This is quite a season for seeing our favorite anime series return, and we’ve got a ton of continuing and rebooted anime shows to enjoy this season. New seasons of Golden Kamuy, The Irregular at Magic High School, Is the Order a Rabbit? and Kantoku’s One Room. A full-on remake of Higurashi When They Cry. And, I’m extremely happy to report, a proper continuation of one of my favorite anime series, Strike Witches! But we need to ask, is the new Strike Witches: The Road to Berlin the real deal, worthy of your support? Let’s find out!
Strike Witches is a series set in an alternate version of WWII-era Europe, in which the Earth is occupied by a strange alien force known as the Neuroi. With normal human weapons powerless to stop the invaders, humanity develops the Striker Units, which allow cute girls called Witches to attach propellers to their legs and fly using magic, taking on the Neuroi and destroying them in the air. More than any other show, Strike Witches realized the vision of illustrator Fumikane Shimada, who created the category of mecha musume in 2006, pairing WWII tanks, artillery and airplanes with cute moe girls (and their pantsu). A line of figures by Konami followed, then a short-lived anime called Sky Girls expanded on the concept. Today, everything from Kantai Collection to Upotte! to popular toy lines like Busou Shinki and Frame Arms Girl has all spawned from the mind of Shimada-sensei’s original mecha musume concept.
To be recognized as worthy of being considered a continuation of the hallowed Strike Witches, I expect certain things of the new series, including:
- A proper continuation of the original complex story from the first two seasons and the Strike Witches movie about the Human-Neuroi war, with the story centered around Yoshika Miyafuji
- All the old gang of characters must return, including Major Sakamoto, Charlotte E. Yeager, Lynette Bishop, Perrine H. Clostermann, and of course the blue-and-white shimapan-wearing Francesca Lucchini, my personal favorite
- It must embrace fanservice and not shy away from it, because cute girls fighting in their pantsu is what we’re here for
- The animators must not cheat and use CGI in ways that take away from our love of the characters and story
- It must not be a low-effort short web-streaming series with 3-minute-long episodes.
And so far, I’m happy to report, Strike Witches: The Road to Berlin passes with flying colors!
The Return of Strike Witches!
Normally when an anime returns to us after a decade, I’m nervous that the old magic won’t be there anymore, but the creators of The Road to Berlin have taken this very seriously, letting us catch up on all the characters and what they’ve been doing as they set up the new story. All the same staff has returned for the project, including original series director Kazuhiro Takamura and screenplay writer Tatsuhiko Urata. We’ll even be getting a new OP from Yoko Ishida, who gave us the opening songs to the original series, from the 2nd episode. It’s like Christmas has come three months early!
So as a longtime fan of the girls whose bodies have been melded with WWII mecha in general and Strike Witches in particular, I couldn’t be happier with the new sequel. Hopefully, the story will be good, and we’ll get some questions answered, such as why is Miyafuji’s magic so much more powerful than the other characters, and what was up with the Neuroi that Miyafuji tried to befriend in the first season, which was never followed up on. And of course, the title “Road to Berlin” gives us the expectation that humanity will be making a push to try to defeat the Neuroi and end the war once and for all, which would certainly be a nice bit of closure to have. I’ll certainly keep watching it!
J-List’s first line of official Otaku Masks for Social Distancing is here, allowing you to make a bold fashion statement while you protect yourself and others. There are three masks in the set: pleasant green and blue shimapan style, plus a SUGOI DEKAI one for fans of Uzaki-chan. Get one free random mask with every order (from Japan) of $100 or more, or grab the whole set for $20! If nothing else, it’ll be a great memento of the weirdness that 2020 has been! You can also read a blog post about how good the masks are here.