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Strike Witches: Season 2 (a J!-ENT Anime Blu-ray Disc Review)

September 28, 2012 by  



“Strike Witches: Season 2” is an  action anime series that tones down the fan service and monotony that the first series was full of and focuses on a more engaging story.  A much improved second season that I recommend on Blu-ray!

Images courtesy of © 2012 FUNimation. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Strike Witches: Season 2

DURATION: Episodes 1-12 (300 Minutes)

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (1:78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen), Dolby Digital, Audio: English Dolby TrueHD 5.1, Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0, Subtitles: English

RATED: 15+

COMPANY: FUNimation

RELEASE DATE: October 2, 2012

Originally created by Humikane Shimada

Directed by Kazuhiro Takamura

Series Composition by Tsuyoshi Tamai

Music by Seikou Nagaoka

Character Design: Kazuhito Takamura

Mechanical Design by Hiroyuki Terao

Art Director: Hiroki Matsumoto

Anime Production by AIC

Featuring the voices of:

Misato Fukuen/Cherami Leigh as Yoshika Miyafuji

Saeko Chiba/Kira Vincent-Davis as Mio Sakamoto

Chiwa Saito/Trina Nishimura as Francesca Licchini

Erika Nakai/Caitlin Glass as Eila Ilmatar Juutilainen

Kaori Nazuka/Kate Bristol as Lynette Bishop

Mai Kadowaki/Jennifer Forester as Sanya V. Litvyak

Mie Sonozaki/Stephanie Sheh as Gertrud Barkhorn

Miyuki Sawashiro/Jad Saxton as Perrine-H. Clostermann

Rie Tanaka/Anastasia Munoz as Mina-Dietlinde Wilcke

Sakura Nogawa/Luci Christian as Erica Hartmann

The lovely ladies of the 501st Joint Fighter Wing are back to battle a new breed of alien invader! The extraterrestrial menace known as the Neuroi have returned to Earth, and even a direct hit won’t stop these monsters. The Strike Witches are Earth’s last line of defense, but they’ll have to learn some new tricks to survive this dogfight – and win the war on pants once and for all!

In 2006, Humikane Shimada (“Sky Girls”) began his “Strike Witches” illustrated columns. The popularity of the columns led to a light novel series, a manga series an anime OVA and a 12-episode TV anime series which was released in March 2010 on DVD courtesy of FUNimation Entertainment.  A second season aired from July through September 2010 and will be released on Blu-ray +DVD combo pack courtesy of FUNimation in October 2012.

The TV series is directed by Kazuhiro Takamura (“He is My Master”, “Mobile Suit Gundam Seed”, “Mahoromatic”, “This Ugly Yet Beautiful World”) and also was responsible for character designs, series composition by Tsuyoshi Tamai (“Galaxy Angel”, “Chobits”, “Azumanga Daioh”), art direction is by Hiromasa Ogura (“Patlabor”, “Nadia – Secret of Blue Water”, “Ghost Hound”) and music by Seikou Nagaoka (“El Hazard” series, “Tenchi Muyou” series”).

“Strike Witches” is a series that takes place in 1939 in an alternate universe of Earth.  During this year, the Earth was attacked by an alien force known as Neuroi.  The Neuroi has shown up sporadically but various military around the planet have fought back with the use of Strike Witches, a female witch gifted with powerful magic and technology.  And thus, the war between Earth vs. the Neuroi but it’s up to the 501st division to train the Strike Witches from all over the world and prepare them for battle.

In the first series, everyone came together as a team and were able to defeat the Neuroi.

And while the world has lived in peace and Yoshika Miyafuji and a few others have left the 501st Division,  six months later, the 504th Joint Fighter Wing went to take on a new appearance of the Neuroi.  But unlike previous encounters, this new Neuroi is too powerful.

While Yoshika is completing middle school, she receives word from Mio that a new, stronger Neuroi has nearly defeated the 504th Joint Fighter Wing and her fellow Strike Witches (from her former team, the 501st Joint Fighter Wing) may be in grave danger.  Of course, since Yoshika is no longer a member of the attack force, so she can’t participate in battle.

But when she sees Mio preparing for battle, Yoshika takes her Striker Unit and follows Mio out to the battlefield.  And immediately the two are attacked by this new Neuroi and through teamwork, they are able to defeat a Neuroi ship.

Bu with Yoshika and others returning, Minna brings back the 501st Joint Fighter Wing.  But before Yoshika, Lynne and Perrine can participate in battle, they must go through training to get back into shape before going into battle.

With the 501st Joint Fighter Wing back into action and based in Romagna, will the Strike Witches have any chance in defeating the huge Neuroi?

The main characters of “Strike Witches” are:

  • Yoshika Miyafuji – The main character of the series from the Fuso Empire (alternate version of Japan).  She has the power of healing and her father was responsible for designing the Striker Units for Strike Witches.  Because of her father’s death, Miyafuji hates the war but because people are in need of help, she joins the 501st.
  • Mio Sakamoto – The first Strike Witch and is the squadron leader.  Also from the Fuso Empire, she trains the new recruits and is responsible for scouting Miyafuji.  Has the magical ability to fight Neuroi with a magical katana.
  • Minna-Dietlinde Wilcke – The ranking officer of the 501st and takes care of her subordinates.  Because of the death of her boyfriend, she fears of losing people.  Also, is a very good singer.  She has the power of spatial awareness.
  • Lynette Bishop – A Strike Witch from the Britannian Commonwealth.  Can be clumsy but an excellent sharpshooter.
  • Perrine-H. Clostermann – The wealthy Perrine is a Strike Witch very attached to Mio and dislikes Miyafuji because of the attention she gets from Mio and is constantly jealous of her.  Has the power of using lightning.
  • Erica Hartmann – Quite sloppy and disorganized, Erica is a Strike Witch from Karsland and is an ace Strike Witch known for her victories.  Her skill is her ability to barrel storm.
  • Gertrud Barkhorn – A Strike Witch from Karsland known for her shot tally.  Has the magic power of strength.
  • Francesca Lucchini – A Strike Witch from the Duchy of Romagna and the youngest soldier and most childish member of the Strike Witches.
  • Charlotte E. Yeager – A Strike Witch from the United States of Liberion who is known for her buxom body and her enjoyment of speeding through the air.

VIDEO:

“Strike Witches: Season 2” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:78:1 aspect ratio).  For a television series, “Strike Witches” focuses on the battles over sea and in the skies.  So, there is a not a whole lot of detail going on in the series.  If anything, more emphasis is put on the special effects and characters up-close especially showcasing the Strike Witches and their weapons.   Also, a good amount of detail for the mechanical designs especially the Neuroi and the vehicles.

AUDIO:

Audio for “Strike Witches” is presented in Dolby TrueHD 5.1 and Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0.  Dialogue is clear and understandable.  Voice acting for both English and Japanese are done well.   But it’s the English dub soundtrack that sounds incredible on Blu-ray.  Great amount of action and use of surround sound to make a more immersive soundscape.  Great dynamic range and definitely an improvement over it’s Japanese counterpart when it comes to immersiveness.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Strike Witches: Season 2” comes with the following special features:

  • Episode 5 Audio Commentary – Featuring an entertaining audio commentary by Jamie Marchi  (voice of Charlotte Yeager) and Trina Nishimura (voice of Francesca).
  • Episode 9 Audio Commentary – Featuring Scott Sager and Anastasia Munoz (voice of Mina) and Jad Saxton (voice of Perrine), the voice talent’s first audio commentary.
  • Textless Opening Song “Egao no Mahou” – (1:32) Featuring a performance by Yoko Ishida.
  • Textless Closing Song “Over the Sky”  – (5:43) Featuring eleven different versions of “Over the Sky” with the Japanese voice actresses.
  • FUNimation Entertainment Trailers

EXTRAS:

“Strike Witches: Season 2” comes with the entire series on both Blu-ray and DVD.

When I reviewed the first season of “Strike Witches” I felt the anime was full of cliches and a storyline that was overused.  But it’s strength was its character development and for fans of fan service, the series definitely had quite a bit of that.  While the first season was OK, I was not exactly the biggest fan of the anime series.

But I have noticed how popular “Strike Witches” was in Japan.  From the action figures to the mecha fans who liked the combination of mecha power suits and fan service, I guess I can see the otaku allure.

While the first season tend to focus too much on the fan service, fortunately the second season is improved with much better writing, a more serious tone.  Not only does the series try to integrate all Strike Witches, it also focuses on the respect of being a Strike Witch and what Yoshika and Mio would do to fight in combat in order to protect everyone.

While the first half of the season was a little lighthearted as the girl’s had to prepare to be in battle, by the second half we start to see how Mio was dangerously close to engaging in battle but knowing that her powers are nearly depleted.  For Yoshika, she wants to fight but she also seems to have lost her ability and both are frustrated that they are not sure if they can fight this powerful Neuroi.  And it seems it may come down to one sacrificing their life in order to protect everyone.

So, I enjoyed the more seriousness of this second series over the first.

Overall, “Strike Witches: Season 2” is an  action anime series that tones down the fan service and monotony that the first series was full of and focuses on a more engaging story.  A much improved second season that I recommend on Blu-ray!






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