“If you want to fight, be strong!”
Brave Witches is the spin-off series to the popular ecchi-action franchise, Strike Witches, which features young girls who don’t wear pants in World War II Europe, toting guns and plane legs, fighting aliens. No, I’m not making this up. I was first introduced to the Strike Witches franchise by a good friend I made through Reddit and, while I was skeptical from just looking at the promotional art, I was reeled in very quickly by fun characters and exciting action. Naturally, I was excited for the upcoming spin-off and based on the first episode, I have not been disappointed as it carries the same fun feel and atmosphere as its predecessor.
What can you say about the story of the Strike Witches universe that hasn’t been said in the description? Basically, in a world similar to ours, young girls possess inherent magical powers within them, lying more dormant in some girls than others. Around the time of our World War II, Europe is invaded by a mysterious alien force known as the Neuroi. These Neuroi are unable to communicate with humans and act hostile and aggressively towards us, looking to expand their nests and conquer the world. With the threat of the Neuroi looming, top scientists develop a system using magic to power what are called “Striker Units”, which can be used to take flight and combat the Neuroi. Due to the requirement of magic, this limits the potential users of Strikers to young, teenage girls who are dubbed “Witches”.
The story of the Strike Witches franchise has never been the major selling point of the franchise. It’s a simple humans vs. aliens war series with cute girls thrown in the mix. However, something Strike Witches has become infamous for is its “First Episode Syndrome”. Through each of the two seasons of the first season, the first episode has always felt like the weakest episode of the season, succumbing to a dragging plot, slow pacing, and nothing really happening. However, Brave Witches seems to have taken note of this flaw, which resulted in a well-paced first episode with a decent mix of character interactions and action scenes. The plot of the episode was always moving without feeling like it stuttered or dragged.
While a large part of the cast has yet to be introduced in full, only catching a glimpse of most of them within the first two minutes of the episode, we got our first glimpse at our main character, Hikari Karibuchi, and her older sister, Takami Karibuchi.
Hikari takes a page out of Yoshika Miyafuji’s, the original SW protagonist, book by being a happy, excitable girl. She shows excitement at the idea of being a witch out of adoration for her older sister. Through her training with the water skipping and her drive shown during the test sequence, Hikari sets herself up as someone who works hard towards anything she puts her mind to. Unlike Yoshika, though, who didn’t want to become a witch or have any desire to fight, Hikari is enrolled in the Sasebo Aviatory Preparation Academy, a school that trains potential Witches. She idolizes her sister, the war hero, and strives to become as strong as her sister.
Takami is Hikari’s older sister and a well-established Witch, who has fought several times on the front lines in Europe. She is hailed within the girls’ hometown of Sasebo as the “Hero of Sasebo” for her courageous efforts in battle, to the point where she has even been portrayed in movies. She plays the role of the gentle but wise older sister, rich in experience and ability. She is shown from early in the episode to be very proficient at what she does and watches the training competition between Hikari and Misumi. Her relation with her sister is one of love and caring, as she treats her sister with the utmost kindness and gentleness.
Should You Watch It?
Okay, this is a tough one. The Strike Witches franchise is always a tough recommendation because of its subject matter and its portrayal of its characters. These are young girls flying around without pants and that could very quickly turn some viewers away from the show. But, if you look deeper than what the surface might present, what you find is a series with a lot of fun action, charming characters, great interactions between those characters ranging from comedic to serious to even sweet at times, and an overall really fun experience, even if it may not be the best anime quality-wise out there. If you can get past the fanservice cover, I’d definitely recommend giving it a try.