We won’t know until we try.
Those are words to live by. They may be a little reckless and impractical in real life, but the sentiment is a valuable one. And when applied to this episode, I don’t think it was purely a case of Hikari demonstrating her spirit, but also a way of proving to Takami that she has indeed grown a whole lot stronger since they both left Fusou and that she’s a capable Witch in her own right now. As I watched Hikari, I teared up thinking back to all the training and growth she’s been through – she started off as someone who had trouble crossing the sea using her magic power and couldn’t operate a Striker Unit or dodge projectiles to save her life, and now she’s running across the sea on magic circles, blowing up the mini-Grigori Neuroi snakes and making a valued contribution to the 502nd in a way that only she can.
I have to say though, things was looking really bad at first. Takami did end up failing, as would have been necessary in any case to get Hikari up in the air via the Chidori, but I didn’t expect it to not be her fault, especially since the 502nd pitched in to support her whilst she was vulnerable. I have no idea how these Neuroi nests generate the ‘protective’ clouds they do in such an efficient way (and I was kind of impressed by how proactive it was in systematically destroying the rest of the ground weaponry with its lightning just in case) but I guess the failure of the tank and AP round ties in with the underlying rhetoric of the franchise that it’s primarily up to the cute girls, and not conventional military methods, to save the day. Although to the army’s credit, there was nothing fundamentally wrong or unethical with the initial plan this time round, and there’s only so many spares you can produce given the amount of magic power that goes into each of those rounds.
Tsurugi Issen was great. It’s perfect as a finishing move, and honestly I would have been perfectly fine if it was Kanno who ended up delivering the final blow on Grigori. I’d actually entirely forgotten about the pistol Krupinski loaded with a single bullet and gave to Hikari, which was probably for the best in hindsight as I’d have spent the entire scene waiting for it to appear if I’d been anticipating it. This is the first time Hikari has saved the day to this extent, and her long path to becoming a capable Witch made her moment of triumph all the greater.
I can’t believe it’s over. I feel very similar to how I did when the two seasons and movie of Strike Witches ended – a sense of lingering emptiness and a slight regret that I didn’t appreciate it as much as I could have whilst it was still airing. The latter rings especially true for Brave Witches, as I remember going into it with a bit of apprehension (and an enduring attachment to the 501st) and having it slowly but surely finding a place in my heart as the season progressed, much like Hikari did for the rest of the 502nd. I was also worried about the implications of Silver Link taking over from Gonzo, but in hindsight they were a fairly solid choice. Although they’ve inflicted a lot of pain on me and have had some magnificent screw-ups in the past, their track record is pretty good as far as cute girls as concerned, so in hindsight I shouldn’t have been so sceptical.
I can see the criticisms, though. I know there are many fans of the wider World Witches franchise beyond Strike Witches who would already have been familiar with the Break Witches before any sort of anime adaptation was announced, and I think the reaction to having a brand-new, original Fusou Witch as the protagonist (as opposed to someone like Sadako, who had some pre-anime support as a contender for protagonist) was mixed, especially with the initial (but incorrect, as I’ve learned) similarities to Yoshika. The argument continues by saying that her relation to Takami, who originally belonged to another JFW, by definition reduced the screen time and focus that could have been placed on the core members of the 502nd. A glaring example is the lack of a Rall episode, as well as the relative lack of attention paid to Sadako, Georgette and Krupinski (at least until the latter part of the season). That’s not to say they don’t have very important roles like healing for Georgette and Sadako being the only one able to make decent meals, but both of them got a total of one episode’s worth of focus, and it kind of biased towards Sadako. In contrast, there was lots of recurrence for Kanno and Nipa – which makes sense story-wise as they’re Hikari’s closest friends in the 502nd, but all this is still something Silver Link has a lot of control over. The World Witches franchise here provides the framework, but beyond that it’s basically up to them as to how things are done. Similarly, from an objective point of view the almost unconscionable amounts of Eilanya was kind of scandalous given that this is an anime about the 502nd in the end.
Of course, I don’t mind at all because Eila and Sanya were my favourite of the 501st, Kanno is great, and Nipa is my cute wife. In other words, Silver Link pandered in the correct direction this time. That sledding scene as Kanno and Nipa watched the sunrise with Hikari was probably one of the comfiest moments in the entire season. If you haven’t heard, there’s even going to be an extra Episode 13 released with the BD and aired in Japanese theatres that focuses on… you guessed it, Eilanya and their time with the 502nd over Christmas. Someone at Silver Link has really, really good taste.
Anyway, I’m definitely hoping for a second season. I haven’t been following sales lately (although I plan to for Winter 2017 in order to watch Konosuba’s unstoppable financial momentum first-hand) but it shouldn’t be impossible, especially as this episode ended with the 502nd heading to a new conflict instead of being disbanded. And Brave Witches is only ever going to be able to capitalise on its potential with a sequel given that, like with Strike Witches, so much of this season was spent setting up its characters and developing Hikari. So watch this space! And I’ll love Silver Link forever if they go to Suomus next.