All these anime share one common element: fanciful worlds that explore plot elements driven by sorcery or technology. My earliest exposure to anime was Ah! My Goddess The Movie back in April 2007. The entire movie blew me away with its plot, artwork and music, and I soon found myself more open to anime than I had been previously. I eventually went online to download Coro Di Dea, or Chorus of the Goddesses, from the movie. Eventually, a friend showed me the first episode of the TV series on his Pocket PC in 480p, which was the top of the line back then. My interest in anime eventually picked up from there and today, includes a collection of 18 completed series and an assortment of episodes.
The main aspect about the types of series below is how it captivates the mind's eye and soars with it. The unusual worlds, sweeping blue skies and unique characters combine together in synergy to really explore concepts and relationships between people under a universe that has diverged from our own. Since reality is reality, it is a refreshing break to see how worlds similar to our own still possess their own uniqueness, and the consequences of such design. I choose to watch series similar to these for a particular reason: unlike long-running series (e.g. Naruto and Bleach), the worlds are not radically different, nor are the series written for other unusual purposes (e.g. High School of the Dead).
Ah! My Goddess revolves around the story of college freshman Keiichi Morisato, who, because of his pure heart, has been chosen by Yggdrasil, Heaven's computer system, to receive a single wish. The "angelic" goddess Belldandy is sent down to Earth to ask for his wish, and tells him that he can potentially wish for anything that he wants, from becoming a billionaire to destroying the world in an instant. Keiichi first thinks that this entire meeting is a prank set up by his seniors, but during their short meeting, he soon realizes that she's the only person who truly understands and appreciates him. Being enchanted by her, Keiichi wishes that someone like Belldandy would stay with him forever, under the condition that the offer is valid. Ironically, he does not fully comprehend the outcome of his wish, and is stunned on realizing that Belldandy will now be living with him. The manga/anime follows their relationship as they become closer to each other.
Ah! My Goddess is an excellent anime series (having read the manga itself, I can relate to some of the stories better) for a fair number of reasons. I prefer the TV series over the other reincarnations, and for that reason, my subsequent pages focus heavily on the TV series. Firstly, it has an excellent plot; secondly, the character development is nicely done and third, I enjoy the romance stories throughout the series. It is a good anime for people who usually don't watch it, or else are interested in a good love story (with the flare of sorcery and motorcyles). The art is superlative, and the characters look excellent (compared to some series, where character design was obviously flawed due to so called 'budget cuts'). In general, unless you hate love stories, it is an excellent anime.
Otonashi awakens only to learn he is dead. A rifle-toting girl named Yuri explains that they are in the afterlife, and Otonashi realizes the only thing he can remember about himself is his name. Yuri tells him that she leads the Shinda Sekai Sensen (Afterlife Battlefront) and wages war against a girl named Tenshi. Unable to believe Yuri's claims that Tenshi is evil, Otonashi attempts to speak with her, but the encounter doesn't go as he intended. Otonashi decides to join the SSS and battle Tenshi, but he finds himself oddly drawn to her. While trying to regain his memories and understand Tenshi, he gradually unravels the mysteries of the afterlife.
Angel Beats! bears the typical hallmarks of popular anime in that viewers remain sharply divided by opinion regarding said anime's content. It is business as usual, then; I say that because this anime is here, there were aspects that made it worthwhile. Angel Beats does indeed have merits through its diverse cast and their unique setting: a world modelled after a Japanese high school that acts as an intermediate transitioning area of sorts in the cycle of life, which gives people more time to accept that they’ve died. This world provides a peaceful place for souls to prepare for their transition beyond. As such, the storyline in Angel Beats is driven by people who have not come to terms with their passing. The series is also marked by its casual transitions between comedy and drama; the latter makes the characters' motivations more pronounced and the former simply breathes a human side to all of the characters. There are a lot of faces to get used to for such a short anime; Yuri, Yui, Iwasawa, Kanade and Otanashi's backgrounds are explored in the greatest depth. The remainder of the characters, such as Hinata, Shiina, TK and Matsushita, serve to diversify the group dynamics further. While the constraints prevented their stories from being discussed, they nonetheless add a degree of depth to the series that could not have been attained with fewer characters. Aside from the traditional elements of friendship, Angel Beats! proposes that while life is unfair, there are nonetheless moments that make everything worthwhile. This is evident in Otanashi, whose death occurred shortly after he had reformed his life and was en route to an entrance exam when his train was trapped in a cave-in. After helping the other survivors, his last act was to sign an organ-donor card. His heart is eventually donated to Kanade (known early on as "Tenshi"), who remained in this world and maintain it long enough to find the individual who had saved her and thank them. The ending was most poignant as Kanade had fulfilled her wished and moved onwards, both she and Otanashi appear to meet once more in the real world. Yuri represents another interesting case: she was the original founder of the SSS and resists the world for having cost her the lives of her siblings. This loss drives her desire to demonstrate herself as a capable leader and forms the bulk of the motivation behind the early SSS missions. Complex stories underlie each of the characters, although given the practical constraints (the anime was supposed to span some 26 episodes rather than 13), the backgrounds of half the characters are never discussed. Aside from this limitation, the unique setting alone makes Angel Beats! worthwhile. Coupled with a diverse cast and spectacular audio/visual elements, Angel Beats! is definitely worth checking out.
When a group of friends decide to make a movie over a long summer holiday, they end up learning a little about filmmaking and a lot more about each other and themselves. What begins as a simple way to avoid the summer doldrums quickly turns into something much more complex, intimate and revealing, as the maturing relationships between the members of the young cast take on new, and sometimes very unexpected, turns.
Ano Natsu de Matteru is of the romance-comedy genre, a class of anime I have not watched since Ah! My Goddess. I was not particularly familar with anime at all when its precursor, Onegai Teacher, was aired. I've heard numerous times that Ano Natsu de Matteru (which I will simply refer to as 'Waiting in the Summer' from this point on) was a refreshed build on Onegai Teacher, in the same vein as how Halo CE Anniversary is the application of 2011 graphical programming to a 2001 FPS. This comparison finds some validity in this case: Ano Natsu de Matteu is well-crafted and brings successfuly concepts from a successful show from many years ago into the modern era, while giving a new, unique spin. From readings, fans of Onegai Teacher will doubtlessly view Waiting in the Summer as a brilliant reexecution of an old classic, while for viewers such as myself, Waiting in the Summer will simply be an excellent anime about the relationships within a group of friends and how things play out when Ichika arrives. What follows is an engaging story that reaches beyond the scope of traditional romance comedies and also depicts each of the characters coming to terms with their feelings for one another, aspects revealing the strength of their friendship and the ever-so-subtle thematic element of opportunity: that there are appropriate times for taking them, and that the payoffs outweigh whatever challenges are presented so as long as one is willing to persist and work towards their goals. In Waiting in Summer, Kai's persistence and determination in making his feelings for Ichika clear demonstrate love at its finest. While reality is hardly as kind, the anime is determined in reminding viewers that there is such a thing as true love, and that much of it is opportunity based: even if seizing the opportunity fails, one should not regret at least having tried. Love stories never get old, and neither does the hope that everyone eventually experiences these things for themselves: even if the road is bumpy, the end result is one that is worthwhile.
The story is centered around a young man named Rygart Arrow, an 'un-sorcerer' born into a world where people can use 'magic'. This magic is the ability to control and empower quartz, doing many things from creating light to operating machinery to riding giant mecha called 'Golems'. Rygart, however, is one of the few exceptions; he cannot utilize quartz, making many aspects of life difficult as well as being looked down upon by the rest of society. Despite this 'limitation', in his youth he managed to befriend Hodr and Sigyn, the future King and Queen of the Krisna Kingdom and Zess, the younger brother of the Secretary of War of the Athens Commonwealth.
Years later, Rygart is reunited with Hodr and Sigyn where he learns the Athens Commonwealth has begun an invasion of Krisna. Rygart is also shocked to learn that their old friend, Zess, is leading one of the strike forces. While at the capital, Rygart discovers that he has the ability to pilot a recently discovered ancient golem which cannot be piloted by magic users. Despite its ancient origins, the golem possesses capabilities and systems far more advanced than any modern golem, and could be key to turning the tide of battle. While hesitant at first, Rygart soon gets involved in the war between Krisna and Athens, in an attempt to save Hodr and Sigyn, and Zess.
Broken Blade is eerily similar to Gundam Unicorn in many aspects; for one, both mecha series were derived from a written work and made into a six-part animated series. I could go on forever about the similarities between the two series, whether it be the gorgeous artwork, questions raised about the morality of warfare or simply the fact that we have a seemingly ordinary individual fall into the cockpit of an obscenely powerful mobile suit; only this time, they're called Golems, and the battle takes place in a desolate region of an alternate world. Ultimately, Broken Blade offers a unique setting for the mecha genre; the unusual world means that quartz crystals and sorcery drive technology rather than the silicon microprocessors we're used to seeing. While this premise comes across as a bit unusual, it drives the protagonist, Rygart's, story. Rygrat is a archetype of the classic male character, lacking any real understandings in the complexities of warfare. His motivations for fighting stem from simply protecting his friends from the conflict; while he comes across as immature and inexperienced, his insights demonstrates how a naiveté mind can express the triviality behind why wars are fought: in this case, the entire conflict is owing to a quartz shortage. In history, wars have been waged to control crucial resources like water and crude oil under other contexts, which forms the basis for the story. Storyline and characters aside, the other standing point about Broken Blade lie in the Golems, quartz-powered mobile suits that are used as the main armours in the universe. In keeping with the (rather archaic) technology, we see pneumatic pressure guns in place of directed-energy munitions, and the lack of force-fields mean that armour plays a major role in combat. This is a refreshing departure from traditional mecha, which rely on increasingly powerful engines and shields to function: instead, we see that the performance of a golem is dictated by the pilot's skill, as well as the quality of its frame. The technology also leads to chaotic (not to mention bloody) combat sequences between Golems; we see bullets chip away armour, blades chipping and entire golems crumbling away when struck down. My final assessment on the anime stands as thus: beautiful artwork and the attention paid to detail makes Broken Blade a unique experience for mecha fans. While the storyline (which was a little short) and character development (archetypical characters) may not be top-notch, both are strong enough to stand on their own merits, with the end result being an enjoyable mecha anime set in an unexpected setting.
The film centers on Asuna, a young girl who spends her solitary days listening to the mysterious music emanating from the cat's whisker receiver her late father gave to her as a memento. While walking home one day, she is attacked by a fearsome monster and saved by a mysterious boy named Shun. However, Shun disappears and Asuna embarks on a journey of adventure to the land of Agartha with her teacher, Mr. Morisaki, to meet Shun again. Through her journey, she comes to know the cruelty and beauty of the world, as well as loss.
We will begin by disregarding the obvious for now: it is a fact that Makoto Shinkai's latest film is visually stunning, and evokes the splendour of a lost world in a highly unique manner. I am certain that the images I supply will do a better job of describing the mythical world of Agartha than I can in words, so that's about as far as I will go. As it stands, Children Who Chase Lost Voices From Deep Below is a unique story that delves into Shinkai's views of loss and acceptance. Paired with Tenmon's musical talents and spectacular arts, we now turn our attention to why this movie is worthwhile.
The central thematic element in Children Who Chase Lost Voices From Deep Below is death, and the acceptance (or inability to) thereof. Death is a difficult topic to consider for a wide range of reasons, simply because of how distant it usually is in one's daily livelihoods. As a result, when death of a loved one occurs, individuals often find themselves ill-prepared to handle and accept it. This is immediately apparent in Asuna's desire to properly say farewell to Shun, driving her desire to visit Agartha with the purpose of doing just that. Through the course of her journey in Agartha, she eventually comes to terms with the living and the dead: something that Mr. Morisaki is unable to do. He is a member of the Arch Angels, an underground society that seeks the ancient wisdom of Agartha for their own gain. He is motivated by the dream of bringing his wife back from the dead, and has sought out this underworld for a long period of his life. These wishes and desires direct the adventure through Agartha, whereupon it becomes apparent that Asuna develops a deeper understanding of life and death as she learns more about Agartha's past and its interactions with civilisations on the surface. The composition and execution of the story is consistent with a story of this nature; events fall into place cleanly as they occur, and serve to emphasise the significance of previous scenes. The end product is a simple story about how some elements in life must be understood through journey, reminding me of an old Chinese Proverb, which reads "讀萬卷書, 不如行萬里路" (It is better to travel ten thousand miles than to read ten thousand books). Indeed, this is the best side of Children Who Chase Lost Voices From Deep Below: ultimately, the entire point of the story is, quite simply put, a tale of a journey to understanding death.
In the not too distant future androids have come into common usage. Taking the androids for granted, humans treat them as if they were common everyday tools, while on the other hand, some people empathize with androids due to their human-like appearance (save for a digital ring floating above their heads). This has become a social problem and these people are frowned upon as a result. Rikuo, one who has taken androids for granted for his entire life, one day discovers that Sammy, his home android, has been acting strangely and finds a strange phrase recorded in her activity log. He, along with his friend Masaki, traces Sammy's footsteps and come upon an unusual cafe. This cafe's main rule is to not discriminate between humans and androids.
Time of Eve holds pleasant surprises for both anime fans and individuals familiar with Isaac Asimov's I Robot (1940). Superficially a more concise and mature successor to Chobits, Time of Eve is essentially similar anime delving into the relationship between man and machine, especially with respect to how sentience in machines have a consequence on the way humans potentially behave. This notion was first explored in Asimov's Robbie (originally titled "A Strange Playfellow"), where the protagonist, Gloria, shares a close relationship with Robbie, a household robot who accompanies her and develops a fondness for the stories that Gloria tells. When her mother sends Robbie away, the emotional impact it has on Gloria is profound and suggests that Gloria views Robbie very much as human, rather than machine. This human-machine dynamic is revisited in Time of Eve, where Rikuo struggles to come to terms with his own android's actions. Similar to Robbie, Sammy is depicted as having a very insecure personality and also cares very much for the feelings of those around her. The relationship between humans and machines are further elaborated upon through Masakazu and his own interpretations of robots and people as a consequence of his past experience. In fact, Masakazu and his android, Tex, share more similarities with Gloria and Robbie relative to Rikuo and Sammy: Tex was Masaki's primary source of emotional support at a time when his mother and father were separating. However, Masaki's father, an anti-robot activist, commanded the robot never to speak again. Masaki blames Tex for being undependable at a time he needed him the most and believes they are incapable of emotions and empathy, until Tex was defends Masaki from an android sent by the Ethics Committee. By being able to make clear his true thoughts and emotions that he was holding back for several years, Masaki was ultimately able to accept Tex and androids once more as sentient, feeling beings. This contrasts the events in Robbie, where Gloria is seen to have gradually lessened her relationship with Robbie as she grew older. Aside from the underlying theme of sufficiently complex machines possessing human attributes, Time of Eve also references Asimov's Three Laws of Robotics quite frequently, further reinforcing the notion that the anime is an animated reinterpretation of a classic science fiction novel. With intricate ties to Asimov's original works, Time of Eve makes excellent use of camera and computer effects, weaving details seamlessly with the story's underlying elements. This acts to convey the emotions in a scene clearly without additional elements. This aspect, when integrated with the diverse cast of characters, brings the atmosphere of the cafe to life, whether it be the sights, sounds or patrons. Each individual patron has a unique story that is told, ultimately culminating in the question of whether machines and man are really all that different. Through the story, viewers experience events as if they were a patron of the cafe themselves, bringing to life the notions first traversed in Asimov's I Robot series and presenting them in a fitting manner. Anime fans will see a surprisingly thought-provoking anime about human-machine relationships, while avid science-fiction readers familiar with Asimov will find Time of Eve to be a fitting retelling of Robbie. Did you enjoy the Time of Eve? I know I did.
You may have heard of kung fu, but the girls at Oarai High School practice gun-fu – really, really BIG 75mm gun-fu, in fact. It’s called Sensha-do, and it’s the martial art of operating armored tanks! They take it seriously too, and since winning the national Sensha-do championship is such a huge deal at Oarai, they sometimes go to extreme ends in order to get the best students from Panzer class to sign up. Which is how Miho Nishizumi, who HATES operating tanks, gets drafted to join doomsday-driven driver Mako, even-triggered gunner Hana, highly receptive radio operator Saori and combustible tank-fangirl and loader Yukari as the incomparable Anko Team. They may not be on the half-track to fame and fortune, and maybe a few of them would rather shop for tank tops than become tops in tanks, but once their focus is locked and loaded, they’re absolutely driven.
Girls und Panzer is, for good reason, the top anime of the Fall 2012 lineup, reminding viewers that their prima facie expectations of a series may not necessarily be an accurate indicator of what an anime has the potential to be. I myself came in with moderate expectations and an open-mind, something that would later prove to be a viable decision. Having started the series later than most, I eventually caught up and found myself in great anticipation of the final two episodes. When said episodes delivered content that exceeded expectations, I was most impressed. The series ultimately reflects on the quality and quantity of research that goes into ensuring the minute details are correct, with the end result that the technicalities are polished, consistent and fun to observe. From a story-and-characters point of view, we have high school girls (common) doing Panzerfahren (completely unexpected): while this potentially had the risk of being reduced to cliché and unoriginal story, the directors of Girls und Panzer are able to completely avoid this. The story is standard, but the character interactions are not unrealistic, themselves being fun to observe. Thus, I conclude that Girls und Panzer represents what anime in general should be: unique, refreshing and most importantly, fun. Lacking any major fanservice and yuri during its main run to distract from its primary goal, the series is entirely dedicated to telling an underdog story and their journey towards the top. armed with a solid story and premise, reasonable animation (while generally good, the CGI moments are a little rough) and a fitting soundtrack, Girls und Panzer ends up being one of the most novel and innovative anime I’ve seen for a while. Individuals looking for a series with a great deal of mechanised warfare would do quite well to pick this up, although truth be told, this series could be enjoyed by almost everyone, save the most closed-minded of self-proclaimed anime critics.
It is 2061 AD. Fifty years have passed since mankind developed the Network society. It was anticipated that this new infrastructure would realize a utopia where people connected with each other at the level of consciousness. This was called Meta Real Network, usually abbreviated as "the Metal." Following a diving accident fifty years previously that left him in a coma, Haru awakens as an old man into a vastly-changed society. People, no longer content with reality, have turned to a metaphysical reality called the Metal to fulfill their desires – and it’s up to "cyber divers" to save these souls when something goes wrong. With the help of the cheerful girl Minamo and the android Holon, Haru strives to become a cyber diver, discover the secrets of the Metal and ultimately discover the reason why his life has slipped away.
Real Drive is not quite a science fiction anime, nor can it really be considered as a slice-of-life anime. Rather, the design most closely resembles a speculative fiction, given that the most prevalent aspect of Real Drive is its exploration of the potential consequences of the growing prevalence of the internet.The premises behind Real Drive deal with the impact of the Internet and networks on human societies. Even today, the internet occupies a large portion of our lives and raises questions about how our social interactions are gradually changing around this global network. Within Real Drive, the ubiquitous nature of the Meta-Real network is such that individuals have begun to neglect their real-world experiences, which subtly hints at how the current form of the internet has impacted our lifestyle choices and society. This underlying theme is bound with the most noticable aspects about Real Drive: the rather unusual premise involves placing a slice of life story in the middle of a speculative fiction story. The end product gives each episode as a self-contained story that seamlessly integrates aspects of the Metal with Minamo's coming-of-age story.
In the near future, an organization called the GGP has taken control of the world. Rin Ogata was a promising up-and-coming ballet dancer, but suffered a serious injury and decided to quit. Years later in college she comes across a club building and soon finds herself intrigued by a transforming motorcycle like vehicle called a Rideback. She soon finds that her unique ballet skills with balance and finesse make her a born natural on a Rideback.
The story of RideBack is divided into two halves which gradually merge into one story: Rin's desire to find a new source of light in her life and the GGP's actions as a government eventually become intertwined as Rin's actions drag her into the spotlight of the government and media. The short length of the series means that it is a challenge to fully explore every aspect of Rin's character, although what we do see is satisfying to behold. Rin's character is one of the most well though-out ones; she appears to be unassuming under normal circumstances, and only genuinely shines when she's on a stage. This aspect (for me, anyways) forms the centrepiece of the anime, as Rin struggles to come to terms with her choices and desires. Those who have had past experiences with setting aside a dream or interest will certainly relate to Rin's character. The establishment of Rin's backstory is one of the indicators of quality in Rideback, although the role of the GGP is not immediately apparent until later. This particular aspect of the plot is somewhat distracting, although it will a uniquely enjoyable one as we see how everything gradually comes together. The series as a whole is a well polished and designed one; with incredible art and characters that one can relate to, the only real shortcoming is the fact that there are only 12 episodes- the plot does feel rushed at times, reflecting on how RideBack could easily a 24-episode series and still successfully retain the viewer's interests.
Madoka Kyouno is an energetic girl who is full of passion. As the proud, and only, member of the Kamogawa Girls' High School Jersey Club, she goes around helping people in need. Madoka's life is turned upside down when she is suddenly asked by a mysterious girl named Lan to pilot a robot. Motivated by her desire to protect the people and city of Kamogawa, Madoka agrees to pilot the resurrected Vox robot to fight against extraterrestrials that have come to attack Earth.
Season One- Personal Opinion
Rinne no Lagrange is a new addition to the mecha genre, and given that we've been treated to the likes of Gundam Unicorn, few things would prima facie be capable of coming close in terms of story and production value. That said, Rinne no Lagrange brings something unique to the table in terms of both the mecha design and integration of story-relevant elements with the character's growth. This first season of the anime is primarily character rather than event-driven; similar to a slice-of-life anime, character dynamics are moderated by traits present in each of the characters. Thus, while each of the characters have elements from their pasts explored, they are shown to have been able to accept such misfortunes and live in the present. While these stories give insight to each of the character's backgrounds, they do not serve to direct any of their current motivations, and instead, provides some contrasts between their past and present lives. Thus, the anime will feel distinctly like a slice-of-life: Rinne no Lagrange dispenses with complex themes and motifs, instead focussing on the relevance of friendships and how the character's actions are directed by the present. That isn't to say the anime is devoid of symbolism: for instance, the chairs act as motifs that yield insight into each of the character's psycological states after a particular episode and enriches the importance of characterisation over a complex plot. The characterisations, coupled with the mecha designs, give Rinne no Lagrange a unique sense of light-hearted fun found rarely in other mecha series. Whereas something like Gundam Unicorn focuses on the significance of life and death in combat, the mecha battles in Rinne no Lagrange switch playful and more serious moments; this aspect is reflected in the battlefield's environment, as well as the very design of the mecha themselves; depsite being touted as dæmons, the mechas have a smooth, fluid design to them. These two factors give rise to a mecha/slice-of-life hyrbid that succeeds in capturing the feelings experienced by the characters as they experience events within their lives and portraying them as an anime. I will most certainly be watching season two in the summer for the excellent art, awesome music and of course, maru!
In a lonely corner of the world, on the edge of No Man’s Land, sits Clocktower Fortress. It is home to the 1121st Platoon of the Helvetian Army, and their newest member is a 15-year-old volunteer named Kanata Sorami, who enlisted to learn how to play the bugle. When she was a child, Kanata was saved by a beautiful soldier and found inspiration in the clear, golden sound of her trumpet. From that day forward, Kanata decided music would be her life. As the other platoon members train her how to be a bugler and a soldier, Kanata's enduring optimism will inspire them to look for happiness and beauty, even in a world haunted by war.
As with all media, anime is not immune to becoming derivatives of other works. However, every so often, we have something that takes existing concepts, returns them to their foundations and then builds something new with it. Sora no Woto is one such anime. The central plot is a curious integration of conflict with Kanata's desire to gain insights into the music and her world; this particular aspect means that the series will feel similar to a slice-of-life anime, and indeed, we find that each of the characters bear a degree of resemblance to those found in slice-of-life anime. However, the similarities end with their outward appearance and personalities, as the characters themselves are defined by their setting, and evolve fluidly in response to events in their world. Taking place in Seize, a town located in present-day Spain, it is immediately apparent that this world is a radically different one, despite possessing architecture, landscape, culture and flora remarkably similar to our own. This world was ravaged by warfare, except that the consequences were far more damaging, and reverted humanity to pre-WWII era technological levels. Warfare is something that is always subtlety present in the series, and astutely tied with Kanata's desire to express her thoughts through music. Inspired by a trumpeter's rendition of Amazing Grace, she is driven forward to learn more about how humans can communicate through music that they might not normally otherwise be able to. We have already seen the importance of understanding one another, but Sora no Woto presents things from a different viewpoint: forgiveness and redemption. It is implied that the state of the world is an attribute of human nature, as humanity has been unable to let go of past events. In effect, Sora no Woto is the story of five soldiers coming to terms with their past and seeking to pass on a new peace, with these intangible thoughts being expressed as a simple, yet powerful song. Sora no Woto is a short series, spanning only 12 episodes; assuming that we accept that brevity is the wit of the soul, the spectacular animation and touching friendships the characters share make Sora no Woto a worthwhile series to watch.
The year is 1939 - it was then that the Neuroi appeared. Nobody knew where they came from or what their ultimate agenda is, but the fact remains that their attacks drove people out of their towns and cities. In order to take arms against them, humanity develops a new anti-Neuroi weapon called the "Striker Unit." Using the power of magic to fight against the monsters, this new device enhances and amplifies the power of female magic-wielders. To use this device, young witches from all over the world have been brought together to form an elite task force unit called the 501st Joint Fighter Wing, commonly known as the "Strike Witches." The anime tells the story of Yoshika Miyafuji, a Fuso witch whose desire to uncover her missing father's fate eventually lead her to join with the Witches to repel the Neuroi presence, and in doing so, learn what it means to be a “Strike Witch” fast as she struggles to bond with her comrades and fight an enemy she neither understands nor hate.
For the present, we will disregard the obvious aspect that has caused a large number of individuals to pass on this series. Strike Witches is an unique anime in several aspects; set in the World War II era, the series possesses elements from both a war film and a slice-of-life series. These two elements mesh together to form the basis of the plotline, cycling between character development (which is given a lot of attention to and shows positively in the series) as well as the state of the human-Neuroi conflict. The latter is actually one of the secondary aspects of the show: there is no central plot outside of shooting down a Neuroi every week, and in this respect, is the weak end of things. However, the characters breathe life into the show; depicting the livelihoods of the 501st, much of the enjoyment value is derived from watching the characters interact and mature. Every pilot of the 501st was based off a real pilot from WWII, so for individuals with a strong background in history, subtle details such as the military tactics, weapons, aircraft and events will demonstrate the effort that went into generating a story that hints at the actual events of WWII. In fact, sufficiently knowledgible individuals with a keen ear will note that every striker unit possesses a slightly different engine sound. The Striker units incorperate elements of WWII planes and turns the girls into anthropomorphic combat aircraft; taken together, the implementation of such a concept gives rise to appealing visuals during combat sequences. Meanwhile, the Neuroi are depicted as mysterious antagonists with no speaking roles. Following Awakening of the Trailblazer, such aliens aren't too much of a surprise, and have the effect of simplifying the plot further, which in turn allows for extended focus on the characters. When everything is considered, Strike Witches is a visually rewarding anime, with character development being its strongest suit. The presentation of the plot is a unique and pleasing one, despite being a touch shakey at times. For fans who are sufficiently mature to get over the fanservice, there is much to be enjoyed from this series.
In 1945, Yoshika Miyafuji, who lost her witch powers during the Strike Witches’ last assignment, has been studying to become a doctor. Shizuka Hattori, one of her cadets in the Imperial Fuso Navy, then arrives to deliver a message: Yoshika is to be transferred for study abroad in Europe.
The Strike Witches Movie is an extension of the TV series set in the movie format, as per its title, and as such, inherits all of the characteristics of the TV series. These traits include the casual plot progression and impressive visuals, as well as the formulaic development of the story. Much like how the K-On! movie amplified every positive and negative aspect of K-ON!, the Strike Witches movie does the same, featuring visuals that surpass those of the TV series, while protracting the languid plot pacing further. That said, the joys of watching Strike Witches lies not in the story itself, but the presentation and delivery of the material. The movie introduces several new characters, giving insight as to the sheer number of witches in the universe and their interactions with the witches in the 501st. While these stories are being told, Yoshika’s own travels with Shizuka Hattori form the backbone for the other side of the story. Upon reaching Europe, Yoshika finds herself unable to participate in combat operations and medical missions to the same extent she was once capable of in the TV series, but nonetheless attempts to help in any way she can. In a sense, the Strike Witches Movie draws some curious parallels with the Gundam 00 Movie: firstly, fans of Strike Witches will enjoy the movie, much like how Gundam 00 fans will have found their movie enjoyable. However, the assumption that viewers have a general familiarity with the story means that, like the Gundam 00 Movie, the Strike Witches Movie will leave new viewers behind in some of the terminology and expository elements. It is certainly possible to enjoy the movie as it is, although the experience is improved with a bit of knowledge concerning the aforementioned expository elements. The second set of similarities have to do with depiction of the Neuroi, which exhibit ELS-like attributes with respect to appearance and swarming behaviours, and finally, there is an uncanny parallel between Setsuna’s activation of the 00 Qan[T] and Yoshika’s recovery of her magical abilities in the final moments of their respective films. The last element is a textbook example of deus ex machina, and conveniently clears up the conflict that the rising action built on. While some view this as laziness, alternative interpretations would suggest that unique circumstances may arise in the midst of a crisis and act to produce miracles of sorts. These events are not impossible even in reality, so an open-minded viewer may be willing to suspend their disbelief and merely enjoy the story as it progresses. This claim neatly summarises my own opinions of the Strike Witches Movie: for current fans, it is most enjoyable, although newcomers will probably find that their time would be better directed at other shows, if only for the fact that such series require a bit of background that not everyone may commit time to familiarise themselves with. The movie is strong where the TV series is strong (character interactions, graphical and audio details), and weak where the TV series is weak (story progression rate, derivation in plot-advancing elements): overall, it serves as a worthy extension to the TV series and is sure to be an enjoyable watch for fans of the franchise.