Disclaimer: this is my first review ever on MAL, so please be gentle...
The Strike Witches series is a true oddball. Most people see it only as a "pants in yo face" anime, but in depth it's a well thought series, chock full with historical references and memorable characters.
Fuso Sea Incident tells us about a period long before the TV anime. It's 1937 and Mio Sakamoto, a witch that will become one of the most revered fighters from her country, enrolls into the Imperial Fuso Navy. We witness her struggles to become a fully-fledged witch, along with the stories of her friends - Waka and
Junko, her sensei, and a slew of other notheworthy witches. It's a very enjoyable story, set in a rather serious tone, but with some glimmers of needed humor, and a rather satisfying ending. My only gripes with it are that it's slowly paced and short.
Ningen really outdid himself drawing this manga. All the details on the equipment of the witches, the battleships, and the Neuroi themselves are breathtaking.
The characters themselves are also well drawn, and you can see all their emotions at first glance.
Each witch is different, but they all share one goal - to get rid of the Neuroi. Each character is thought through and not there just to fill up space in the frame, with Mio being the shining gem.
Once you immerse yourselves into a chapter, you're stuck until you finish. The battles are well planned, and when the girls kill an enemy, you can feel a sense of accomplishment gleaming from reading the scene.
This is by far the best Strike Witches manga. A gritty story of personal growth and sacrifice that might catch you off-guard if you came here just for the panties.
As an origin story for probably one of the more popular characters from the World Witches franchise, the manga does a solid job of portraying how a naïve young girl becomes the woman she is in the main series. Not only this, it adds a bit more lore to the world of the World Witches. So it has something for Strike Witches fans regardless of whether one feels that Mio Sakamoto is best girl or not.
The story, in and of itself is not dissimilar to that from the first series of the anime. Basically Sakamoto mirrors Yoshika in rising to competence, developing her
power, becoming part of the team and eventually discovering the incompetence and malevolence within the brass of the military. Oh, with a chapter dedicated to a bit of hot-springs fanservice, but this is Strike Witches, this goes without saying.
So nothing new with the story, however, two main issues do lie with it. Mostly, that many of the best scenes within the manga are left undrawn. Admittedly there is plenty of action, but much of it is merely implied, rather than shown, which is somewhat disappointing.
Secondly, fans of the series know that Sakamoto did work with Yoshika's father for a time, even implying that Dr. Miyafuji saved Mio's life at one point. This is not a manga about that story, so dispel any notions of uncovering that aspect of Mio's past. No, this is a story about Mio and the witches she runs with and how she grows.
Art is detailed, considering the style of Strike Witches and backgrounds are fluid. Action is drawn in a style that feels a lot like the neuroi battles in the anime. Impactful, laserful and with shields and machineguns flaring. And the all important panty shots are of acceptable roundness.
Characters and their interactions are what drive the series, and the Manga does an admirable job of displaying characters that both work with Sakamoto and help shape her into her later personality and her relations to others.
For instance, Sakamoto's mentor is a dual-wielding bad-ass who is very self-aware of her own abilities and failings and much of Sakamoto's later behavior likely is drawn from her. Additionally, the witch that helps Sakamoto use her powers effectively has strong parallels to Minna from the anime and hints at how their relationship could form.
Furthermore, many of the Fuso witches are given a lot more character in the manga. Such as Junko, Tetsuko and Tomoko who make appearances in other works. One issue that plagues the World Witches series I find is that once you get outside the initial 11 Strike Witches, characters all seem to come back to similar tropes and personalities. The manga, whilst does suffer a little from this, mostly is able to carve out unique identities for the characters.
Generally however this can be viewed as a prequel to the anime series, and closely encapsulates the feel of the series. Fans will likely be able to pull some enjoyment out of the manga, and thus comes recommended. Even those who aren't huge fans of Mio Sakamoto, by the end of the Manga, one might just have a change of heart.
- More Sakamoto lore
- Cute girls being bad-ass awesome
- Fleshing out of World Witches canon
- Some action scenes are told, not shown
- Small discrepancies in canon
- Mio is 12 years old
Strike Witches Zero: 1937 Fuso Sea Incident is the first manga series I've finished. I've been watching anime for like a year and a half, but I didn't really get into reading manga until recently. As a huge fan of Strike Witches, it being my favorite anime, I was really happy while I was reading this and it provided a lot of good background information for characters.
I wish I could tell you more about the story than what myanimelist already summarizes, but it's all there. The first volume (chapters 1-6) focuses on the events that lead to Mio Sakamoto deciding to become
a full fledged witch. It later gets into the detail concerning the Fuso Sea neuroi invasion, or the Fuso Sea incident if I copy the title again. This manga does an amazing job of incorporating both these aspects and the overall result, is very satisfying.
Surprisingly, the art was great too. You tend to think that somewhere the artwork will misrepresent a scene or there won't be a balance of action and calm shots, but this wasn't the case here. The person who drew the art did an amazing job at balancing action scenes, dialogue moments, and the more calming background scenes like sky shots. The only major problem I noticed is that the sometimes it
s hard to tell the difference between certain characters; I think this is just due to my lack of knowledge about and experience with any characters who weren't shown at least a few times in any of the anime productions. I would've also liked to see more shots with the witches swinging their katanas at the neuroi; the scenes that were there didn't really show them actually swinging the sword, but I guess it would take up too much of the page to be showing the actual sword swing all the time so I won't complain.
I don't really think getting too involved in describing the characters will add much. As I said before, I wasn't familiar with anyone except Mio before reading this and it is the first Strike Witches manga I've read. I do think that there was amazing character interactions, which is one of the major reasons Strike Witches is my favorite anime. I feel like I really got to know more about Mio and how she became a witch. I also feel like there is enough information provided for the other characters that it either provides well done development or it at least makes you want to see if the characters are featured in other mangas and read them to learn more about them. I definitely want to read more Strike Witches mangas to get to know some of these characters better now.
It's obvious that I really enjoyed reading this. I know I read slower and trying to remember as many names as possible while reading with all the featured characters didn't speed it up at all, but the four hours or so I spent reading this series was well spent. I would highly recommend this to a Strike Witches fan.