The 501st is back together now and the panties are ready to be rolled out for action.
What They Say
What We Can Do Together
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Bringing the gang all back together in the last episode, everything has picked up where we left off for the most part. The events of the first series are touched upon lightly where Yoshika had her encounter with the humanoid Neuroi form and then contact was attempted through other means after the chaos that initially ensued, but everything went completely off the reservation at that point. The new Neuroi that we now see arrived and destroyed the humanoid Neuroi, ending any chance of communication in the short term at least. That has put all the cards back on the table to deal with the Neuroi threat and having the girls of the 501st back and now defending Romagna feels just about right.
Except for the fact that most of them have been having things pretty easy for the last six months or so. The Witches have no stamina at this point and have lost a lot of their basic training as they've gone soft. Their flight abilities are acceptable, but they don't have the teamwork thing they built up before and there's even a sad image or two of them crashing into each other which makes you cringe. So a few of the girls, Yoshika included of course, are sent to get some special training from Anna Ferrara, an elderly woman who is a Witch herself and can still fly, though she uses brooms to do so. She's got a fun training style as she refuses to let them use their Striker units and instead insists they use brooms too, thereby reinforcing their skills within rather than through the use of technology.
It's a scene right out of Kiki's Delivery Service.
Once the girls learn that Sakamoto trained here as a young Witch and became the gifted one that she is now, they all take to it more seriously. Unsurprisingly, the girls start to get their act together as the episode progresses as we see Yoshika, Lynette and Perrine all figure out the tricks to the trade and hone their powers more so it's not so reliant on the Strike units. There's some good bonding time between the girls, though Perrine is more focused on all things Sakamoto, but there are several very quiet scenes where the girls are either in the bath or out on the walls looking out at the sea talking about everything. It's good material in getting us back in touch with the girls, since it has been a bit of time since the first season, and a little refresher never hurts.
No episode is complete without a bit of action though and the Neuroi obviously make an appearance as they close in on the island where the girls are training and nobody else can get there in time. Everything they learned from Anna comes in handy at the right time, and so on and so forth. Right now, the action isn't meant to do more than make you smile as the whole idea is still about caring about the girls, watching their panties in the wind and enjoying the atmosphere of it all. In that regard, Strike Witches does everything right here and exactly on schedule as it's all very predictable. But knowing that and going into the series like that, you can easily enjoy it for what it is, though I hope that it'll break expectations at some point and do something intriguing and truly exciting.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Dell 10.1 Netbook via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.