In September 1944, allied forces led by the 501st Joint Fighter Wing "Strike Witches" successfully eliminate the Neuroi threat from the skies of the Republic of Gallia, thus ensuring the security of western Europe. Taking advantage of this victory, allied forces begin a full-fledged push toward central and eastern Europe. From a base in Petersburg in the Empire of Orussia, the 502nd Joint Fighter Wing "Brave Witches," upon whom mankind has placed its hopes, flies with courage in the cold skies of eastern Europe.
tl;dr You don't have to watch Strike Witches to watch Brave witches, and you should watch Brave Witches if you like the basic idea of Strike Witches but didn't like all the pantyshots. Or if you like both the premise and the pantyshots. But if you watched Strike Witches just for the fanservice, you might want to pass on this.
Seven episodes in, and I can say that this is basically Strike Witches with nowhere near as many pantyshots, which is great for me and for anyone else who couldn't stand the loli butts and cameltoes being shoved in their faces at every possible opportunity.
Our protag, Karibuchi Hikari, is a witch-in-training who dreams of fighting the Neuroi like her big sis, Takami, who became a war hero fighting in Europe. She trains hard every day, giving her incredible physical stamina. However, when it comes to piloting a Striker Unit, she's one of the worst in her class. We find out a bit later that she’s very lacking in magic power. Despite this, when it's announced that there will be a test to see who to send to one of the rear military bases Europe, Hikari volunteers. She passes, but due to unfortunate circumstances, Hikari has to go the frontline base at Peterburg, where her sister was supposed to go. The witches there aren't thrilled about the prospect, but accept her, conditionally. She has to prove herself and train, which, unlike a lot of other shows, doesn’t happen instantly. After that’s finished and she’s fully accepted into the Brave Witches, the show starts showcasing its characters, giving one or two the spotlight for an episode, with Hikari always nearby.
The designs and animation look nice, and the CG is neither common nor all that bad.
OP/ED are very nice, and the ED is sung by a different character every time, though some are admittedly better than others. In-episode music is generally fitting, though not really anything memorable.
The characters are very enjoyable.
Hikari is very determined to fight well in order to save people, adapting to her own shortcomings along the way and trying to fill in for her sister as best she can.
Takami is a doting older sister and a much better witch than her sister. With the accident happening early on, we don’t get to see much of her beyond this, again, as of episode 7.
Nikka Edvardine Katajainen (somehow spelled that without looking at it), or “Nipa”, is very friendly towards her comrades, even Sasha, who is constantly punishing her for breaking Striker Units, and Naoe, the tsundere. Easily my favorite.
Naoe Kanno is a typical tsundere, though the dere doesn’t come out as yuri, if that’s what you’re looking for. It’s more of a competitive friendliness.
Alexsandra Ivanovna Pokryshkin, or “Sasha”, is very straight-laced, and often appears to be angry with Nipa for breaking Striker Units, but it’s shown that she’s actually a very kind person, and perhaps not entirely confident in her abilities.
Waltrud Krupinski refers to her comrades as “her little kittens,” which should give a pretty good idea of what she’s like. She is definitely into girls, and yet there is surprisingly little physical contact between her and her comrades. So, again, if you’re looking for yuri, at least as of episode 7, you’re going to be disappointed.
Edytha Roßmann is the instructor of the Peterburg base. Despite her often stern appearance, she can’t manage to tell anyone something that might dash their hopes, as is the case with the very determined but incapable Hikari. The only one who can regularly get a reaction out of her is Waltrud, and Edytha is often responsible for keeping Waltrud away from the other girls.
The other three are pretty unremarkable so far, sadly.
Largely because the characters are enjoyable, the show is enjoyable as well. The action scenes are nice, and there’s quite a variety of enemy types, so it’s not just the witches destroying a big Neuroi that looks like a recolored WWII warplane once per episode.
The story is semi-typical shounen stuff where an underpowered character must prove themselves, which doesn’t really help, but it works just fine. Obviously still missing a few episodes, and I’m usually frustrated by reviews that are done before the season ends, but I wanted to write this to encourage people to watch and eventually buy it because at this rate I get the feeling not many people will.
Unfortunately, the fact that it's related to Strike Witches will turn away anyone who can't stand the fanservice from Strike Witches, even though that fanservice is almost entirely absent here, and the people who watched and bought Strike Witches because of the fanservice likely won’t buy this because that fanservice is absent. Which is all a real shame, because this is more-or-less what I had hoped Strike Witches would be from the start. All this and the low rating it currently has makes me feel like Brave Witches will sell poorly.
Obviously we have no idea what the Blu-Rays will bring us. Who knows, maybe they edited out the fanservice for the TV version and will put it back in for the Blu-Rays. read more