Strike Witches: Whut

William Earl Johns is spinning in his grave like the prop of a Striker Unit.

In his grave, William Earl Johns spins like the prop of a Striker Unit.

Strike Witches gave us fanservice hyperinflation (not the Divergence Eve kind). If any shot involving a female character is a pantyshot then the pantyshot becomes fanservice’s Zimbabwe Dollar, as it loses its air of the extraordinary. The ‘panty’ part of the word ‘pantyshot’ also begins to feel superfluous. Perhaps Strike Witches was actually part of a conspiracy to denature fanservice (and perhaps in 2009 the UK will get an artbox release for Mellowlink).

It’s an interesting exercise to go back and look at the ‘sphere’s initial reaction: eyes were rolled and heads were scratched. While the exact timing will vary from fan to fan, we can distill this into one definable moment: when you realised that there would not be, could not be, a satisfying explanation for the lack of lower-body overclothing. Other than, I suppose, ‘because they could’ and ‘because it sells’.

Apart from the absence of trousers, the other main topic seems to have been the show’s distribution via Crunchyroll and BOST. It was rather amusing that something so well-calculated to provoke moral disapproval should be one of the few anime legally available within a respectably short time of its first broadcast.

Actually, speaking of BOST, wasn’t Strike Witches the last new anime that they announced? I rather liked BOST, although it’s probably a bad sign when a site is muscled out of the top spot on Google by the Birkenhead Operatic Society and the Bankside Open Spaces Trust.

EDIT: Author points out that the mismatch between pantyshot-laden content and legal distribution highlights the fact that laws and morals are, or at least can be, unconnected.

22 responses to “Strike Witches: Whut

  1. Mmm… Pantsu Witches…

    The only explanation for the lack of pants is that in this alternate earth underwear/buruma/swimsuit bottoms count as pants. The whole Neuroi threat notwithstanding, I wouldn’t mind living in the Strike Witches universe though. ;)

  2. The reason for the lack of pants is that none of the statuettes had pants, and that’s where the character designs came from.

  3. Seriously, I wonder why people watched or even liked this like rabid fanbois. I stayed off it totally, the idea did not appeal to me and I am glad I did.

  4. Panther: If you do it without know what it’s about at least, than good for you, but I’d rather be informed than uninformed. Or something like that. :/

  5. Strike Witches. A show that doesn’t pretend to care about having reasons for lolis in underpants.

    Refuge In Audacity

  6. I’ll go with the need for a lighter frame, no matter how insignificant the weight shed.

    And I see you’re watching Princess Tutu as well! Cheers to that.

  7. ‘Twas a genius move by Gonzo in their position, that’s for sure.

  8. Question is: should i watch this?

  9. Still holding out for the DVD versions in all their uncensored glory.

  10. Animekritik, the only person who can answer that question is you. It really depends on what other kinds of things you like. If you’re the kind of fan who loves shows like Kanon and Marimite, then you should stay far, far away from this one.

    Me, I really liked it and I’m glad I watched it, and I’ve rewatched it several times. But I still had to give it a thumbs-down in my review.

  11. I feel like the panty-shot has been done to death over the past few years, and that this is only the latest blow to it – what’s the fun in something if you get to see it all the time? Isn’t the fun of the panty-shot in its being a pretend accident, the glimpse of something forbidden? Strike Witches kind of renders that absolutely null, as do many of the fanservice-filled shows we’ve been getting lately, like Rosario + Vampire. It just seems like overkill – makes me miss times like when I saw uncut Sailor Moon R and guffawed at a panty-shot because it was so surprising.

  12. There’s nothing new about this. See, for instance, Najica Blitz Tactics. That came out in 2001.

  13. @Steven Den Beste

    Wait. If you liked it and watched it several times, why do you give it a thumbs down? Doesn’t thumbs down mean you didn’t like it?!

  14. @ Yamcha: I’m not sure. If that’s the explanation then the women of Strike Witches‘s world are condemned to a lot of time chafing blood back into their legs after time spent outside.

    Unless the whole of Earth has a significantly warmer climate?

    @ Steven Den Beste: Fair point.

    @ Panther: Well, I’d say it’s fairly obvious why a lot of people liked it. The Daily Star is a pathetic excuse for a proper newspaper, but some people prefer it. Or maybe there was a large reservoir of hitherto dormant mecha musume fans waiting to be tapped.

    @ TheBigN: But what if ‘ignorance is bliss’?

    @ Dorian Cornelius Jasper: I’m not entirely convinced by the idea of taking refuge in audacity. The premise is audaciously ludicrous, yes, but comercially very viable, especially considering the pre-existing figures and Shimada’s previous work on Sky Girls. Still, I suppose commercial viability isn’t really what TV Tropes’s Refuge in Audacity focuses on.

    @ madeener: Cheers indeed. PT is utterly brilliant, so far. Hopefully I can produce a post on it.

    @ omisyth: If anything can save Gonzo from the shame of being reduced to producing hentai, it’s Strike Witches. Though I’m sure some would say that that’s like being saved from Soviet Russia by the Taliban.

    @ animekritik: What SDB said, really. It’s not something I can recommend wholeheartedly. That said, I managed to enjoy it, and I don’t believe it’s irredeemably bad.

    @ adaywithoutme: I certainly agree that a lot of the frisson that we’re meant to feel is because we’re seeing something forbidden. I think that’s what I was getting at in my first paragraph. I think there is a distinction between SW and Rosario + Vampire</em, though, because in the latter panties are still (tenuously) taboo, while in SW they’re normal clothing.

    Mind you, by that logic Ragnarock City ought to be really boring, and somehow I doubt it is.

    @ Steven Den Beste: And presumably Agent Aika too

    @ animekritik: I can only speak for myself – I’m sure Steven can explain his decision – but I don’t think I would recommend Mellowlink to many people, even though I enjoyed it immensely, because it’s too much of an acquired taste.

  15. Thumbs down means I don’t recommend it for others. It doesn’t necessarily mean I didn’t like it myself. My tastes can sometimes be unusual, and there may be things I liked which I would recognize that others would not.

    Strike Witches is definitely an unusual title, and there are a lot of people who really liked it. There are a lot of people who wouldn’t watch it even at gunpoint. And there are people who got five minutes in and then swore they’d never watch any more of it. Definitely a niche title.

    Anyway, if you want to see it, here’s my review:

    http://denbeste.nu/Chizumatic/reviews/StrikeWitches.shtml

  16. Mecha-musume has always fascinated me in some way. It’s probably because I can’t shake the feeling it’s the Japanese take on (and commercial exploitation of) the nearly universal tendency to antropomorphize vehicles toward the feminine.

  17. @ wildarmsheero: It . . . certainly created a lot of awe, yes.

    @ Michael: Lol.

    @ Will: I’m sure someone well-versed in feminist theory would suggest the reverse, that it’s a reflection of the Japanese take on the machine-like status of women. But I won’t do that. I hadn’t thought that we tend to think of vehicles as female when we anthropomorphise them, but you’re right, we do. I read somewhere that in Russian ships are referred to as ‘he’, though – do you know if that’s true?

  18. Love the use of the Zimbabwe dollar for comparison. The nature of the show seemed like an over-the-top reaction to an idea of what someone who would buy the DVD would want more than anything. Unfortunately, the reaction dies down as quick as the reaction to the latest inflation figures for the Zimbabwe dollar (currently 89,700,000,000,000,000,000,000%)

  19. I honestly don’t know. I suspect Author may have more insight.

    Were I more ambitious, I’d go looking for a study I’m sure exists on how different cultures anthropomorphize different objects. Germans call(ed?) it the Fatherland. Russians tend toward Motherland. Americans have dual icons in the Statue of Liberty and Uncle Sam.

    Looking back, I can’t think of all that many times where a character in anime (who wasn’t clearly a foreigner) referred to a vehicle in a human manner. It could make for an interesting study how a culture that doesn’t appear to anthropomorphize vehicles could jump so quickly to something like mecha-musume.

  20. @ Emperor J: The ZD was an obvious choice as the pre-eminent example of hyperinflation happening right now. I hadn’t kept on top of the actual figures, though, so that 23-digit-long number definitely drew a reaction from me.

    @ Will: Having humanoid mecha seems like it might be connected to anthropomorphisation somehow, and super robots at least sometimes wind up being humanised (Giant Robo cries, for example). But it’s not quite the same.

    It strikes me that the Statue of Liberty is a symbol tied to a physical object (except in G Gundam, where it’s a giant beam cannon, but that’s just G being awesome as usual), while Uncle Sam is a character who can be much more easily portrayed doing things (primarily in political cartoons, I suppose).

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