Now, I haven’t made it clear, but I happen to like Strike Witches. And the movie was one big long reaffirmation of that love. This review is a very quick overview with a gallery.
Just a short review, my mind is still frazzled, but the beginning was rather amazing. A joint offensive against the Neuroi by the Karlsland Army and Liberion Army, never thought I’d see Tigers and Shermans fighting together (outside World of Tanks that is) and seeing the various Britannian, Liberian, and Karslander naval vessels bombarding the Land Neuroi was amazing.
The arrival of a flying Neuroi type though obliterates the fleet and joint mechanized infantry.Now, that’s mere the first few minutes, rather, first 3-4 minutes. Afterwards we are treated to a short history of Witches, which seems to date back to nearly the dawn of man, starting with hieroglyphics from ancient Egypt, to possibly Tokugawa-era Japan. The Neuroi threat seems to have been alive throughout history, and Witches have been the front-line against each and every new version. It would seem Neuroi would take on the shape of what men feared at the time, seeing ancient evil Gods, snakes, dragons depicted with the hexagonal patterns on Neuroi. We do see the development of the Striker Units, which went from honking huge magic engines that took a warehouse, to the eponymous machines we see nowadays.
Now it doesn’t exactly explain much besides saying it grants the witches the ability of flight, but from what I remember from the manga, it also allows them to focus their power, primarily on flight, but also on say, improving the damage potential of their weapons, accuracy, shielding, and all that good stuff, as well as a witch’s inate abilities. Take for example, Speed with Charlotte or Healing with Yoshika. We also have the witches like Sanya and Heidemarie who are practically flying RADAR and SIGINT assets.
Getting off track, the movie delights fans of many due to the high number of cameos from official artwork. Besides the aforementioned Heidemarie W. Schnaufer, we got the The Redpants from the 504th JFW, Nipa and the
Breaker Brave Witches of the 502nd, and so on. The surprising lack of Land Combat witches though annoys me. To have seen Major C.G. Miles, the Patton girls, and Charlotte, we only see several Tigers, Shermans, and Allied (well, Liberion and Karlsland) soldiers obliterated by Neuroi. (I wonder if the 506th PIR was at Bastongne).
Now, the movie seemed a bit wordy at times, but that’s to be expected especially when you have many cameos with speaking roles. Now, on to the plot. It would seem after the events of the second season, Miyafuji as well as Sakamoto had returned to Fuso. Sakamoto as we see in the epilogue teaches new recruits while Miyafuji, now without magic, continues to work on being a doctor. In comes Cadet (first year) Hattori Shizuka (who I shall now refer to as newbie), who seemed to be the Fuso equivalent to Perrine from season 1. Like no kidding, her mannerisms around Yoshika would compare to Perrine over Mio. Regardless, Yoshika is more or less a hero for saving Gallia and Romangna, and once the Euros found out she wanted to be a doctor, offered her a chance she couldn’t refuse. That is, to study at a prestigeous school in Europe. While at the same time, the Neuroi War seems to have calmed down a bit. Those who were quick with their history would spot the similarity of the Neuroi offensive amidst Allied complacency with the Battle of the Bulge/Ardennes, it isn’t overly evident until later on.
Character wise, a good deal of the first half of the movie is spent between the interactions between the overly strict and protocol minded newbie, and Yoshika, we can start to see how Yoshika’s hard-headed attitude is wearing thin on her. First, while rounding the Horn of Africa, the Akagi struck an iceberg , which damaged a section of the ship close to the magazine stores. Unable to help or free the trapped officer (or petty officer…or maybe even just a senior seaman), the crew goes into despair. Yoshika, unable to take this, crawls into the space and with the help of the injured man, manages to activate the sprinklers just as the order to flood the compartment is given. Now, this is the setting point in which the newbie’s adoration turns into disgust. Yoshika on the newsreels much be totally different from Yoshika in person, and it takes some getitng used to. Considering that from the Horn to Gallia is several weeks at least, her indifference and outright distancing from her former hero must be hard both on herself, and Yoshika, which required a little gentle talking to with Perrine.
Now, at the latter half of the movie, we finally see the Neuroi offensive. In both Venezia and at the Rhine, the Neuroi seem to have deployed new, transforming units, capable of scattering radio interference flakes which messes all but the strongest, magically augmented signals. And even then, they are rendered nearly ineffective. This coincides with the German preparation of the Ardennes offensive in our world, which I hope others had picked up on. Now, most Neuroi now had been modeled after aircraft. But the carrier Neuroi at first completely reminded me of submarines. This seems to be interesting. As Yoshika and newbie help a nearby town from landslides, the Neuroi attack. Considering it’s said that the war had reached a stalemate with the Rhine river as the border. Neuroi cannot cross large stretches of water, which made the first season possible. While it meant that their fliers were often seen over water, it would be because they travelled there. No instance of something like a hive is seen over large bodies.
That said, quite interesting that the terrestrial Neuroi carrier would take after a submarine. It lowered it’s periscope when crossing the stream to chase after Yoshika. Also interesting is that, does it have two cores? It might be due to its status as a carrier, it has two cores for command and control, or rather, the torpedo and fighter Neuroi it spawned might be copies of the primary core. Regardless, we all know by now Yoshika’s effect on the girls. And it’s their voice that reawakens her after she single-handedly destroyed the ‘Periscope’ utilizing a Jeep, a gun, and a prayer. (No, seriously…that was one hell of a kill.)
Now, the end of the movie is amazing. Not only do we have Sakamoto come in with Ellia and Sanya, but THE FRIGGIN YAMATO! ON THE RHINE! That was some bloody amazing, utilzing floaters to keep it afloat and not stuck on the riverbed. Some rather amazing work of engineering. Now, the Neuroi carrier struck me as a bit of old U-boat, the Zumwalt-class’ tumblehome designed superstructure, a Whale King from Zoids, and the rear end of a Uraga class carrier from Macross 7. These are all different angles. Anyways, the girl do what they do, and fight the thing head on.
With the Neuroi defeated, Yoshika and the newbie get back on speaking terms and we are left with this:
- Fanboy mode initiated. Between this and the Macross FB7, I…
- Quoting my boss: “So many parts were amazing, you can’t point out specific parts, the whole thing was amazing.”
- Granted, if you had a Witch who wasn’t part of the 501st, and they had a speaking role, you’d say that was amazing. Like Heidemarie.
- The CG felt…badly put in, but then again, my standard is Macross Frontier.
- HOLY CRAP THE NEUROI.
- I got lazy, and the fact the post would’ve been pages upon pages long if I did a live-blog of the movie.
- I assume those who are reading this already watched it, so I only put what thoughts I had.
- iPancakes from the NA WoT Server Forums pointed out the song that Heidemarie was humming in the beginning. Line no Mamoru is the Strike Witches version of the German song Die Wacht am Rhein.
- Note: Gallery contains all images I used, including the ones embedded into the post.