as a result.
- Of course, when Gertrude finds out the truth, she goes ballistic and beats the living daylights out both Charlotte and Erica before hugging Yoshika in relief. During said physical beating, Yoshika attempts to avert Shizuka’s eyes, since in the latter’s mind, the 501st are a tight-knit group who care for one another; the reality is quite different, and the 501st as seen in Joint Fighter Wing Take Off! are a motley bunch who grate on one another and only keep together because of Yoshika’s cooking.
- With the Neuroi still a threat, the 501st require all of their Witches in fighting shape, and Yoshika is asked to heal them. Since her magic’s gone, Yoshika falls back on conventional medicine and estimates it’ll be about twelve years before she’s ready – Minna decides it’s worth risking Yoshika’s magic anyways. Strike Witches: The Movie had portrayed Yoshika’s magic as being completely depleted, and so, when it was restored, some viewers were quick to call it out for being implausible, drawn from thin air and magic reserves in a Witch were finite, explaining why active-duty Witches weren’t ever older than twenty.
- An old nemesis, Akeiko Sumeragi, counter-argued that a Witch’s magical output was analogous to a battery’s voltage, so it was plausible that Yoshika’s magic could return. While seeing a Witch’s magic reserves as a battery is reasonable, Sumeragi plainly didn’t understand how batteries work – his definitions do not line up with definitions used in electrodynamics. Rather than Sumeragi’s definitions, we take voltage to be a function of resistance and current; the voltage of a battery can be thought of as the rate of current flowing through it at a given time. It is thus appropriate to describe a Witch’s output as current (the amount of charge flowing through a point at a given time). In the context of Strike Witches, a high “voltage” moment would be Yoshika using Reppumaru, which pulled magic out of her very quickly, while current refers to the Witch’s ability channel the magic that powers their flight, shield and other abilities.
- Visually, if voltage is how fast a river is flowing, then current can be described by the volume of water flowing through the river. From here, the capacity of a Witch can be described as Amp hours (how much charge outputted for how long). As Witches age, one might say that current decreases as a function of resistance increasing and voltage decreasing, although in most batteries, voltage doesn’t drop as quickly as resistance increases – Sumeragi’s explanation therefore fails even if the analogy was on the right track. This is one of those things I’m weary about in anime where science is applicable to some extent; there’s always someone who thinks they know the science, but then butchers definitions and terms. If said individual is insistent they’re correct, then cyclic conversations that detract from more fruitful discussions will result.
- I don’t believe Yoshika ever meets Heidemarie in person during the course of Strike Witches, but in Joint Fighter Wing Take Off! The Movie, it appears that Heidemarie is somewhat aware of Yoshika’s reputation and prefers to hide behind Mio’s aircraft for their greeting. When Yoshika sees her body, her nosebleed immediately resumes.
- Joint Fighter Wing Take Off! The Movie appears to be finished, but there’s still the matter of the Neuroi. The vast number of drones it deployed doesn’t seem to trouble the others, but Minna notes it’s still important to deal with it before it can wreck havoc elsewhere. Mio asks Shizuka to help out with the combat, and Shizuka is excited, feeling the time has finally come to see the 501st work their magic.
- Before anyone can get up into the air, the Yamato fires its 18-inch guns and annihilates the Neuroi threat. Battleship guns have been shown to be effective against standard Neuroi – in the second of the Operation Victory Arrow episodes, Charlotte and Francesca help extract a serpent-like Neuroi by means of a cable, allowing a fleet of battleships to fire on it and destroy its core. For the most part, it would appear that Neuroi can be defeated by conventional weapons, but owing to their own durability, mobility and firepower, the Witches are required to quickly reach the core. Modern day weapons would fare a little better: cruise missiles could be shot down by the Neuroi’s beams, but highly accurate artillery fire using APFSDS rounds could conceivably punch through their armour and pierce the core.
- For her contributions, Shizuka is promptly relieved of her current mission and reassigned. However, the illusion fails here: Shizuka learns the truth behind the legend, and it is admittedly disappointing. However, Lynette steps in at the last second with a save. This puts Joint Fighter Wing Take Off! The Movie in line with Strike Witches: The Movie as far as the timeline goes, and Erica here announces her future plans to open a hospital. Erica’s lifelong ambition is to follow her father’s footsteps as a doctor, and to this end, studies conventional medicine. She invites Yoshika and the remainder of the 501st to join her, which sounds like a happy ending by any definition.
- With this, my Joint Fighter Wing Take Off! The Movie post finally comes to an end, and like Joint Fighter Wing Take Off!, I enjoyed the movie to a much greater extent than I had coming in, even though the movie is really just a parody of Strike Witches: The Movie. I am glad to have watched this film, and can therefore enter The Road to Berlin fully caught up with the Strike Witches series. Despite Joint Fighter Wing Take Off! The Movie being a tougher movie to find, it is quite worthwhile for Strike Witches fans looking for a final few laughs before we enter season three. In the meantime, I will be looking to write about Houkago Teibou Nisshi again in the near future as we near the halfway point, and two nights ago, the Calgary Flames prevailed 4-0 over the Winnipeg Jets to secure a playoff spot, winning the qualifier round three games to one, so I am looking forwards to seeing if the Flames can put up a good showing this year during the Stanley Cup run.
The greatest point of contention that Strike Witches: The Movie had left behind was the fact that at its conclusion, Yoshika had unexpectedly recovered her magical powers after having depleted them following the events of the second season. Viewers counted this as unwarranted deus ex machina, a shortcut that rendered Yoshika able to fly with the 501st once more. However, Strike Witches: The Movie had hinted that Yoshika’s magic potential had been unparalleled, and using Reppumaru to stop the Neuroi-Yamato in the second season had depleted her magical reserves at that point in time. By Strike Witches: The Movie, her powers had recharged but remained dormant – it is only when her life is in imminent danger, and she realises what’s at stake with her friends, that Yoshika regains access to her magic. This is a story-motivated decision that shows her commitment to her friends, but it’s also one with a modicum of reasoning behind it. In Joint Fighter Wing Take Off! The Movie, on the other hand, Yoshika’s powers are simply diminished and remain unfocused rather than depleted: she only seems to be able to restore hair for most of the movie. It isn’t until a hug from Lynette that helps her to focus and apply healing magic to fix Charlotte and Erica – Joint Fighter Wing Take Off! The Movie jokingly suggests that it’s the power of friendship that helps Yoshika regain access to her magic, but the fact that Yoshika’s power is simply reduced, rather than absent, indicates that it was not so outrageous for her to regain access to them in Strike Witches: The Movie. In this way, by painting the serious events of Strike Witches: The Movie in a lighter tone, Joint Fighter Wing Take Off! The Movie acts as a gentle re-treading of the movie, a chance to provide the characters of the 501st Joint Fighter Wing to bounce off one another one more time, before things turn serious again for Strike Witches‘ third season, The Road To Berlin. Some thirteen months after I’d last wrote about Joint Fighter Wing Take Off!, I continue to stand by my assertion that, given the sheer comedy derived from Joint Fighter Wing Take Off!, I anticipate that The Road To Berlin is going to be much more serious in nature, and more focused, compared to its predecessors.