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.
Strike Witches the Movie is a refreshing and fitting sequel to the two television series. Those who are not familiar with the Strike Witches franchise receive a brief introduction to the premise of the series, but they may not be able to appreciate the unique personalities of each character fully if they have not watched the preceding works.
Strike Witches revolutionized the "mecha musume" genre of moe anthropomorphism, especially because of the special attention given to the realistic setting of the series. Compared to the futuristic setting of Shimada Humikane's earlier work Sky Girls, Strike Witches employs World War II era technology and personalities as
the basis of its story. In a timeline where Earth's history is altered because of the invasion of unknown aliens, the total war we know of is re-imagined as a fight between modern witches and the mysterious alien Neuroi.
Following the conclusion of Strike Witches 2, speculation was ripe among fans as to how the story could continue because the series protagonist Miyafuji Yoshika seemed to have lost the major driving force of her character development. It soon became evident that the creators did not intend on taking Miyafuji out of the picture. Strike Witches the Movie opens in August 1945, and the calm that follows the liberation of Venezia (Venice) and Romagna (Italy) mirrors the real world scenario where World War II is nearing its conclusion. Unfortunately for the witches, the Neuroi still remain a formidable enemy, and signs of a new invasion soon begin to appear throughout Europe. In the meantime, Miyafuji travels from her home in the Fuso Empire (Japan) to Helvetia (Switzerland) in order to enroll in a medical school and fulfill her desire to become a doctor.
Viewers are introduced to a new protagonist to the franchise. Hattori Shizuka, a newly minted officer with the Fuso Empire who enters the military with the same enthusiasm as Miyafuji did in early 1944. For Hattori, Miyafuji is the hero of the Fuso Empire who is admired throughout the country, yet Miyafuji does not seem to care for the hierarchical structure and formalities of the military and instead willingly takes up work seemingly unrelated to the fight against the Neuroi. This contradiction presents a conflict for the naïve Hattori, who dreams of the glory of battle described in stories of Miyafuji. In this way, it appears as if Hattori was introduced in order to serve as a foil to Miyafuji; however, viewers soon realize that her stubbornness mirrors that of Miyafuji's when the latter first entered the military and sought to find her own purpose in the war.
Characters from the earlier television series, especially members of the 501st Joint Fighter Wing, return in numerous cameo appearances throughout the movie, guiding Miyafuji and ensuring her safety in the land journey from Gallia (France) to Helvetia. Viewers are also treated with additional appearances of witches in other units throughout Europe who are called into action by the new Neuroi enemy that caught them off guard. While it initially seems as if there are two separate plots in the movie, viewers are reminded that Miyafuji is indeed the main protagonist as the story begins to converge around her.
Strike Witches is known for its impressive mechanical design. Following in the footsteps of the two television series, the movie features World War II military hardware in detail, including the Japanese aircraft carrier Amagi. AIC presents an artistic quality that is above average, and the animation is especially entertaining to watch during aerial combat scenes. Despite the prevalence of low camera angles intended to market its military-girls-in-underwear appeal, these shots are weaved quite well into the combat animation, making them less distracting. If there were any complaints about the art itself, perhaps it is that the theatrical poster does not do enough justice to the quality of the movie.
The soundtrack of the movie does not vary from the television series, and viewers can immediately recognize the trumpet fanfare that has become the signature piece of theme music from Strike Witches. While this can become a point of concern, it can also present the viewer with the an atmosphere that unifies the movie with the two television series. Voice acting of returning characters also does not vary in the movie, but the performance of Uchida Aya as Hattori Shizuka is well deserving of an applause as she captured Hattori's transformation into a character who begins to understand Miyafuji's ideals. This is followed by a special ending song which features Hattori's voice actress in its vocal cast.
If the viewer enjoyed the two television series, they will find the movie even more enjoyable. On the other hand, if the viewer feels that the franchise has become stale without recent developments, the movie can reinvigorate interest. Pacing of the plot is conducted in a balanced way by breaking it up into scenarios that resolve themselves quickly and maintain viewer interest as if discovering local adventures during a road trip through continental Europe.
The quality of a movie, television series, or book is always proportional to the quality of its characters. Regardless of your feelings on Strike Witches, the same rule applies here. I don’t make it a secret that I’m a monster fan; bias is inevitable. However, let me at least let give you a small glimpse of Strike Witches through my eyes, and if I’ve changed even just one person’s opinion, I’ve succeeded in this review.
Hitting on that first note about characters, what I liked most about the movie were the contrasting differences between the two main Witches. While Yoshika easily takes
the spotlight by being more capable (and by capable, I mean badass) than she ever was, this movie is just as much about Shizuka, who strives to be like Major Sakamoto: strict, disciplined, and always lives by regulations. It’s only natural; Hattori comes from a family with a strong military background. However, every single time Shizuka tries to do things her way, Yoshika takes over and shows her something she’s not familiar with. Something regulations don’t teach.
If you asked me what Yoshika’s best quality is, it’s that she makes everyone around her better. She’s been doing that since the beginning, and she continues to do it in her latest adventure as Shizuka herself becomes a better Witch by the time the credits roll.
Now, there is a point in the movie that has some people feeling unfulfilled; those who have problems with how the movie turned out - and who actually need an "explanation" as to what happened with Yoshika - really need to understand the relationship between her and Shizuka.
While all of the Witches were awesome in their own right in the movie, I'd like to give a special shout out to Perrine, who was better than ever. Seeing her explaining to Shizuka about why Yoshika does what she does...really hit me hard. In a good way, of course. Looking back to when Perrine used to give our leading lady a hard time when she first became a Strike Witch, and then to see her express genuine feelings in that scene alone was simply amazing.
I certainly can't write a Strike Witches review without mentioning the fanservice, can I? Well, there really isn't anything we see in the movie that we haven't seen in the first two seasons. If you've seen them, then you'll know what to expect. If you want my personal opinion, I'm not against the fanservice, I would rather just like to see it toned down a bit in the future, if it can be helped.
Something that I think everyone here would have enjoyed seeing more of would be Yoshika's and Shizuka's mini-adventures through Europe. While the visuals weren't necessarily breathtaking, they weren't just "there" either. Seeing some of the vineyards of Gallia was a refreshing view, and really helped bring a sense of detail to the movie.
If there was anything I didn't like about the movie, it would be the lack of time given to the non-501st Witches. For example, Nipa gives us a quick reference to her pilot archetype (Nils Katajainen), talks briefly with Eila, and that's about it. Then there's Heidi, who seemed like she was just there to be moé up until a critical point in the film. I understand there's a plot that has to be paid attention to, but going back to the very beginning regarding characters, it's equally important that the movie does all of the Witches justice, not just the 501st Joint Fighter Wing.
Overall though, I thoroughly enjoyed the movie and - as you can see from my score above - give it a 9 out of 10. The film stayed true to the franchise, and to the delight of fans like myself, has opened the door for more Strike Witches anime. Remember everyone…
If it's not obvious from my rating, I'm a huge Strike Witches fan. I originally found the series randomly on Hulu and eventually I watched all of it, besides the one non- victory ova that I didn't know existed until a few weeks ago, in like 4 days. I love this anime a lot because it's very true to what it is and the movie is the same way. You get a bunch of cute girls with familiars that can use magic to perform moves and fly, and they also don't wear pants, which I've read is because striker units need almost
direct skin contact to access the magical energy so they can start the propellers that allow the witches to fly.
Strike Witches the movie gives you a chance to see all the old characters, the fun interactions that you want to see again, a new type of neuroi, and a new girl who was sent to get Yoshika and take her to a top medical school where she can do study abroad. The new neuroi causes lots of havoc which is expected and it's nice to see a new kind instead a recycled old type of neuroi. I don't always like when shows pull this stuff, but Strike Witches is the very definition of friendship is power. I thoroughly enjoyed it and I recommend watching it. Expect what the series offers you and nothing more. Hope you enjoy it too!
I feel like adding one more thing to my review. This movie also keeps the character driven aspect of the series. Considering most of the mains series was episodic, being character driven is important to keep things interesting. You won't be disappointed by this aspect in the movie either.
There is something about Strike Witches, despite all it's cheesiness, the mediocre plot, and the panty shots that leaves you fulfilled and always wishing for more. And just like the past seasons from before, the movie of the series delivers a fun ride with a conclusion that just leaves you warm and fuzzy in the end.
There isn't much to say about plot as it follows expectations you would have a movie adaptation, and it follows the typical Strike Witches formula. The Neuroi invade Europe, they catch the protagonists and army by surprise, and it's up to the 501st to reunite and save the day. Sounds
familiar? It should sound, as it is the basic conceptual story followed by the past two seasons. A basic problem of the movie's plot is that it offers almost no new information to the storyline; whether it comes to the Neuroi's mysterious presence, Yoshika's father, the plans of the world leaders, etc. Those looking for something new and refreshing will be disappointed; those that want to re-experience the magic of a past enjoyment will get what they want.
The character development that focuses on Miyafujii stays much the same; her typical good character and willingness to help others. It is again the same thing you saw before in the anime, offering nothing new or really innovative. The new addition Hattori Shizuka is focused on as well, but sadly she is regulated to a simple character archetype and does not offer much in the character department. The only real enjoyment of the characters in this movie is seeing the other Strike Witches again, and the many cameos that appear from other Strike Witches doujins, light novels, and mangas. This is good fanservice in a sense, but to fully enjoy it the viewer has to have experienced and delved into the other works, which probably will not hold true for most people who have only gone through the anime.
When it comes to the battles, Strike Witches has always been good with the eye-porn of the massive gun fights, lasers, going through enemy fire, and of course the panty shots. The animation during the movie's fights are superb and it makes really hard for someone to take their eyes away once the glorious air fights begin. There is beauty in seeing the Witches charge their way to the Neuroi, all the while giving you glimpses of those underskirts.
In the end, Strike Witches The Movie is something made for the fans. It doesn't offer anything new to the brand or takes the one step forward to beyond. It follows the past formulas it has used; and in that sense it may objectively be said to be mediocre and taking advantage of a cash cow. Still, it gives the fans the enjoyable experience that have had in the anime, and there is no reason for someone who enjoyed the past two seasons to skip out on the movie.