STRIKE WITCHES – 09
「守りたいもの」 (Mamoritai Mono)
“Defend At All Costs” (lit. Thing I Want to Protect)
Episode at a Glance:
With her gun pointed at Mio, Minna asks her to promise never to wear a Striker Unit again, since her powers as a Witch have weakened; however, Mio claims she still has to fly and Minna finds herself unable to stop her. The next morning, Sanya collapses in Eila’s bed after her night patrol, so Eila says she’ll make an exception for her today… again. During this time, Mio and Yoshika meet with Minna to discuss some data on the recent Neuroi that mimicked Sanya’s behavior. After deciding to expand the investigation on the matter, Mio wants to inform Getrud and Erica about it, but finds out that they’ve gone off to visit Gertrud’s sister in London, who has woken up from her coma. At the hospital, Gertrud tries to maintain a tough exterior in front of Chris, but Erica informs her sister of how reckless she’s been lately. Chris senses that Gertrud’s having fun though and hears it’s thanks to Yoshika, making her want to become friends with the newest Witch. As the two of them leave, they find a letter on their car’s windshield addressed to Minna.
Back at the base, Perrine wonders why she has to snoop around Mio ever since Yoshika arrived and upon seeing the Major enter Yoshika’s room, eavesdrop on them. Inside, Mio commends Yoshika on her first war achievement and hears how it’s thanks to her training, so she gets motivated to train Yoshika even harder starting tomorrow. Hearing this, Perrine becomes even more envious, when Lynne comes by to get Yoshika for training and startles her. In the subsequent training, Yoshika surprises everyone when she single-handedly takes out Francesca and Shirley using Mio’s left twist maneuver, causing them to compliment Yoshika’s growth in skills, but not without pointing out her lack of growth in bust size. Perrine on the other hand is more concerned about when Yoshika learned that technique and after everyone has a chance to bathe, is frustrated to learn that she merely mimicked Mio when she can’t perform it herself. Meanwhile, Getrud and Erica approach Minna and Mio after having read the letter addressed to her and question what the meaning is behind the warning inside about getting in too deep. Feeling that they don’t have anything to hide, Minna and Mio reveal that their research on Neuroi has drawn the unfavorable attention of others in the military and is probably from a General in the Air Force, Trevor Maloney, who Mio suspects is involved with the root of this war.
In the hanger, Perrine convinces Yoshika to use live weaponry for the duel she challenged her to, which she agrees to do so after some protesting. Stating that it’s only to set the mood, Perrine then informs Yoshika that the winner is whoever can tail the other for ten seconds, so Yoshika decides to leave the safety on her gun. During this time, Minna detects an incoming Neuroi and sounds the alarm, forcing the two of them to halt their duel and stay on standby for further orders. Yoshika decides to go on ahead to stall the enemy though, who proves to be unhostile towards her and even assumes the form of a Strike Witch. Minna on the other hand tries to stop Mio from heading out, but eventually lets her go after hearing how determined she is to continue flying and to see Yoshika’s growth. Due to some jamming, the others are unable to communicate with Yoshika, but Sanya is able to confirm that she’s made contact with the Neuroi. After playfully flying around with the Neuroi, Yoshika starts to question if they’re really their enemy, when Mio arrives with the others and tells Yoshika to shoot it down. Intrigued by the Neuroi’s actions though, Yoshika tries to protect it and explain the situation, but Mio’s aggressive actions cause the Neuroi to fire on her, piercing her shield and sending her plummeting towards the ground. Learning of this, Minna breaks down in tears and orders Gertrud to pursue and shoot down the Neuroi, while Yoshika desperately tries to heal Mio’s wounds on the ground.
「信じてほしい」 (Shinjite Hoshii)
“Trust and Friendship” (lit. I Want You to Believe Me)
Well, kudos to those who foresaw Mio’s weakened magical powers as the reason why Minna drew a gun on her. As some people suspected, a Witch’s powers reduce when they pass their prime, which happens to be their teenage years. With Mio being twenty now, her shield isn’t able to repel Neuroi attacks anymore as seen last time. What I don’t quite understand though is why she continues to want to fly in spite of this. While I understand her sentiments for wanting to see Yoshika grow, she can still help her do that without going into battle herself. As for flying with everyone after they’ve grown, she could always do that in non-life threatening situations. Logic aside, I figured they set up Mio’s stern and stubborn attitude this way for dramatic effect, so the question is whether or not she’ll really end up as a casualty of war. Personally, I’d say it’s unlikely that one of the main characters in a generally lighthearted series such as this will be killed off, even though they’ve tried to show us the darker side of things recently. They’ve also given off a couple of death flags for her (e.g. elevator going down), so there’s a slim chance that I’ll be unpleasantly surprised next time. If STRIKE WITCHES is able to tug on my emotional strings in that way though, it’ll definitely be a memorable series. Also, I don’t know what Mio was on, but Minna was more persuasive to me in that revealing red dress.
Comedy-wise, I still can’t get enough of Perrine’s jealous antics, because listening to her flustered outbursts is just golden. Also, all the CG flying scenes shown this time around made me wonder what STRIKE WITCHES would be like if they made a shooting game out of it. Aside from that, the most surprising thing this week is the direction the story’s taken, which appears to involve a conspiracy from within. We all love conspiracies don’t we? Well I do, so it’s a welcome revelation to see that a General of the Air Force is concealing information about the Neuroi. From what I gathered from Yoshika’s interaction with one, the Neuroi don’t seem to be a hostile species by nature. If this assumption is correct, it would explain why the one back in episode six mimicked Sanya’s singing and the one here mimicked Yoshika’s figure. One of the possibilities that I’m suspecting is that humans started the war with the Neuroi, not the other way around, and now they’re paying the price for it. Mankind always seems to be the cause of its own suffering, so perhaps this series is trying to teach us a lesson about ourselves. For that, I really like where this is going and feel that those who were turned away by this series early on are missing out now. Cute characters, exceptional cast, beautiful animation, mecha battles, historic references, mysterious aliens, witty comedy, tasteful fan-service, and an unexpectedly profound story; what more can you ask for?
Anyway, first peaceful contact thanks to Yoshika! I still don’t see it as the trap that Minna and Mio made it out to be, but due to further misunderstandings, the flames of war burn brighter yet again now that Mio has been shot down. Because of this, it reiterates my sentiment that the series is trying to depict just how easily (and stupidly) war can break out in order to let us reflect on our own history. Next time, it looks like Minna’s going to take things into her own hands, having (seemingly) lost the person she wanted to protect.
Tidbits: Ending this week was sung by Yoshika and Perrine, which is fitting since the two having shown that they make a good team in spite of all the one-sided jealousy. Gonzo’s title translations seem to be quite liberal lately, so I’ve included literal translations as well.
- Miyafuji Yoshika (宮藤 芳佳) / Fukuen Misato (福圓 美里)
- Sakamoto Mio (坂本 美緒) / Chiba Saeko (千葉 紗子)
- Minna-Dietlinde Wilke (ミーナ・ディートリンデ・ヴィルケ) / Tanaka Rie (田中 理恵)
- Perrine-H. Clostermann (ぺリーヌ・クロステルマン) / Sawashiro Miyuki (沢城 みゆき)
- Lynette Bishop (リネット・ビショップ) / Nadzuka Kaori (名塚 佳織)
- Erica Hartmann (エーリカ・ハルトマン) / Nogawa Sakura (野川 さくら)
- Gertrud Barkhorn (ゲルトルート・バルクホルン) / Sonozaki Mie (園崎 未恵)
- Francesca Lucchini (フランチェスカ・ルッキーニ) / Saitou Chiwa (斎藤 千和)
- Charlotte E Yeager (シャーロット・E・イェーガー) / Koshimizu Ami (小清水 亜美)
- Sanya V. Litvyak (サーニャ・V・リトヴャク) / Kadowaki Mai (門脇 舞以)
- Eila Ilmatar Juutilainen (エイラ・イルマタル・ユーティライネン) / Nakai Erika (仲井 絵里香)
- Chris (クリス) / Sanada Asami (真田 アサミ)
- Female nurse (看護婦) / Yasui Eri (安井 絵里)