Another Thursday, and as a friend of mine on the Facebooks told me when I woke this morning, what I should do is to not look at Facebook (was on the Messenger app on my phone) and to just watch the episode. I was not disappointed, at all. Hell, I wasn’t disappointed that I spent uh about 6 hours writing this up because of all the checking I had to do.
Georgette and Sadako engage a trio of Neuroi ground-based walkers in the outskirts of Petrozavodsk, and report in their foe’s destruction to base. This in turn would help a train loaded with supplies and new striker units reach the beleaguered 502nd base. Wondering though why they would be asked to escort a train through secure lines, it would seem something important is on the train. Waltrud asks if it’s ‘grape juice’ (wine), to which Rall tersely says ‘no’.
Back at the 502nd hangar, Naoe, Hikari, and Nipa open up the last crate left behind by their visitors, with Waltrud watching them. Dejected that all there was are weapons, Waltrud passes off a PF-45 Liberator pistol as a ‘good luck charm’ to Hikari, before being presented with a box of macaroons that had been addressed to her. Biting down on one, she nearly breaks her teeth on a microfiche container.
Processing it, the 502nd has been made aware of the Warlock project and realize the important cargo might be their trump card against the Grigori Neuroi hive. As they’re having their meal of reindeer stew later on, Rall and Roßmann come in with a mission brief.
The 502nd’s job is to escort the convoy to Murmansk and its cargo, with Krupinski in charge. When she is surprised, Roßmann shows her a picture of the Britannian witch who is acting as the organic escort for the convoy and Waltrud is instantly fired up. Naoe volunteers due to the promise of new units, and Waltrud picks Nipa and Hikari as well.
Later that evening, Roßmann finds Waltrud training, and the two talk about their ages. They’ve been fighting at the front since the war started and they’re not getting any younger. She had chosen the three of them primarily to increase their combat experience. While Roßmann understands Naoe and Nipa, she asks about Hikari. Waltrud defends her choice that she’d be the perfect support, and that she is rather well endowed. That last comment was enough for Roßmann to threaten her with the StG44’s receiver (Waltrud having field-stripped it for cleaning), with the fake countess reacting out of instinct if anything.
The next day, Nipa’s unit starts to act up while Hikari wears the Liberator around her neck as her ‘charm’. Waltrud obsesses over the picture of the Britannian witch, which leads to Roßmann to hit her colleague over her single-minded focus on the witch. The four take off, with the convoy informed of their launch. While the captain aboard the escort flagship is a little annoyed at the added witches, thinking all they needed was their own, his XO points out what must be on the cargo ship must be very important.
The four continue on their trip, stopping at Petrozavodsk for a meal and maintenance (and with Waltrud flirting with a non-witch female staff member) and again at a forest. Right before they land in Murmansk, Nipa’s strike gives out, and she is held aloft by Hikari and Naoe. There, they encounter some land battle witches (a Karlslander, Soumousian, and Orussian) and after finding the new units, Waltrud finds her ‘grape juice’.
With her unit down, Waltrud gives Nipa her new unit and Hikari and Nipa test their strikers, while Waltrud starts to drink the ‘grape juice’, even after the post-exercise sauna. Not seeing her at night, the three find Waltrud hung over from her drinking. They deploy to escort the fleet, with Waltrud still recovering, but are the informed of a Neuroi appearing to threaten the convoy.
Waltrud sobers up and takes charge, as the convoy starts taking heavy damage with the Britannian witch shot down. Right before the flagship takes a direct hit to the Bridge, Waltrud protects them with her shield and orders her force to go after the Neuroi, which has split in half and deployed smaller drones.
The four, with help from the convoy escort, start to fight back, though the overwhelming number of drones start to cut into their ammo supply. When the half Naoe and Nipa get past them, Waltrud sends Hikari to help as she takes on the other half by herself. Hikari gives the Liberator to Waltrud as a charm, and heads off to help the other two, with Waltrud activating her special ability to better fight her foe.
As Hikari, Nipa, Naoe, and the convoy fight the half targeting them, Waltrud is starting to strain due to constantly using her special ability. The trio and the convoy defeats their half, though the trio realizes there was no core in theirs. Waltrud manages to expose the core by kicking a drone back at the mothership, and using her underbarrel grenade launcher, destroys it.
Waltrud though is attacked by a drone, and is downed, though she isn’t killed due to the Liberator in her chest pocket taking most of the blow. While Rall receives word that the convoy made it safely to port with the cargo safe, she gives some bad news to Roßmann. How much of a bad news it is depends on the person, as the three stumble upon Waltrud playing up her charms to the Britannian witch, making Naoe want to punch her.
Elsewhere, the Neuroi reconstitutes itself, and it takes with it Waltrud’s damage striker units, Waltrud having been ejected from the pair in the final suicide attack, which may have not been a suicide attack at all.
Christmas has indeed come early, as my friend, sounding board, and fellow Witches fan Velvet_Scarlantina has said. Where to start?
Well first off, I like the addition of stuff from the semi-canonical Africa Doujinshi. The addition of the small walker Neuroi harkens back to those same units fought by the protagonists of that doujinshi, there was an actual appearance of said ground battle witches. Three of them in fact. A Karlslander in a StuG, a Soumousian in a StuG, and a Orussian in a T-34/76. These are the little bits of lore that excite me. There is a pretty good chance that Nipa’s older sister, Aurora, might make an appearance. Now the nature of that appearance might not be as significant as my friends and I want, but it would still be amazing if it were to happen.
Brave Witches also continue to feature the people other than witches, though it seems no one has bothered to translate the informational eye-catch on the support personnel. Guess I’m one of the few who wants it translated. So that I did, and according to Nomake Wan, it says:
Title: Unified Combat Flight Group Personnel(edited)
“The Unified Combat Flight Group is a completely independent aerial combat force with a Witch unit at its center, and as such is capable of taking care of everything from intelligence gathering to interception missions entirely on its own.
In order to achieve this, every Unified Combat Flight Group, in addition to its Witches, has groups such as an Administration Unit, a Combat Engineering Unit, a Communications Unit, a Maintenance Unit, et cetera. Together, these units are made up of roughly 1000 people stationed on-site supporting the Witches’ activities from the shadows.”
(technically the part I translated as ‘Administration Unit’ is literally translated as ‘Control Unit’, but I assume that by ‘Control’ they mean ‘Administer’)
^in case you want the raw text for some reason
Speaking of people other than witches, it seems there is some consistency with the female staff not wearing pants. It was explained somewhere in Season 1 that it’s more of a cultural thing and allows for ease of movement, to which a friend of mine (and frankly, a lot of us) call some bullshit. It just made more amusing that with Krupinski’s choice of hosiery, it seems she’s wearing actual pants.
Other things of note would be the
Bellona subclass Dido-class Light Cruiser used as the flagship of the arctic convoy. Arctic convoys were the lifeblood that has kept the USSR in business while the Western Allies were getting their forces together for the eventual landings at North Africa, Italy, and France. Their inclusion into Brave Witches underscores their importance, as this convoy destined for them contains cargo that might be a trump card for their assault on Grigori.
While there was no HMS Odysseus in naval service in the form of a light cruiser, the closest reference is actually of the novel HMS Ulysses by Allistair MacLaen. Mr. MacLein had served on the HMS Royalist running artic convoys in WWII. The HMS Royalist was actually part of the Bellona subclass, which had been built to be AA-centric versions of the Dido-class Light Cruiser, possibly explaining the high rate of fire from its main guns against the Neuroi drone carrier. So I think someone in the production team actually read HMS Ulysses and dropped that in as a reference.
EDIT: Another person I’m acquainted with says: It has raked funnels so its a Dido, rather than a Bellona. Why they ditched A but kept Q is beyond me.
The cargo ship called the Ellsworth could be referencing the M/V Albert L. Ellsworth, sunk by U-Boats in the mid-Atlantic as it made its way from Trinidad to Gibraltar. Amusing that such a secret important cargo is apparently on a furnace oil tanker.
Speaking of trump cards, it seems the knowledge of the Warlock program and its eventual failure is still a bad stain on the faces of GHQ. Furthermore, having witches find out that the boffins in charge of the defense of humanity is willing to resort to utilizing Neuroi to kill Neuroi is still a bad idea, for good reason. This has implications, as seen with the Warlock, but one can say the technology has matured to a degree when in Season 2, they managed to Neuroify the IJN Yamato.
Still, it doesn’t bode too well when they try to take control of such beings. There is a folklore in the world of man attempting to control supernatural beings and ending up in the wrong end of the deal. Since Neuroi take on the forms of things that humanity fear or of crazy things that inspire fear and dread, who knows if early humanity has done similar attempts to control on ancient Neuroi?
The Neuroi here though seems to be a foreshadowing of the Neuroi of Strike Witches S2 and of the movie. It had the capability to deploy ‘drones’ and regenerate after being destroyed. While it would seem that the Neuroi only had a single core, one cannot rule out that the Neuroi is a dual-core model, with the other half forcing a self-destruct as a way to get Nipa, Naoe, Hikari, and the convoy to stop shooting at it.
This adds to the complexity of humanity’s foe, first really encountered in the latter half of the first season and again by the Neuroi sphinx in the Africa Doujinshi, and hitting their climax in the movie. They’re not just endless monsters meant to be defeated by the protagonists in endless pantyshots and gunfire. It’s been seen that drones will be destroyed when the mothership is destroyed. It makes sense if the Neuroi hive is destroyed, all other Neuroi will be destroyed, so it explains why a drone still had enough ‘sentience’ to go after Waltrud in the end, knocking her out and leading to her unit being ejected (and recovered).
My guess is that the Neuroi sacrificed its other core and reconstituted itself afterwards when the mission was completed, the fragments having found and sheltered Waltrud’s striker unit and allowing it to be assimilated later. And the last not on Neuroi, it seems a little bit of the design from the semi-official Africa doujinshi is catching on. It first caught on in the movie, where the four-legged walkers were the standard ‘cannon-fodder’ types that could be defeated by conventional arms. Though I would hate to see a super-heavy type that would be using the destroyed hull of a battleship as armor.
The Waltrud-centric episode reveals little of the count, but it just enforces what source materials and fans know. She is a womanizer of little shame, and is willing to chase everyone. It seems that her mutual friendship with Roßmann has been taken further several times, as alluded to in the eyecatch. It also shows that witches do get hung over, as evidenced by the episode, but with their magical powers, probably not to the full extent as one would a regular human. The fact she sobered up so quickly might be attributed to her magic kicking in when she went to the rescue of the convoy (and its Britannian witch escort). Her powers can also explain her high tolerance for alcohol, since it is quite doubtful she only had one bottle.
In all, the episode was rather good, and we got to see a little of the interactions between some witches who don’t get much screentime. That and one can now understand why Roßmann picks on Waltrud. On-again, off-again relationship most likely.
Also, for this blog post, I want to thank Velvet_Scarlantina and Nomake Wan for their help. Velvet mainly for bouncing commentary and ideas from, and Nomake Wan for taking time off his schedule to quickly translate the eyecatch.