Two days back home in my beloved Old Dominion and I’m here hammering out a blog post after I recovered from jetlag. The first thing I did was watch The Grand Tour, then Izetta, then Brave Witches. For the two anime series I’m lifting using the episode description from Wikipedia and keeping my thoughts all jumbled together.
Anyways, onto the post.
Izetta: The Last Witch – Episode 7: The Battle of Sognefjord
Wikipedia Entry on Episode 7:
After Finé and Izetta arrive in Britannia, they try to enlist the Allies’ aid for Eylstadt by offering them a demonstration of Izetta’s power. A new but still uncompleted Germanian aircraft carrier, the Drachenfels, has gone into hiding at Sognefjord in the country of Nord, and Finé proposes that Izetta should sink the ship before it is fully activated. However, thanks to the Germanian spy network, Berkman has become aware of the plan and prepared an ambush for Izetta, using the ship as bait. The fact that ley lines and non-magical areas intersect within the fjord hampers Izetta’s freedom of movement; while she takes out the carrier, her occasional lack of control over her powers during the battle confirms Berkman’s suspicions about her possible weakness. Certain that the secret to this lies within the old Eylstadt castle of the White Witch, he proposes to send in his own spy to investigate, but to his surprise Rickert volunteers himself for this mission.
Brave Witches – Episode 6: Good Luck
Wikipedia Entry on Episode 6:
The Witches learn that a Neuroi is hiding somewhere in a nearby town, sending signals to launch pinpoint attacks from outside. While pursuing the shape-shifting marker Neuroi alongside Hikari and Nipa, combat leader Alexsandra “Sasha” Ivanovna Pokryshkin experiences a flashback of the town despite claiming never to have been there. While pondering why she has this memory, Sasha is annoyed with Nipa for drawing a doodle of a ladybug in her Striker Unit. The next day, after encountering with the marker Neuroi again, Sasha remembers that she once came to this town to visit her grandmother and had sealed her memories out of fear of being marginalized as a Witch after using her magic in public. Using her recovered memories, Sasha discovers the marker Neuroi and destroys it, but not before it signals for one final attack on the town. Despite being ordered to evacuate, Nipa intercepts the shell and saves the town, explaining that the doodle she drew in Sasha’s Striker Unit was in gratitude for the “Good luck” message she wrote in hers.
The Grand Tour – Episode 1: The Holy Trinity
The first episode of The Grand Tour is punctuated by an opening where Clarkson leaves London, voice overs of the various news reports of his letting go by the BBC playing. Flying to LA, the intro song is the cover of the song “I Can See Clearly Now” by Hothouse Flowers, with the trio arriving in Mustangs.
The format seems to not change much, apart from some blatant name changes and what I think are region specific in-jokes. Like the whole shooting at drones thing. This region-specific jokes will end up being more pronounced since they are filming their studio segments in various locations in the world, starting off in California for the debut episode, and being in Johannesburg next week. While they are prohibited from copying stuff from the show they left behind, they did manage to include a track segment featuring the BMW M2 being driven around a section of an RAF airfield.
The production values match that of late-run Top Gear, and was surprised to see that in the Amazon viewing of it, little bits of trivia can be read if one will mouse over the screen. They did attempt a celebrity kind of thing, except with power laps, they would put them through a machine that gauges their ability to multitask and leads into a joke about how the RAF is the best air force in the world, leading to numerous scripted takes of the TGT trio being roughed up by the American audience.
The meat of the first episode though was the long-awaited shoot-out between the McLaren P1, Porsche 918 Spyder, and Ferrari LaFerrari. Going through the usual formula of hi-jinks and good old-fashioned car journalism, the end result of all these were, well folks will need to watch it.
Izetta is ongoing in the manipulations behind the scenes. At this point, all that’s for sure is that Berkman is playing a long game. With what he’s probably found in warehouse 9, it’s scary to think that they have ANOTHER witch, or at least, a volunteer that is being imbued with magical powers.
The meeting of the Allied powers seemed to have been factored into his plans, as was the sacrifice of Germania’s own Graf Zeppelin, the Drachenfels (Dragon’s Rock). Unfortunately, this revealed Izetta’s weakness to the very observant and cunning Germanian, noting the difficulty Izetta had in the fjord. While it might’ve saved her a few times from Bassler, but it was enough to confirm his suspicions.
Other technical aspects of the episode was the actual functioning launch catapults on the Drachenfels. Its launch sequence was quite accurate according to a friend on Facebook, and is just another thing to add to the ‘debuted on anime first’ kind of list he’s keeping track. The Z23, Koenigsburg, and Graf Zeppelin being the three he added.
As for Brave Witches, this development from the Neuroi is disturbing to say the least. A mobile heavy artillery piece with an agile, disguised spotter. While there is a sense that Neuroko (the Witch-shaped flier) from Season 1 of Strike Witches might be a conciliatory gesture by the Gallian hive, the eradication of a similar hive over Romagna by a greater hive indicates that such rogue elements are strictly that, rogue.
The Neuroi are constantly learning. If Neuroiko is just the start, it was no small wonder they can create a chameleon unit that seems to look like a virus. The artillery unit surprised me, and seems to foreshadow the massive Neuroi carrier from the movie in its ability to tunnel underground. The Neuroi in Brave Witches reaches the complexity and threat levels of that from the Africa doujin, rather than the simple fliers. The same friend advising me on the visual trivia on Izetta is also an equally devout Strike Witches fan, and noted similarities of the Artillery Neuroi to the Karl Gustav, while I mentioned it seems a logical progression from the boxy Neuroi tanks from the Africa doujinshi and the smoothing lines and nearly prehistoric creatures from Brave Witches.
Though last week’s electric fan Neuroi completely made me and a bunch of people go ‘whiskey tango foxtrot’.
I do like the mention of other witches in the episode, particularly the Ground-Based Witches in the episode. Possibility we get to see Aurora E. Juutilainen, Eila’s older sister. Considering Aurora and her Soumous group of elite troops is tasked with supporting the 502nd, particularly in finding those who had crashed landed (Read: Nipa, all the friggin time), it is a possibility. Already this is making Brave Witches a richer series (universe wise) than Strike Witches.
Though that doesn’t mean I can’t bad mouth Strike Witches much, it was the animated reality of Humikane’s doodles of mecha musume come to life, and spawned a franchise that has endured for nearly eight years since that initial series release (and having endured longer than that in light novel format and a cancelled manga series). It is absurd, and only seen as fan service by many, but for me and others like me, it’s a perfect combination of that formula of ‘cute girls with guns doing cute things’.