Thursday, 23 September 2010

Strike Witches 2 - Episode 12 (Completed)

No sooner had the final plan to defeat the Neuroi over Romagna been unveiled in the previous episode we found ourselves picking out obvious flaws and dangers with such scheme, and so it was hardly a surprise to find that the Neuroi-fied (and now flying) battleship Yamato malfunctioned at the critical moment, just as it was supposed to destroy the Neuroi hive into which it had just not-so subtly crashed.

With all of the other witches having exhausted their magical powers, the otherwise incapable of fighting Sakamoto finds herself left as the only hope in defeating their enemy, meaning that of course she sets off to use her remaining magic to power the Yamato's engine back up despite the cries of protest from her colleague. Despite her waning powers she does enough to make it to that Yamato and restart the engine, allowing for the decisive blow to be struck against the Neuroi hive... least, that's how it initially appeared. Next thing we know Sakamoto is the captive of a massive Neuroi core as they begin their counter-attack, using Mio's shield generation abilities to protect themselves. The only remaining hope is a massive attack of magical power, and at this point what happens next should be easy enough to predict - of course it's Miyafuji who steps up to put her life on the line, somehow finding the power within herself to take off towards the enemy (and in turn persuading her comrades to find the courage to do likewise) before retrieving Sakamoto's sword Reppumaru from the deck of Yamato and using the last of her powers to unleash the "true" Reppuzan upon the Neuroi, destroying it completely and saving Sakamoto. So, all's well that ends well - The Neuroi are defeated, Romagna is saved, and the 501st Joint Fighter Wing is disbanded, albeit not before the complete collapse of the world's skirt and trouser industries I would wager. Oh, and there's room for a third season and a bevy of new characters, of course.

No matter your thoughts on either this series or the Strike Witches franchise as a whole, you'll probably find yourself having to tip yhour hat at least somewhat to this finale to Strike Witches 2 - quite simply, it was tremendous. Clearly a hefty chunk of the show's animation budget was spent here to create a visual feast which was impressive in its own right, while the story itself allowed for the required doses of emotion, tension and exciting action without ever over-extending itself, making for a gripping bit of entertainment that you couldn't help but be drawn into. This is exactly the kind of thing that Strike Witches can do when it really puts its mind to it - never mind the daft aspects of its premise, it knows how to dish out the action and spectacle and coupling it with a bit of heart. This ending alone arguably lifts this second season above its predecessor in a series which has followed the template of the first series a little too closely for my liking at times - for fans of the show, this was undoubtedly a highly polished product that did everything which expected of it, and as a result it's hard to be too harsh in my criticisms of it. Let's just pretend that episode seven never happened and call it a pretty good show, shall we?

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