Having heard of but never seen anything past from Strike Witches, I went into this movie not really sure what to expect. What I did get was just over 90 minutes of great story telling, likable characters and beautifully articulated animation.
The story revolves an alternate version of 1945 and follows a Strike Witch, Yoshika Miyafuji, who has lost her powers during their final mission with their enemies known as the Neuroi. These mysterious beings, of various sizes with the ability to also transform, have the power to regenerate, block their transmissions and generally cause mayhem and death whenever they appear. Life has gone on for Miyafuji as she pursues her ambition to become a doctor and accepts a training position in Europe. Shizuka Hattori, one of the cadets under Miyafuji when she was in the Imperial Fuso Navy, is to be her chaperone to ensure she arrives to her new position safely.
Needless to say, things go awry in all sorts of ways when the Neuroi appear, which threaten to derail both Miyafuji and Hattori from carrying out their plans.
Ok, so one thing I had heard about this series is that it was fan service heavy and in that aspect, the movie continues the tradition but to be honest, after a while I found myself mot really seeing those moments as I was too engrossed in what was happening on screen. The film features a nice blend of traditional animation mixed with a balance of 3DCG, which is really used when animating the various warships that make an appearance, like the Yamoto. These ships are incredibly articulated and only serve to remind you that these were real battleships used in wartime. The animation during the battle scenes are stunning, there is so much going on with lasers flying every which way, bullets tracing through the sky, bullet casings falling to the ground and Strike Witches whizzing through the air and it all looks fantastic. The choreography used in the aerial dogfights is amazing and no battle plays out the same way, it’s really nice to see.
Yoshika Miyafuji is an instantly likable character with her headstrong, stubborn at times attitude to ignore orders and protocol and doing what she believes is the right thing to save lives and get the job done. She priorities saving lives above all else with little regard for anything else. This is something that drives Hattori crazy and she follows everything by the book and believes that orders are meant to be followed and rules aren’t meant to be broken. This causes some friction between them early in the story but they still manage to work together very well. The story is a little predictable but still highly enjoyable. I found myself hoping that when the odds seemed insurmountable and everything was against them, that something would end up saving them which in one way or another, it invariably did. I don’t think that’s particularly lazy storytelling, I believe that writers just want to ensure that fans got their happy ending.
The music narrates the story well with drama accentuating dramatic pieces during the fight scenes and a light change for the more tender and touching moments. Overall, it was what you would expect to hear but it served its purpose well and I’ve always believed that if you’re too aware of the music, then it’s too overpowering and it’s been overplayed or just too damn dramatic for its own good.
Overall I was pleasantly surprised and now I can see why the figures based on these characters are highly sought after and very expensive. It left me wanting to buy them as well! I can think of worse ways to spend an afternoon and this is definitely one way. If you’re fan then hopefully you’ll like this and if you’re new to the series as I was then I hope you find it as enjoyable as I did. One word though, if you don’t like fan service and you’re someone that always sees it everywhere then this is not the film for you otherwise it’s a great action film with very cute characters and nice story.
Thanks to Madman for review copy.
Final Score: 7/10