It says a lot about a show when it is required to have a pantsu counter attached to it.
Mostly bad things, of course.
Now I'm not to say all fanservice is terrible. Because I love me some ladies. I just prefer them to be a little bit more grown up. And not necessarily still in elementary school.
I love Gonzo. They're not the best animation studio out there but they've done some incredible work. Why, just look at their pedigree of shows, and games they've helped out with: From doing some of the animation work in Lunar and Lunar 2: Eternal Blue (incredible games I might add), to creating great original properties such as Vandread, Kiddy Grade, and making films like Blue Submarine No. 6, they do some damn good work.
So why. WHY. WHY IN THE NAME OF GOD WOULD YOU MAKE THIS SHOW?!
I get you probably wanted to tackle a ridiculous concept, and that I approve of. What I don't approve of, however, is you focusing more on the fact that little girls flying around with panties is a thing we need constantly shoved in our faces. Along with incredibly questionable artistic choices.
Today, I take a look back and break down everything that is wrong with Strike Witches in one big, final review.
What is it about this show? It seemed like a great concept, as silly as it was - little girls modeled after planes flying around and killing aliens hellbent on destroying the human race. That is a good premise. How could they cock it up so badly? Why did anyone think the work they were doing was good? I could write pages upon pages, but it will do it so much more justice if I just sit down and start breaking this shit into categories. Because it needs done.
ART & ANIMATION:
Let's get one thing straight. The only thing this show has going for it are the character designs, which are 'cute'. Planes get turned into little girls. It's a cool concept that has long since been blown out of proportion, but at the time it was a novel idea. However, this does not translate to a good show, and while the character concepts might be okay, that's a different section entirely, because as a whole this entire series looks terrible.
If you make a show about girls flying around fighting monsters, the first thing you need to do is make sure your combat sequences look amazing. Especially if that is the major draw of your show. All but maybe one of the enemies looks like utter shit, all CG models that look like a stoned second year art student did in his spare time while looking up things that looked cool on the Internet the night before his project was due. Seriously. A backwards missile? F***ing idioitic.
Animation is minimal at best, and when they want to do any scene with several characters, they resort to CG - why? I ask why because they sure as hell don't bother to animate the damn things! It's like they took the models in Poser, snapped some photos of the model standing there and used that in the show, with the only exception maybe simulating some damn physics for the hair to be blowing around in the wind.
The CG sticks out like a sore thumb, the artwork is horribly inconsistent from scene to scene, and the parts that are animated are done so terribly lazily it's a wonder they ever bothered to even attempt producing the damn thing. I like to think they'd have saved money by never making this show in the first place.
All of that said? I'm giving them an F+. I know for a fact Gonzo can do high quality work, with inserting CG elements into things. The fact that they did this is horribly, horribly lazy, and there should be no excuse in the world for it to justify their actions.
Though really, they deserved an automatic fail as soon as it became apparent that the show was basically just pedo-bait. JUST BECAUSE WOMEN DO NOT KNOW WHAT PANTS ARE DOES NOT MEAN YOU MUST FOCUS ON DELICIOUS TWELVE YEAR OLD ASS ALL DAY, EVERY DAY. IT IS NEITHER CUTE NOR FUNNY. IN FACT, IT IS ACTUALLY KIND OF REVOLTING.
It's also pretty sad that the one character who was actually close to being of age, Shirley, wound up getting the least amount of fanservice. And frankly, that is just disturbing.
STORY & PLOT
F. Just getting that out of the way now. This is the stupidest story possible. Characters are inconsistent, people act suddenly for idiotic reasons, and the leadership, when it attempts to act in a leadership capacity, fails spectacularly. The only reason the world hasn't been wiped out by the alien menace is because, quite frankly, they live in an anime world. Either that or the aliens feel so bad about how stupid the human race is in general and are just taking pity on them, even though they are clearly justified in attempting to wipe them off the face of the planet.
By the way that never did get explained either. Whoops. Well I hope you like the surprise twist ending where really the aliens aren't the bad guys at all! Except that they kind of are. But they're not so bad and hey everyone got to make up and go home at the end right?
... seriously, everything about the story and plot is so goddamn stupid I just.... ARGH. It's making me mad thinking about it again.
I get that all of the characters were based off of actual historical figures, but I like to think they acted with slightly more intelligence. Or that they weren't actively trying to screw over their allies who were basically fighting the same goddamn war.
MUSIC & SFX
I have to be honest here. The SFX were actually relatively okay. The music was passable. It wasn't the greatest, but frankly it also wasn't very memorable. They get a C for this category, because really what more can be said? It was there, and they used plenty of dakka dakka and boom boom.
CHARACTER DESIGN & THEMING
This is the real mixed bag. They didn't have a lot to work with on this concept, since the girls were all named after actual historical figures and there was a lot to cram into thirteen episodes. For one, there was the whole Witches thing. Yeah I get it, little girls with magic powers, cool. After a certain point they start losing them. Okay, fine. But why does no one in the world wear goddamn pants?!
Also I think it's kind of a slap in the face to turn great historical fighter aces and turn them into little girls and then sexually objectify them. Turning them into little girls? That's okay to an extent. Flattering and a little funny to be honest. But then pretty much going "you want these girls" and literally showing them naked as often as possible, and letting them play with one another's breasts? I'm pretty sure that's not something that EVER happened during the second world war. Just saying.
Then there's the horribly overbearing lesbian overtones throughout the entire show, which is equally disturbing, because that only serves to further drive home the sexual objectification of the characters, which not only makes the characters weaker, but also your show as a whole.
Plus, the utter incompetence of the entire world's military is laughable. They say the aliens can only be combated with magic, but yet they run around with physical weapons and hardly ever use their magic to defeat the enemies. So what, exactly, do Strike Witches bring to the field that couldn't be accomplished with actual fighter planes? Plot Armor is what it boils down to. And that just makes the entire show suffer as a whole.
For this category, I'm going to have to give them a D-. While the character designs themselves are interesting, and the idea is kind of fun, the execution is terrible and the characters themselves wind up being fairly forgettable because they aren't properly utilized. Also? They use some stupid country names. If they're from Germany just say f***ing Germany! Or Holland! Christ.
FINAL GRADE: D-/F+
This show is, on my scale, right on the edge of the failing curve. The characters piss me off, the show just wants to point at the characters and go "hey look they have butts you like butts so buy our merch!" and is executed so poorly it reeks of intentional design choices. For an established animation studio to put out work of this caliber is just disgusting, and borders on the insulting. Everything about this show is pretty much bad, with the exception of the relatively forgettable music. How desperate does an animation studio have to be in order to appeal to the pedo crowd, exactly?
I hate the characters. I hate the story. I hate the enemy designs. I hate the plot twists. I hate almost everything that a person could possibly hate about this show.
There's a lesson here. The lesson is that it's okay for girls to be sexy in anime. That's pretty much a given. But it is not okay to be lusting after girls that are under the age of 16. I realize there's a cultural disconnect between the US and Japan - we're pretty strict on that whole 18 years old thing, and I get that. But if you'll take a look, you'll notice that each state has their own takes on what the 'age of consent' happens to be - and after a very small amount of research, it seems no state in the US has an age below that of 16. Which is still a little skeevy to begin with, but let me just make the following point:
NO MATTER WHERE YOU LIVE, LUSTING AFTER THIRTEEN YEAR OLD GIRLS IS WRONG. PERIOD. END OF DISCUSSION. IT IS NOT RIGHT. THEY ARE NOT EVEN FINISHED DEVELOPING. BY SIXTEEN THEY ARE STILL GROWING A CONSIDERABLE AMOUNT BUT AT LEAST MUCH OF THE GROWTH HAS BEEN COMPLETED AND THEY ARE PROPERLY EDUCATED ABOUT ADULT LIFE AND WHAT A PENIS AND A VAGINA HAPPEN TO BE.
I like shows with little girls in them. I DO NOT LIKE SHOWS WHICH TURN LITTLE GIRLS INTO OBJECTS OF SEXUAL DESIRE.
And no matter how you try to defend a thing? CONSTANTLY SHOWING ME THEIR UNDERWEAR, OR NAKED BITS (OF WHICH MOST OF THESE CHARACTERS BARELY HAVE ANY!!), THAT TELLS ME YOU WANT ME TO CONNECT TO THESE CHARACTERS IN THE WORST WAY IMAGINABLE. AND THAT IS THE VERY DEFINITION OF A BAD THING.
Seventeen? Understandable. Sixteen? Pushing it. Fifteen is the bare minimum to entry here for anime, and even then it gets pretty uncomfortable when you keep turning characters into sexual objects. Anything lower? THAT IS F***ING CRIMINAL.
I hate this show and everything it stands for. Because instead of trying to make a good show, they instead chose to make a show that focuses on little girl private bits as opposed to making an amusing homage to veterans of the worst world war to date.
Go f**k yourself, Gonzo.
Go f**k yourself.