Half-time Review: Strike Witches S2

Strike Witches… needs no introduction. A bunch of little girls flying around in the sky with nothing but the least of undergarments on their tushes, it has been described as simultaneously fanservice, drama and an ode to history.Owing to the show’s enigmatic status as both a fanservice show and a historical homage (though the first was, bluntly put, fanserviced historical homage), directors have to cater to both core audiences: First, the original core audience, the people who would watch the show to indeed watch a bunch of little girls flying around in underwear, and the second, cult core audience, who are actually watching the show for the subtle references to history and the surprisingly strong character development within the series.

Parts of the show catering to the original core are fairly obvious; it’s a bunch of little girls prancing around in underwear, for one. And there is almost always a bath scene in every episode, with the obligatory lightstream-censoring keeping things safe for a television audience.

Obligatory swimsuit fanservice shot #1.

The not-so-obvious fanservice comes in the form of the little character quirks that each girl has, and the often inane actions (cute-looking, by the way, if you didn’t get my drift) which they engage in to pander to the viewers.

Normally a cheerful bubbly little girl

Parts that cater to the second, on the other hand, are less obvious. A history buff with sufficient knowledge about World War II pilots would know off-hand about the references that the Striker units and the characters themselves make to real life.

Just try not to get her angry

Miyafuji Yoshika (宮藤 芳佳) is based on Muto Kaneyoshi (武藤 金義), similarly to how her two Striker units, the Zero and the Magnificent Lightning, are based on the Mitsubishi A6M Zero and the Kyushu J7W Shinden respectively.

Yoshika launching from the Yamato

"Miyfuji Yoshika, launching!"

Other similar examples include Erica Hartmann being based on the famous German pilot Erich Hartmann, and the jet Striker being based on the Messerschmidt Me262, the first jet-powered air superiority fighter in the world.

Barkhorn in the Me262

Oh yeah, feel the power of compressed superheated air, baby

In fact, some of these references are pretty subtle. Episode 10’s choice of character, Hanna-Justina Marseille, is based on an ace that, while famous among fighter enthusiasts, is only credited with 150 kills in real life – a number far inferior to that of Hartmann’s 352 victories.

Here comes the Star of Africa, all ye hail me

In the series, however, Hanna was credited with over 200 kills and is a celebrity – an exploration of what might have happened if Marseille had not died to engine failure in an alternate universe context.

Of course, the show does take some liberties with the references – (irl) Hartmann was never much of a dogfighting pilot, and would have never been able to go toe-to-toe with Marseille, whom the real-life pilot considered “the best”, and the real Marseille would never have gone so fast in a real battle.

"You know, I don't like your face" "Well, I don't like your chest"

Do I love this show for its historical references, however? Yes, indeed. This show is a dirty fantasy for me – even while I enjoy watching it for the characters (oh god Hartmann is cute) and the development, something somewhere inside me squeals every time the show references something I know.

And of course, there’s the fact that I love fighter aircraft and I love magical girls. And more than that, I love magical girls with vast amounts of power. That’s why Strike Witches is an easy shoe-in for me.

If there was a mother of all magic circles, this would be it

About Carillus

"Any sufficiently advanced application of locupletative language is indistinguishable from writing magic."
This entry was posted in Reviews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to Half-time Review: Strike Witches S2

  1. Valence says:

    Despite knowing how much it references history, and perhaps some of the weaponry and aces I know, I don’t think I’ll catch this any time soon. Seeing them personified as girls with animal features and no pants sends shivers down my spine. Especially since I did that project on Erich Hartmann a few years back, I get shivers and confused when I see Erica, or any doujins containing her, because my thoughts come into conflict. . .

    But anyway, I’m not going to watch it. Not that it’s horrendous or anything (Note: Mitsudomoe), but because I have yet to find Season One to watch yet.

    • howeirong says:

      Oh, I know what you mean. Just try not to think about things so much and stuff starts getting a lot better.

      I am personally grateful for the inability to recall Erich Hartmann’s face, or that of Wolf-Dietrich Wilcke, while watching Erica or Minna going about their business. It really takes the mickey out of things.

  2. Persocom says:

    I think Strike Witches references real life history and characters much in the way Koihime Musou or Ikkitousen does. It’s really subtle, and if you think about the real life counterparts they don’t really do them justice. I love Strike Witches for what it’s worth though. I’m not a World War history buff at all, but I enjoy the references and seeing things in anime form actually makes me take interest in learning more about the real things now and then. I’m not watching for the fan service at all, in fact after watching the first season a few times and now watching this one so far… I don’t really notice, or care that they’re running around in their pantsu. I don’t get a nosebleed off something that simple. I watch it because the underlying story, character development and bits of real life references are there and keep me captivated, and the comedy makes the drama and war story more enjoyable. So yeah nice review and Strike Witches 2 has been a fun ride so far ^^

    • howeirong says:

      Yep indeed. Though it does a better job referencing than Koihime Musou did – that show kind of only borrowed the characters and didn’t do much else.

      It’s the pseudo-realism of the series that gets me – nothing rendered in Gundam/Macross-style EVERYTHING-IS-BRIGHT-AND-COLOURFUL but a whole lot of cool colours and stuff. Colours are slightly muted overall – I mean, they could have gone with hot pink magic circles, but they went with light blue. It actually does a better job of portraying that wartime feeling than Macross Frontier did – and all with little girls lacking decent bottomwear. that’s what makes it so enigmatic.

  3. alucard13mm says:

    hmm one has a MG34 and one has a MG42.. i think the one with the MG42 (the one on the left) will win because of the sheer rate of fire of 1.2k rounds per minute vs like 600 rounds per minute. The germans used the MG42 for suppressive fire and allied troops were scared shitless from the sound of MG42.

    • howeirong says:

      Would make sense… except they’re both out of bullets. The whole battle didn’t make too much sense either, but I wasn’t really expecting much.

      There was some pseudo-commentary, but I’ve never heard of such a thing as a “high-G barrel roll” so i didn’t bother to say anything about that.

      Wouldn’t have mattered anyway since the point of the episode was to make them draw, because this series isn’t about winning or losing (when there’s lots of cute girls in a single show, it’s almost definite that no one’s gonna die. Unless you’re watching some TYPE-MOON stuff.)

  4. biotoxic says:

    Unfortunately I fall into category 1 :(. I can catch some WW2 references, but I am most certainly not watching Strike Witches for a history lesson.

    I do enjoy watching each character and seeing how they develop and change in each situation. The most interesting I find are Sanya and Eila in terms of they’re relationship with each other and the rest of 501.

    It’s been an enjoyable 2nd season so far and I’ll be sad to see it end. Can’t wait for DVDs to hit the US, goodbye lightstreams!

    • howeirong says:

      Oooh yeah, Sanya and Eila. Really interesting characters, both of them. Look real good together too.

      Yeah, I’ve got a bit of Cat 1 in me too – everyone does 😀 Like I said, my dirty fantasy.

  5. Aorii says:

    Came across this by incident and, while I don’t watch Strike Witches at all, please do your research before you underconsider Marsheille. The man is widely considered the best aerial marksman of Germany thanks to his talent in deflective shooting, with an astronomical kill count given his service period… the only reason it’s smaller than many other aces is because he died in a crash due to mechanical failure (and not combat damage, thus to no fault of his own). Matter of fact, he’s the only German ace attributed to over 17 kills on a single day, known to regularly fly into opposing enemy formations by himself to take it apart, and is considered by many other top aces (including Erich Hartmann) as “the best”.
    Hence his tombstone bears a single word epitaph: “undefeated”

    A basic search of wiki would give you all that info too, actually…

    • Valence says:

      Okay, I’ll tell him ._. He’s busy with exams right now, so yeah.

      But I think his opinion is that he judges them by number of kills, not by how long the pilot survives. Because frankly, that’s probably how it’s like in war. Who can kill more enemies, the better. Judging people’s strengths is very subjective, and is mostly based on opinion. He has done his research, but most of it was influenced by his opinion.

    • howeirong says:

      “…Hanna-Justina Marseille, is based on an ace that, while famous among fighter enthusiasts, is only credited with 150 kills in real life – a number far inferior to that of Hartmann’s 352 victories.”

      “Hartmann…considered [Marseille] “the best”, and the real Marseille would never have…”

      Yes, I do know all of that. I do my research before posting. I do know Marseille is considered to be the best aerial marksman period in WWII, and I practically have the wiki page memorised. I know that he died, not in a crash, but from having his tailfin whacking him in the chest when he bailed out from his failing plane. The point here is that no layman is going to know that unless he researches “fighter pilots of WWII” on a regular basis (highlighted from passage: “among fighter enthusiasts”). The writers could have gone with Gunther Rall or Erich Rudorffer and few would be the wiser.

      I do love Marseille, he’s one hell of a pilot. I may have stated the relevant information in passing, but you at least gotta read carefully before accusing a person of anything…

      And no, Valence, Marseille IS my favourite pilot. I’m saying that laymen will most probably judge by killcount, and that counts, since your average Strike Witches viewer probably can’t tell the difference between a Messrschmidt and a Mustang.

  6. Yi says:

    I knew this series had a lot of WWII references, but being a complete idiot to war stuff, I didn’t pick any of them up. It’s kind of neat to know that Miyafuji and Erica are based on real people.

    I need to catch up with this series soon.

    • howeirong says:

      Not just them two, all of the Witches are based off real people, even the ones mentioned in passing.

      Erica off Erich Hartmann, Trude off Gerard Barkhorn, Mio off Saburo Sakai, Minna off Wolf-Dietrich Wilcke, Charlotte off Chuck Yeager, Lucchini off Franco Lucchini, Perrine off Pierre Cloistermann, Eila off Eino Ilmari Juutilainen, Sanya off Lydia Litvyak (the only actual female ace in the mix) and Lynette somewhat off the son of Billy Bishop.

      It’s all flying over your head, I’m sure (what a pun, haha) but if you want just give it a Wiki. Pretty boring stuff, though, if you’re not into history of conflict and men and that kind of thing.

  7. weighty says:

    gonna send this to my mom

Comments are closed.