「第502統合戦闘航空団」 (Dai Gou-maru-ni Tougou Sentou Koukuu-dan)
“The 502nd Joint Fighter Wing”

To no one’s surprise Brave Witches this week was entirely developmental, with the 502nd team finally revealed and character personalities given. Although only the bare basics were provided, it’s enough to form a general idea. Gundula Rall is the grizzled, expert commander while fellow mates Edytha Rossmann and Aleksandra Pokryshkin serve as Rall’s pragmatic and blunt assistants. Waltrud is the comedic womanizer (haughty voice plus short hair tells all), Nipa our clumsy tomboy, Georgette the shy introvert, and Sadako the mother to them all (you explain that love of cooking then).

Of course though the most interesting character remains Naoe, who clearly has a hatred towards Hikari originating from Hikari’s lack of training and skill, and perceived use of name to wiggle onto the squad. Thankfully however, Naoe does not look like a mirror copy of Perrine. Naoe certainly is aggressive and likes to win, but more importantly wants to maintain her strength and safety of her friends—there is no superficial jealousy or hate just for drama here. That running scene shows this best, where Naoe’s “loss” implies (to herself) that she lacks the same thing she called Hikari out on, driving her to correct that fault. Although Naoe obviously detests Hikari, she still rescues Hikari from Hikari’s own mistake without a second thought. Naoe even maintains the abrasive (if now wounded) attitude at the end, giving her a consistent personality the throwaway Misumi in episode 1 sorely lacked. This provides Naoe all the components necessary for serious development, buffered especially by that inkling of a future friendship between her and Hikari. Not a bad bit of interpersonal conflict all things considered.

Speaking of Hikari, her attitude and its fight with reality was impressive this week. I am really starting to enjoy Hikari’s struggle to improve. She has intermediate training at best, next to no magic capability (stark difference to Yoshika), and is easily beaten by common enemies. Probably the most important bit though is that Hikari’s special ability is not easily controlled. Hikari cannot use it at a whim (yet) and has Rall/Rossmann/Pokryshkin even questioning whether she possesses it at all. It’s the perfect—if predicable—underdog tale and gives Brave Witches a good foundation for character growth, a noticeable improvement from Strike Witches which already had Yoshika more or less the prodigy from day one. All Hikari has going for her is that stamina and strive to improve against the odds, which she manages in the face of it all to leverage into continued survival. I’m not often interested in this style of story, but Brave Witches’ setup and the synergistic effect of each piece definitely has me intrigued. How Hikari comes into her own and forges a unique spot in the 502nd is very likely to be the defining theme of the entire show.

Although all about the characters here, we did get a bit on the background conflict this episode also. Three Neuroi nests in the vicinity, with the first target that brand new one in the White Sea. The slog will be arduous and not assisted by the refusal of the 501 to share that strategy for nest elimination. You just know a big fight is coming, one with casualties, and one which will likely test Hikari exceptionally hard. I’m quite looking forward to it.

Random Tidbits

Although I haven’t mentioned the animation at all, the CGI was particularly egregious this week. Likely explains the week delay for episode 4 over “production issues”.

Now Naoe and Sadako have special powers too. Begs the question if everyone in 502nd has a unique ability.

Still mulling whether to blog this for the duration. If you guys want to see more Brave Witches coverage just let me know in the comments.

 

Preview

22 Comments

    1. Not really different, the 501 did have a large male support staff for maintenance and other support duties. Its just that Minna implemented a rather strict segregation policy on the base. And its not like us viewers were really interested in any of them anyway.

      fragb85
      1. I think the period when SW released also play a part on the lack of male appearance.

        I think it was due to the moe and cute girls do cute things fad that started around that period.

        Calcilis
  1. The slog will be arduous and not assisted by the refusal of the 501 to share that strategy for nest elimination.

    Well, there were so many factors involved in the destruction of the hive over Gallia that it’s genuinely hard to tell what was the deciding factor that allowed them to pull it off. Also there were some genuine military secrets involved as well, in addition to criminal actions by members of the military high command, as well as various charges against Yoshika for the actions she took leading up to the finale: all of which eventually got swept under the rug, but makes a real tangled mess to try to explain.

    Now Naoe and Sadako have special powers too. Begs the question if everyone in 502nd has a unique ability.

    Um… yes? That’s a basic rule of the setting. Every witch has a “unique” magic ability in addition to the various general abilities shared by all witches. (unique is in quotes because they aren’t necessarily truly unique: there may be other witches somewhere with the same power. But each witch has a special power that she is capable of using that is not one of the general powers usable by all witches)

    Wanderer
    1. Hmm I should probably just binge watch Strike Witches again at this point, I’ve forgotten more than I thought lol. With Sadako and Naoe yeah, thinking back on it they don’t possess powers akin to Hikari or Mio, more like specialized abilities than something truly unique. Thanks again for the correction Wanderer.

      1. Yoshika = healer
        Perrine = lightning
        Barkhorn = Super Strength
        Sanya = Radar
        Ella = Seeing the future
        Sakamoto = eye
        Lynette = Super powered bullets
        Yaegar = Super speed

        Don’t really remember if the other girls special abilities were ever said.

        Karmafan
  2. https://randomc.net/image/Brave%20Witches/Brave%20Witches%20-%2003%20-%20Large%2033.jpg
    Hikari: Nipa’s oppai are awesome
    Nipa: Kyaa~~~
    Naoe: I want Nipa’s oppai

    https://randomc.net/image/Brave%20Witches/Brave%20Witches%20-%2003%20-%20Large%2035.jpg
    Naoe: Nipa’s oppai are mine!
    Hikari: B-B…
    Nipa: Kyaa~~~

    https://randomc.net/image/Brave%20Witches/Brave%20Witches%20-%2003%20-%20Large%2023.jpg
    So we have to wait 1 extra week… Bummer…

    But really, 502 is setting itself to surpass 501 in terms of story and conflict. I really do like fact that they implemented the evacuation that the Soviets never got to do.

    Taking cue from Siege of Leningrad, I do think we could expect one or some of the commanders to make an appearance in Brave Witches.

    We already have Montgomery, Rommel, Churchill, Eisenhower and Kesselring in 501st, so it’s no surprise that these may make an appearance.

    Chances are, I’m guessing that Zhukov, Mannerheim and von Leeb may make an appearance?

    Velvet Scarlantina
  3. >So how did they do it?
    >Its top secret
    >Tch, of course

    Well you know, when military tried hijacking and kicking the witches out and the main character breaking rules like nobody else then yeah totally top secret info.

    Also I like how in the first series Sakamoto stated that to increase ones magic, they need train physically a lot. Now Hikari has been training a lot physically but her magic hasn’t increased one bit. Hikari will probably receive some super special magic training to get up to speed with 502nd unit.

    xxvan
    1. Personally I’m expecting Hikari’s power to manifest through a near-death experience rather than some special training. The control can be taught through training, but Hikari needs real experience in order to master her ability’s trigger. Plus it would give the excuse to throw her into battle faster 😛

  4. It’s nice to have MC have to struggle to realise her potential… I was a bit afraid of female Kirito.
    The 502 girls are overall nicely rounded up buch of characters, though Naoe was bit irritating with her hostility. Well at least she is quite sincere about it, no sneaky backstabbing tricks.
    And for those with interest in real history, the Petersburg/Leningrad deserves a mention of it gruelling siege in the real WW2…
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siege_of_Leningrad

    ewok40k
  5. Alternate WW2 history, dogfighting, extra dimensional enemies, magic based technology, Light Machine Guns, cute girls, animal ears & tails, and a lack of pants… All these things combined makes me sometimes think that Strike Witches was purely designed to cater to MY interests! However, the characters have always been the more endearing part of the universe. It was the interpersonal relationships that made me love the 501st so much. This feels like that they’ve improved their craft & let it mature a bit. I hope they can keep it up.

    GuardMonkey10
  6. Main difference between Hikari and Yoshika is raw amount of magic. Yoshika has an astounding magic pool, and before being a combat Witch, she just concentrated on light healing, which was kinda a good administration excercise. Hikari has trained to be a combat Witch, but her magic pool is just average, and doesn’t have a “regular ability” to manage her magic properly (and no, jumping doesn’t count). Worst of all, she has to fly with a prototype Striker Unit, which I imagine was tuned to her sister, so she’s completely out of depht aside flight autonomy (Naoe spent all her juice long before they were close to the base)
    Not surprised that most info about Gallia’s Neuroi nest is kept undercover (Yoshika’s first contact with humanoid Neuroi, the military coup, artificial man-made Neuroi), which is good since the 502 will have to use their own tactics and resources.

    SeeStriker
  7. https://randomc.net/image/Brave%20Witches/Brave%20Witches%20-%2003%20-%20Large%2035.jpg

    I assume this will be the the shows Power Trio? I do like their dynamic probably even more the Strike Witches. Hikari is the determined protagonist, Nipa being the friendly face and Nao being the designated jerk.

    I actually like Nao. She’s abrasive, but nowhere near the unbearable as Perrine was in SW, and her concerns are actually legitimate. This make her a great foil for Hikari. And really, in a world where aliens are defeated by guns, swords, and magic, there is still a primal beauty of seeing someone just defeat their enemies by PUNCHING them.

    And I appreciate how they drive the point that Hikari’s really sucks. There is no tip-toeing around it, and it make it east to root for her to become a better character and find her place among the 502th.

    fragb85
    1. Yeah, I brought this up last episode in terms the Naoe / Perrine comparisons I had been seeing already – while there is certainly emotion also behind Naoe’s dislike of Hikari (considering the situation she entered with Tamaki being seriously wounded in battle and now not being able to fight with them, which Naoe had been eagerly looking forward to coupled with the misunderstanding of Hikari “replacing” Tamaki), at least she actually has legitimate reasons for not wanting Hikari to join whereas Perrine had no reasons to legitimately oppose Yoshika’s joining the 501st outside of pure fangirl jealousy over how “close” Yoshika appeared to Mio, and even after, for around half the first season, there was artificial drama over Perrine trying to show off her “superiority” to Yoshika and whatnot until Perrine finally got her own episode of development.

      Here, we actually got past a large chunk of such obstacles within a single episode without having to go through so much similar drama.

      HalfDemonInuyasha
  8. I find it hugely odd that they had the knowledge that Hikari withstood Neuroi attacks for five minutes, but after seeing that she can’t consistently keep the jets at a steady speed nor consistently use her core-seeing abilities, they want to send her back. But then she finds Nipa, and Hikari lifts her up a little higher to shoot the Neuroi attacking Kanno, that’s the action that makes the Fighter Unit want to keep her? It’d be one thing if Hikari also shot along, but outside of showcasing her great stamina, it doesn’t seem like that was a segment that shows she really earned to be kept, especially since her withstanding the Neuroi attack from episode 2 seemed more like a better showcase, but they kind of overlook that.

    I dunno, that whole part felt like “We need to have this story progress” which I get, but the handling left a little to be desired.

    Outside of that, everything else was great. Kanno taking “loss” in her own way, the introduction and interactions of the other characters, Hikari’s self doubt, it was a good developing episode.

    Fuwa Fuwa
    1. I don’t think it’s the lifting up which made Gundula give Hikari some extra time, it’s more the sum of everything Hikari did. She volunteered to search for Nipa, she helped carry her home, and contributed to the fight with Neuroi in a way conductive with her current skill. I consider it Gundula humoured by her enough to give her a second chance more than Hikari outright changing minds. Maybe it could have been better handled, but it certainly wasn’t bad IMO.

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