STRIKE WITCHES 2 – 08
「翼をください」 (Tsubasa wo Kudasai)
“Please Give Me Wings”
We’re only at episode eight and AIC Spirits has already opted to cut out the opening in favor of a more movie-like introduction to the long-awaited new Striker Unit. Yoshika’s magical abilities have outgrown her A6M Zero, forcing her to upgrade to the J7W1 Shinden, a.k.a. “Magnificent Lightning”. For the most part, the movie-like feel stemmed from her struggles to fly using her current unit, as no one was aware that it was a problem with the engine’s internal magic limiter and not Yoshika’s abilities. At times, it was a bit cheesy since stuff just happened inexplicably — such as Yoshika hearing her father’s voice and the Shinden magically appearing before for — but I’ll admit that I got caught up in the touching mood they were developing with her desire to protect people. The only part that I found a bit irksome was the opening scene where Mio was trying to learn the Shin Reppuzan. (It’s always got to be “shin” 「真」 when it comes to the “real” deal in Japanese techniques). I don’t know what Yoshika was on when she asked Mio to teach her the technique, seeing as she doesn’t even have a magically-imbued katana to begin with, nor the skills to wield one properly. If anything, she should specialize in the one area that she excels in and that Mio has no power whatsoever in anymore — shields. I could understand Yoshika’s earnest desire to do whatever is in her power to protect people, but I thought it was pretty dumb of her to get ahead of herself and think she can just hop onto any promising idea that she comes across.
The rest of the episode involving Yoshika’s struggles and her coming to terms that she may never fly again was really well played out, and also brought some emotion-filled scenes I wasn’t expecting from this series. None of the screenplay was overly melodramatic nor terribly forced, which the music helped a lot with. This isn’t the first time that I’ve mentioned how well the music sets the mood in this sequel and likely won’t be the last, as the soundtrack deserves a lot of praise for bringing out all sorts of emotions in the various scenes. This includes the peaceful track played when Yoshika and Lynne were frantically saving all the injured personnel on board the Yamato and the more urgent one with the sudden appearance of the Neuroi out to sink the Yamato flagship that was on route from Fuso. I’m a sucker for acts of chivalry too, so I was pretty caught up in Yoshika’s feelings of helplessness when Lynne went out on her own to try and protect the fleet, thanks to the music that went along with it. I also felt the emotional flood gate on the verge of opening at the sight of Yoshika’s tears and the sound of her apology to her father for not being able to protect anyone, which made her launch on the Shinden all the more epic. Yoshika going all out and unleashing the largest magic circle I ever recall seeing only added to that impression, and I love how she actually got pissed off for a change when it was Lynne’s life on the line. This new Yoshika means business!
It’s interesting to note that while the progression of this episode wasn’t any different from ones prior, the emotional aspect sure was kicked up a notch. The script was still fairly lighthearted, but had an element of depth that helped reiterate that there’s more to this series than pantless mecha-girls. Unfortunately, those who were quick to judge would have never gotten this far to realize that, so this was more of a treat to those who were already aware of that fact. For now, I’m curious as to what we’ll have in store in later episodes and if anything will live up to what we saw here. I’d definitely like to see more desperate battles where there are casualties, since it gives a much better impression that there’s an actual alien invasion going on. It was a nice touch bringing in the Yamato to add some urgency to their latest encounter with the Neuroi, and I couldn’t help but seem some resemblance to the “Fat Man” atomic bomb in its design (whether intentional or not). In any case, I’m enjoying this sequel a lot more than I’ve probably been letting off and am looking forward to seeing what else Yoshika can do with the Shinden. Hopefully this is the start of upgrades for all the other witches as well.