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…
…there’s nothing a Witch can’t do!