Strike Witches Season 2 Complete Collection

UK Distributor:  Manga Entertainment

BBFC Certificate:  12

Suggested Retail Price (SRP):  £24.99

Episodes:  1-12 (of 12)

Audio Options:  English 5.1; Japanese 2.0

Subtitles:  English

Release Date:  13th August 2012

Reviewer:  Rich (Webmaster)

Strike Witches is one of those things that could only come out of Japan.  It's a series which tells an alternative history World War 2 in which the nations of the world come together to fight an alien threat rather than each other, and re-imagines some of the most celebrated fighting aces of the age as underdressed teenage girls with animal ears and magical propeller boots.  It was quite silly and had so much fanservice you kind of became desensitised to it by about the 3rd episode, but it obviously sold well enough for Manga to release the second series!

After the end of the first series humanity was on the cusp of making contact with the invading Neuroi, who have created a humanoid proxy to communicate with a human representative.  However, this brief hope is dashed by the appearance of a new, much larger and far more aggressive Neuroi Hive, which destroys the original hive and proxy before it can make contact and then takes control of Venice.  Back in Japan Yoshhika Miyafuji has received another letter from her mysteriously absent father and attempts to find Mio Sakamoto in the hope she can decipher the message.  However, when she gets to the airbase Mio is about to be flown out to defend Rome, and against her orders Miyafuji resumes her military service to fly out with her.  Once stationed near Rome Miyafuji and Sakamoto are reunited with the other nine members of the 501st division, reforming the Strike Witches unit which performed so well against the previous hive.  However, this challenge is not like the one they faced before.  The new Hive is larger, more active and far more dangerous than the last, it learns from its defeats and adapts its Neuroi attacks accordingly and some of the newer witches - in particular the trio of Miyafuji, Lynette and Perrine - are going to need to improve if they are to stand a chance.  With new training regimes lined up, new technology at their disposal and plenty of experience the Strike Witches are looking strong enough to face the threat, but not everything is going their way.  Old rivals and dangerous enemies lie in wait for them, but the biggest problems come from inside - whether a loss of confidence affecting their power or overexertion potentially causing lasting damage - and at 20 years old Sakamoto's time on the battlefield is drawing to a close.  As witches age their powers diminish, and with Sakamoto already at a point where she can no longer create shields can she hold on long enough to make a difference in the battle or will she become just another civilian?

Some friendly advice - if you are going to do an anime drinking game where you take a drink every time a character shows their pants, don't do it with this series.  We tried it with the first series and were nearly on dialysis by end of the opening credits, and if anything this series has even more pants and boobs than the last one managed.  In fact I was slightly concerned that the discs were going to reach some kind of critical mass and collapse in on themselves in a black hole of panty shots and bath scenes.  Strike Witches 2 plays the fanservice card

from the start, all of the witches continue to parade around sans trousers and one of the first things they do when they get to their new base is get the outdoor communal bath fixed.  There's an episode which revolves around an insect-sized Neuroi which keeps hiding in their knickers and the usual jokes about breast size.  However, despite the amount of fanservice and nudity it's not really sexualised.  There are few male characters and no romantic subplots to speak of, in fact what the series focuses on more than anything else is the characters' friendships.

The bid to repel the Neuroi invasion may be the central premise of the series, but it's the characters that really drive the story and make Strike Witches 2 surprisingly entertaining.  The cast have a certain charm about them despite their often clichéd nature, and it's nice to see a variety of nationalities represented in a positive light - something anime doesn't have a great track record of doing.  Miyafuji is arbitrarily the main character, but the story doesn't neglect any of the large cast with several characters being the focus of whole episodes.  Sakamoto in particular is central to the main story, and her struggles to master the legendary 'True Reppuzan' sword technique whilst her power fades proves integral to a pretty laboured plot.  The cast really makes the series enjoyable and there's plenty of action to keep things moving at a decent pace.  The Neuroi threat changes from episode to episode with the witches frequently having to think up new ways of combating each one, often having to work together or overcome internal problems to ensure they save the day.  It's quite cheerful in many ways, and is often a little lighter on the drama then it could be, but there is plenty of humour and the action is excellent throughout.  There's a real polished feel to the visuals and animation too, making the series look pretty impressive whatever you think of the content, and there's a real sense of fun despite the wartime setting.

That said the series does take a bit of a 'monster of the week' approach to the Neuroi and takes quite a few of its pointers for them from Evangelion, particularly the regeneration and the various different forms they take.  There's also a strange lack of danger, despite the witches battling deadly opposition they never seem to be particularly at risk and most of the time their battles are little more than shooting fish in a barrel.  The characters may be likeable but are all pretty standard anime archetypes, and there's no real explanation as

to why the army and navy continue to try and fight the Neuroi when only the witches seem to be capable of defeating them.  Conventional weapons are shown time and time again to have no effect, yet that doesn't stop the navy sending fleet after fleet at them and losing ships left, right and centre.  It just doesn't make any sense.  The story doesn't throw up any real surprises and there's little in the series that you haven't seen before either. 

Nonetheless Strike Witches Series 2 is something I didn't expect to enjoy, but I actually did.  It takes fanservice to a new level, but unlike the abhorrent Dance in the Vampire Bund there's nothing really seedy or objectionable about it.  In fact it often seems more farcical than pervy.  Visually it's really impressive with some fantastic effects in the aerial battles and some real care and attention put into the backgrounds and character designs, but it's the charming and likeable cast that really makes it worth watching.  After the national stereotypes of Hetalia it's great to see the series avoiding lazy characterisation with an engaging cast that are all based on real World War 2 flying aces.  God only knows what they'd make of their depictions, but for the viewer it makes for a varied and interesting set of characters which elevate the series beyond the clichés and below par storyline.  Strike Witches 2 is not earth-shatteringly good or even above average, but it is an entertaining and fun bit of hokum with memorable characters, plenty of action and a metric tonne of fanservice.  It looks great and provided you leave your brain at the door there's plenty to enjoy, just don't expect much in the story department.


A couple of audio commentaries from the English dub cast and crew for episodes 5 and 9, and a clean opening and ending sequence grace the discs.  Strangely the series actually has each ending sequence sung by a different person, but we only get one of the sequences here.  A bit of a missed opportunity, as is the lack of chapters in the episodes themselves, which makes it impossible to skip the credits without fast forwarding.


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