「再び空へ」 (Futatabi Sora he)
“To The Skies Again”
Six months after the liberation of Gallia from the Neuroi, Miyafuji Yoshika (Fukuen Misato) is back in Fuso and receives a mysterious letter from her deceased father containing blueprints of some sort. The time lapse actually happened at the end of the first season, but the story is quickly rebooted when a new type of Neuroi threat appears after the 504th Joint Fighter Wing attempts to communicate with the humanoid-like Neuroi. It looks like someone from above doesn’t want their alien kind making peace with human beings, throwing our heroines of the 501st Joint Fighter Wing back into action. Action indeed, as the opening battle against the new threat was pure eye candy now that the series is produced in high definition with AIC Spirits at the helm. They really spared no expense in the pantsu fan-service for an opening episode either, with the way the camera started with a close up of the girls’ lower regions before zooming out to show more of their aerial assault. Some of the girls like Francesca Lucchini (Saitou Chiwa) and Minna-Dietlinde Wilcke (Tanaka Rie) looked like they switched to a low-rise variety too.
To be quite honest, I think they overdid the ass shots a bit even if it was intended to be pure fan-service, but the constantly changing camera angles and fast-paced action did make the whole scene quite the spectacle to watch. I’m quite impressed by how nice it all looked too, because even if these girls weren’t showing so much skin down below, they’re still a cute bunch to watch as they light up alien invaders in the skies. Opening with that action-packed sequence and the music to go along with it really helped me get right back into this series, but AIC continued to impress with their sakura tree backdrops in Fuso. I don’t ever recall STRIKE WITCHES’ artwork looking this good, regardless of whether the first season was high definition or not. This is by no means meant to say it rivals really high profile productions, but it looks pretty damn nice in my eyes. As such, I’m really excited to see more of this series now that Yoshika’s decided to head back to Gallia with Sakamoto Mio (Seto Saori) to rejoin the 501st Joint Fighter Wing, following the Romagna-based 504th squadron’s inability to stop the new Neuroi threat from taking over Venezia airspace.
There was a little bit of drama from Mio leading up to their departure together, who didn’t want to get Yoshika involved in any further battles after she had already helped with the previous one, though it wasn’t all that different from when Yoshika’s help was first enlisted. The only difference is she’s the one who wanted to go this time around, since she knows Lynette Bishop (Nazuka Kaori) and her other friends need all the help they can get. As for the characters themselves, it looks like her friend Yamakawa Michiko (Satou Arise) will forever be a first episode-only type a character in this series, and likely Suwa Amaki from the 47th Air Squadron as well (Hanazawa Kana in another typecast glasses girl role). However, the big surprise with this premiere episode is Seto Saori taking over Mio’s role from Chiba Saeko. While she clearly doesn’t have the trademark Saeko laugh, Mio still sounded somewhat similar to before in her more serious tone. I was impressed to say the least, and that’s coming from someone who has an ear for seiyuu voices. Saori is clearly no Saeko, but she does a really good job trying to imitate the voice Saeko played Mio with.
Anyway, I’m looking forward to seeing the other girls voiced by the all-star cast again, many of who were devoid of lines in this first episode. Story-wise, it looks like the girls are going to get upgraded Striker Units based on the blueprints left behind by Yoshika’s father, which should help them battle the new strain of Neuroi. The next episode looks like it’ll delve into Mio’s inability to put up a magical shield anymore (as seen at the end of the first season), making me wonder how she’s going to overcome that huge weakness in her defense. Her eye‘s ability to locate Neuroi cores is still invaluable to the group, so perhaps the experimental Striker Unit she has with her will help offset her diminished magical powers.
* This series is one of Crunchyroll‘s new simulcasts for the summer season.