Humanity is under siege from an unstoppable threat. Conventional weaponry doesn’t work against them, nor does diplomacy or surrender. In the midst of the conflict, a special weapon is developed. Usable only by specially-gifted young people, this new weapon is the only way to fight back against the powerful enemy threat. These youths now find themselves thrust into a military conflict as the last, best hope for humanity. Countering the enemy on all fronts, these heroic young people must band together and rely on each other to defeat the enemy, for the fate of the entire world rest on their shoulders.
This is the world of Strike Witches.
Sure, it’s easy to write Strike Witches off as ‘shallow’ if you just focus on the fact that no female characters wear pants, but any show will come off as shallow if you refuse to look deeper into it. Strike Witches, speaking not just of the anime, but of the franchise as a while, is a story about a desperate struggle against overwhelming odds. It’s a story about brave young women fighting to protect their friends, their homes, and mankind from a seemingly unstoppable threat. It’s a living, breathing story, filled with intense action, strong, diverse characters, and heartwarming character interaction.
The Strike Witches canon doujinshi “Star of Africa” opens with a desperate defense against a Neuroi onslaught by regular soldiers, inspired to fight on by news that the Witches were on their way. The commander is especially demonstrative of the affect the Witches have on troop morale. Even being informed that the Witches’ estimated time of arrival is twice the projected time their defense will last, he calmly replies “Is there a problem?” determined to hold the line for the Witches.
The second part of the doujin tells the story of a journalist on a journey to meet “The Star of Africa,” Hanna-Justina Marsaille (Of Strike Witches 2 episode 10 fame), eventually watching her sortie on a training operation. The aerial combat is described beautifully, and the story is a very interesting look into Hanna’s character and a bit of the Strike Witches world.
The struggle for humanity that forms the basis of the Strike Witches’ world is fleshed-out quite well across the franchise. The Witches recognize that they’re the only thing standing between humanity and the Neuroi. Likewise, the regular military recognizes that the Witches are their last hope, and support them with all they’ve got. Though they’re resigned to a support role, the soldiers show very little animosity toward the Witches. Instead, the troops see the Witches as saviours; goddesses; beautiful ladies to be waited on hand and foot. Some troops even exhibit a romantic love for the Witches, as seen in episode 8 of the anime and as is the focus of the “Tiger in the Desert” canon doujinshi.
It’s easy to write Strike Witches off as shallow by just focusing on the surface aspects of the anime and refusing to look deeper into other aspects. Strike Witches has a lot going for it, and just focusing on the panties is doing the franchise a disservice.
The tagline “They’re not panties, so it’s not embarrassing!” should be taken as a message. The Witches aren’t concerned about their lack of trousers. There’s a lot more going on, and they have things to do. There’s more to focus on than just a lack of proper legwear. Past the ecchi, there’s a story of struggle against the odds, reliance on friends and allies, and camaraderie on the battlefield.
The ecchi’s pretty good, too.
‘Till next time!