Thursday, 16 September 2010

Strike Witches 2 - Episode 11

As we reach the tail end of Strike Witches 2 (I could make a "tail end" joke here but I'll leave that to you lot), so we naturally also enter grand finale territory, with plenty still to be won and lost in the latest phase of the war against the Neuroi.

Before we even consider such things however, Sakamoto's condition becomes the main focus of concern, with her magical power seemingly waning at an alarming rate, the reasons for which are alluded to when Yoshika holds her sword Reppumaru for a moment, only for it to drain her almost instantaneously of all her power and earning her a stern telling off from her superior.

Sakamoto's state of mind isn't helped when she learns of the military's plan for the final push against the Neuroi hive over Romagna - rather than taking the lead, the Strike Witches themselves will be mere escorts for the real centrepiece of the showdown, that being the battleship Yamato, now kitted out with the ability for it to effectively turn into a Neuroi itself for a ten minute period.

Despite not liking these orders, the 501st Joint Fighter Wing has no option to comply, performing their frantic task of protecting the Yamato with speed and skill despite Sakamoto's near-exhausted magical abilities. It seems as though they've done enough as the Yamato completes its "Neuroification" and makes directly for the Neuroi hive, although the fact that this is the penultimate rather than the final episode should tell you that their master plan doesn't exactly go to plan...

If you're the type who complains when Strike Witches lacks a central plot to focus itself on (and I'm probably talking about myself here more often than not, truth be told), then you certainly can't argue that such storylines are lacking here. The trouble is, if you've also watched the first season of Strike Witches you'd be justified to note how similar so many aspects of this plot are to that initial series, from Sakamoto's loss of power, her disagreements with Minna over said loss of power, and of course the military relying on Neuroi-esque technology to win the day in preference to the Witches themselves. That said, this time around the action is slicker, the stakes higher and the drama thicker and more persuasive and before, so if you can get past those similarities this episode showcases pretty much everything that is good about this franchise when it works well and doesn't become too bogged down in fan service and whimsy. You still won't want to take the show too seriously, and it doesn't exhibit the same level of tension as other shows with such designs for their finale, but by the same token it isn't half bad either.

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