The Infinite Zenith

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Strike Witches: 501st Joint Fighter Wing Take Off! – Whole series review and reflection

“As long as there are those that remember what was, there will always be those that are unable to accept what can be. They will resist.” –Thanos, Avengers: Endgame

Everyday life at base continues for the 501st, with the Witches butchering their celebrations for Halloween, do their best to give Mio a proper haircut, attempt to fix Francesca’s toothache, explore different ways to relax and prepare for their night duties. The Witches also attempt to stay cool under the hot summer weather, and even begin picking up basic first aid skills from Erica, but fail when they become distracted by their mannequins. When Mio’s execution of the reppuzan levels the base, the Witches are taken to a desert island while the navy engages the Neuroi hive. A stray blast from Mio’s sword destroys the distant hive, and Yoshika loses all of her magic attempting to absorb the reppuzan when Mio’s sword goes out of control. The Witches are forced to disband now that the Neuroi threat has been neutralised, and from the fact they have no base to return to. This brings the only anime I actively followed during the spring season to a close, and I imagine that readers would be surprised that I return to wrap up my thoughts about it, especially considering that Joint Fighter Wing Take Off! was a series of shorts of similar length to Yama no Susume, but unlike Yama no Susume, has no coherent theme to speak of.

While Joint Fighter Wing Take Off! may lack a central message, character growth and even serviceable artwork and animation, the series proved to be surprisingly entertaining by accentuating the outrageous interactions amongst the characters and placing them in ridiculous situations. In the near-total absence of a Neuroi threat, if the girls are allowed to come and go as they please, complete chaos reigns as a result of everyone’s different cultural backgrounds and personalities. Joint Fighter Wing Take Off! suggests that without the Neuroi unifying everyone’s efforts towards defending their countries and protecting what’s dear to them, the Witches themselves are simply ordinary people who may not always see eye-to-eye, creating moments of hilarity that far exceed initial expectations for a show of its type. It then stands to reason that Joint Fighter Wing Take Off! is meant to show how extraordinary circumstances brought about by war really forces individuals to rise to the occasion and do what is necessary to protect their homelands and their people. As such, while appearing quite irrelevant and irreverent, Joint Fighter Wing Take Off! actually sets the stage for what one can reasonably expect from Strike Witches: Road to Berlin – having provided viewers with an overt display of humour, it appears that the mood looks to darken as Strike Witches returns in 2020.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • In the time since my initial discussion for Joint Fighter Wing Take Off!, very few have actively chosen to follow through with this short series which is certainly not known for being a logical or particularly useful addition to the Strike Witches world. One of the main challenges I had with Joint Fighter Wing Take Off! was figuring out how it fit in the Strike Witches chronology. Ultimately, seeing the Witches’ base as being the one shown in the second season suggests that Joint Fighter Wing Take Off! is set during the events of Strike Witches 2. The manga The Sky That Connects Us acted as a bridge between the first and second seasons: while the second season was essentially a copy of the first, it began developing a more meaningful story.

  • The page quote is actually sourced from my more recent thoughts about the old anime community: a decade ago, shows like Joint Fighter Wing Take Off! would have been subject to all sorts of criticisms simply because viewers of that time period had a stronger need to find meaning in their works and saw shows like Strike Witches as being pointless, taking away from a studio’s ability to produce more “intellectually stimulating” works. I’ve long argued that the worth of a particular piece of fiction is not judged by its social relevance or how many obscure philosophical references it possesses, but rather, by its ability to immerse or amuse.

  • One adjective that I was not expecting to characterise Joint Fighter Wing Take Off! as was “adorable” – the character dynamics actually come across as being fairly endearing even though they are, from a more rational standpoint, more mischievous than what is tolerated in a normal setting. Here, the girls use a trap to try and catch Francesca so they can pull her tooth, but manage to ensnare Sanya instead. Continuing from earlier, the page quote is also applicable to recent events: I noticed an unusual trend of inbound traffic from Anime News Network this morning and was not able to find any referral links.

  • After looking around, it appears that anyone caught linking to my blog at Anime News Network’s forums, or commenting about this blog in a positive light, will immediately have their posts deleted and may even risk a ban. I knew ANN was rather intolerant of alternate perspectives, especially with respect to their actions of late, but this really hits home as to how adverse they are to any brand of thought contrary to their own. For my readers, I recommend being more cautious about how trustworthy certain articles from ANN are, and note that it’s a good idea to always exercise one’s own judgement before reaching a conclusion; while ANN might be well-known, their authority remains questionable, and their claims are not always factual. Back in Joint Fighter Wing Take Off!, after finding a way to enjoy the months-old mochi from home with the others, Yoshika prepares to write a thank you letter for her family.

  • Mio remarks that onsen are best piping hot to the point of pain, and Perrine agrees even though it causes her discomfort, when Gertrude comments on the heat. I’m particularly fond of this moment: Mio’s characteristic laugh makes a brief return, and the facial expression on Gertrude reminds me somewhat of Harukana Receive‘s Haruka. Gertrude ended up being my favourite character from Joint Fighter Wing Take Off! because of her uncommon affection towards Yoshika: here, she’s far more supportive and concerned about Yoshika than anywhere else in Strike Witches.

  • One of the few grievances I have about Joint Fighter Wing Take Off! is that Lynette’s role was diminished. I vaguely recall mentioning this in my talk at the three episode mark, and I would hazard a guess that the reason for this is because Lynette is, compared to the other Witches, less remarkable in personality. Her main defining characteristic is to act as a peer for Yoshika, having somewhat more experience with the 501st while simultaneously being someone Yoshika could easily speak with. In Joint Fighter Wing Take Off!, Gertrude fulfills this role, and Lynette is rarely seen.

  • In Strike Witches‘ first season, Yoshika is depicted as having an uncommon fixation on the members of the 501st with a more substantial bust, but over time, this aspect to her character vanished. In Joint Fighter Wing Take Off!, Yoshika’s perversions are back, being presented as a minor part of the series’ comedy. However, even this is dialed back: Joint Fighter Wing Take Off!‘s comedy comes from situational irony rather than anything lewd.

  • Gertrude is seen whipping up some coffee for Charlotte and Erica, who find the concoction surprisingly bitter. While I’ve mentioned my preference for tea over coffee previously, the reality is that practicality, rather than taste, is the primary consideration. In my coffee, I prefer adding milk and sugar, which transforms it into a Café au lait. My favourite coffee beverage, however, is mocha: essentially espresso mixed into hot chocolate, it is sweet and packs a small wallop.

  • Hanna-Justina Marseille makes an appearance in Joint Fighter Wing Take Off!, showing up as a part of a publicity stunt. Like her Strike Witches incarnation, Hanna is bold and confident, but is shocked that no one even recognises her. What’s more, Erica has now perfected the art of sleeping with her eyes open, and fails to see their guest. Later, while Hanna is conversing with Charlotte about tricks performed during combat, Charlotte refers to the time when Minna destroyed a Neuroi with her backside, earning her a beat down from Minna.

  • While Hanna refuses to do autographs, this is actually a ploy: she is flattered when Gertrude asks her for one such that she may give it to Chris, her younger sister. The observant reader will note that Joint Fighter Wing Take Off! makes extensive use of characters in the background to accentuate the impact of the humour.

  • Mio’s use of a towel in Kanpu masatsu is a Japanese custom that is said to ward off disease and promote health. By rubbing oneself with a dry towel and using the friction to produce heat, the exercise has been found to have mildly beneficial impacts. I first learnt about this custom in Chibi Maruko-chan, and was quite surprised by this, since folk from Hong Kong, who are used to hot climates, have not developed an equivalent exercise for keeping warm.

  • Gertude is normally quite disciplined and stuffy about the rules, but when she accidentally renders their vehicle inoperable on an outing, she’s forced to employ the same trick that Erica used during Strike Witches with the hope of hitching a ride. To her mortification, the vehicle that pulls up when she uses this stunt happens to be operated by Erica.

  • In Joint Fighter Wing Take Off!, Gertude is even more physical in expressing her displeasure for the the antics of others. She throws Charlotte and Francesca out a window for dressing inappropriately when the weather turns hot, and the two end up writhing on the beach. Much of the humour in Joint Fighter Wing Take Off! may come from ludicrous moments, but there are also points where things are funny because they are non sequiturs.

  • Eventually, to beat the heat, Charlotte and Francesca suggest lighting a hundred candles and telling ghost stories, extinguishing the candles one by one until a hundred stories are told. No one else participates, and Charlotte realises that the only reason this even works is because the candles themselves heat the room up, therefore, by blowing them out, the apparent temperature is lowered. Eyeballing the problem, a hundred candles could conceivably increase the temperature of a room to a noticeable extent.

  • One aspect of Joint Fighter Wing Take Off! that proved unexpectedly funny was how open Eila was about her feelings towards Sanya. While this was always more implicit in Strike Witches, the manga was a bit more forward about this. Sanya, on the other hand, defies expectations by being a bit more violent about things. Despite appearing calm and quiet in earlier iterations, the Joint Fighter Wing Take Off! version of Sanya has no reservations about slapping Eila, such as here, when she makes a dummy of Sanya for medical training purposes.

  • Despite her efforts to train the others in basic first aid, and having studied diligently for her own future, Erica ultimately comes up short when everyone deviates from their original assignments. Perrine ends up making a dummy in Mio’s likeness, and when Lynette shoots “Mio”, Perrine loses her composure, with the assignment completely forgotten. Upon seeing this, Mio assumes that she’s a ghost now and speaks to Minna, who is shocked. The Mio of Strike Witches would never succumb to such capers, hence the amusement.

  • If I failed to provide context for this moment, one would be forgiven for thinking that Perrine and Yoshika were somehow responsible for Mio’s “death”. However, this is thankfully not the case, and a few laughs arise from how outrageous things are. Moments like these are why Joint Fighter Wing Take Off! ended up exceeding expectations: I entered with the expectation that the series would be almost entirely slice-of-life driven, was a little dissuaded by the art style, but then warmed up to the hilarity the series bought to the table.

  • The Witches end up being dropped off on a desert island for some rest and relaxation after Mio accidentally destroys half the base with the reppuzan. During their excursion, Mio manages to unintentionally stop a Neuroi hive on her own when her sword loses control, and it takes Yoshika’s intervention to save Mio. On the topic of excursions, my past weekend was no less exciting than the trip to the Okanagan, and with the Calgary Stampede in town, I had a chance to try some outrageous midway foods of my own. Last Friday, I visited the Calgary Stampede after work and opened dinner with a corndog poutine that was savoury and also was topped with a flavourful honey mustard. I also ended up having a grilled lobster roll, which was very tasty and together with the corndog poutine, constituted the evening meal.

  • Besides poutine and a lobster roll, I also had the chance to check out one of the more exotic offerings of the year. Dubbed the Flamin’ Frog Legs, this midway cuisine consists of seasoned and marinated frog legs breaded with hot Cheetos. The combination worked surprisingly well, and I loved the sweet, slightly-fishy taste and chicken-like texture of the frog meat. I declined to play any of the midway games, but I did end up seeing the fireworks from the cable car ride on the fairway grounds. Back in Joint Fighter Wing Take Off!, Minna announces the dissolution of the 501st now that the Neuroi have been halted and their base destroyed.

  • In the end, Gertrude was the true MVP of Joint Fighter Wing Take Off!, acting as an elder-sister figure for Yoshika and looking after her, shielding her from the wackier personalities of the 501st. Overall, I ended up enjoying Joint Fighter Wing Take Off! much more than I thought I would, attesting to the value of keeping an open mind. With Joint Fighter Wing Take Off! now in the books, I proceed to the summer anime, and remark that I will be blogging about two series for the summer.

In light of what Joint Fighter Wing Take Off! has succeeded in doing, my impressions of this series overall are that it proved much more entertaining and amusing than I had initially thought. Coupled with creating a dichotomy of sorts for Road to Berlin, it appears that Joint Fighter Wing Take Off! is meant to be a calm before the storm, providing viewers with a rambunctious and exuberant portrayal of what the Witches are like outside of their duties to remind them of how everyone would be were it not for conflict. Joint Fighter Wing Take Off! presents the Witches as caricatures of their typical selves, exaggerating all aspects to leave audiences with a stronger impression of what everyone is like. I ultimately found Joint Fighter Wing Take Off! to be a superb comedy, but I cannot recommend this series to anyone save the most dedicated Strike Witches fans simply because the series does require some requisite knowledge of what Yoshika and the others are like, as well as for the fact that the premise and art style demand acceptance that this is not Strike Witches as we would normally know. With this short comedy in the books, the path is set for 2020’s Road to Berlin, during which I am certain that the stakes will be considerably higher than anything we’d seen previously.

Strike Witches: 501st Joint Fighter Wing Take Off! – Review and Impressions After Three

“Nobody exists on purpose, nobody belongs anywhere everybody’s gonna die. Come watch TV.” –Morty Smith, Rick and Morty

Strike Witches: Road to Berlin is coming out in 2020, and then Luminous Witches will air in 2021, it looks like the Strike Witches franchise has returned in full after a slow start in 2007 with its OVA – this series has been polarising for seemingly being an excuse to showcase female soldiers running around without any pants, but as the series progressed, it also matured deeply, showing that elements of world building can indeed far outweigh initial impressions that the series is merely for visual charm. Themes of camaraderie, trust and a determination to protect what one holds dear, plus minor themes about technological advancement, understanding and open-mindedness began making their way into a series to give characters credible growth. Strike Witches‘ 2013 movie, Operation Victory Arrow and Brave Witches represent a maturing series that began focusing more on the human side of the Human-Neuroi War, and of late, Strike Witches has become much more than being a flimsy excuse to fill a screen with crotches. It’s now been some two years since Brave Witches, and four years since Operation Victory Arrow; with new Strike Witches on the horizon, it stands to reason that fans have definitely earned something in the meantime to re-light their interest in the series.

Strike Witches: 501st Joint Fighter Wing Take Off! (Strike Witches: 501-butai Hasshinshimasu!) appears to be this “something”: on the surface, it deals with everyday life amongst the 501st. From Yoshika taking up cooking for everyone owing to their incapacity to cook (Minna, in particular, manages to harm her fellow soldiers more than the Neuroi do), to Gertrude’s determination to have Erica maintain a clean room, from Charlotte’s terrifying driving to Eila’s inability to properly express her feelings for Sanya, Joint Fighter Wing Take Off!‘s comical portrayal of the 501st marks a far cry from the series’ typical features. In fact, Joint Fighter Wing Take Off!‘s approach is so unexpectedly different that one would be forgiven if they were to mistake this for a bad joke: the animation and artwork appear as though it was produced by an algorithm that was designed to produce animation on its own, but was overfitted to a poor training data set. The insane premises and events suggest improvisation the same way Rick and Morty improvised the Interdimensional Cable skits. While inherently flawed, Joint Fighter Wing Take Off! also seems to express different relationships amongst the characters: Gertrude acts as a mentor of sorts for Yoshika, while the slovenly Erica seems to be more at home with the lazy Charlotte and Francesca. The dynamics result in odd moments that show the members of the 501st in a caricature form of themselves, and this produces a unique brand of humour that is as outlandish as Interdimensional Cable.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • There is no discussion out there on Joint Fighter Wing Take Off! – I don’t mean that discussions are scant, or that they are light, because there simply is no one else talking about this series. This is unsurprising, given that this Joint Fighter Wing Take Off! is meant to be a bit of a practical joke. The artwork is of a much lower quality than what I usually watch, although the vast blue skies of Strike Witches remain.

  • After becoming a part of the 501st, Yoshika is assigned to cooking duties because she’s apparently the only person on the team who can make anything edible. Gertrude feels badly for her and decides to help out. In Joint Fighter Wing Take Off!, Gertrude has a much closer friendship with Yoshika: she was initially distant, feeling Yoshika to resemble her younger sister, but the two get along quite well in Strike Witches proper.

  • Minna is the commander of the 501st, and while she’s normally gentle and kind, there are some conditions where her personality will harden, usually in regards to everyone’s safety. This will not manifest in Joint Fighter Wing Take Off!, and instead, Minna is presented as being a bit ditzy, as well as having a terrible sense of taste. Her cooking is as lethal as a M829 APFSDS, putting everyone on the floor: when she suggests cooking in place of Yoshika, everyone vehemently objects.

  • The events of Joint Fighter Wing Take Off! are not so clearly determined: while everyone is located at the Britannian base see in the first season, Mio and Minna mention an infamous scene where Minna, concerned for Mio’s safety, holds her at gunpoint and demands that Mio stand down from active duty. This occurred later in season one, and the 501st leave the Britannian base after the season ends. The Sky That Connects Us shows that everyone is scattered around the globe, so Joint Fighter Wing Take Off! might not be really a formal part of the Strike Witches timeline.

  • Charlotte and Erica are perhaps two of the scummiest members of the 501st, if Joint Fighter Wing Take Off! is anything to go by. When assigned to patrol duty, they simply lounge around in swimwear and suggest that Yoshika do the same. It’s a callback to the first episode when Charlotte is seen chilling, but unlike the series proper, the low level of detail means that contours and the like are rendered with a much lower fidelity.

  • Whereas Gertrude usually is content to deliver a verbal tongue-lashing in response to Erica’s slovenly ways, in Joint Fighter Wing Take Off!, she resorts to physical beatings that put everyone on the floor. Yoshika is made to suffer when she decides to do patrol duty properly and is given a heavy jacket that gives her heat stroke. With Yoshika out of commission, Minna cooks for everyone and manages to harm the 501st in ways that even the Neuroi do not.

  • When Gertrude’s patience with Erica’s mess reaches its limits, she enlists Yoshika to help her in clearing out a mess that would defeat even the Konmari Method™: Marie Kondo’s approach to reducing clutter is to use a simple metric in deciding what to keep and what to chuck. If something creates happiness or has sentimental value, it can be kept, and otherwise, it is to be discarded. My parents’ method is simpler and more effective – if something is actively being used, then it should be kept.

  • I would imagine that my parents’ approach, which I’ve adopted, would make for a much more boring approach. Back in Joint Fighter Wing Take Off!, the Konmari Method™ eventually results in a series of accidents that allow Erica’s mess to be cleared, but also causes her to lose a medal. While trying to find the medal, Erica reintroduces the mess, undoing everyone’s efforts. One wonder how such a mess is even possible.

  • I actually had no intentions of writing about Joint Fighter Wing Take Off!, but the combination of wanting to give myself a challenge and the fact that there’s no other blogs talking about this series means a unique opportunity for me to see if there’s anything noteworthy I could say about what essentially amounts to a shoddily-prepared show for something like Interdimensional Cable: the events of Joint Fighter Wing Take Off! are outlandish and zany enough so that they could fit within the realm of what is shown in the multi-verse.

  • Fanservice in is much lighter in Joint Fighter Wing Take Off! than anywhere else in Strike Witches, which started out shoving everyone’s pantsu into the viewers’ faces. AS the series progressed, while such moments were still present, they became secondary to character growth. Here, Erica and Charlotte apologise after Minna kicks their asses for making fun of her dress.

  • The Interdimensional Cable atmosphere of Joint Fighter Wing Take Off! is why I’ve opted to go with one of the more famous quotes from Rick and Morty, where Morty presents a very bleak view of the universe to Summer and suggests that things are what they are, so one might as well enjoy themselves with the time and plane of existence they do have. This is one way of saying that folks should not be so invested into minutiae surrounding their entertainment and take things a little less seriously.

  • After Minna and Mio are invited to a party for officiers, Gertrude and Yoshika overlook duties at the base. They ren’t enough to rein in the undisciplined antics of Erica, Francesca and Charlotte, but it turns out that, in the absence of standards, Erica, Francesca and Charlotte actually have no goofing off to do. They decide to explore the rooms of their squadron mates, but find things that disturb them.

  • Francesca, Charlotte and Erica’s reactions mirror my reaction to the weather yesterday: we’re only a stone’s throw from May, but Winter evidently wasn’t through with us yet and dropped 15 centimetres of snow on the city, bringing everything to a halt. Back in Joint Fighter Wing Take Off!, Yoshika and Gertude explained that nothing special occurred, while the lipstick marks on Mio and blood on Minna imply that something hilarious went down behind the scenes.

  • After Yoshika accepts her paycheque, which features a bonus because her cooking is single-handedly keeping everyone’s spirits up, Yoshika decides to go shopping for new cooking implements. Gertrude decides to accompany her, along with Lynette, but when Charlotte offers to drive, the mere suggestion is enough to strike fear into the hearts of all those who know of her driving. As far as I can tell, Charlotte was not that bad a driver in Strike Witches, and I don’t ever recall a moment where she’s driven anyone anywhere.

  • A part of the humour in Joint Fighter Wing Take Off! stems from implicit moments, as well: leaving audiences to work out what occurred can be as funny as seeing things for oneself. While I’ve not very much to say about things in Joint Fighter Wing Take Off!, I can say that watching the incredible antics of the 501st does bring a smile to my face. One of the genuine criticisms I have of Joint Fighter Wing Take Off! so far is that Lynette hasn’t had much screen time yet. Of the Witches, I’m rather fond of her character.

  • Back at base, Minna decides to make lunch, and Eila somehow gets pulled into things, reasoning that fermented stuff akin to the Japanese-style cooking Yoshika’s been doing must taste better. They whip up pickled herring and decide to add ammonia to it (which, incidentally, is toxic), scaring the living daylights out of Erica. She runs off to find Mio, in the hopes of putting an end to this nightmare. When Mio manages to cut the containers open, their noxious gases incapacitates her, reducing her to a trembling wreck. In any other series, this would be a pretty big deal, but in Joint Fighter Wing Take Off!, all injuries are temporary, and all damage sustained is quickly repaired. Hence, viewers may enjoy a laugh at Mio’s expense.

  • Later, Eila succumbs to a cold and is bed ridden: while Yoshika accompanies Sanya on a night mission, Gertude and Erica look after her. Eila’s feelings for Sanya have formed the basis for many a joke in-series: Sanya is near oblivious to Eila’s feelings even where everyone else is aware of them.

  • I’ve heard that summoning circles are all the rage on social media these days, and after leaving some of the Sanya cutouts so Eila won’t be lonely, the others allow her to rest. These props actually glow in the dark by some unknown mechanism, and actually look quite intimidating. When Sanya returns from her patrol and sees these, she’s a little put off, and once Eila recovers, she immediately hunts down Erica for the trouble.

  • If folks were looking for a proper slice-of-life with the 501st, then Operation Victory Arrow and the manga, The Sky That Connects Us, do a solid job of presenting what goes down between Neuroi attacks. I will be returning to write about Joint Fighter Wing Take Off! towards the end of the season: while nothing substantial, it is something that is fun in its own right. We are at the end of April now, and now is a good time as any to mention that, after a day of delayed flights, I am now in San José, California, where I will be attending Facebook’s Developer Conference, F8. I may work on a few posts here and there, but I expect to be quite busy until my return early May.

While Joint Fighter Wing Take Off! has numerous flaws and very little in the way of themes, its unusual brand of humour brings out the worst of all the characters and gives audiences something to laugh at – I imagine that this is a deliberate design choice to keep audiences busy, and presumably, to lower their guard ahead of Road to Berlin‘s release. Since Joint Fighter Wing Take Off! comes across as weak, Road of Berlin will stand in stark contrast and be more consistent with the increasingly detailed and mature themes that Strike Witches has trended towards. Fans of Strike Witches won’t gain much more than a few cheap laughs out of the characters’ misfortune in Joint Fighter Wing Take Off!, but it does act as somewhat of a reminder that each of Yoshika, Lynette, Perrine, Mio, Charlotte, Francesca, Gertrude, Erica, Minna, Eila and Sanya have come a long way since their initial appearances in 2008’s Strike Witches. The series is no longer dominated by needless pantsu, and there is a deeper, more enjoyable theme to the 501st’ exploits – if Road to Berlin is going to be more moody and reflective than the second season, then for the time being, viewers might as well watch everyone in unusual and strange conditions that exaggerate their characters far more than a proper season would.

Strike Witches: The Sky That Connects Us Reflection and Operation Victory Arrow News

“For fans who are sufficiently mature to get over the fanservice and minimal plot, there is much to be enjoyed from Strike Witches.” —Unknown

Late in July, I picked up a copy of Strike Witches: The Sky That Connects Us while browsing through the Chapters near campus. I had made the trip so I could purchase a birthday gift of sorts for a friend and came across a copy of the manga. Set between Strike Witches‘ season one and two in 1944, the manga details what the different members of the 501st Joint Fighter Wing are doing after they were discharged from combat operations following the first season. The original Japanese manga ran in NyanType magazine from September 26, 2009 to 2010, and was released as a single manga volume in September 2010, but it was only this June when an English version was published. It took me the entirity of August to read through it, mainly because I was also reading through Tom Clancy’s Command Authority, working on fine tuning the software for The Giant Walkthrough Brain‘s September 12/13 screening, and playing through Battlefield 4 and Titanfall from Origin’s Game Time program. Having finished the manga, I find it to be an excellent companion to the TV series, introducing several new characters into the mix while simutaneously returning readers to the familiar dynamics between the 501st members. Whether it be Lynette and Perrine’s participation in Gallia’s reconstruction, Erica and Gertrude’s encounter with a mysterious night witch or Charlotte and Francesca’s misadventures in Africa, the short stories covered in The Sky That Connects Us marks a welcome return to the Strike Witches universe, placing an emphasis on the light-hearted side of the Strike Witches franchise and answering nicely what happened between the two seasons.

  • Strike Witches is not intrinsically an anime “unable to let go of its mediocrity” (the individual who wielded such a phrase in their review is); the anime is simple and does not aim to be anything more than a fun series set in a different universe because it does not need to, and arguing about ambition is utterly meaningless (about as foolish as wondering why a shotgun cannot hit a target over 100 meters in Battlefield 3). If Strike Witches were meant to be serious, military hardware and focused leads would dominate the scene.

Besides the relatively recent release of the English-language version of The Sky That Connects Us, it is now common knowledge that Strike Witches: Operation Victory Arrow will be of a similar focus, dealing with what the girls were doing between season two and the movie. There are three OVA episodes: the first of these is dubbed Saint-Trond no Raimei, will showcase Ursula’s adventures with the Karlsland witches and will be set for release on September 20. The second OVA, titled Aegean Umi no Megami, will release on January 10, 2015 and follow the Africa Corps. At the time of writing, there has been no word on what the third one will be about, but the process of elimination suggests that it’ll be about Eliya and Sanya, Lynette and Perinne and/or the Fuso witches. No release date has been provided for the third OVA, either. With this said, I will try to have a talk out for each of the Strike Witches OVAs one the home releases become available. The release dates provided are for theatres, so the home releases will probably come out a ways after that, but in the meantime, I am quite interested to see what stories the OVAs will present. I understand that Strike Witches is not for everyone, but I find that it has a certain charm, less so for the lack of pants and more so for the alternate-universe setting.

Strike Witches Movie Review

In 1945, Yoshika Miyafuji, who lost her witch powers during the Strike Witches‘ last assignment, has been studying to become a doctor. Shizuka Hattori, one of her cadets in the Imperial Fuso Navy, then arrives to deliver a message: Yoshika is to be transferred for study abroad in Europe.

Personal Opinion

Like the K-On! review, there is a review written at my main website, providing an alternate set of screenshots and discussions. The post here is more plot-oriented, while the review at the website is more similar to a discussion of various elements in the movie.

The Strike Witches Movie is an extension of the TV series set in the movie format, as per its title, and as such, inherits all of the characteristics of the TV series. These traits include the casual plot progression and impressive visuals, as well as the formulaic development of the story: in fact, the movie can be said to draw inspiration directly from the TV series, featuring a similar exposition, rising action, climax and falling action. That said, the joys of watching Strike Witches lies not in the story itself, but the presentation and delivery of the material. Given that the movie is essentially a subclass of the TV series, everything seen in the latter can be seen in the former, but, like all subclasses, the movie introduces several new elements that takes the form of other witches, giving insight as to the sheer number of characters in the universe and their interactions with the witches in the 501st. While these stories are being told, Yoshika’s own travels with Shizuka Hattori form the backbone for the other side of the story. Upon reaching Europe, Yoshika finds herself unable to participate in combat operations and medical missions to the same extent she was once capable of in the TV series, but nonetheless attempts to help in any way she can. In a sense, the Strike Witches Movie draws some curious parallels with the Gundam 00 Movie: firstly, fans of Strike Witches will enjoy the movie, much like how Gundam 00 fans will have found their movie enjoyable. However, the assumption that viewers have a general familiarity with the story means that, like the Gundam 00 Movie, the Strike Witches Movie will leave new viewers behind in some of the terminology and expository elements. It is certainly possible to enjoy the movie as it is, although the experience is improved with a bit of knowledge concerning the aforementioned expository elements. The second set of similarities have to do with depiction of the Neuroi, which exhibit ELS-like attributes with respect to appearance and swarming behaviours, and finally, there is an uncanny parallel between Setsuna’s activation of the 00 Qan[T] and Yoshika’s recovery of her magical abilities in the final moments of their respective films. The last element is a textbook example of deus ex machina, and conveniently clears up the conflict that the rising action built on. While some view this as laziness, alternative interpretations would suggest that unique circumstances may arise in the midst of a crisis and act to produce miracles of sorts. These events are not impossible even in reality, so an open-minded viewer may be willing to suspend their disbelief and merely enjoy the story as it progresses. This claim neatly summarises my own opinions of the Strike Witches Movie: for current fans, it is most enjoyable, although newcomers will probably find that their time would be better directed at other shows, if only for the fact that such series require a bit of background that not everyone may commit time to familiarise themselves with. The movie is strong where the TV series is strong (character interactions, graphical and audio details), and weak where the TV series is weak (story progression rate, derivation in plot-advancing elements): overall, it serves as a worthy extension to the TV series and is sure to be an enjoyable watch for fans of the franchise.

  • Armed with my rudimentary and decidedly inferior Japanese skills, I’ll attempt to translate the gist of some of the moments. The movie opens with Hattori arriving to recommission Yoshika and send her to Europe: apparently, Mio was the one pulling the strings.

  • Charlotte and Lucchini are on vacation in Venizia: during their stay, the new model Neuroi appear, forcing the two into combat. They are given orders to meet with Commander Minna following their victory.

  • Yoshika has been commissioned following the events of season two and now holds the rank of shoui, which approximates to the rank of ensign in the Navy. Hattoriis a gunsou: until I get further clarification, the army equivalent of that rank is sergeant. Hattori’s lack of combat experience, coupled with stories about Yoshika’s exploits, led her to question the latter’s capacity as on officer.

  • Hattori meets Lynette and Perrine during the course of their ground journey and expresses surprise at the differences in their cultures. They travel to Perrine’s estate, which is being rebuilt and appears to be a winery.

  • While Commander Minna is designing a plan of sorts concerning the Witches, Erica and Gertrude are preparing for another patrol. Erica’s tantrum here was immensely amusing.

  • Gertrude and Erica encounter one of the new-type Neuroi while on ground patrol. These Neuroi appeared in Karlsland and is capable of movement on the ground, as well as in the air. This form has an appearance similar to that of a stick grenade. Another new type of Neuroi is presented: appearing like the ELS probes, they fight in swarms.

  • The new generation Neuroi have evolved to use radio-jamming: unable to call for reinforcements, Hattori is forced to take to the skies and engage them. Despite initial successes against the ELS-like Neuroi, she is shot down.

  • This has to be the best damn moment in the movie: despite lacking any powers, Yoshika grabs one of the auto-cannons, hauls it into the jeep and pursues the Neuroi. After a chaotic chase, she is able to shoot it down, but is severely injured in the process.

  • Mio makes a return in a biplane. Despite lacking any magic, her boisterous personality remains. The 501st have converged at this point and begin engaging the ELS probes, even as a massive battleship-like Neuroi begins to appear.

  • Movies are well-known for having excellent visuals surpassing those of their original TV series, and Strike Witches is no exception. From the blues of the skies to the textures in the trees, muzzle flashes and spent cartridges, the details bring the movie to life.

  • The sight of the 501st in combat gives Yoshika resolve, much as how Setsuna gains the resolve to exit his coma in the Gundam 00 Movie. From this resolve, Yoshika’s magic returns in full force, healing her and projecting a massive shield. This power is eerily similar to the 00 Qan[T]’s first appearance on the battlefield, where it precisely snipes an ELS probe from beyond visual range.

  • The 501st only really fight as a team in the film’s final moments. I have not heard much assessments of the movie from other sources, and in fact, news and interest in the movie have been more or less minimal since it was released today.

  • It turns out the “bomb” carried by Mio is actually the Shinden. Yoshika touches it tenderly as if greeting an old friend and immediately soars into the skies. One of the largest grievances I foresee with this turn of events is that some will find Yoshika regaining her magic to be plot-breaking, although consulting the source materials finds that Witches only weaken in magical output past the age of 20 such that they cannot fly a Striker unit but otherwise can retain some use of their magic.

  • So ,while Yoshika may have exhausted her magic two months earlier, it’s more than possible that she’s regenerated by this point. It’s rather similar to how a rechargeable battery works: the battery has a limited voltage and will deplete with use, but can be recharged (although this reduces the voltage the battery can output with consecutive recharges). In addition, Yoshika has consistently been shown to have quite a bit of innate magical power, so this outcome is not too surprising. After sharing a brief moment with Lynette, Gertrude passes Yoshika one of her own guns. Together with the 501st, they annihilate the Neuroi in a spectacular battle.

  • The movie ends with “to be continued”, something that isn’t expected from most movies. This implies that a third season will follow. The movie concludes with Yoko Ishida’s Yakusoku no sora e- watashi no ita basho.

Contrasting my usual posts, this review was made from the RAW material rather than a subbed version. With what appeared to be very little interest from the community in general, I figured I would create a reasonably detailed post about the movie such that interested parties would be able to decide if the movie was worthwhile or not. My opinion stands as thus: fans of the series will enjoy the movie, while newcomers could probably do something more constructive with 94 minutes of time.

Egoist or misinformed? Insights into DarkMirage’s thoughts on fansubs.

In the respite reading week has offered me, I think it’s time I directed some of the blog posts at some decidely ‘serious’ topics; for this particular post, it is the matter of how some individuals view the matter of fansubs. This post is not going to concern their legality (a contentious point which could fill several novels), but instead, focus on a reflection of why other anime bloggers are in no position to back their own claims of why fansubbing is illegal. In particular, I will consider DarkMirage’s “In Defence of Bandai”, a post dating back to 2006, a period when hypocritical, pretentious posts about anime fansubs were apparently all the rage.

  • Not all of these general discussion pages will have relevant images, which are here to provide some juxtaposition to the harsh tones of some of these discussions. I oppose copyright infringements as well, but I draw the line at telling people how to live their lives.

DarkMirage’s post argues that fansubs are illegal (naturally, they are, but I won’t say any more about known facts). Unfortunately for him, this contradicts the fact that his entire anime consumption is from fansubs. This is an interesting point to make, especially when one considers that he consumes fansubs, and so, is himself violating copyright. However, he nonetheless continued to download and watch fansubs in full knowledge of this, while persistently maintaining that they were illegal and should not be permitted in North America. Such a claim is easily seen as patronising and elitist in that the article is simply conveying the idea that “only [DarkMirage] is worthy of watching anime, and everyone else does not”.

DarkMirage goes on to contend that most of the motivations behind consuming fansubs are unjustifiable. For instance, he claims that fans who justify their consumption as sampling the show to see whether it is worth purchasing or not imply that a marketable source of anime exists within the market, and as such, those individuals have easy access to them. This is utterly false: anime (especially the more obscure ones) cannot be easily purchased in most markets, and do not even exist in online dealers. It is outright impossible to obtain these series via conventional means, and fansubs have existed to rectify that. DarkMirage makes a fundamental mistake here: correlation does not imply causation. In this case, just because people are claiming to watch a series to try it out does not necessarily mean that they can access the media within their own market.

In response to the individuals who believe in the ‘try-before-buying’ paradigm, DarkMirage asserts that anime is easily accessible on cable TV. As before, this is false; I leaf through the television programming schedule, and see…that’s correct…zero anime on the channels that extended cable gives. Regardless of whether it is the morning block, or prime time on any animation channel, I see nothing. These two bullet points, taken together, show me that anime fans do not simply walk into a video store and ask the clerk for anime like K-On! or Five Centimetres per Second. Saying that one can buy Neon Genesis Evanganlion, Akira or Ghost in the Shell is insufficient: these anime, while possessing admirable merits in their own right (they are classics, after all!), may not necessarily suit all fans.

As such, I conclude that DarkMirage does not genuinely support copyright laws, but rather, is merely trying to promote his ego by asserting that other individuals do not deserve to consume and enjoy anime. If this is not the case, then DarkMirage is sadly misinformed about the staus of anime in North America: there simply is no market for it here, and it is unprofitable to cater to a niche market, hence the absence of anime.