What Strike Witches needs is more witches, especially as the series is getting closer to coming to a close.
What They Say
Mission command issues an order for the Witches to attack an island that has become a Neuroi stronghold, in the hopes of preparing them for the impending final battle.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With the series having only a few episodes left, it's time to start in on the more serious plot with a bit of humor mixed in along the way. In order to prepare for it, things are ramping up for this Strike Witch unit as they're being assigned a new member for a particular operation. This brings in Hanna Marseille, who served with Hartmann at one point and talks laughingly about an obnoxious commander named Barkhorn, which means she's pretty much right at home in this group as she causes a bit of tension from the start and continues to do so well into mission planning. Not surprisingly, rank and hierarchy are pretty much problematic for the Witches since there are plenty who have something of a superiority complex because of their abilities on top of a general superiority complex.
Marseille in particular has a bit of a rough and tumble sense of humor and her relationship with Hartmann has the two of them playing things up a bit. But for Barkhorn, it just sets her off and she ends up throwing them in a temporary brig of sorts to cool them down a bit and to try and ease some of the tension. There's a bit of history to this as we see the kind of mindset that Marseille has and it becomes pretty clear that she's all about the victory and that's it. As the episode goes on and we get the montage segment of Marseille going through the routine, we do see that in some ways she's not all that as she's not exactly out of shape but she isn't used to the kind of basic rigors that a lot of the Witches go through. It is nice to see her being competitive with Hartmann, who doesn't return the competitive nature, and to see that the two are decent friends overall even with all the issues in their friendship.
All the little quirks just set the stage for the big moment of action in the final act of the episode, which is filled with lots of rather nice CG for the ships (Neuroi and human alike) and a good bit of Witches in flight action. They don't exactly build up why this mission is important, it's given just a token reference in the mission planning stage, but there's something definitely different about it when they get to the island and deal with the Neuroi that has taken hold on it. The team has been working better and better across the series as they deal with their issues and quirks, so seeing them all together in form like this and having something decidedly different going on works pretty well, though the focus is most definitely on Marseille and Hartmann.
When Strike Witches turns serious, it does lose a certain amount of its charm. It's a show that has its serious moments, often when it comes to the character background issues that get brought up as well as the battles, but this episode has more of the seriousness because of Marseille. Even though she and Hartmann work well together, she adds a tension to the show that doesn't work well and becomes the kind of character that you can't wait to see leave and go back to their regular post. And dread that she might make a return visit someday. There are things to like here, mostly in the action sequences and the occasional decent panty-shot, but that's about it, leaving the tenth episode as a weak point in the series.
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.