Welcome, all, again. If last viewing season was memorable for an unusually high number of series with distinctively well-drawn artwork, then this new season might be said to offer a sudden abundance of series focusing upon the paranormal or things magical, particularly upon magical girls and witches. And so our focus this time will be upon Brave Witches, a continuation of the Strike Witches franchise, and one of two series this season about witches in World War II-era Europe (the other being: Izetta: The Last Witch). I, meanwhile, am still waiting for a Strike Witches/Kancolle mash-up, but I already digress. . .(But just imagine the possibilities!)
Brave Witches is set in 1944, when mankind has been battling the invading alien Neuroi for half-a-decade already, and follows the adventures of Hikari Karibuchi as she joins the 502nd Joint Fighter Wing. While the 501st has been protecting Britannia from Neuroi takeover, the 502nd is on mainland Europe, which has suffered extensively from years of Neuroi attacks. Now the Neuroi are creating a new nest over Europe, and the 502nd is humanity’s great hope against even worse suffering and despair. These young witches utilize the same striker units introduced to viewers in Strike Witches, leg-encasing motors which drive propellers and provide thrust for flight. It will be interesting to see if combat tactics differ between shows since the 501st is fighting a defensive battle based upon enemy interception, while the 502nd faces an already established enemy on shared ground. I would expect more detailed strategy and more aggressive tactics from a group standing toe-to-toe with the enemy. We’ll see. Meanwhile, is Hikari really up to the task?
Hikari is a native of Sasebo, meaning that she hails from the Fusou (Japanese) Empire, as do a certain Yoshika Miyafuji and Mio Sakamoto (with whom returning fans will be familiar). But Hikari’s magical powers aren’t yet very developed or strong, something quite embarrassing for the younger sister of the “Hero of Sasebo.” Hikari’s sister Takami earned that title when, like Ajax defending the Greek ships at Troy, she single-handedly held the Neuroi at bay during the retreat from Libau (in Latvia). Such is the example against which Hikari measures herself; who could help but fall short?
Still, “Time and tide wait for no man.” Raw, barely trained, and blatantly ignorant (and weren’t we all, fresh out of basic training?), Hikari finds herself shipping off to Europe with her sister. This is her dream, and she revels in it! Sadly, the reality of combat intrudes–but war is like that. Personally, I rather expect this series to follow a similar story progression to that of Strike Witches, covering Hikari’s absorption into the camaraderie and challenges of military life. The old questions obviously remain: why do witches lose magical abilities as they age? Why are no male witches utilized? And why, after years of combat, has no regulation uniform bottom been issued to the witches? All of this, questions included, is familiar territory, yes, but why fix what’s not broken? And a franchise that already spans anime, manga, light novels, and even video games probably doesn’t need much tweaking. I tell you, I’m already onboard and waiting to see where this one goes!
[Parental Note: This particular franchise has a long and storied history of blatant fan service. To be fair, though, not much was present in episode 1 of this new show; things get cheekier in episode 2.]
[Readers’ Note: Please visit my October, 2016 The Wandering Witch column on 918thefan.com to read my review of Izetta: The Last Witch. Thanks! http://918thefan.com/2016/the-wandering-witch-gets-left-for-last/]