Hikari a cute.
How fascinating. I haven’t been keeping up with the Strike Witches franchise ever since I watched the movie several years ago, so I was looking forward to finding out how they would handle this spin-off, especially since my traditional stance is that I’m quite averse to this sort of new production arising out of an existing series. My enjoyment of Strike Witches primarily derived from not the setting, but rather the cast of characters and my familiarity with them. You could make me watch Sky Girls or anything where humanity develops new technology powered by cute girls while under threat from an alien species impossible to communicate with, and it wouldn’t be the same because Erica or Sanya or Yoshika aren’t in any of those. So, like with Love Live Sunshine, you can imagine that my initial reaction wasn’t great the very first time I heard about this. I’m attached to the characters in the 501st, and all of a sudden there’s this new anime featuring girls who look awfully similar to those in the 501st but with changed personalities and edited designs. Apart from Not!Yoshika there’s a more serious version of Shirley, an untanned Lucchini, and so on. I think I can see Eila and Lynette in some of the others, too. That being said, the last time I reacted like this was with Sunshine, and over the summer I watched it nonetheless and fell in love with Aqours. I decided to therefore begin this with a different mindset – I’m not attached to any of these characters, but that may change in the future and the important thing is to keep an open mind for now.
Not!Yoshika is a more fitting name for Hikari than I expected. I intended to use it in jest, but she really is not Yoshika yet a a lot like her. It’s probably the case that Hikari’s talent is buried a bit deeper in her than Yoshika’s was, possibly due to Hikari having lived in the shadow of her sister for her entire life. But both are energetic little girls from Not!Japan with short brown hair and cute tails who will end up somewhere in Europe in a Witch unit together with other girls from countries like Not!Germany, Not!Finland and Not!Russia. I actually really liked how they’re portraying Hikari as the underdog – it’s a nice change from Yoshika, who although was inexperienced had a habit of pulling miracles out of her panties. In contrast, Hikari is clumsy, is struggling to achieve as much as her sister and doesn’t particularly stand out in school. I’m sure she’ll still end up saving the day somehow when she’s with the 502nd, but the way that’ll happen may not be as we expect. Speaking of her school actually, I’m surprised Witch schools are a thing. As I understand, Brave Witches takes place around the same time as Strike Witches, right? That must be the case if Yoshika is with Sakamoto-san, but no-one from Fuso has ever heard of her – it means that all her achievements haven’t happened at this point. So schools existed, but they were never really featured in Strike Witches. It might just be because Yoshika got into the 501st through unorthodox means instead of properly enlisting into the military like Takami did.
I also enjoyed the relationship between Hikari and Takami. You’d almost expect Hikari to be bitter about the disparity between her and her sister, but I’m glad there’s none of that sort of drama. Takami is also a nice girl, which is not what I’ve come to expect from series featuring a high-achieving onee-chan. I almost expected her to treat Hikari like Maho treated Miho, or like Teru still treats Saki. Both sisters are now heading to Europe, but they’ve made it unclear whether they’ll both join the 502nd – I’ve fallen out of touch with all sorts of Strike Witches-related content, so I have no idea. I do think it’ll be harder for Hikari to grow as a character if Takami is always around, however. A related issue I’m interested in is Takami’s age. As you might expect from a series like this, one of the significant characteristics of Witches they made sure to highlight in the original anime was that they lose their magic as they get older. Sakamoto Mio suffered from this exact problem as the anime progressed. I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a mini-arc revolving around Takami and her magic deteriorating, which would explain why she’s only standing on the deck of a ship in the OP and not flying through the sky with Hikari.
I do have a small gripe with how Hikari even has this opportunity to be deployed to Europe in the first place – what can she possibly do there? She’ll do something major because she’s the protagonist, but what were the top brass thinking in asking for a single student to be deployed to Europe? And the school decided to select people by asking for ad-hoc volunteers? I can see that they do genuinely need reinforcements, which explains why Takami was immediately sent out so soon after returning to Fuso. But if they want to make a real difference, then either send all vaguely competent students or no students and find other girls. Hikari going to Europe almost feels like an exchange program in disguise. Oh, and for what it’s worth (because I doubt she will be very relevant) it was nice that Hikari sort of became friends with Misumi after saving her. I kind of expected Misumi to be less grateful than she was, so her thanks was a pleasant surprise.
As you might expect, just like with its predecessor Brave Witches is likely to have a couple of lewd scenes. I loved the scar scene, and I’ve always been a fan of how the girls wear nothing but bloomers (which effectively function as panties) when putting on Striker Units. And you can stare at them all the time, because Gonzo went out of their way to animate lots of close-up shots (like with Perrine) and I’m sure Silver Link will do the same. At other times they look like they’re not wearing any because of the length of their other clothes or the camera angle at which they’re being depicted. Truly a work of art, this series is. I’m neutral about the kemonomimi ears and tails. They’re cute, but they’re not really my thing and so I don’t really care either way.
I hope to have the time to cover this. I can’t guarantee it, because Hibikek comes out on the same day and my love for that is greater than my love for this, not going to lie. But this is interesting, and the aerial combat scenes get really exhilarating so it’s worth a watch for sure. The animation quality is also noticeably higher now that almost a decade has passed since it first aired. I’ll have to see what my schedule is like on Wednesdays and see if I can fit in two posts a day, although at first blush that seems unlikely. Maybe I’ll defer posts to Thursday?
Possibility of Watching: Guaranteed
Possibility of Blogging: High