I’m still here in the Philippines and have been rather lax on posting ANYTHING about my vacation, other than texting my mom on all the good food she’s missing. I’ll probably work on a post by the weekend. So now six weeks and five episodes in, we’re actually making some character interactions outside of the command staff and the main trio. And I still am trying to get used to Krupinski’s rather deep voice.
In the opening of the episode, Hikari starts to find out about the elusive member of the 502nd, Georgette Lemare. She is a bit of an introvert, shy with others but also a bit of a housekeeper due to her family’s business of a boarding house and a witch with healing powers.
Tasked with scouting the new Neuroi hive before the freezing of the water body that would allow them to cross unimpeded towards Petersburg, Roßmann has Georgette and the other Fuso witch, Shimohara Sadako, focus on a new patrol area for Neuroi. She also has Hikari join them in order to experience long distance patrolling.
While on patrol, the two patrolmates discuss the weather and the eventual cold front that would bring snow, while Hikari ponders on her power’s activation, and managed to deflect the question away from revealing her power. The two Fusoan witch bond over their shared nationality, as well as explaining her own unique situation with the 502nd, of Sadako’s fears. Georgette uncharacteristically blurts out in trying to reassure her, but she doesn’t follow up when the two Fusoans ask.
With the weather getting bad, they strive to finish their patrol, and reach the town of Petrozavodsk. They find it frozen due to the weather, as well as encountering a Neuroi that looks characteristically l;ike a desk fan. Radioing for help, they can’t reach the base and decide to attack. The Neuroi though blasts them with cold air, seizing their guns and their units and having them crash, with Hikari being blasted that she loses consciousness.
Finding Hikari on the ground, Sadako attempts to blame herself but Georgette slaps her, saying that there are more important things to worry about. Building a snow shelter while Georgette keeps Hikari warm through her magic. Back at base, the other witches scramble, with Nipa cutting Naoe down for size by pointing out she was the first witch to scramble to her unit. Unfortunately, due to the weather, they can’t sortie.
Back at the snow shelter, Hikari wakes up to all of them in their underwear, to which Georgette says it’s so they can directly share their body heat. While Hikari apologizes for Georgette using up her body heat, she instead apologizes for being unable to heal her sister. They bond over this, with Hikari thanking her that it was due to her healing that she is alive. Sadako scouts the area, finding no sign of the Neuroi but finding more significant shelter in the form of a mission-killed KV-2 tank. They head inside and warm up with a small fire, where she shows off her skills. Georgette produces some crackers as the issue of food comes up.
Back at base, even the stoic Roßmann seems rather, taken back with Krupinski’s cooking. Which is no surprise, considering she used Roßmann’s hidden stash of Orussian caviar, leading her to chase after the ‘fake countess’ while others struggle to eat her cooking, even leading Rall to state in perfect deadpan that the food is terrible.
With the KV-2 team still stuck in the blizzard, Rall and Roßmann believe the unusual blizzard is related to the Neuroi, but aren’t quite sure. Later, as the blizzard subsides, the KV-2 team realize they might be the only ones to have any chance against the weather-machine Neuroi, but with their options limited, they improvise. By planning to shatter the outer shell of the super-cold Neuroi with improvised napalm made from diesel and aluminum shavings. For the core, Sadako created explosive arrows from the powder from the KV-2’s ammunition and the explosive cap from the KV-2’s 152mm shells and a rudimentary bow.
With the objective of the Neuroi to freeze the body of water early that was blocking their advance southward, the trio enter the cloud and engage the Neuroi. The napalm doing its work properly, their units start to freeze and with only one shot left, Hikari tries to warm Sadako’s unit.Unable to heal an uninjured person (which would also warm up Georgette and the person being healed), Hikari injures herself against Sadako’s unit which allows Georgette’s powers to manifest, heating the two of them and Sadako’s unit. This allows Sadako to launch the last explosive arrow into the Neuroi core, destroying it and dissipating the Neuroi-made blizzard.
Returning to base, Sadako makes food, much to the relief of everyone, and even surprises Roßmann in her expert use of the remnants of her caviar stash, something she is at odds with Krupinski with still.
– Krupinski, you are a dead woman.
– Krupinski, you are a horrible cook.
– Krupinski, you fake countess.
– Krupinski, you womanizer.
– Krupinski, did I mention you’re a dead woman?
Still, going to the main trio featured, I think this is the Lynette episode of Brave Witches. Two other witches who aren’t exactly sure of themselves are featured here. And with little pep-talking from the main character. They two of them have their own fears and worries, with Sadako unsure of herself as a combat-capable member of the 502nd, while Georgette has reservations about interacting with Hikari because she wasn’t able to heal Takami completely.
The stranding in the Neuroi-made/enhanced blizzard let them face their fears, and I think the hardest is Georgette. She was unable to bring her sister out of the coma, but Hikari is more thankful it was due to her healing magic that she survived. Between a comatose sister who is alive over a dead one, I think Hikari sees the silver lining while Georgette seems to face the perils of those who do no harm. The fact even with their best, their best isn’t good enough.
And that I think, shows maturity in writing that seemed lacking from the first Strike Witches. Mind you, I’m not asking for deep plot writing and character development from a World Witches production in comparison to say, Spice and Wolf or Steins;Gate, but this at least expands on the characters.
Speaking of expanding a character, I did love Edytha’s freak out over Waltrud using her caviar to make a very bad salty soup. Knowing the expense of such delicacies in the real world, even with the salary that befits the rank, there are such things that require careful scrimping and far-sighted budgeting to acquire. I do the same with ammunition and (hopefully) firearms as well as anime-related goods (light novels, figmas, and the like). To watch that carefully planned, year-long acquisition destroyed and rendered inedible in one fell swoop was enough to snap the stoic and firm taskmaster into a high-pitched screeching.
Waltrud getting a little more screen time is nice, of the promotional material out for the 502nd before they got their anime, I liked her second after Roßmann, thinking she’s one of those cool characters. Womanizing with a slyness that would embarrass artists of her era, she is confident in battle and a tease to her mates. The only thing I am having a little trouble with is her voice, but I’m slowly getting to her deeper tone, and I think adds a sense of maturity (even if she isn’t at time) to the team. Not necessarily an anchor like what Aleksandra, Gundala, or Edytha is, but a pillar of the team in keeping them together.
Going to the Neuroi, upon further review, it looks like a friggin electric fan. Considering the prevalence of the ‘Fan death’ urban legend/superstition in Korea, I wonder if that’s a sly reference to it. But much like the Neuroiko from Season One of Strike Witches, it shows that the Neuroi are evolving to fight Humanity. They cannot cross large bodies of water, which is why the Neuroi were stopped from crossing into recaptured Gallia by the river Rhine and only small-scale Neuroi can cross the Channel to attack the 501st. From what Sumeragi says:
[8:51:36 PM] Sumeragi: fan death?
[8:51:45 PM] Sumeragi: quite possible under very specific circumstances
[8:52:24 PM] Sumeragi: nearly airtight room, very humid and hot weather, fan directly blowing on body, body unable to regulate temperature
[8:53:09 PM] Sumeragi: quite hard to achieve in most circumstances, but very common in the old days of closet rooms in industrializing Korea
[8:53:49 PM] Sumeragi: it’s hard to die, but will put strain on the body
Mind you, other places and wiki call it a myth, but still.
The utilization of the KV-2’s resources was inventive as all hell. Making home-made napalm to crack and destroy the super-cold Neuroi shell, with the temperature the diesel was exposed to, it should be jellied enough to be effective as such. My thoughts though is how the diesel managed to stay in such a vicious liquid for that long, considering that the tank must’ve been knocked out in the onset of the conflict with the new hive.
Though maybe since the Neuroi created the artificial blizzard earlier to freeze the lake before its intended time, the weather wasn’t bad enough initially to freeze the fuel in the KV. The fact it still had fuel and ammo means it’s just a mobility/mission kill, and due to its ponderous speed it was abandoned in the general retreat and the close proximity of the Neuroi hive meant any advantages in salvaging the tank would be miniscule in proportion to the risks involved.
Going back to the trio’s plan of attack, Sadako’s insistence of her uselessness is all in her mind. She is an increasingly versatile and capable witch. But I think it’s the same as my observations last episode, which the national need for Fusou to contribute to the war with combat-capable witches seems to have done a number on the individual achievements and strengths of a witch.
Not saying that an average solder isn’t an individual and not a drone, but being a witch affords them to require a different kind of handler, one that won’t treat them as nothing but versatile fighting machines. It’s that line of thinking that said Hibiki is a ‘bad’ witch or artificially lowered the morale of witches who cannot excel at combat, even if their experience, training, and flexible minds says otherwise. I mean seriously, Sadako pulled off a Jack Churchill and had a confirmed kill WITH A BOW AND ARROW.
Something on Hikari, it seems she can build a shield, considering she used one to protect herself from the fan neuroi’s attack, but there seemed to be no significant drop in magic power to the engines. Does this mean she is now learning how to properly divide her magic power or is this part of the Striker unit’s job. While a witch can if need be focus power into shields or engine as we’ve seen with Yoshika or Shirley, with Hikari’s weak magic power I had thought, wrongly it seems, that such utilization mean one or the other kind of distribution. Though I’m glad she can project a shield, I wonder how much engine power she had to give up to use it, since it showed her being pushed back by a standard Neuroi beam. I also wonder if such shields would end up waning in time when she decides to override Edytha and Gundala’s ban on her using her powers.
One last note I would like to point out is the consistency of the universe. The nations and towns that comprise the Strike Witches/World Witch project universe either utilized older, more archaic forms but it seems landmasses and geographical features still retain their real-world names. Which is why it was a nice surprise that the Malossol caviar tin of American caviar had the word ‘American’ in it, no doubt because the continents are still ‘North’ and ‘South’ America and could be farm-raised California White Sturgeon of Florida-raised Siberian Sturgeon. Though I wonder if Instructor Roßmann says its rare due to the importation of such delicacies from Liberion, or something. I’m not too sure about luxury delicacies and I make this point only to talk about the consistencies prevalent in the universe.
Edit: Nevermind, Sumeragi explained that it’s 50USD per 2oz in today’s money…and those tins didn’t look like 2oz tins. Jesus Bloody Christ, Krupinski, you are a dead woman. Considering the average salary of a Oberfeldwebel in the Wermacht of Nazi Germany in our timeline receives a gross/tax/net rate of 170.89 RM/ 12.20 RM/ 158.00 RM (in the W20 tax bracket, single with no kids)…HOLY FUCK KRUPINSKI IS A DEAD WOMAN. And this is even for any hazard or duty pay.
Source: Wermacht Salaries at Panzerworld
Overall it was a good episode, and I think surpassing the Lynette episode from S1 of Strike Witches because Georgette and Sadako didn’t need endless cheer-leading from the main character to realize their strengths amidst their deficiencies, and rose up to the challenge.