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Recently, I’ve been watching Strike Witches. For those of you who don’t know, Strike Witches is a show about what would have happened if crystalline aliens had invaded an alternate version of Earth right before WWII. As such, all the nations of this alternate Earth have banded together to fight the aliens. As the Aliens wipe out more and more of Europe, humanity’s last hope is witches wearing airplane boots.

Give that some time to sink in.

There is one thing I’ve always hated about alien invasion plots: All our conventional weapons are ineffective. Like the mighty Ewok, we can fight back against beings with technical superiority! But no, our bullets and knives bounce harmlessly off their nonsensium alloy armor!

Not in Strike Witches. Here, the weapons are conventional, the soldiers are not. In the world of strike witches, it is commonly accepted that there are female magic users running around inside a given population… girls with the power to sprout the ears and tail of their spirit animal do magic. These cat/dog/bunny girls have been recruited from various different countries and given guns and Striker Units (airplane boots). That way they can fly (boots), shoot the aliens (guns) and deflect the alien lasers with their shields (magic)! Hey, we are actually in a BETTER position than the aliens! Well… except for the fact that they are without number, constantly evolving and unstoppably advancing.

Another thing I like about this one… it looks like the aliens are trying, to the best of their ability, to engage in diplomacy! I mean, I don’t think they have a language as we understand the concept, but there are occasions where they have non-aggressive behavior (before that particular one gets blown up… after which the next few will start-off firing lasers again.)

Now… the interesting thing about this series… no female in the entire series wears pants. ONE character wears a skirt. This means that all of them are in a constant and continuous state of fan service. Panty flashes beyond counting. All sorts too, pure white, striped, stockings, panty-shorts, japanese school swimsuits… you name it. If it is an article of ladies undies, it has some representation in this show. Now… I know they have to put on the airplane boots… so pants would probably mess with it… but seriously, we could at least wear a skirt right? There are two characters that wear opaque tights, so that you can’t even see their panties… why aren’t they all like that? More importantly, why are the random female background characters all bare-legged? I understand a justification for the main girls… but the nurse too? Is her shirt just a really short dress?

I can only think of one true justification for all of this. It is just crazy enough to make perfect sense, so hear me out on this… Strike Witches is studio Gonzo’s attempt to forever desensitize us to panty flashes. Ikki Tousen might have been Geneon’s shot, but they made the mistake of making it too vulgar and too base. Strike Witches has an interesting premise, decently sculpted characters with backstories and personalities, (though, perhaps, a bit TOO diverse to be believable) and a sort of charming innocence. Yeah, that’s right. There is a sense of charming innocence in the panty flash anime. Take away the fan service and this might as well have been a studio Ghibli production! (It’s certainly not Sky Crawlers, I will tell you that…) Do you know what that means?! Gonzo has gone about attempting to reduce the power of fan service through overexposure! You actually stop paying attention to their panties and focus on the story. That is all kinds of levels of sinister!

Strike Witches is an ecchi anime, make no mistake. The thing is, it doesn’t ACT like one. If it were, it might not be as effective at what the masterminds at Gonzo want it to do. Much like Tenchi Muyo!, Strike Witches drops in the occasional act of ecchi within a larger area of situational comedy and dramatic violence. The ecchi moments are THERE in both, but I wouldn’t go so far as to call Tenchi ecchi, no matter how many times we see Ryoko’s breasts. Strike witches, however, has even the most pure scenes filled with panty shot! They are sitting down for breakfast, panty shot. They are walking down a hall, panty shot. Every episode! Multiple panty shots per episode!

After a while… you just stop caring. You accept the panty shots the way people who wear glasses accept frames. After a while, you just stop seeing them unless something directs your attention to them. THIS IS THEIR MOTIVE! This is step one on their evil(?) path to some hidden goal… the REAL question is what is step two? Now, while I recognize that they are plotting something, you should by no means avoid their plot. I’m enjoying watching Strike Witches, as I have many studio Gonzo works in the past. I’m certainly not saying you should turn an suspicious eye towards studio Gonzo. I love studio Gonzo dearly, but then again, I also love Darth Vader.

“I have altered the panty shot. Pray I do not alter it further.”

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